Camera Hiking Bag- Advice Please!

cbarnard7

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Hello Everyone,

As much as I love going to a spot and setting up to take pictures, I would say that 90% of what I shoot is on the fly and what I see when I'm going on a hike, climbing, kayaking...etc. Just this weekend I was hiking up to a waterfall with my wife when the conditions changed and we were stuck in a hail storm- 3 1/2 miles away from any cover. We found cover under a rock, and although I was prepared for the conditions (rain jacket/poncho/hot hands..etc) my camera really wasn't. Luckily, I had a poncho and my camera stayed dry (for the most part), but it wasn't really protected. Now, I know there are camera bags and backpacks and what-have you, but I am looking for something more "rugged" and practical than a handheld carrying case, or big backpack with a 100 compartments. I'm an avid hiker and usually bring my Nikon d5100, 18-55VR and 55-200VR along with a cleaning kit and extra batteries. So, I'm also looking for something that can hold water (like a Camelbak-type) and extra supplies for my day-hikes (survival equipment). I also don't want it to be huge (like a big multiday pack). So my main question is:

If you were going on a trip to the Grand Canyon/Arches/Canyonlands and you planned on taking nice photos (tripod included) while doing long hikes, what would be your gear of choice?

I know there's a bunch of you out there who do this, so I'd really like any and all feedback!
 

runnah

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This is what I have: Vertex 200 AW Camera bags, backpacks and rolling cases

Works great and is super comfy with both waist and chest straps and good padding. Has weather tight zippers and a rain shield/cover type thing. I have 1 body, 4 lens 2 flashes, a couple remotes and other bits and bobs in there.

The tripod holder is very nice also.
 

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Photography vest or a hunters vest.

Shoulder bags are ok for casual walking, but for hiking, especially long distance, they can be a pain as you'll always end up wanting to change shoulders and any up or down rugged terrain will get in the way. Backpacks are good, but as you say they can be a bit slow for on the fly shooting - though if you've any seriously big lenses they are the best approach.

Vests with big front pockets though are an ideal compromise, giving you a pack that puts the weight on your shoulders easily and can be quickly accessed.

You might check out The Vest Guy who sells a lot of vests as well as custom vests for a variety of uses.
 

Big Mike

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My advice is that you can't really choose a bag that is right for you, unless you are seeing them in-person.

Years ago, I did a bunch of research and found what I though would be a good bag for me (price was a bigger concern than most other things). I went to my local camera shop and when I saw the one I wanted, I realized that it wouldn't be a good choice for me. I looked at the other selection they had and picked a different one. I spent more than what I had expected to, but it ended up being a pretty good choice...although, certainly not a perfect bag. I don't believe there is a perfect camera bag, it's like shoes...you just need a few different ones to suite your needs at the time.

The bag I bought was the Lowepro Computrekker AW. I've toted that thing around the world and used it as a professional wedding photographer. It's taken a beating and is still in practically new condition. And I'm not sure why, but it's been peed on by more wildlife than I care to remember.

I'm not necessarily recommending that bag in particular, but I can recommend Lowepro bags in general. Designed smartly and made well. The outer fabric will repel some water, but the AW stands for all weather, and those models come with a built in rain cover. That saved my gear in Costa Rica.

The one thing about my bag, and most backpack style bags, is that they are slow to access and worse, to fully open them up, you basically have to lay the thing on the ground...straps down. That's why I've stopped using it for weddings.

I'm thinking that you should look at a sling style bag. I'm not sure if they have a newer model, but look at the Lowepro Slingshot 300 & 200 bags. They can be carried similar to a backpack and the 300 has a pretty good waist strap to help with weight. But they are made so that you can quickly slide the bag around to your front and access your camera.
 

runnah

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I had a sling bag and hated it for long days. The backpack while a bit tricky for quick access is much more comfortable for long hikes and full day use.

But Big Mike is correct in saying that go to a shop and try them on.
 

Jean1234

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I carry my camera around my neck with a nice strap. I also made an elastic strap to hold the camera towards me so it doesn't swing out when I lean forward. I've seen things you can buy for this but haven't found the need for it.

I usually carry most of my additional supplies in a Ribz bag I wear in the front (zoom lens in simple case, batteries, memory, etc) along with some snacks, etc. If it's a really short hike (<4 miles) sometimes I use a dedicated lens case instead. I'll attach it to the hip belt on my backpack. I've found that if things aren't easily accessible, I won't use them.

I also carry a backpack with enough room to hold all my gear in addition to the normal hiking supplies. A camelback bladder is a must for me - I can't go anywhere without a lot of water. The insulated sleeves are nice because they keep condensation away from your gear and the water either warm or cold. Depending on how bad rain/snow gets, I will either throw a rain jacket on over my camera around my neck or put it in the bag. I have a couple different bags that I use depending on conditions & how much I'm carrying. Some of my bags are waterproofed and others have covers. I have a neoprene sleeve to cover my camera when I put it in my backpack.

I've modified, tied on, or used the water bottle holders on the sides of backpacks (or the combination of all three) to hold my tripod.

I carry more than most hikers, but I'd rather have something and not need it than need something and not have it. I'm also a backpacker, so I view it as good training.

I used to work at a store that specialized in hiking/backpacking gear, so I picked up a lot of things for cheap. It's been awhile but I've tried to keep up on the latest, greatest out there - I haven't been completely successful at it. If you have a question on a specific item - I've probably tried it or something similar, if you want my opinion on it.
 

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Photography vest or a hunters vest.

Shoulder bags are ok for casual walking, but for hiking, especially long distance, they can be a pain as you'll always end up wanting to change shoulders and any up or down rugged terrain will get in the way. Backpacks are good, but as you say they can be a bit slow for on the fly shooting - though if you've any seriously big lenses they are the best approach.

Vests with big front pockets though are an ideal compromise, giving you a pack that puts the weight on your shoulders easily and can be quickly accessed.

You might check out The Vest Guy who sells a lot of vests as well as custom vests for a variety of uses.


^^THIS. I just bought one (technically, my sister bought it for my birthday--she gave me the money, I picked out the vest). I've used it three times since then, and I love it!!
For just a short hike, I wear the vest and a fanny pack, which is what I put my drinks in.
For a longer hike, I'd keep the fanny pack, and the vest and then just use whichever regular backpack fits the bill for that trip.
One caveat in this setup: I do NOT generally carry a tripod, or even my monopod, on any hike of any significant distance (probably more than 2 or 3 miles, roundtrip). Obviously, the vest wouldn't have a place for the tripod, so you'd have to have a backpack that you could attach it to you, or else carry it in your hands.
 
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cbarnard7

cbarnard7

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My advice is that you can't really choose a bag that is right for you, unless you are seeing them in-person.

Years ago, I did a bunch of research and found what I though would be a good bag for me (price was a bigger concern than most other things). I went to my local camera shop and when I saw the one I wanted, I realized that it wouldn't be a good choice for me. I looked at the other selection they had and picked a different one. I spent more than what I had expected to, but it ended up being a pretty good choice...although, certainly not a perfect bag. I don't believe there is a perfect camera bag, it's like shoes...you just need a few different ones to suite your needs at the time.

The bag I bought was the Lowepro Computrekker AW. I've toted that thing around the world and used it as a professional wedding photographer. It's taken a beating and is still in practically new condition. And I'm not sure why, but it's been peed on by more wildlife than I care to remember.

I'm not necessarily recommending that bag in particular, but I can recommend Lowepro bags in general. Designed smartly and made well. The outer fabric will repel some water, but the AW stands for all weather, and those models come with a built in rain cover. That saved my gear in Costa Rica.

The one thing about my bag, and most backpack style bags, is that they are slow to access and worse, to fully open them up, you basically have to lay the thing on the ground...straps down. That's why I've stopped using it for weddings.

I'm thinking that you should look at a sling style bag. I'm not sure if they have a newer model, but look at the Lowepro Slingshot 300 & 200 bags. They can be carried similar to a backpack and the 300 has a pretty good waist strap to help with weight. But they are made so that you can quickly slide the bag around to your front and access your camera.

I appreciate the input and will try to go to my local camera shop and try on some different styles to see what's most comfortable (rather than just blindly buying online). I was very interested in the sling bag, but as Overread stated above, I'm worried that after a 10 mile-hike (with lots of elevation change) I may really feel it taking a toll on my shoulders with the imbalance-especially if I'm climbing a 14er and using trekking poles. I'm definitely looking into Lowepro for the AW feature (I do like the bag cover...this way, when I feel a few drops, I can pack my camera, throw on my jacket and cover my bag and I will be just fine!)

Maybe I should just create my own bag and sell it! :)

Thanks again!
 
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cbarnard7

cbarnard7

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I carry my camera around my neck with a nice strap. I also made an elastic strap to hold the camera towards me so it doesn't swing out when I lean forward. I've seen things you can buy for this but haven't found the need for it.

I usually carry most of my additional supplies in a Ribz bag I wear in the front (zoom lens in simple case, batteries, memory, etc) along with some snacks, etc. If it's a really short hike (<4 miles) sometimes I use a dedicated lens case instead. I'll attach it to the hip belt on my backpack. I've found that if things aren't easily accessible, I won't use them.

I also carry a backpack with enough room to hold all my gear in addition to the normal hiking supplies. A camelback bladder is a must for me - I can't go anywhere without a lot of water. The insulated sleeves are nice because they keep condensation away from your gear and the water either warm or cold. Depending on how bad rain/snow gets, I will either throw a rain jacket on over my camera around my neck or put it in the bag. I have a couple different bags that I use depending on conditions & how much I'm carrying. Some of my bags are waterproofed and others have covers. I have a neoprene sleeve to cover my camera when I put it in my backpack.

I've modified, tied on, or used the water bottle holders on the sides of backpacks (or the combination of all three) to hold my tripod.

I carry more than most hikers, but I'd rather have something and not need it than need something and not have it. I'm also a backpacker, so I view it as good training.

I used to work at a store that specialized in hiking/backpacking gear, so I picked up a lot of things for cheap. It's been awhile but I've tried to keep up on the latest, greatest out there - I haven't been completely successful at it. If you have a question on a specific item - I've probably tried it or something similar, if you want my opinion on it.

I absolutely agree with you on carrying enough to be prepared for anything. (being an Eagle Scout, I like to practice the "Be Prepared" motto myself! :) ) I guess it gets tricky because I think to myself- Do I want to possibly upgrade my Camelbak to a 3L, larger bag and just use a neoprene camera case and waterproof bag cover? Or, do I get a photo-specific bag and possibly modify it to hold a water reservoir? I mean, surely all you really need is a bag deep enough to hold a reservoir and a hook to attach the reservoir inside the pack? I could always cut a small hole through the top to run the tube through and then somehow strap down the tube to my pack strap? I feel like this should be invented already! (it probably is, I just can't find it!)
 
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cbarnard7

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Get smaller, lighter gear.

I do pack very light- only the necessities! I normally with go on a 10-12 mile hike with only a 2L Camelbak, rain-jacket, trail mix, emergency supplies (small flashlight, knife, whistle, extra socks, firestarter..etc) and my camera. I just find that when the weather turns (no matter how well I try to predict it) I feel that I'm scurrying around trying to save my camera and lenses!
 
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cbarnard7

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