Today I realized I need a pack for carrying around my various cameras and gear. I have 2 DSLRs, 1 SLR, a GoPro, various other odds and ends, and some nicknacks I need to keep clean. I know that there are some serious packs to be had out there like FStop's stuff for example.
However, I am not too familiar with the options out there, and let's face it, marketing hype isn't always helpful. So, I'm reaching out to my favorite resource center for all things bike related, the internet - specifically the Vital community. I know there are a lot of "joe-shooters" among the readership, and there are also the "heavy-hitters" who we all know and whose works we enjoy daily - so, I'm hoping that among the group, I might be able to receive some guidance on "best for price", "most durable", "best looking" [kidding], and so on and so forth; any starting point would be great.
If there is that "golden pack", that always makes things easier, but it is rare. Price is not an issue, this is an investment to keep my glass and bodies safe and working. Thank you ahead of time, and if there is already a thread like this, sorry I missed it and I will happily accept a redirect to the link.
As far as brands go, I have always had good luck with Lowepro. They tend to have pretty good waterproof zippers which is a must for hiking down a track in the pouring rain. I have had them break before though (waterproof zippers tend to be kinda finicky) but this is where I will always plug them- they will fix or replace anything on their bags without any hassle.
I've since moved on to a Dakine Sequence which is okay. I only moved because I couldn't get my Lowepro onto a plane consistently. It was just a hair too big and I got tired of arguing with airlines about it. The Dakine has been good to me so far but nothing special.
Cine-bags are okay for the money. At my job where I have to store and protect a ton of cameras, we pretty much use Porta Brace. Aside from being made in the USA, they stand behind their stuff and it's generally pretty well thought out.
If I can give you any tips, it's to buy slightly too big. You will want to grow into your bag, not grow out of it in a year. And there is no magic bullet for what is the right brand. Since all our needs are different, it's impossible to say that what I like is good for you. But if you stick to a company with solid rep, like porta brace or lowepro, you can be pretty certain that you'll have a pretty good bag. The perfect bag is elusive and I've long since given up on finding that, instead settling for "this will do well enough to not piss me off constantly" and while it might not sound like the bar is very high, I get pissed off very easily at gear. So having something that doesn't distract me all the time is saying a lot.
F-stop stuff looks very good and while I haven't had any long term time with their goods, what I have seen at trade shows has proved that they would be very good for my needs.
I kind of feel like I didn't answer your question at all... but spend about $200-250+ and you'll be pretty pumped on whatever you get I'd bet.
k.shiz, that was perfect. You indirectly answered all of my question(s) succinctly. I've come to know that you have high expectations of your equipment (as do I), so I greatly appreciate the feedback on the various options, and the fantastic advice of "buying up" in terms of size and price. The options have now been narrowed down, and it is just up to me to pull the trigger. Thanks again, that was spot on.
Your gear is like a gas in the sense that it will expand to occupy the whole volume of its container... no matter how big of a gear bag you get, you will find (potentially stupid ways) to fill it!
I think you're going at this with the right mindset that price is one factor and that it's an investment in protecting your much more expensive bodies and lenses and flashes! That's good. I see a lot of people sad when they have a hundred dollar camera bag shred after a year or get soaked in ten minutes of rain and ruin all their gear. You got the right idea on paying for quality so whatever choose, I bet you'll be happy with it.
Let us know what you get in the thread and what you're cramming in there!
Hmmm... Mountain Bike Action bag check with Sven Martin feature? I'll have to see if I can pin him down for that next to the pits-pond at Sea Otter this next year!
I will be sure to let you know what i get, how much stuff can fit inside it (an Ewok?), and anything else that is fun about it (It doubles as a pop-up camper?). About to buy another lens too...so the advice of "buying big" is already coming in handy.
I remember a couple of years back (maybe Littermag days?) there was an couple of photos of the photog's bags all spread out on the media center tables...it was ridiculous. But, I too would definitely like to see a more in depth peak at what the pros are packing - it's cool to see what goes into "the making of".
Ordered the Dakine Reload. We'll see how it works out! I'll give it a review once I have it in front of me and have put it to the test.
Reload pack is awesome. Large, that is for sure, but very comfortable and fits all the necessary gear. Looks sharp too. I'm stoked on it.
Dakine Pack Reviews
Alright, here you guys go.
Dakine Sequence Pack: Awesome pack for it's size, value and what you can store in it. One of the best l pack I have ever owned. I can fit: Nikon D3, 70-200, fisheye, 24-70 and a 14-24. Plus 2 flashes. Pocket wizards have to be stowed else where, but have no worry. There is lots of room in the top compartment. There are so many straps on this pack, I have so many options for light stands and tripods, etc.
Lot of space for all the odds and ends. CF cards, dust blower, cables, food, first aid, etc. Rain cover is a bonus. Recommend to any serious and pro shooters. I can get most shots with this pack, but I do shoot with lights often, so sometimes I run out of room.
Dakine Reload Pack: Second best pack I have owned. Do to its size, I can carry tons of gear with it. It does have its downfalls though. I can store everything I stated above, in the camera block itself pretty much. plus one extra cube for a smaller lens, or what might have you. I like that on the flap it has all the zippered pockets, etc. easy access to your little bits and pieces while the bag is open.
Biggest down fall is the straps. I was really bummed about this when I got the pack. I've gotten by, but the straps Dakine gives you are just plain crappy. You have to attach them yourself to the pack, and there are no ends to them so the straps latterly slide through the buckles. It's plain worthless. Anyone that owns this pack knows what I mean. Rant: over.
Anyway, this is my full time pack and it works for now.. I would like to get an FSTOP sequence pack soon, those seem the be the program.
My heavy set up
So when I go shooting on location for a commercial shoot, or a shoot where I can bring multiple bags I really like having both of these packs together.
Using the Reload pack, I have all my camera and accessories in there. While keeping it light enough it doesn't break my or my assistants back. And when the Sequence pack it fits my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra kit, ( 2 batteries, pack, 2 strobe heads) cables, 2 speed lights, and 4 pocket wizards. It's really a great set up with both packs.
But on any good day I would rather be riding down a trail with my Dakine Sequence pack hands down. The Reload is nice, but too big for riding any distance. It's thrown me off balacne a few times and sent me head first down the trail. Never crashed with the Sequence (so far). Best mountain bike photographer pack out there for sure.
After owning the Reload for close to a year now, I can confidently say, pgore said it all. It's massive, so athletics with it are not really an option e.g. riding and skiing - but hiking and walking it is fine. You'll get in shape hauling it around fully loaded too.