Tech Friday: How to carry it all……….comfortably…….

8 years, 6 months ago 0

As a photographer I’ve spent way too much time thinking about how to carry my gear, 40 years actually. As a member of the Bag-of-the-Month Club, I’ve owned and tried literally hundreds of bags, slings, packs and rolling cases. I have some opinions, well founded, in trial and error. Please allow me to share some thoughts.

First: Decide how much you need, and
can carry. I have a three lens package
too the right. Nikkor 17-35 AFS f 2.8.
Nikkor 24-70 AFS f 2.8, and the
Nikkor 70-300 AFS VR. One body
usually the D700. A second body as
a back-up is stored away just in case,
but is not carried often. I’ve found
that I can do virtually 95% of my
shooting with this package. Of course
I own a large selection of other lenses
but most are collectors items or back
ups, or specialized lenses like the 200mm Micro Nikkor, and Nikkor 85mm f 1.4.

Second: Decide how you will be working. For general assignment work I carry the system above
it is my “go to” set of gear. I’ve found the easiest way to carry it is a Pro Speed Belt system by Think Tank shown at the top. It takes the weight of my shoulders, and after shoulder surgery that’s a good thing! It’s also very easy to work in the field with everything close at hand. If you have to move fast, which I seldom do anymore, all your gear is with you and not on the ground.

Third: If you have to carry more gear and
have the back health to do it, a back pack
is the way to go. The one I’m very partial
to is the Lowpro Mini-Trekker. I’ve used
these for many years and find them to be
just right to carry a body, four lenses and
some other accessories. Fully loaded it
still can be kept to around 20 pounds and
it has a good strap system and opens and
is easy to work out of. This pack and the
others shown in this blog are all from
very reputable bag makers. Lowepro,
Think Tank, and Maxpedition are all very
well made and I’ve virtually never had a
failure with any of these brands. I’m sure
there are lots of other good ones out there
but over the years these three brands
have proven to be the top of the mark for
quality of materials, and construction.
They are also some of the most thoughtful
designs that really work in the real world.
That really matters…….

Fourth: When doing travel photography the rules change, the name of the game here is don’t
carry anymore weight that you really need to. Travel should be fun and taking too much gear
and trying to carry too much weight will ruin the experience.

While on a trip to Disney
World with my family
I met a man on one of
the shuttle buses using
a very interesting bag.
We started talking and
it turned out he was
a dealer for Maxpedition
bags. They are a
leading manufacturer
of Military spec bags
that have been adopt-
ed by hunters and the
outdoors community.
This bag, the Maxpedition
Jumbo Versipack, is
actually designed to carry
a 9mm pistol and water bottle and other items. Mine is the S-Type (left side carry) The water bottle holder, holds by 70-300 perfectly and the D90 with the Nikkor 16-85 AFS VR lens fits perfectly in the main compartment, which by-the-way is very water resistant, (Those two lenses give me continuous coverage from 24mm to 450mm.) Numerous pockets are perfect for extra batteries, cable release, and other important accessories. The construction is military tough, and the build quality second to none. The cost is very reasonable, considering what you get, the bag above with all the extra attachments was around $160. Best of all it is the most comfortable across the shoulder bag I’ve ever carried. Just for the record, my other two favorite shoulder bags are the Think Tank Speed Racer and the Lowepro Stealth Reporter 400AW.

Fifth: Getting on an airplane is another story all together. To get through airports you need wheels and a bag that can withstand being placed in the pink tag section under the plane on smaller commuter jets! My two favorites are the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW (right) and the
Think Tank Airport
Security 2.0 (left).
Both are very well
designed and can
carry a lot of gear
with the help of
substantial wheels.
The Think Tank can
carry more but
gets heavier, so
they are both used
depending on
what kind of trip
it will be, and how
much I need to
carry. They can
both carry my go
to system plus a
laptop, hard drives,
cables, and lots of
other gear.

So there it is, just because this is my system doesn’t mean you need to adopt it, but consider the methodology I follow as you make your own decisions about how to carry your gear. By the way, if your 30 years old and just love carrying a 80 lb, back pack, I can only say, I’m envious…….

The reason for all this concern about picking the right gear and packing it right, is to stop thinking about the gear and start thinking about, “PHOTOGRAPHY”………….

My prayer for you is that you will spend a weekend with your family and loved ones wrapped in their love. Whether you know it or not, you’re already wrapped in God’s love. His love for you,
and concern for your life is constant.


the pilgrim

My bag wall, about half of my current bags, and this does not include 6 Pelican cases and 5 Lightware shipping cases and hundreds of pouches, and small gear containers……

It’s a madness, but it goes with the territory…………..

* Note: My Versipack is the left hand carry side, it usually comes right side, the link below show the S-Type (left hand carry). Mine is Khaki, many other colors are available.
* But remember, if you don’t want your gear stolen, try not to make the bag stand out too much.

*Photo note: Example shots above, all shot with a Nikon D3s at ISO 1,600. Lenses used; Nikkor 35mm f2 AF, 55mm AF Micro Nikkor, 50mm AFS G f1.4 lenses. Very early overcast, window light. All images shot at f16.

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