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An ode to my backpack

An ode to my backpack

Old Feb 6, 20, 10:00 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: SIN
Programs: A3*G, DL Silver Medallion
Posts: 83
An ode to my backpack

My EDC and travel backpack of choice is a ThinkTank Photo Urban Approach 15, and I love it.


It's so handsome, well made, well padded, has flexible organization and it is a perfect size. It makes me feel happy every time I use it.

It has one large main compartment and crucially unzips on three sides so you have complete access to the main compartment. There are two small transparent zip pouches on the "lid". The main compartment is well padded and the velcro inserts can be completely removed to create one large compartment, or subdivided in the way most photographic packs are. I favor this even for non-photographic equipment because it has the advantages of separating items in different areas, without the cumbersome-to-access nature of opaque zippered pouches.

There is also a large laptop slot on the back, a very small zippered slot on the front (perfect size for a passport), and a hidden loop to slip it over the handles of a rolling bag. There are two neoprene water bottle/umbrella/tripod pouches on each side.

It is not only a photography bag. I have often used it for a weekend trip as a single bag. I'll slip a couple shirts in an Eagle Creek Pack-It Original Garment Folder S and slip that along with my laptop in the laptop compartment, then slip toiletries and pajamas in the main compartment, along with my Nikon DSLR, a second lens, and a few electronics accessories and some snacks.

But it's also small enough and professional enough to bring to work and external meetings as an EDC bag, and robust enough to fill up with two camera bodies and a half dozen lenses (but not much else), if necessary. (It says that it is designed for mirrorless cameras, but it will hold full size DSLR, albeit without a vertical grip, unless you remove the lens). A tripod can be easily strapped to the outside --- legs in the water bottle pouch and there's a tripod strap. Sometimes I use that for an umbrella instead as the strap will keep an umbrella from flopping about.

To me, the virtue of a bag lies not in how much it can carry, but in other areas. This bag is sleek, comfortable, robust, and organized inside. It doesn't tempt me to carry too much, but will hold what I put it in it.

It is not perfect. The top carry handle is uncomfortable and unbalanced. The front zip pouch is too small and tight. I would prefer the rain cover to be integrated (stored on the bottom as padding?) rather than separate, although the bag is already pretty water resistant as it is. The water bottle pouches are a little tight. The loop barely fits over the handle of my Tumi rolling bag.

But it's pretty close to perfect. I've used it almost daily for four years, and it is hardly the worse for wear. The straps are comfortable, the back is vented, the nylon is high quality, and the zippers are exceptional with robust leather pulls.

I suspect non-photographers rarely consider photo backpacks. There are probably lighter, cheaper backpacks with more internal capacity for the size. As a photographer I never consider a non-photo backpack, even though I don't carry a camera everywhere, all the time. I suggest that non-photographers also take a look at this backpack. When I'm not carrying my camera, I still appreciate the padding that protects whatever I have inside (even if that's my groceries) as well as it makes it more comfortable for me. I also appreciate the flexible organization, so that I can quickly create compartments on the fly. It will fit under my seat on an airplane and it's pretty "stealth" --- it's not obviously a camera bag and it doesn't have a prominent logo.

I have larger photo backpacks (like the excellent GuraGear Kiboko, but which has sustained more damage, mostly to zipper pulls, in less use) and smaller photo backpacks (like the now discontinued Lowepro Orion Trekker), but never had a backpack of any kind that is as well constructed, as easy to pack and unpack, protects my gear as well, is as flexible to reconfigure or looks as handsome.

In short, take a look at it!

lipoff is offline  
Old Feb 7, 20, 5:17 am
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: New England
Programs: DL GM, UA, B6, AA, WN, AS, AGR
Posts: 4,005
I use a Lowepro Pro Runner 350AW for the same purpose. They don't make them like they used to!
diburning is online now  

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