Looking for Travel Backpack user experience

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Hello. I have a trip to Sicily for a family visit at the end of next month for 2 weeks and a half. I will be doing a lot of photography since I haven't been there in 5 years, going to do a little bit of everything: landscape, wildlife, street, portraits, and possibly some events.
Last year I bought a LowePro FastPack 250 AW that I have used as a daily driver for my commuting to work which has worked quite well and has gotten quite a lot of usage. The reason why I don't want to use on this trip is that it looks too much like a camera backpack for traveling abroad (and I will be doing some city traveling) and I don't think the backpack is very international travel friendly.
I would like to ask the community about their own experience of traveling with your own camera bag/setup. There are so many backpacks out there and so many reviews that I get lost after a few days of research. But at least I know I have some certain preferences that might help me narrow down my options:
*I prefer side zips to be more flexible and mobile (compared to having to put the backpack down to open it up and get access inside)
*Comfortable straps priority (I have back problems and being overweight makes things quite difficult, yus I am working on losing weight but it's not very fast)
*Good security for the zips (I am going to travel by bus, train, and plane and pass through 4 cities) and because it's the first time I travel by plane I am quite a new experience ... for carrying over 8.000 £ in a bag.
*Good weatherproofing for hiking (with room for a water bottle and a tripod, Sicilian hills are very tall and hot even in October)
*And the last one. to carry all my electronic/photography gear:
#Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III (Plus 3 batteries, dual battery charger, 3rd party L bracket grip)
#Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (Plus 2 batteries, dual USB battery charger, 3rd party L bracket grip)
#Olympus FL-LM3
#Olympus 7-14mm f 2.8 Pro
#Olympus 12-40mm f 2.8 Pro
#Olympus 60mm f 2.8 Macro
#Panasonic Leica DG-Vario Elmarit 50-200mm f 2.8-4 (Plus 1.4x Teleconverter)
#Vanguard Nivelo 214BK
#ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15" notebook (with obligatory charger, Active Pencil, 512GB M.2 external USB stick for backup, Logitech MX Ergo)
#Apple iPad 9.7" 2017 (with obligatory Apple Pencil)
#Anker Quad-Port USB charger (plus a couple of travel charging adapter)
#Anker 20.000 mAh PD Power Bank
#Polaroid Zip Printer
#Travel Papers

The budget I have set aside is 300 £ for a high-quality backpack (which I hope will last me for the next 10 years), to sum it up: to be airport and travel friendly, stealthy and decently secure, roomy for packing most of the stuff, high quality build. What I keep gravitating is Peak Design's Everyday Backpack V2 but I want to consider other options as well, hence why I am asking here.
I can't take to much luggage with me, with only a backpack and a small suitcase, but I will take Crumpler Quick Escape 800 (in the suitcase) for when I am out in the town and possibly when hiking (to keep either the camera with the big Panny Leica lens on quick access). I can't wait to do some timelapse as well, it's been years since I've tried it, that might be the main use of the E-M5 Mark II and the 12-40mm Pro.
Almost forgot to mention: this is the guideline for the luggage I can have:
1597921842077.png
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Heavy Doody

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I'd also look at the Shimoda Explore 30 Backpack. I had one before selling all my Fuji gear, and absolutely loved it. I particularly like the tripod holder.
 
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I've settled on a carry-on roller bag and a small backpack/personal item bag for travel. The latter would be for a light camera kit and travel necessities and go under the seat. No check-in luggage.

I had a LowePro Fastpack BP 150 AW II and modified the dividers to make it side-opening only. I didn't like laying it on the ground either to access the inside compartments. It didn't carry enough. I bought a Thinktank Urban Access 13 to replace it. It has plenty of room for camera gear and with two side access panels, it's very easy to grab your gear. I think it would fit all your stuff. However, I decided it was too big to fit under the seat. I then bought a LowePro Photo Active BP 200 which was on sale at the time. I've now settled on that as my personal item/camera backpack. It has two side-access panels, and a fairly decent upper compartment for travel necessities. I haven't flown with it yet, but it'll fit under the seat easily.

I don't think the Photo Active BP 200 will carry all your gear and leave room for travel necessities such as batteries, travel documents, light jacket, snacks, etc. I can carry my EM1.3 w/12-100 mounted, 40-150 Pro+MC-20, and EM5.3 body or a couple of small lenses in the camera compartment. I carry other stuff (batteries, strap, travel necessities) in the upper compartment. I also have an F-Stop Kenti backpack that would be a tight fit under the seat, and would probably fit better in the overhead. There is a larger Photo Active BP 300, but I think it's too big to fit under the seat. The backpack straps for the Photo Active are pretty comfortable. The Kenti and Urban Access 13 are very comfortable to wear. Very good strap construction and layout, and both have a well padded waistbelt.
 

John M Flores

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I'd also look at the Shimoda Explore 30 Backpack. I had one before selling all my Fuji gear, and absolutely loved it. I particularly like the tripod holder.

I second the Shimoda Explore. Better harness than my F-Stop Guru. Rear camera door entry for security.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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For a lone wolf, you sure got a lot of stuff...
If only I was a JPEG shooter and be interested in only one photography discipline ... my life would be less stressful, cheaper, and lighter. Alas, I am a very curious and eager to learn person. I love to many different types of photography. (I know you were joking :p )
Where I am going it's the main entrance to the biggest National Park on the island: Parco Regionale dei Nebrodi:
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When I lived there for 3 years (5 years ago) I didn't have and couldn't afford any telephoto lens so the best I could have used was a 135mm f 2.8 and a 200mm f 4 but they were single coated 1960s lenses and the IQ was quite disappointing. I can't wait to start hiking and try harder with a bit more experience and better lenses.

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I do miss these beautiful vistas, I haven't done much landscape photography for the last year or so because of work and travel limitations, so I can't wait to but the HHHR and that beautiful Oly 7-14mm f 2.8 Pro. I got that lens specifically for this trip because Sicilian streets get so narrow that people need to bend both their side-view mirrors just to drive safely through the narrow gaps, and there is some very interesting architecture to see as well. I am going to be a bit frustrated using that Vanguard Nivelo 214BK because the head is not replaceable and it's a pretty bad quality ball head to work with.

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I don't think there are going to be any events this year, too bad, I miss them but I am hoping to get some evening socializing so that Oly 12-40mm f 2.8 Pro is going to be put to well use, the Panny Leica 15mm f 1.7 or Olympus 17mm f 1.8 would be useful for evening walkabouts but the High ISO of E-M1 Mark III and even E-M5 Mark II has come a very long way compared to the above Panny G1.

090813Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-G1-005889.JPG
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090713Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-G1-005641.JPG
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And I can't wait to get some Macro opportunities as well, the place is full of little frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, mushrooms, colorful flowers, scary-looking spiders :p

I could not take the iPad with me, save up some space but the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo is not very portable for sharing pictures or a portfolio :) (I am starting to wish I would have gone with a Microsoft Surface).
 
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I've settled on a carry-on roller bag and a small backpack/personal item bag for travel. The latter would be for a light camera kit and travel necessities and go under the seat. No check-in luggage.

I had a LowePro Fastpack BP 150 AW II and modified the dividers to make it side-opening only. I didn't like laying it on the ground either to access the inside compartments. It didn't carry enough. I bought a Thinktank Urban Access 13 to replace it. It has plenty of room for camera gear and with two side access panels, it's very easy to grab your gear. I think it would fit all your stuff. However, I decided it was too big to fit under the seat. I then bought a LowePro Photo Active BP 200 which was on sale at the time. I've now settled on that as my personal item/camera backpack. It has two side-access panels, and a fairly decent upper compartment for travel necessities. I haven't flown with it yet, but it'll fit under the seat easily.

I don't think the Photo Active BP 200 will carry all your gear and leave room for travel necessities such as batteries, travel documents, light jacket, snacks, etc. I can carry my EM1.3 w/12-100 mounted, 40-150 Pro+MC-20, and EM5.3 body or a couple of small lenses in the camera compartment. I carry other stuff (batteries, strap, travel necessities) in the upper compartment. I also have an F-Stop Kenti backpack that would be a tight fit under the seat, and would probably fit better in the overhead. There is a larger Photo Active BP 300, but I think it's too big to fit under the seat. The backpack straps for the Photo Active are pretty comfortable. The Kenti and Urban Access 13 are very comfortable to wear. Very good strap construction and layout, and both have a well padded waistbelt.

FYI, here's some shots comparing the FastPack 150, Urban Access 13, and Photo Active 200. I was able to configure the dividers in the Photo Active to accommodate more gear.
https://www.flickr.com/gp/92624968@N02/S8C9Co
 

Bushboy

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That’s strange. Both my vanguards have really good ball heads. The big one is especially nice! Smoooooth and locks up solidly with just a gentle turn... Try a little grease on it?
Looks like a great time you got planned. Looking forward to seeing your pics! 😀
 
Last edited:

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Dad Pun Joke Master Over Nine Thousand Meme Lord
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That’s strange. Both my vanguards have really good ball heads. The big one is especially nice! Smoooooth and locks up solidly with just a gentle turn... Try a little grease on it?
Looks like a great time you got planned. Looking forward to seeing your pics! 😀
I've been thinking today to make a blog-style post on the forum and update the content with once or twice a week with pictures and stories/adventures. I haven't traveled since 2017 on my first trip to the Netherlands so I am quite excited for some fresh air and new inspiration.

I'm not sure if it's age or not (I've had this tripod for a few years now) and my distaste for them did not make it easier to use the tripod but there are certain things that are limited to using one: Timelapse, Ultra Long Exposures (that's longer then handholding 10-second exposures with E-M1 Mark III) and Astrophotography (there's surprisingly low light pollution down there but not unexpected since it's next to a big national park so not many city lights ... compared to the UK that is).
The reason I don't like this ball head is that it's quite fiddly to adjust it and even after tightening the ball there's still some sag until if finally settles so I have to overcompensate my compositions to account for that. Though there's a limit to how much I can fault the product itself since it's one of the cheapest options I got (and could afford at that time) and it comes with a basic default ball-head option and not even a mid-range quality one.
 
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I really like this outfit and they have others. I hope you have a great visit I spent three weeks there two summers ago and loved everyplace I went. And yes the 7/14 came in very handy.
https://www.wotancraft.tw/product/nomad-travel-backpack-15L-v1-green
IMG_3732.jpg
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L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Dad Pun Joke Master Over Nine Thousand Meme Lord
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L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Dad Pun Joke Master Over Nine Thousand Meme Lord
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PS. My trip to the Netherlands was very eventful:
*First thing that happened to me when I arrived there was get caught in a heavy summer rain with my Panny GX7 out ... little bugger managed to survive that.
*On the 3rd day of Christmas (joking :p ), when I went to the beach with my friend I packed so much in the only backpack I had at that time (Vanguard Biin, and I used it since 2008 up to 2017) that when I opened it up to get my little Panny GX7 it fell on concrete from bursting with content, don't worry the GX7 survived just fine.
*When I went home I lost my train from Brussels to London because I ran out of battery juice on my phone and the single tiny battery bank I had and I didn't know where I needed to go without my Google Maps directions so I got to late to the right train track and the guards wouldn't let me take the last train so I ended up sleeping that night in the Brussel Train Station before getting kicked out of the station by the army (because the Brussel bombing attack happened a month prior) at 4 AM so I ended up on a bench outside where I found 5 Euros underneath that was enough to get a coffee from a coffee shop and get me access to a power outlet to charge my phone so I can buy a bus ticket from Brussels to London with the last 20 Euros I found lost in my jacket pocket by luck and I had a few euros leftover to buy a simple burger in Lille, France, which was the only meal I had for 2 days at that point: (just remembered I had some photos of those adventures backed up by Google Photo+ that I havent seen them since)

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Definetly a highlight of my adventures: sleeping in one of the busiest train stations in Europe :)

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Getting booted onto the benches outside the train station

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Arriving to Lille, France, train station (by bus since it shares that as well)

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I was lucky to find the Mall right next to the station because I was feeling very hungry at that point and:

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Had the most basic meal and burger that would make McDonals stuff feel like a royal feast :p (They would sell only meal set and not individual items, else I wouldn't have gotten that drink)

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Waiting for my ride back to UK

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The last few moments I had in France before leaving
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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Thank you for sharing that. An amazingly impressive review and backpack. I would see myself interested in it for long hikes, especially up mountains (like I usually like to do) but used more locally, like in the UK or if I plan very long trips with very specific hikes (for wildlife). I will probably add this backpack to my toolset down the line, at the moment I was looking for something more airport and city/town friendly (and if possible do some short hikes, up to half a day and up to 100 km max).
(Yus, I know I am asking for a few contrarian needs, ex: secure but with easy access at the same time, to not look like a camera backpack yet hold so much stuff in and fit under an airplane seat, to be hike-able and city trave-able as well)
 

retiredfromlife

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Hello. I have a trip to Sicily for a family visit at the end of next month for 2 weeks and a half. I will be doing a lot of photography since I haven't been there in 5 years, going to do a little bit of everything: landscape, wildlife, street, portraits, and possibly some events.
Last year I bought a LowePro FastPack 250 AW that I have used as a daily driver for my commuting to work which has worked quite well and has gotten quite a lot of usage. The reason why I don't want to use on this trip is that it looks too much like a camera backpack for traveling abroad (and I will be doing some city traveling) and I don't think the backpack is very international travel friendly.
I would like to ask the community about their own experience of traveling with your own camera bag/setup. There are so many backpacks out there and so many reviews that I get lost after a few days of research. But at least I know I have some certain preferences that might help me narrow down my options:
*I prefer side zips to be more flexible and mobile (compared to having to put the backpack down to open it up and get access inside)
*Comfortable straps priority (I have back problems and being overweight makes things quite difficult, yus I am working on losing weight but it's not very fast)
*Good security for the zips (I am going to travel by bus, train, and plane and pass through 4 cities) and because it's the first time I travel by plane I am quite a new experience ... for carrying over 8.000 £ in a bag.
*Good weatherproofing for hiking (with room for a water bottle and a tripod, Sicilian hills are very tall and hot even in October)
*And the last one. to carry all my electronic/photography gear:
#Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III (Plus 3 batteries, dual battery charger, 3rd party L bracket grip)
#Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (Plus 2 batteries, dual USB battery charger, 3rd party L bracket grip)
#Olympus FL-LM3
#Olympus 7-14mm f 2.8 Pro
#Olympus 12-40mm f 2.8 Pro
#Olympus 60mm f 2.8 Macro
#Panasonic Leica DG-Vario Elmarit 50-200mm f 2.8-4 (Plus 1.4x Teleconverter)
#Vanguard Nivelo 214BK
#ASUS Zenbook Pro Duo 15" notebook (with obligatory charger, Active Pencil, 512GB M.2 external USB stick for backup, Logitech MX Ergo)
#Apple iPad 9.7" 2017 (with obligatory Apple Pencil)
#Anker Quad-Port USB charger (plus a couple of travel charging adapter)
#Anker 20.000 mAh PD Power Bank
#Polaroid Zip Printer
#Travel Papers

The budget I have set aside is 300 £ for a high-quality backpack (which I hope will last me for the next 10 years), to sum it up: to be airport and travel friendly, stealthy and decently secure, roomy for packing most of the stuff, high quality build. What I keep gravitating is Peak Design's Everyday Backpack V2 but I want to consider other options as well, hence why I am asking here.
I can't take to much luggage with me, with only a backpack and a small suitcase, but I will take Crumpler Quick Escape 800 (in the suitcase) for when I am out in the town and possibly when hiking (to keep either the camera with the big Panny Leica lens on quick access). I can't wait to do some timelapse as well, it's been years since I've tried it, that might be the main use of the E-M5 Mark II and the 12-40mm Pro.
Almost forgot to mention: this is the guideline for the luggage I can have:
View attachment 842139
With that much gear I would be looking at something bigger than a travel backpack. It would have to be jammed in tighter than I would like and would not carry well.
Does it all weigh les than 7Kg? I have heard some internal flights in Europe now limit you to 5Kg carry on.

For security I now use PacSafe packs and camera pouches when I travel [not ny time soon now]
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

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With that much gear I would be looking at something bigger than a travel backpack. It would have to be jammed in tighter than I would like and would not carry well.
Does it all weigh les than 7Kg? I have heard some internal flights in Europe now limit you to 5Kg carry on.

For security I now use PacSafe packs and camera pouches when I travel [not ny time soon now]
Weighing all my stuff is on my To Do list, which I thank you for reminding me to do that ASAP, the guidelines https://www.easyjet.com/en/help/baggage/cabin-bag-and-hold-luggage is 23 Kgs but there's an option to buy more Kgs as well. I might consider their "Hands Free" option, I haven't looked at the cost of that.
I would expect in the current climate because of the "Human Malware" problem there will be fewer people on the plane for safety reasons (well I guess it depends on to many things if companies hold to the regulations that are) so there should be more room for luggage.
Trouble is there's not much I can give up on:
*The laptop is needed because my iPad can't even handle a few files for editing and it crashes like crazy trying to even view the import section if there's more then a few hundred images.
*I could give up on the Little Oly (E-M5 Mark II) but that would leave me juggling the Big Oly doing daily photography and timelapse (and the choice of doing only one when they wish to do both arrises)
*I really don't want to give up on Oly 7-14 Pro, Oly 12-40 Pro is pretty much obligatory and the Panny Leica 50-200 can't go without either, that leaves saving 180 grams on Oly 60mm Macro :)
*I wouldn't cry over it if I would leave the tripod though

Or am I trying to do too much?
 
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I’d cut your kit. That’s a LOT for travel.

Laptop or iPad. I’d take the latter. Use the cloud.
It’s Europe. Ditch the heavy power bank.
Just one camera body. It has dual slots.
I‘d leave the macro. I’d leave the TC even. Do close-up with the tele + Raynox.
Forget the printer. Use a local drugstore kiosk to print.
I’d leave the tripod or just get a Joby 3k.

Going through 4 cities plus a score small towns, you want to move, not lug.
And not be worried about too much valuable gear.
For pack security only rear access or top.
Less is more.
 

Nam-in-Sonoma

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I use F-Stop Loka UL with Large ICU...I have about the same amount of gear as you except the laptop or iPad. The great thing is you can put different ICU if you need to bring less gears.

49590384853_d483d1d20b_b.jpg
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What's in my camera Bag by Nam Ing, on Flickr

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What's in my camera Bag by Nam Ing, on Flickr

I also have Guru which is smaller, more pictures here
 

Bushboy

Mu-43 All-Pro
Joined
Apr 22, 2018
Messages
1,644
Ok, this is what you need.
The big cam, the wide pro, and, the big zoom.
And money.... you can’t depend on finding the stuff under seats..lol
The big joby is a great idea!
Your Amsterdam trip was classic. 😂
 
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