If there is one thing you can’t have enough of as a photographer it is photo bags. It just seems there is always a reason for another one that does something a little better than the one you currently have. Right now I have more camera bags than I care to admit. But if you are looking for one bag that does everything really good, take a look at MindShift Packs. They are made by ThinkTank, who makes the best roller bags on the market (check out the Airport Advantage).
I have used the smallest version of the MindShift Backlight series, the 18L, around the globe. But I needed a backpack with more room for upcoming travels to Alaska this summer. So I bought the 26L version, and it really does the trick. This pack is similar to the 18L for all the good reasons. First, build quality is fantastic. Next, the suspension system carries really well, even with heavy loads. These bags are back accessible. What this means is if you put it on the ground, the back side (not suspension side) will get the dirt and mud while the suspension side opens to allow you to get your gear out. And also important, backside accessible packs are much more secure from theft than rear access packs. I’ve seen packs unzipped from behind in busy markets…that won’t happen with the BackLight series. Next, I love the fact that the zipper on the main compartment easily goes all the way to the bottom allowing the flap to open without a hitch. And the zippers have convenient pulls attached to them.
Here is the 26L version loaded up with F2.8 lenses and one Z6II with the 24-200mm. No problem also carrying flash, filters, cards and accessories. One thing I like is the 26L is just deep enough I can put my 24-70mm and 14-24mm F2.8 in a vertical position which gives me more space.
Let’s talk tripods. The Backlight has a great system that allows you to carry a tripod right on the center of the pack. Or if you prefer you can put it on the side in side pouches. There are also external pockets for a 15″ laptop, extra clothing, gear and food. The pack comes with a rain cover so you are ready for nasty weather.
Which size is best for you? There is a comparison of the 18L and 26L at the top of this post (the 18L is on the left). I use the 18L on trips to Europe with less gear and not as big of lenses. For Alaska and wildlife trips with bigger lenses, the 26L is a better choice. And if you are carrying heavy telephotos, there is the 36L version.
What about those other packs in my office? We also use Gura Gear bags with the back opening butterfly design. These packs are terrific when you have a pack on the seat beside you in the car (think safari), or want to access one side of your pack without exposing the other side to the elements. But you can’t carry heavy lenses (or tripods) in the center since the compartments are on the side. If I know I am hiking a lot with heavy gear, I want it centered in my pack for better carrying, load distribution and comfort. This would be a job for the BackLight. If I am headed to Africa and shooting from a safari vehicle, a Gura Gear bags would be a good choice.
Here is the good news. Right now the Mindshift BackLight packs are on sale on many online sites! Start shopping for those upcoming summer photo adventures! Have a great weekend!