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Q- What would your choice of backpack be?


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Sep 16, 2010
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Hi My first post and I am jumping straight into a question for you all...

I am travelling to australia in a few months and I would really love to take my camera gear with me. Problem is I have a a bit of gear and are worried about the airlines. I would very much like to be able to take it all on the plane with me as hand luggage but I am guessing my chances are fairly slim at best. So therefore I would like to know what others do when they travel long distances with a few lenses.

The other issue is once I am in Australia I obviously would like to be able to carry it all around fairly easly so I was thinking a backpack still but which one is the question and will it protect from the heavy handed baggage people. Price isnt too much of an issue so dont worry about that too much.

I am looking to take the following equipment just have to work out how to get it all there safe and sound (and back again of course).

Canon 5d MKII
Canon EF 14 2.8 L II
Canon EF 50 1.2 L
Canon EF 24-70 2.8 L
Canon EF 180mm 3.5 L macro
Canon EF 100-400 4.5-5.6 L IS
580ex Flash
A few extra bits for cleaning, an extender, a couple of filters bla bla bla :)

Would really appreciate and thoughts or experence you have on this matter.

Beldin :)
For air travel, Pelican cases or equivalent. For daily use, one of the many choices of either Lowepro or Tamarac bag that are available. The Rover II AW is my backpack of choice; one body, 3-4 lenses, flash, and lots of room for accessories, snacks and pockets for water-bottles etc. Mine has gone literally, all over the world and is still going strong.
thanks mate. Looks like a good solution.
I've traveled around the globe with a Lowepro Computrekker AW. It might not be ideal but it works. I don't think it would fit all that gear though.

I'd suggest looking at the Airporter series cases from Thinktank. They look really good and come highly recommended from many traveling photographers. Of course, hard cases like the ones from Pelican are great, but I don't know about carry on.

Even if you do somehow get all of that into a bag that is carry-on sized, it would be really heavy and they might call you on that. Worst case is that they force you to check it, in which case, you will need a hard case.

One tip I read, was to wear a photo vest or at least a coat with big pockets. If your bag is too big or heavy, you can stash some gear on your person.

With that amount of gear you might even consider shipping it via courier (insured of course).
I would say check the weight and size restrictions for your chosen airline (make sure you check it at both ends of your journey as sometimes airports will have different restrictions going each way).
Then try to pack your carryon bag as close to that weight as possible - if you find that you are over the limit you can try Mikes suggestion of sneaking more gear in through large pockets on your person, though I would say if you know you are taking more weight than they allow be prepared to get caught and having to pay extra (that way at least you are prepared for the worst).

Idealy you want your lenses in carryon and not in the hold - if they have to go in the hold Pelican cases are what you need. Also check up on your insurance policy as well - ensure you are covered against theft, damage, loss etc... again its about precautions and the insurance will also carry over to protect you through your time on holiday.

After that I've also read of printing out the weight and size limits off the website of the aeroplane company and carrying a copy of it with you when you travel - its a good reference if they try to stick a charge on you that you know is not the case (sometimes people make mistakes).
For carry-on I use a Case Logic backpack. On a recent trip to Nevada I packed:

  • a gripped Nikon D300
  • 4 lenses (3 f/2.8 zooms including a 80-200 f/2.8, 1 - 50mm f/1.8 prime)
  • 2 speedlights w/radio triggers (SB-800/SB-600)
  • a 15" laptop, spare battery, charger, 2 - 8 GB Cruzer Flash drives
  • 12 spare NiMH AA batteries
  • 2 En-EL3e batteries
  • lens/camera cleaning supplies
  • blower brush
  • a couple of CPL filters (72 mm and 77mm), 16 GB of CF memory
  • and in a padded bag a Giottos full size tripod with Manfotto 3-way pan-tilt head strapped to the outside of the backpack.
There was another recent thread on flying with camera gear. Did you use the search function before you posted your question?
I went with a Lowepro Fastpack 300 specifically for trips where I will be flying. It's the perfect size for the overhead bins but when you get a smaller plane you can put it under the seat (I will usually ask for a seat at the rear so no one notices that my bag doesn't fit in the bin and is actually under my feet). I usually fit:
Gripped 5D2 with 24-70 2.8L attatched,
70-200 2.8L IS mII,
15mm 2.8 fisheye,
17-40 f4L, 580exII,
pelican memory card case,
camera strap,
tripod head,
lens cloth and lens pen,
ND filter and CPL filter,
radio triggers for flash,
17" laptop,
laptop charger,
rocket blower,
lens hoods,
external flash battery pack,
battery chargers,
card reader,
2xII teleconverter,
Sto fen onmibounce and foldable snoots/bounce cards for the flash
and last but not least, my canon HD camcorder and carger. It's definately full (and a bit heavy) but I've flown a few times with this set up and had no issues. Once I had a stewardess tell me that it wouldn't fit (small plane flying out of Santa Fe NM) but once I explained that it was expensive/delicate camera gear and that I was sure it would fit under the seat she conceded. If I thought my bag would have to be checked I would not go this route though and would look at pelican or thinktank.
hey i would recommend a Lowepro Pro Runner 350 AW, jst picked it up the other week and a perfect bag. at the moment i have in it:

Gripped canon 450D
Gripped canon 7D with a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens
Canon 15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS lens
Canon 50mm f/1.8
with plenty more room for maybe 2-3 lenses
+ fits in my chargers, batteries, cards, pens, note pad etc. Also can attach at tripod or monopod to the front of the bag.

One great thing about it tho is that its able to carried on planes as hand luggage :) i picked mine up for £95, and was next day delivery :) hope that helps
you guys are amazing.

Thank you so much to everyone.

I will 100% be getting a pelican case as I had a look at them and they seem to tick all the boxes.

I also had a look at the Kata backpacks but they seem very big for what they carry and are a bit hey look at me come and beat me up for my camera gear.

So looks like an empty lowepro backpack in the hold and try to sneak on with a peli case. might have to convice the wife to carry one too :)
Check out Moose Petersons MP-1 lots of gear in a bag that will fit in the overhead bagage compartments. My Lowe Pro Photo Trekker II is a tight fit, but it will not carry the amount of gear you can get in the MP-1. My next bag will be the MP-1.
I have a Lowe something or other model...it works pretty well...holds a lot of stuff too.
Ive been using the Kata Ultra-Light Bumblebee-222 Backpack KT UL-B-222 - B&H Photo and I absolutely love it. I liked it much better than the comparable Tamrac models. I also liked that it was one of the very few backpacks that isnt BLACK. I got the very reflective, light grey pack and would highly recommend it to others.

Edit: the pack straps are a super comfy rubber/foam. And the way the pack sits off your back make it really easy to wear all day. Its been bearable in 100* Florida summer temps. :thumbup:
I also found this backpack online

Looks and sounds like a good one but is very expensive. Going to do some more research on it.

Gura Gear | Photo gear bags
Problem is I have a a bit of gear and are worried about the airlines. I would very much like to be able to take it all on the plane with me as hand luggage but I am guessing my chances are fairly slim at best. So therefore I would like to know what others do when they travel long distances with a few lenses.

When traveling by plane, almost nothing beats the security and protection of a pelican. Never had any problems with mine being carried on the plane as a carry on. I'm not sure about other countries, but the 1510 is designed to be approved for carry on. It has wheels and an extending handle to be rolled around easily.


You'll see in the pic a 1 series Canon body + 24-105L + 100-400L + Canon flash and another system. There should be more than enough room for what you listed. Once on location, I use a bicycle cable and pad lock to secure it (hotel bathroom sink hidden usually) and carry just what I need for the day.

Insuring your equipment for travel is probably more important than baggage choice.

For use on location, I use a shoulder bag that doesn't look like a camera bag... I have a few.

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