Shoulder style camera bags are something I have never really got on with, having a preference to spread the load evenly across my shoulders. But it hasn’t stopped me from trying a few out over the decades – from Billingham’s beautifully tactile products to unknown budget brands… I have owned a few. Except for the Billingham, none have stayed with me more than a year or so, and the Billingham only survived longer as it had become a repository for seldom used gear.
Inevitably, the purchase of a new camera system has triggered the shift towards a new bag in which to store and transport it. Post Leica T purchase, I found myself once more lusting after something more utopian that those I already own. Having just used a Leica X for the last few years, I always found my Clik Elite Cloudscape and Vanguard Arlen 49 back packs suitable for the job as they did not need to house much in the way of additional lenses and equipment. At present I could still use either of them as my system is still small (one body and two lenses) but looking ahead I can see myself with at least one, if not two more lenses as well as a few more peripheral items. Additionally, my TL 35mm f1.4 lens is pretty large when the hood is attached and this really does impact on its storage at the moment. Given one of my future purchases is likely to be the 60mm f2.8 macro lens, which has the same size hood, I will soon be running into problems. I also have a Billingham 335 bag which will house the system going forward, but I find shoulder bags heavy and cumbersome.
Continuing my life long search for the perfect camera bag resulted in a great Christmas present this year. My ‘go-to’ bag for the last five years or so has been a Vanguard Arlen 59 (also reviewed on PhotoArk) backpack that has served me well but has a couple of niggles that, whilst not insurmountable, led me to search for something new. The Arlen is a beautifully made pack and has many years of service left in it, but I needed to address the following points;
Vanguard are well known for their tripod and binocular ranges, but they were a manufacturer I initially overlooked when searching for a photo backpack. Being a keen walker, I spend a lot of my spare time in and around Derbyshire’s Peak District so it goes without saying that I always have a camera with me. Up until a few years ago, I had been using large 55 and 80 litre backpacks to lug my walking and camera gear around in. But none offered dedicated protection for my cameras and lenses. So after writing down a few pre-requisites, I began an evaluation of what seemed like an endless array of different models. My pre-requisites were;
A new DSLR System acquisition invariably sees us purchase a new bag to house it in. What can I say? – we have a real weakness for photo bags and need little in the way of a reason to go and purchase a new one. Excuses flow easily in terms of justification but when it comes down to being honest, new bags are exciting!
Air Travel today seems to impose increasingly tougher limitations on hand luggage sizes with each year that passes. This is not just restricted to weight, but the actual luggage dimensions. I have fallen foul of these rules many times, and nowadays it is usually the weight that lets me down. It was not always so; several years ago I was so fed up with being hauled over the coals by check-in staff due to my carry-on being just a little too large, I decided to address the problem once and for all and purchase something that was well below regulation sizes but offered optimal protection for my belongings – particularly my camera gear.
The E-System Pro Backpack from Olympus was introduced way back when my E-1 was new and is the only backpack I have owned that is fully given over to camera gear. Normally, I tend to go for packs that offer dual functionality, i.e. some space for flasks, food and a coat. But this time I wanted something that allowed me to take a large part of my camera gear with me so that I could really immerse myself in the craft without worrying about what I had left at home. I had been using a Lowepro equivalent that was loaned to me, which is what planted the seed in my head about getting one of my own.