Daypack/Camera Bag recommendation

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by demiro, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I've been fighting the need for this, but I find it necessary to transition from a traditional shoulder bag to a backpack of some kind that is split somewhat evenly between gear and non-photography items. I see a few options where gear stows in bottom section, and top flap opens to a compartment. That seems fine for me. Hoping I can get some good recommendations on a high value bag.

    Needs: Comfy strap; capacity to hold body w/lens + 2 more lenses; at least a few extra pockets for accessories; preference to wear it over one shoulder, like the cool kids did when I was in school (and Reagan was president).

    Don't Needs: Pro-level pack; serious outdoors pack (this will be used in the wilds of suburbia).

    Any help will be appreciated. I've already watched about 30 minutes of YouTube bag review videos. Hard to tell good from bad, as no one seems critical of anything.

  2. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    I've used a Kata DR-467i as a daily commute bag and have been quite happy with it. It accommodates my largish 15" laptop in a separate compartment, my E-M5 and up to 5-6 lenses (although I generally only carry one or two) in the lower compartment and all my incidentals (chargers, power supplies, mouse, etc.) in the upper compartment. It's quite comfortable and offers good protection for all the gear. If I didn't have such a large laptop I probably would have opted for one of the smaller bags in the line (DR-466 or DR-465).

    I'm not sure how helpful this is, as it appears that the Kata bags are no longer available since their merger with Manfrotto, but you may be able to find them on the used market.
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  3. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    My everyday bag, that holds my em1 w/ RRS BOEM-1, 12-40 and 75mm is a Tamrac Velocity 6 sling. The front pouch holds 3 extra batteries, a cable release and a 10 stop ND filter (with step ring to fit both lenses). If I need to add more to it (another lens or two, or flash), I just add a lens bag on either/both sides of it. It's a carry over from my DSLR days, but it still works really well.

    This then fits into my work bag, a Think Tank Urban Disguise V50. On my last work trip, I had the setup above with my MBP 15", LX-7 and chargers, Ipad Mini, Ipad Retina, a battery backup for all my mobile devices, and some other materials like a computer charger, pens and notepad. It was chock full, but still fit in the overhead bin of a regional jet.
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  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I like the Lowepro Slingshot AW series. They come with a rain fly, one shoulder and swing around the front for access to camera stuff from the side. It has a top section to store whatever you like. Additional attachment points for adding smaller bags if you want.

    I have the 302, which is big, but have had it since the DSLR days. The smallest one is the 102, which is a similar configuration, but a smaller footprint.
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  5. tradesmith45

    tradesmith45 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 13, 2012
    Demiro, I've got similar interests & will be very interested in learning what others report. Over 50 yrs of photography, I've tried several things to address this problem including sewing/converting a standard small packs. Here's what I'm doing for now & the reason I chose these particular approaches - none are perfect but they work for day tripping for wildlife & landscape work & for backpacking. And these approaches keep cost down while being very versatile.

    Its not hard to see that for years the market place provides either bags for hiking/camping or bags for camera gear. There are almost no hybrids except for some very expensive pro level gear designed for big gear. Many of todays camera bags designed for DSLRs don't work well for todays small cameras (they didn't work too well for my old Pentax MX 35 yrs ago either).

    Approach 1. Start w/ a standard front loading day pack of some kind & add some kind of divider/pouch system for camera gear. In my film days, I sewed a divider system into a front loading day pack. A front loader w/ multiple compartments is needed of course so your camera gear can be kept separate & accessible.

    Approach 2. Strap on a small/medium lumbar or shoulder camera bag to the outside of a top loading day pack. The advantage of this is you can strap the camera bag to small/medium/large packs you may already own. Depending on the design, some front loaders can be used this way too.

    I have done/do both. In the last year, been using what's called an assault or tactical pack w/ neoprene pouches for camera gear because these have multiple compartments & large main compartment zippers. Don't be put off by the name of these because they have several advantages over standard hiking/book bags. Here's something like what I'm using:
    These are sold in many sporting goods stores in many configurations & colors for hunters & paintballers. Besides having multiple compartments, the zippers on the main compartments go almost to the bottom of the bag so its easy to get to that something down at the bottom or to haul out your giant super tele. And strapping on pods or other gear is easy. Most have a hydration &/or laptop pouch too. They are inexpensive & several brands I've examined are well made. The heavy construction means these are not lite weight.

    I also have an older model LowaPro Photo Runner lumbar bag that I frequently strap to packs mostly for extended hiking. It won't hold a super tele so that has to go into the pack.

    Hope you bag something!
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  6. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
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  7. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
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  8. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    For travel (mostly international/tourist) my setup is a medium-sized tactical backpack with a ThinkTank Speed Demon camera bag carried inside. The Speed Demon easily carries a couple of GX7 bodies with a 9-18 and a 14-140 plus a couple of extra batteries. In addition I can add a ThinkTank Lens Changer with a 100-300mm to the pack if I want to.

    The main purpose of the backpack is as a cabin bag with tablet computer, headphones, camping style salt/pepper shaker (I hate those paper packets!), and other miscellaneous long-flight-survival stuff. At the destination, the camera bag and lens changer come out and the backpack stays in the hotel (or AirBNB, lately).

    Additional camera stuff is in my carry-on; battery chargers, more batteries, other lenses, etc. Thus I will have all of my equipment with me and nothing in our one checked bag, subject to looting and loss.

    I load the pack so that the maximum thickness is around 8" since this is a carry-on limitation. But it goes under the seat in front of me for takeoff and landing, otherwise it sits vertically at the front edge of my seat, behind my knees.

    The pack is like this one: If anything, it is a little bigger than I need.

    Edit: I just noticed your comment about carrying on one shoulder. My pack carries OK that way, the Condor also has a sling version: Personally I'd rather have the pack version so I have the true backpack option but I often carry it by only one of the straps.
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  9. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    The Hazard 4 that Phocal linked looks to be functionally what I want. I'm afraid the look of it might be a bit too foreboding for some of the elementary school activities I attend though.

    The key for me is having a physical separation between gear and non-gear. Plenty of great bags out there, but providing separation without losing convenience is the key, I think.
  10. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    I still haven't found a good backpack. For day-hiking, I carry a Mountainsmith Lumbar pack, as it keeps me light... but doesn't really have room for a tripod. For traveling, I normally carry a shoulder bag like the Saddleback Satchel. Nowdays I'm looking for a packpack than can be used for normal everyday situations, hiking, and traveling when needed with a 13" laptop. The F-stop Loka UL and Guru looks really nice, but aren't long enough in the torso length (I have a 22.5" torso), and for a bag that costs that much, I'm not willing to compromise on fit.

    I find the bags that have the military/tactical look to be very un appealing. Actually being in the military, my goal is to try to look 100% like I'm not in the military when I'm out of uniform. I also what something that doesn't look like it holds thousands of dollars worth of gear when traveling.
  11. Speedliner

    Speedliner Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    Southern NJ, USA
  12. excman

    excman Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    Odsherred, Denmark,
    Absolutely fresh test of medium size Photo Backpacks in Photo Magazine (Translated)
    Test Winner: Manfrotto Bumblebee 220 L
    3.0 kg.
    18 liters
    7 pockets
    Room for 2 Housings
    flexible layout

    See also Lowepro ProTactic 450AW. Should be a good buy also.
    But maybe to small ?
  13. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Don't know what a 22" torso means, but I have the fstop Guru and it's terrific. It will be my carry-on bag for an upcoming trip to Europe, probably with a ThinkTank Hubba Hubba Hiney inside for my daily carry camera kit. I also use it for hiking, with a Gitzo 2541 tripod, the camera gear, and hiking stuff.

    I have the medium and small ICUs, non pro, and my E-M1 with the rrs l-plate fits fine. Can't comment on the battery grip.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
  14. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Seoul, South Korea
    Here's an article about how to measure your torso length. Sadly most companies don't make packs for people with longer torso lengths, as it doesn't really start to come into play unless you're wearing the hip belt and have more than 15ish pounds of gear in it. But for day hiking or traveling, if I add camera gear and other electronics, it's noticeable after a few hours of carry.

    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    I just use a Gregory 30l. day pack for all day use where I might need, lunch, water, tripod, raingear or have to carry/shed clothes. I have a 22l. for short trips. Either fits my tablet and any combination of camera gear. I never used or saw a need for a pack specifically labeled for photography. I also find that that the "Pro-level" packs are better designed and more comfortable at little additional cost. Whether at Starbucks or the Andes.
  16. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
  17. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    I use the Lowepro Compuday 250 backpack. It is a smallish daypack that is comfortable with strong straps. It has a side pocket which fits a couple of mu4/3 cameras with mounted lenses (I used to shoot with 2 E-P5 with 17/75 primes, and it also fit my E-M5 with 12-40 and E-PM2 with P35-100. I now use the side pocket with LX100 and GX7 with P35-100 or O75-300 zooms).

    It has a padded slot that fits my 15" macbook pro and another slot for papers, ipads, etc. There is enough room in the rest of the main pocket for what I need for the day - baby change kit, extra sweater, snack, etc. There is a second pocket that has inner pockets for my mobile phone and things like extra prime lenses, lenspens, whatever. There is a front pocket for other small stuff too. On the side (opposite the camera compartment) is a mesh for holding a water bottle.

    I've had this backpack loaded until it was very heavy to lift, and I have had no problems with the durability of the straps. Cut off the Lowepro logo and it is a very unassuming black backpack.

    My only negatives is that it doesn't have a chest strap (I added an after-market one).

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  18. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I like this bag. Tough to find, as it seems to have been discontinued a while ago, but definitely a contender. I really like the side access to dedicated camera space.

    I also like the The Vanguard BIIN 47. Also discontinued, but still available. May be too small though.

  19. Indianpeaksjoe

    Indianpeaksjoe Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 1, 2012
    Single strap for suburbia? I'd say buy a Mountainsmith bag and a Mountainsmith insert. I like it quite a bit, I use it walking my dogs almost every day. And it doesn't scream "camera bag".

    Kit Cube instert:

    Mountainsmith Tour pack.
  20. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
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