Perfect solution for carry photo equipment while traveling backpacker style??

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
Hi everyone,
For years I have struggled to find the perfect combo of gear/bags/holsters/messenger bags and more to use while traveling as a backpacker. My next trip of 4-6 months in India, Nepal in Myanmar will be particularly demanding in terms of equipment as I will go from warmer Southern India to the cold Northern States and Himalaya.

I have written a post describing in details what I am bringing and which options I am considering regarding the gear that could answer my needs. As I am sure I am not the first photographer ever in this situation I would really appreciate it if some of you could share some wisdom, experience and general ideas. thanks a lot in advance!

http://blog.fredericseguin.com/blog/2014/12/7/the-eternal-dilemma-of-carrying-and-using-photo-equipment-when-backpacking
Frederic
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,252
1,878
Canada
Since you mentioned MEC backpacks...

They have a couple of small daypacks that don't have any stays and are quite light that you can stuff into your real pack... That way, when travelling with everything, all fits into the main pack. when just bringing the camera gear, take out the daypack, load in the desired gear, and away you go..... and don't forget an ultralite drybag in case of rain....
 

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
Yes exactly! that's one of the options I am considering as those small backpacks can flatten itself. It could also be used for other stuff once in a while. The thing is that it would be harder and longer to get the gear inside and the tripod wouldn't fit.
Have you ever tried using those bags for photography equipment?
 

SecundumArtemRx

I'm New Here
Apr 28, 2013
17
0
I find that the Timbuk2 camera bag inserts work great, if you're going to be picky about not bringing too much gear.

Case in point: I recently took a 7d mk ii to Zion National Park for a week (in a Northface Prophet 52 pack). The Timbuk2 insert had just enough room for the camera, a 16-35 L, and 135 L. Not quite sure the longer white zooms would be able to fit, thought that's my two cents.
 

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
SecundumArtemRx said:
I find that the Timbuk2 camera bag inserts work great, if you're going to be picky about not bringing too much gear.

Case in point: I recently took a 7d mk ii to Zion National Park for a week (in a Northface Prophet 52 pack). The Timbuk2 insert had just enough room for the camera, a 16-35 L, and 135 L. Not quite sure the longer white zooms would be able to fit, thought that's my two cents.
I have heard about those but never actually tried them. They do seem very nice, thanks for the input. It's good to know it worked well for you, I will definitely consider it.

GraFax said:
Do you really need the f2.8 lenses? Don't get me wrong, they are very nice. But they are so much bigger and heavier than the f4 lenses and the only advantage is the single stop. The 24-70 f4 has IS as well. I always travel with f4's or primes to save space and weight. You are younger, and probably a lot more energetic, so maybe it isn't a problem. The weight of that pack would crush me.
I know it's heavy and my back won't thank me. I have considered using f/4 lenses but I need them when at home for concert and low light photography. I could not sell them to buy f/4 lenses and I could not buy f/4 lenses in addition of the f/2.8, as social entrepreneur photographer, I am way too poor to have two sets of lenses haha!
Also, in this next trip I will not only shoot landscapes and cityscapes but many portraits, sometimes in photojournalism settings. I will benefit from the 2.8 in those cases but I agree with you that in general, f/4 is perfect for travel photography. That's also why I am buying the 16-35 f/4 and not the f/2.8 as it is lighter and the bigger aperture won't make much of a difference in dof anyway. I do not need fast lenses in this trip.

thanks for the input!
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,252
1,878
Canada
FredericSeguin said:
Yes exactly! that's one of the options I am considering as those small backpacks can flatten itself. It could also be used for other stuff once in a while. The thing is that it would be harder and longer to get the gear inside and the tripod wouldn't fit.
Have you ever tried using those bags for photography equipment?
Not since this morning :)
 
Mar 30, 2014
2
0
Ottawa
I had a MEC alpinelite 22L backpack as my daypack in India when we were over there for a 5 month trip and it was only good for light loads. All I had with me was was a t1i with 18-55 and 55-250 lenses but after walking for a few hours with them you feel it. The shoulder straps hardly have any padding and the waist strap was useless. If I was going back there with all the weight getting into photography has gotten me I'd probably look for a good strong day pack big enough for everything I need with me and a sturdy dufflebag for everything else. What ever pack you do get don't forget your going to need to carry atleast 1L of water with you and the cheap plastic bottles over there have leaked on me. Have you thought of protective wraps for some of your gear?
 

jabbott

EOS 80D
Feb 17, 2012
115
0
For my trip to India and Nepal in 2012 I used a large North Face Base Camp duffel combined with a Lowepro Photo Sport 200AW as my day pack. It is a versatile combination and was possible to carry both when fully loaded. I used Sea to Summit eVent compression dry sacks for storing clothes + REI down jacket + Marmot Lithium 0 degree down sleeping bag. The Photo Sport is comfortable and able to carry a full frame camera such as the 5D Mark III with 24-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 (though it's quite cramped in the camera storage area when using f/2.8 lenses... I opted to bring f/4 lenses instead), hiking poles, snacks, first aid kit, 1L Nalgene bottle, batteries, etc. I also went from central India to the Himalayas and I was able to bring enough clothes with me in the duffel to readily handle the different climates. The real challenge for me was keeping luggage weight down for flights. Airlines over there have more restrictive weight restrictions and they will sometimes weigh your carry-on/daypack. I weighed everything with a digital kitchen scale before going and made sure that my gear wouldn't exceed the weight limits for each airline I would be flying. If you want a copy of my planning spreadsheet or any other info, send me a PM or email. Best of luck with your trip!

A couple other thoughts... I didn't have spare room in the duffel to stow the camera bag, so whenever I was traveling to a new location I carried the duffel on one shoulder and the camera bag on the other shoulder. That worked but was not ideal. That said, I was able to comfortably hike over 100 miles with the daypack itself. Also, if you are traveling via bus in the middle of the night with your gear on your back, wear a headlamp when you disembark so you can see the ground... I misstepped on broken asphalt and badly twisted my ankle when I got off a bus at the start of my trip in India. Having all of that extra weight on my back did not help. Learn from my mistakes! :D
 

Chris Jankowski

6DII + various lenses, 200D + 15-85
Jul 27, 2013
49
7
Perhaps, I am approaching this from different angle, but I would suggest that you can cut your equipment by about 70% losing only about 5% functionality and making up for it in spades by increased mobility.

I would take only 6D + 24-70 F/4L IS USM + 70-300 F/4-5.6L IS USM. No second body, no flash, no F2.8 zooms, no tripod, no special holsters, no hard disks, etc. No additional bags.

Just 6D body with 24-70 packed in a large zipper plastic bag. Second such bag for the tele zoom. Gear kept at the top of your large backpack. Take small light backpack for moving around cities and for short tramps. However, in addition take Sony RX100 to be always kept in your shirt pocket ready to go in 3 seconds.

It is different mindset, but it works.
 

NunoMatos

I'm New Here
Jan 7, 2014
11
0
Hello
I use the MindShift Gear Rotation180Pro for all my less than 10 days trips in warm climate, my gear is 1Dx, 5DIII, 24-105L, 70-200L , 1Dx+ 70-200 on lower part, the other on front attach with think tank Camera Support Straps V2.0
no Tripod.
 

Attachments

stefsan

EOS 80D
Oct 12, 2011
137
0
www.flickr.com
Have a look at the F-Stop Satori EXP http://shop.fstopgear.com/us/products/mountain/backpacks/satori-exp.html.
It has a volume of 62 litres and a nifty system of different Internal Camera Units (different shapes and sizes). The pack itself is very sturdy, has a lot of possibilities to attach things (from tripod to ice axe, tent or hiking poles) and carries even heavier loads very well. I love mine to bits…
And if you like it even larger than the Satroi EXP, there will be the new F-Stop Shinn http://fstopgear.com/news/2014-11/introducing-shinn-our-first-cine-camera-carry-solution. It comes at a hefty price and won't ship until March 2015 but by the looks of that beast you won't need another pack in a hurry :D
 

tculotta

EOS T7i
Jun 6, 2014
63
0
I heartily recommend the fstop gear line. Having used both Gura Gear and fstop, I greatly prefer the stop packs, particularly the ICU system. They also are more like packs when on your back, sitting in a more comfortable position. I found the Gura pack too boxy and off-balance. The stop packs also offer the benefit of as much or as little camera space as you need through the ICUs. I can use my Satori as either a massive photo pack or a backcountry pack with a small amount of dedicated photo space.

As an aside, get the filter hive from Mindshift. It's a great accessory holder for filters, cards, my cable release, etc., and it can be looped into the hip belt on your pack for easy access. It's a great accessory.

Cheers,
Ted
 

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
Thanks everyone for the great input! Many great ideas that help me evaluate the situation!
I have considered F-Stop gear a lot but the Satori is still too small to hold everything, maybe things will change with the Shinn for the next trip. Another problem with their gear is that ICUs are only compatible for large bags, no small daypack can hold an ICU.
Mindshift Gear also seems very nice but still too small, I am leaving for 4 months at least and I'll be in warm and cold weather, meaning I'll have many different layers of clothing to bring.
I will probably only take the 6D, still not sure but I can't let go of Brian my tripod for landscape photography, it's not that heavy anyway, more of a complication to bring.

jabbott said:
For my trip to India and Nepal in 2012 I used a large North Face Base Camp duffel combined with a Lowepro Photo Sport 200AW as my day pack. It is a versatile combination and was possible to carry both when fully loaded.
I am thinking of something similar but with the Lowepro Flipside Sport 10, has anyone ever tried it or had some feedback about it? I think it could be the bag I will use because it's possible to remove the photo insert and store it in the large bag.

thanks everyone again for the ideas!
 

Maui5150

EOS 7D MK II
Sep 21, 2011
564
0
I LOVE the Think Tank Shapeshifter.

It can be very big, or zippers down. Body and lens are carried separately (i.e. not lens attached like many solutions) but also nicely padded and lays flatter on the back, so for hiking or getting around much thinner and stows / travels more easily.

I generally have carried mine with 5D MK II and 5D MK III bodies, 24-70 IS II, 70-200 F/2.8 IS II, a 580 EX II and either a 50 or Fish eye. Also note by bodies both have grips on them.

Plenty of other compartments for memory cards and things you want access too as well as I also carried the Think Tank rain cover for my 70-200
 

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
Maui5150 said:
I LOVE the Think Tank Shapeshifter.

It can be very big, or zippers down. Body and lens are carried separately (i.e. not lens attached like many solutions) but also nicely padded and lays flatter on the back, so for hiking or getting around much thinner and stows / travels more easily.

I generally have carried mine with 5D MK II and 5D MK III bodies, 24-70 IS II, 70-200 F/2.8 IS II, a 580 EX II and either a 50 or Fish eye. Also note by bodies both have grips on them.

Plenty of other compartments for memory cards and things you want access too as well as I also carried the Think Tank rain cover for my 70-200
Woow!!! I did not know that one! It looks amazing and it could be a great option, I will try it out at the shop asap. Thanks!
 

Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
306
21
Chris Jankowski said:
Perhaps, I am approaching this from different angle, but I would suggest that you can cut your equipment by about 70% losing only about 5% functionality and making up for it in spades by increased mobility.

I would take only 6D + 24-70 F/4L IS USM + 70-300 F/4-5.6L IS USM. No second body, no flash, no F2.8 zooms, no tripod, no special holsters, no hard disks, etc. No additional bags.

Just 6D body with 24-70 packed in a large zipper plastic bag. Second such bag for the tele zoom. Gear kept at the top of your large backpack. Take small light backpack for moving around cities and for short tramps. However, in addition take Sony RX100 to be always kept in your shirt pocket ready to go in 3 seconds.

It is different mindset, but it works.
I completely agree. I suggest that the OP is taking waaayyy too much gear for a 6 month backpacking trip through those countries. Definitely not a second DSLR body, get a small point and shoot instead. Definitely not the f2.8 zoom, get the 70-300L. If you want ultra-wide take the 16-35 f4 and a 50, not the 24-70. Leave the heavy, bulky 600 flash behind and get a 270.
 
Sep 24, 2012
60
1
www.rudoffphoto.com
Extremely interesting, valuable, and informed discussion. Thanks to all. I also plan several extended trips, though not in such harsh environments. I'd think about carrying a smaller daypack of any sort, inside your large backpack. Two points, though: a) have you considered wheeled luggage of any sort? (I have the largest Eagle Creek backpack with a detachable daypack, neither ideal for photo gear, but doable in mild environments.) But b) whatever else you jettison, DON'T omit 2-3 backup hard drives. If you don't have multiple rugged HD's, you will regret it. Even if only an array of large USB thumb drives... for God's sake don't minimize backup!
 

FredericSeguin

Humanitarian and travel photographer
Dec 7, 2014
13
0
www.fredericseguin.com
johnrudoff@yahoo.com said:
Extremely interesting, valuable, and informed discussion. Thanks to all. I also plan several extended trips, though not in such harsh environments. I'd think about carrying a smaller daypack of any sort, inside your large backpack. Two points, though: a) have you considered wheeled luggage of any sort? (I have the largest Eagle Creek backpack with a detachable daypack, neither ideal for photo gear, but doable in mild environments.) But b) whatever else you jettison, DON'T omit 2-3 backup hard drives. If you don't have multiple rugged HD's, you will regret it. Even if only an array of large USB thumb drives... for God's sake don't minimize backup!
Thanks! wheeled luggage is impossible as roads will be hard to "roll on" and it's not even a possibility when thinking about hiking in the mountains.
Yes I do agree with you concerning backing everything up. I am carrying 2x 1TB Silicon Power A80 Hard drives. They are the toughest on the market right now, sustaining drop, pressure, dust and 30 min in 1 m of water. It is essential to always have every image in two different drives placed in two different bags!
 

Maui5150

EOS 7D MK II
Sep 21, 2011
564
0
Here is the FRO Knows Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=razygrExQ6o

This is the bag I generally use when I shoot events and am primarily on my motorcycle.

Or Matt Granger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBUF1l4OYu4

I am on two years with no issues so far.
 

tayassu

EOS RP
Jun 17, 2014
361
0
500px.com
stefsan said:
Have a look at the F-Stop Satori EXP http://shop.fstopgear.com/us/products/mountain/backpacks/satori-exp.html.
It has a volume of 62 litres and a nifty system of different Internal Camera Units (different shapes and sizes). The pack itself is very sturdy, has a lot of possibilities to attach things (from tripod to ice axe, tent or hiking poles) and carries even heavier loads very well. I love mine to bits…
And if you like it even larger than the Satroi EXP, there will be the new F-Stop Shinn http://fstopgear.com/news/2014-11/introducing-shinn-our-first-cine-camera-carry-solution. It comes at a hefty price and won't ship until March 2015 but by the looks of that beast you won't need another pack in a hurry :D
+1 :)