Backpacks are a sore spot for many photographers. Personally, I’ve owned so many different types over the years that I truly can’t remember them all. I know photographers who have entire gear closets filled with bags, and nothing else. The problem here, I think, is that bags look amazing online (or in a store) — seeing them, reading reviews, and even trying it on for a few minutes — but then reality kicks in a few weeks later, and you realize that your new purchase isn’t all that spectacular. That brings me to the company Peak Design. I’m sure you’ve heard of them; they made headlines a couple years ago after fundraising millions of dollars on Kickstarter for their lineup of bags. We haven’t yet reviewed one of their bags on Photography Life, so, when they reached out to send a copy for testing, I decided to see how it measures up. This review specifically covers the 20 liter version of the “Everyday Backpack.” So, does it live up to the hype? Can you finally clean out your closet of bags and turn it into something more productive? The answers are more nuanced than you might think.
For as long as I can remember, ever since I bought my first DSLR I’ve been looking for “the perfect” casual camera backpack. For me, that means a backpack that I can take anywhere, that’s easy to use, carries enough gear for a long walk or casual hike, has room to carry non-photography items and isn’t too big and bulky. When I saw the USA Gear S17 (which I’ll just call the S17 from now on), I knew it had the potential to be a camera backpack that I’d use on a regular basis.
I set out with a goal to find the best outdoor camera bag. For the most part all of these bags turned out to be pretty great bags with different strengths. To try out the bag it needed to hold at least one pro body, a wide angle zoom, normal zoom, telephoto zoom, flash, tripod and accessories. My kit was a Nikon D800, 17-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. Let’s take a look at a number of different outdoor camera bags and see which one is the most versatile option for shooting outdoors.
Over the past few months I’ve had a number of readers contact me at my office or via email and inquire about the Nikon 1 gear that I use and why I selected various components. I thought that providing a list of my gear may be of interest and benefit to some readers so here is a “What’s in my bag” article as it pertains to my Nikon 1 gear.
F-Stop Gear holds a unique position in the world of backpacks. Whereas most other manufacturers produce either camera bags or hiking bags, F-Stop Gear aims to do both — they make hiking-style backpacks with swappable internal compartments for camera equipment. Just this morning, F-Stop Gear announced the addition of four new bags to their Mountain Series lineup: the Ajna, Tilopa, Sukha, and Shinn. These bags are sized at 40, 50, 70, and 80 liters, and they bring along some exciting changes from the old Mountain Series.
My experience with shoulder bags has not exactly been great up to this point. As much as I liked the idea of carrying equipment in a shoulder bag, that convenience of quick access, I’ve not found one that would serve the part flawlessly before. There was always something not quite right – it’s either too square or too wide, the strap – too narrow or likes to play heart-stopping jokes on you.
You probably saw the next bit coming. You may even think it to be a cliché of sorts. But, yes, I found the shoulder bag I was looking for. I absolutely adore the Seven. Whenever I use it, I am constantly fascinated by all the things it does just right. Almost as if people who actually do photography came up with the design! So I will go on and say the following: if you need a medium-sized shoulder bag for daily use, just go and buy this. Need a smaller one? Get the Retrospective 5. Need a larger one? Get the Ten or Twenty. It’s great, and I can’t see someone not liking it for all the things it does well.