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Backpack for air travel? (+hiking)

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by jcm5, Sep 27, 2014.

  1. jcm5

    jcm5 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 12, 2014
    Looking for a good travel backpack with the following specs:

    (1) Carry EM10 + 2-3 lenses
    (2) Carry a travel tripod that folds to ~12"
    (3) Carry 13" MacBook Pro
    (4) Small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you on an air flight
    (5) Light enough for use during hiking

    I've read various reviews of backpacks from Manfrotto and Case Logic, but I'm curious to hear all of your personal suggestions/experiences of using a backpack for travel(/hiking). Also, I'm not interested in spender hundreds for a backpack so a price point below $100-125 preferable. Thanks
  2. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    F-Stop Loka, medium shallow ICU. Tight for for the MacBook though, the Tilopa will fit it better. Bit out of your price range but IMO worth it.
  3. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    Don't limit yourself to packs intended for cameras. In fact, I would avoid them as they have too much volume wasted on padding and are too single purpose. I suggest looking at "tactical" bags like the Maxpedition and 511 Tactical lines. Condor are OK, too, and cheaper though maybe not quite as rugged. LAPoliceGear.com has a pretty good assortment you can look at, though their site is kind of difficult to navigate.

    One option for inside-the-bag gear protection that I have used is heavy boot socks from Walmart. Another is the neoprene lens and body bags that are all over eBay. IMO heavily padded "camera" bags are important and necessary for people who regularly roll their bags down multiple flights of concrete stairs, but for the rest of us they are overkill.

    For small stuff I either use the Grid-It panels (http://www.cocooninnovations.com/grid.php) or I have home-made various size panels with leather backs for stiffness and velco "fur." I then just put velcro hook tape on things like spare battery boxes, chargers, spare lens caps, and arrange them on the fur.

    This basic approach has worked for me over many tens of thousands of air miles and years of international travel. One bag that I used for quite a while was the Maxpedition Malaga.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    Given that you can travel with two carry-on bags, you might want to rethink this. There is no one perfect bag (well, there was a Kelty day pack from the 1970s that was brilliant, but that's long gone...).

    On a recent US trip (4 week road trip in the West of the US, Las Vegas-Las Vegas via Moab, Yellowstone, Portland, San Francisco and various points inbetween) I carried the camea gear - Olympus EM1, EPM1, EPL2, with following lenses: m4/3: 9mm, 14, 14-42 kit, 45-200 Lumix; 4/3:12-60, 70-300, 50 macro; vintage: Leica 180 APO, Vivitar Series One 600 Solid Cat) with multiple batteries and filters in a Kata 3N1-20 - and relegated the chargers (3x for the EPM1/EPL2 and 1x for the EM1) and computer to a computer briefcase carry-on from North Face. The latter was perfectly good place for the computer, since it meant that the backpack was pure photo equipment. Got the Kata bag on sale for less than $100 here in Germany a few years ago.

    A DSLR Gorillapod lived on the top of the bag during the trip with a small Manfrotto ball head. Worked fine.
  5. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    Karrimor Global ... my all time favorite pack. Especially the older model.

    There is a detachable small bag which you can sling on front.

    Don't get all worked up about specialist bags, just put your gear in neoprene bags or lens pouches and voilla.

    We hiked / bus / trained around Italy, Barcelona and Southern France with such packs, this pic shows me wearing the small bag on my front (where I'd fish my camera out as needed with a different lens in each side pocket)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    People mystify me on their obsession to keep their "pressshusss" wrapped in a nappy, then just 2 years later its "obsolete". I've kept my GH1 for ages and no matter how many scratches its got on it its not going to effect the images or its resale value (essentially nil btw).

  6. BobbyTan

    BobbyTan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 26, 2013
    Long Beach, CA
  7. mjgraaf

    mjgraaf Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    My recommendation would be to find yourself a backpack matching your hiking neefs and then add a small shoulder bag for your camera. It is so small, i don't see how it requires a backpack to carry around. In the plane, when needed, you can always pack the camerabag in the backpack. This will bring you max comfort and flexibility. When you buy a backpack, make sure that if there are mesh side pockets, that they will survive a tripod. Carrying the tripod on the side has been the best place for me.
  8. mjgraaf

    mjgraaf Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    Ah, also for smaller backpacks i prefer a good hipbelt. Also, i found it an extreme inconvenience to take off my backpack, each time i needed the camera or some gear. This was one of the main reasons to move to m43, i can now carry all my stuff, all day, in a comfortable shoulderbag.
  9. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Backpacks with a hip belt and back panel access are pretty easy to use to access gear; slip the shoulder straps, rotate the bag around on the hip belt, open up, grab stuff, done.

    Shoulder bags are more practical but less comfortable for heavier loads (the request was for a bag you can also go hiking with, after all), though I do love them for city trips and the like with a minimalist kit.
  10. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    I have an Osprey Quasar pack that I use a Crumpler Haven large in. It has a great deal of room and can fit under the seat on any airplane fully loaded, even the regional commuters. I can fit a Mac Book 13 Air, an ipad, the Haven, and another bag with the 100-300, as well as lots of assorted stuff I carry. I have a shoulder bag I picked up from an army surplus that the Haven fits perfectly into. Great for travel when I need to be light.
  11. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Personally, I have a Kata 22 3-n-1 that works wonderfully. The only quasi-tricky part would be interior storage for the tripod, but it does have a ring on the back that I have threaded the center column thru. Can carry 3-4 lenses easily.

    Sent from my LG-P769 using Mu-43 mobile app
  12. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    +1 That is basically what I have set up for my next trip (to Ethiopia). I have a Condor pack (http://www.condoroutdoor.com/Condor-162.aspx) with an F.64 bag that fits inside at the bottom of the main compartment, leaving at least as much room as your average hiking daypack. The F.64 bag will easily take one GX7 body and three or four lenses, probably two bodies in a crunch; it's unique feature is that it has two removable side pockets that can go in my carry-on bag and be reattached at my destination if needed. The F.64 bag can be carried alone as a waist pack or with a shoulder strap. Unfortunately F.64 appears to be out of business and I didn't find any other bags with removable pockets, but I am sure that they are out there. Absent a need for the extra pockets, there are many small bags that can live happily at the bottom of a bigger backpack.

    I think the main difference between this setup and rdklepper's is that the Haven isn't really intended to be used as stand-alone camera bag.
  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I agree with others that re-purposing an existing pack design is a very good way to go. I personally use a Maxpedition Mongo Versapak as my EDC(every day carry) bag, I picked up a set of padded inserts from Amazon and on my way.

    If I don't want to go padded walls on the pack, then I found that there are padded neoprene pouches out there that I use to just drop into the bag main compartment or side pouches

    You get 2 things with the above IMHO:

    1) Customized to the way you like
    2) A level of security as camera bags, with few exceptions, look like camera bags and can be high profile targets, where as backpacks do not.

    I'm even considering converting over an old Kelty backpack I have into a camera backpack.
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