Linda and I have probably wasted more money on backpacks than any other area of photography. They all look so good. Net result, I just gave away maybe a dozen of them…all lightly used. Why…because we found the one that works for us. It took a bunch of experimenting, but we finally wound up with one that suits our purposes.
What did not work? We tried the one that CJ loves. It is huge. You can pack your house in it and throw it on your back. But…CJ is 40 something and we are 70 something…and it turns out that makes a difference. Two trips out to the lava flow with that big pack were enough for both Linda and I. Too heavy and too awkward for us. In fact, CJ had to take them from us and lug them out himself on a couple of occasions or we would still be out there. Nick Selway use to do the same thing…come over when we were taking a rest and grab my backpack and carry it off with me semi-protesting..all because we were making very slow progress with me trying to lug that giant backpack.
Next, we tried high quality back packs that were much smaller. Turns out they were too small. Give away items.
We tried the ones you swing over one shoulder…useless on a long hike over rough lava. More give aways.
Hey…let’s try those cool looking ones that actually have rollers. Worthless.
Let’s try the ones that look like a suitcase with rollers…too heavy and hard to carry on.
Got to have the ones with the built in water supply. Got em…tried them…gave them away.
Basically, we tried them all. We finally found ones that work for us. I am reluctant to even tell you what they are…they may not be right for you. I will say that Think Tank has a nice line of backpacks…but they are not the only company that has them. Think through exactly how you will use them and then decide. I hope it takes you less tries to get it right than we experienced.
Here is what we decided on…one that is large enough to carry all of our gear when we travel. We pack the tripod in the suitcase and check it, but carry on the rest. TSA does not love us, but our gear gets there at the same time we do every single time. It must also have a place to put our laptop computer. There must still be room for several bottles of water…not when traveling in a plane but for those long lava hikes. Needs to be pretty waterproof…although we never carry the rain protectors they provide…if it looks like rain we carry an umbrella. Got to be a place to hang our tripod. Last, has to fit into overhead on the plane or under the seat in front of us. Oh…and it has to all add up to something that we can actually carry. To be truthful…we push that one right to the edge. CJ is always reminding us to pack light for hikes…which we often ignore and pay the price for a few miles into the hike.
Many come with a belt you can cinch around your waist. That is great for those of you young enough to be an actual pack horse. For us…if the pack is heavy enough to need that kind of anchoring to our body…it is too heavy.
So, good luck. Think it through and remember our wastefulness…then begin you own. Aloha.