I also tried photobackpacker, but they seem to refuse to add internal dimensions on their site, so I went with ThinkTank, a little too small for what I need so I'm actually going to have to get an insert custom made for a hiking back pack. Meanwhile I'm using the ThinkTank bag to hond my RZ kit which it does perfectly.
I have a strong preference for true external frame "vintage" US-mfg backpacks like Kelty (not to be confused with the glorified book bags now
made in China under that label), or older Camp Trails or Jansport brand (again not to be confused with the flimsy trash currently being
imported). The last time I spotted a brand-new unused vintage 70's pack at a garage sale I got it for five bucks. It had been in someone's
closet unused all those years. You can carry all kinds of gear in these. No need for redundant heavy foam padding inside. Just use some bubble
packing or a lightwt down jacket. I carried a Sinar monorail system tens of thousands of miles this way, along with full loads of camping gear.
I went with the Photobackpacker cases for cameras and lenses, and a Kelty Red Wing. Contrary to the previous poster that is unhappy with the quality of the current Kelty packs, mine is holding up well and can carry 2 4x5 cameras in cases, 3 lenses, 10 film holders, a Mamiya 6, a Nikon D800 with an extra lens and 2 SB800 flashes.
It's heavy, but a comfortable load. I don't normally pack that much, but it gives you an idea of what's possible. I've yet to find a camera-specific bag that I truly enjoy using, and I've bought/sold/returned many bags from all the major sources.
I wasn't talking about "camera" packs, but about real packs. Take that load you've got and add a week's worth of food, a tent, and all your
essentials for the outdoors and then see how well it holds up.
If any of my packs or cases are lacking dimensions, please let me know. As far as I am aware, all dimensions are provided.
Originally Posted by Shootar401
By the way, the new RPT/Granite Gear P3 backpack is now in stock and we have now added an SLR/DSLR enclosure for those who prefer that configuration. For those familiar with the P2 backpacks, the new P3 is 1.5 pounds lighter and has an even more efficient suspension.
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My preference is to find a good backpack of suitable size. It must also have a 'clamshell' front which zips open to completely expose the compartment within. I then go to my local rubber supplier (Your profile doesn't say where you are so I'll quote an Australian supplier) Clarke rubber and get them to cut a lump of high-density sponge rubber which fits neatly into the pack and a piece of 10mm very high-density foam sheet to form a lid. Depending on how deep the pack is, you may want another piece of sheet for the back - see later. Total cost about $40. I then take that home and, using a sharp knife, cut pockets for all the bits I want to carry. If the pockets go all the way through the block of sponge, you will want that extra piece of VHD foam to form a backing which you glue to the back of the block to form the bottom for the pockets. I used a Katmandu daypack for 8 years treated in this fashion to carry my 5x4 kit which survived falls, drops and airline luggage handling before my kit got too big. I then treated a JanSport full pack the same way. That now carries more kit than the daypack with room left over for food, drink a raincoat and still some room.
PS. Both packs were bought second-hand on eBay. The daypack was $10 and the full pack was $80.
Finally a real backpacker!
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Took 70lbs into the Grand Canyon back in 2010 for my Kodachrome trip, it was awesome!
I didn't use a hard frame pack, but it wasn't exactly a soft frame either, sorta in between.
Sadly the market couldn't handle the the hybrid frame pack.
I would point out that there are some really great non-frame packs that do hold up well, they just cost a lot more than $5 haha
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~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller
One option to consider is whatever you have for an existing bag (assuming you have one and you like it) lashed to a packframe with a shelf. Essentially what Drew Wiley described, but removing the nylon bag. Mine is an old Boy Scout pack (so old the bag was canvas, not nylon).
This can work particularly well with hard plastic or metal camera cases. But to access the equipment, you have to remove the pack, remove the lashings, and open the bag/case. Takes about as long to describe as it takes to do. You lash your tripod to the frame as well.
The frames with a shelf aren't as common, but they are around. And the shelf is handy, but not essential. External frame backpacks are "out of favor", so (like Drew said) you can find them cheap at garage sales, thrift stores, and craigslist.
"Far more critical than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know." - Eric Hoffer
I use the old Zone VI cases for my various cameras. For short distance I use a Tamrac harness to carry the case and for long I attach them to a back pack frame. Saves me from having to repack a backpack when I want a different camera or traveling with several larger backpacks.
Pack frames with a shelf are used by elk hunters etc, and the people that make them can supply custom bags. They aren't cheap, but could
be made to carry even an ULF camera. Even dayhiking I prefer a true camping pack. I can slip anything into it - my 8x10 system, my Sinar
Norma, a Pentax 6x7 kit, plus common sense day gear for weather. I get tired having to carry an extra coat and parka on autumn walks into
aspen canyons in the Sierra. There is always some naive hiker or jogger fiver miles back in running shorts, tennis shoes, and a T-shirt - and
then suddenly the sky goes from blue to black and it starts snowing. A twisted ankle or not enough walking speed, and their bodies will be
found during the next summer's thaw. I did my youthful days of ultralight packing and 35mm cameras. Now I'm a big ole self-contained mule
myself, carrying my motorhome on my back. But I do not see much need for a dedicated camera pack with a lot of redundant foam weight,
when a down jacket and some lightwt bubble packing will do just as good a job - and then you're got your coat and parka etc on hand when
you need it. Maybe not for everyone, but I hope to keep backpacking as long as possible with large format equip. I'm in my mid 60's now and
the secret is just staying in shape - lugging that gear up hills every week. Getting a wonderful 8x10 shot in the process is sure a lot nicer
experience than being a rat on a treadmill in some stinky gym.