Calling all outdoor photographers…..Want a better pack?

Richard Charpentier PAZ Podcast, Photography, Tech Reviews 3 Comments

Recently I published the latest Photographing Arizona Podcast.  On this episode I talked about the Spot Messenger and Lowe’s Dry Zone back pack.  In the episode I mentioned that I’d be doing my pack “wish list” soon, and here it is today!


The DryZone pack in the Granite Dells

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a fan of my Dry Zone pack.  I can carry one camera body, a few lenses, extra memory cards, and I can store them all in a weather and water sealed compartment.  I’ve also got a small area for snacks and spare junk.  Here’s the thing, the DryZone is a day pack and doesn’t reach beyond day pack.

What I’d like to see is an overnight pack designed for a little more.  You know, for those folks who don’t head back to the car at the end of the day?  Yeah.  We like to bring our cameras along too.

For me, the ultimate photographer’s back pack wouldn’t have to be fully waterproof like the DryZone.  I want manufacturers to start thinking about longer trips for those of us who carry cameras.  And I want them to consider the fact that water is important to all photographers.  There’s a big key!

If you survey the camera bag market you’ll notice something.  No water systems.  You get a backpack that’s completely designed for your camera and lens storage, and that’s all.  No room for anything else, and no where to put water.  Believe me, hiking is a thirsty activity.  You don’t need to live in AZ to know this.  Anywhere you hike during the summer will be hot.  And you need to remain hydrated.

The hydration system in the DryZone is great!  I sure would like a larger water bladder, and I’d like more room to store it and other supplies for a heavy day of hiking and photographing.

So, here’s my solution……..

I’d like to see a pack like Osprey’s Stratos Series.  Personally, I own the Stratos 24, and I use it as my climbing pack.  The pack is slim, molded to your back, has an internal frame, and a mesh backing where your water bladder goes.  The water bladder is not “inside” the pack, but it does ride against your back.

I emphasized the last point because I know what many photographers are saying about my ideas.  “I don’t want a water bladder in my pack that can get my camera wet and ruin it.”  Hey, I agree.  That’s why I’m suggesting Osprey’s design.  The bladder isn’t “in” the pack, and it rides outside of your pack compartment.  A plastic sheet seperates it from the area your gear travels (click here to see the Flash on the Stratos, then select Hydration).  If you do have a spill or leak there’s a low probability the water is getting into the pack at all.  Best of all, the water bladder against your back through the mesh is very cool on a hot day.  Just a bonus!

My Stratos is one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve ever owned.  I can fit a lot of climbing gear in it, and even though it’s a smaller bag I could use it as an overnight pack.  I own the Stratos 24.  My thinking, take the Stratos 40 and redesign it with an outdoor photographer in mind.  Lower compartment with your camera gear dividers, upper compartment for your snacks, stoves, sleeping pads, etc.  It’s always better to keep the heavy gear near the bottom, so put the camera at the bottom of the pack.

In the end, I know that a photographer’s pack like this would be on my must purchase list.  I’m tired of packs that let me carry my camera gear or carry other stuff.  And shooting here in AZ……yeah, I NEED to carry water.

So how about it pack industry insiders?  Could you make a versatile pack that can do more than one thing?  Please?  Lowe’s DryZone is a move in the right direction, but how about another step forward???  Osprey’s Stratos is a great layout, great water management system, and a well designed pack that distributes load well.  Think Osprey could offer a slight modification for adventure photographers????

To my readers….. What do you think?  Take a look at your camera packs.  Now, consider an all day hike, water, food, etc.  Could your pack help you pull it off?  Love to hear comments on this one!

Comments 3

  1. I would definitely like a bag with a water system, but quick access is more important to me so I went with the LowePro SlingShot 300 AW.
    It’s a backpack with a single shoulder strap and a waste strap… the waist strap supports at-least 50% of the load and I can have my camera out and be shooting in under five seconds. Plus if it’s muddy and wet I don’t have to look for a dry spot to set down the bag so I can pull out my gear.
    It has a built in rain cover and although it’s not water tight I’ve used it a few times and it gives me more then enough time to find shelter. I keep a few plastic bags in my pack at all times just incase I need that extra protection.
    Oh and for your final question, yes I could easily do an all day hike with my bag but I would be carrying my water and tripod. I may have a different answer ten years from now, but for now I care more about getting the shot then being comfortable.

  2. Post

    Pretty close Sylvia…..I’ll have to check them out a little more.

    LOL Josh! I agree on the quick access, the DryZone takes some work getting into, but has a very specific purpose (staying dry). For the Coyote Buttes trip I’m thinking my Osprey pack for gear, and my small Crumpler bag for the camera and 2 lenses. I want a lot of water while we’re there, and it’s not a short walk in……

Leave a Reply