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Author Topic: Carrying equipment while backpacking  (Read 3326 times)
danmitch
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« on: November 13, 2005, 05:21:43 PM »
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I do quite a bit of backpacking and as I've acquired additional photo gear I've found it more difficult to manage the backpack _and_ the photo gear in a reasonable manner.

Typically, my pack may weigh between 25 and 40 pounds not counting 7-10 pounds of photo equipment: DSLR, a couple lenses, tripod, a few filters, etc. My approach has been to carry the camera with a mid-range zoom attached in a Tamrac zoom bag in front of me with most additional equipment and the tripod in or attached to the backpack. I carry small stuff like filters in a small add-on pack attached to the Tamrac camera bag.

As long as I don't need the tripod and/or don't change lenses this works fine. However, either of those situations requires me to completely removed the fully-loaded pack. While I can do this, it makes me less inclined to take the time to use the tripod and, in any case, is a labor I'd rather not repeat dozens of times per day.

So, with a goal of keeping everything as accessible as possible so that, ideally, I could use either lens and the tripod without removing the pack, does anyone have a system that works for them?

Thanks,

Dan
« Last Edit: November 13, 2005, 05:27:21 PM by danmitch » Logged

Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2005, 06:19:14 PM »
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This is tough. And there are so many solutions. I have a Mountainsmith lumbar pack that I carry over my shoulder and I slip the backpack's waist belt behind the lumbar pack's waist belt to support it. But in the mountains the lumbar pack it a pain in the leg. In that case (no pun intended), I get rid of the lumbar pack carry the camera around my neck - neoprene neck straps are a god send.

The tripod is harder. I slip one leg of my tripod through the backpack strap so it hangs near my hip where the strap meets the bag. With all the legs folded, it tends to stay away from my legs while walking, but that does depend on the terrain. After a while you soon learn to hook and unhook you tripod from the pack. I have experimented with walking stick monopods, but they are limited.
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larkvi
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2005, 07:06:07 PM »
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I have a series of cinching straps on the side of my smaller pack that I tighten and attach a pair of straps to, buckling them around the tripod. I still have to take the pack off to get the tripod back on, but I can get it off by reaching my hand back and unbuckling the two straps.

On my larger pack, I sometimes strap the tripod under the large flap on the top (where tents are often carried); through long practice, I am fairly adept at unbuckling and taking down the tripod(/tent) without dropping anything. Again, I have to take my pack off to get it back on.

Neither is elegant, but I doubt that there is any truly elegant way to carry the tripod, unless on a pack made specifically for photographers. I also generally find that if I am setting up the tripod, I want any pack, even a day pack, off anyways.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 07:35:16 AM »
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My solution to this unsolvable issue has been a shift of mindset.

I still carry the tripod and the extra lenses attached to the backpack, but now I do also leave the D2x in there with the lens I use most.

I have come to realize that there is, for me of course, no taking good images on the run. Even if I have quick access to my camera mounted on a front pack, 95% of the images I will take with my backpack still on will be poor.

I do now stop every single time, take the pack off, and spend time studying the scene before taking a limited amount of variants around a given theme.

Works for me. I use less HD space than before, but typically create more successful images...

Regards,
Bernard
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005, 08:31:32 AM »
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I use the Lowepro shoulder harness system (Kinesis has a similar system) - I can carry 4 lenses and can access them without setting anything on the ground.  I can also carry a backpack which fits over the shoulder harness with no problem.  When I'm hiking the camera's on a shoulder strap with no lens, and the chest strap of the backpack goes through the shoulder strap so there's no way its falling off.  The tripod (Gitzo 1228 with a Markins B10) just gets carried by hand.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2005, 09:09:02 AM by Tim Gray » Logged
kbolin
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005, 09:30:12 AM »
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Works for me. I use less HD space than before, but typically create more successful images...

That's a way of reducing weight... use less HD space.  
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Curt
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2005, 03:52:41 PM »
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Dan, the short answer is that there is no ideal system. You know that!
After 30 photobackpacking years I use basically the same syatem as you. A Lowepro zoompak or one by the old Sundog folks holds the primary gear under the pack's top flap. Then individual neopreme sacks or a stuffsack to hold an extra lens or two. The tripod head goes into the iceax loop with the legs upside down & secured by velcro "onewrap" from Campmor.
On the main packs shoulder strap is a pocket (ala Colin Fletcher) which holds a Olympus Stylus or similar just in case Bigfoot strides across the trail.
When a serious picture presents itself I remove the backpack, setup the gear, then evreything goes back inside again. It is a pain but I cannot function anyway with the loaded backpack on my shoulders while I take a photo which may be a landscape or a mushroom.
BTW-I looked at your site & judge that you are the type of person I could enjoy meeting outdoors.
www.pbase.com/cwphoto
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2005, 04:06:26 PM »
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That's a way of reducing weight... use less HD space.   
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=51263\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

he he he, actually it is. I do now rarely carry my Epson P2000 along for trips less than 4 days long.

Cheers,
Bernard
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John Camp
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2005, 05:00:00 PM »
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I don't know if might apply to you, but I bought a long nylon bag used for carrying lighting equipment that has straps along the side. I stick the tripod inside and can carry the bag over my shoulder, like a rifle on a sling, or, I suppose, I could even carry it bandolier style, across my back, although I haven't tried that. I don't know how you could work it with a big backpack, but it's handy with a daypack. (I don't walk far with this.)

The problem with tripods is that they're so awkward; there's no good way to carry them on a pack without unbalancing everything. If you balance it by putting it on the back, then you've got all that outboard weight which kills your shoulders; if you put it on a side, you're unbalanced; if you put it on top, where the tent usually goes, the legs stick out.

You know what would be neat? A tripod with a snap-on platform that would click over three separate legs. You could stow the legs separately down the side of a pack, or one down each side and the other down the back, with the snap-on head under the top flap. If it was designed right, it would only take a couple more seconds to set up than a regular tripod, and it sure as heck would be easier to carry. I bet RRS could come up with a design in a week...

JC
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Curt
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2005, 06:42:41 PM »
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You know what would be neat? A tripod with a snap-on platform that would click over three separate leg

Yeah, and at days end when at camp the separate tripod poles could double as tarp poles.
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danmitch
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2005, 09:59:01 PM »
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Curt wrote:

Dan, the short answer is that there is no ideal system. You know that!

Yeah, I think I do know that. I was just hoping that someone, somewhere had come up with something better.

I have a decent system worked out for day hikes, where I use a Mountainsmith Lumbar pack for much of the gear, hang the camera over one shoulder and around my neck, and hang the tripod back over the other shoulder. I look like some kind of freak, but I can get to everything without too much fuss - and easily drop the lumbar pack to the ground when necessary.

On the main packs shoulder strap is a pocket (ala Colin Fletcher) which holds a Olympus Stylus or similar just in case Bigfoot strides across the trail.

That is an interesting comment on two counts. First, you know about Colin Fletcher... ;-) I've been a Fletcher fan since I read Thousand Mile Summer, well, a long time ago. Many bits of his wisdom have stuck with me for many years.

Second, I had not though of carrying a small point and shoot camera in an accessible place. There are some now that are good enough to be useful for certain kinds of shots, like those of my hiking partners smiling at the top of some pass.

When a serious picture presents itself I remove the backpack, setup the gear, then evreything goes back inside again. It is a pain but I cannot function anyway with the loaded backpack on my shoulders while I take a photo which may be a landscape or a mushroom.

I've found that I can manage to set up gear with the pack on in some situations - particularly those that lie somewhere between "point and shoot" and "spend 15 minutes getting it just right." For these opportunities I'd love to come up with a more efficient way of packing the gear, especially the tripod. That seems to be the major complexity.

Somewhere, someday, someone is probably going to come up with an imaginative design for some sort of tripod holder that attaches to the pack on the side and is canted forward such that one can get the tripod in and out of it with the pack on.

For now I guess I'll continue to get along with the tripod attached to the back of the pack.

Dan

(Who appreciates your nice words about my web site. Where do you tend to backpack? I'm a Sierra Nevada guy myself.)
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Julian Love
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2005, 04:31:40 PM »
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I can take any picture that doesn't require a tripod without taking off the pack. Here's how:

I carry the camera with one lens attached with the neckstrap around my neck/one arm, so that is is ready to use but not swinging about. I just extract the arm and it is around my neck and ready to use. I carry an additional lens in a lowepro lens case that straps to the hip of my backpack's wasitbelt, so can change lenses easily. I have a small Lowepro accessory pouch strapped to the other hip carrying filters, spare battery and CF card etc. Works for me.

I don't have any better ideas for the tripod than those already suggested though....

Julian
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2005, 05:53:48 PM »
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One additional little suggestion that might be obvious, but, then again, might not...

Strap camera gear to the back of the backpack.  In my case, the tripod sticks vertically out of a lower pocket in the pack, in the middle of the back, which seems to work OK.  Then, find a hiking companion.  Have the hiking companion get the camera gear on & off the pack for you, so you don't have to take the pack off.

It works for me.  

Lisa
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jani
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2005, 03:25:24 AM »
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One additional little suggestion that might be obvious, but, then again, might not...

Strap camera gear to the back of the backpack.  In my case, the tripod sticks vertically out of a lower pocket in the pack, in the middle of the back, which seems to work OK.  Then, find a hiking companion.  Have the hiking companion get the camera gear on & off the pack for you, so you don't have to take the pack off.
Well, John Camp wrote:

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If you balance it by putting it on the back, then you've got all that outboard weight which kills your shoulders
So obviously the convenience of this differs from person to person.

But I must say that a Gitzo 1227 or a Velbon Sherpa Pro 641 isn't exactly "killing weight". With a decent, but not too heavy ballhead, it's still just about 2kg.

What almost killed my shoulders (just a few hours on horseback ...), was the extra lenses and whatnot inside the bag.
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Jan
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