Thoughts on camera backpack/laptop bag

Discussion in 'Other Cool Gear, Camera Bags, Camera Straps' started by jamesd3rd, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. jamesd3rd

    jamesd3rd

    399
    May 4, 2007
    So. Cal
    Back in May I was in a local shop asking about bag that would haul my body, lenses and laptop. One of the guys at the store highly recommended the Tamrac Cyberpack 6. He was able to carry his big lens on the body, his other lenses and everythng else he needed along with a laptop. I've been checking out the Cyberpack 8 as well. Both have the "carry-on compatible" designation since airlines have gotten much tighter with that part of flying.

    Does anyone currently have or has had any of these bags that can share their feelings about it? Were or are there any things about it that you would have designed differently?

    Canoga Camera has the Cyberpack 6 for about $130 and the 8 for about $170 via e-bay. I'm open to suggestions on other bags in the same price range and size. Please give some of your reasons other than "I like it" or "it suits my needs". I'm looking more for things like comfort, roominess, access, weight when filled.

    Magazine reviews or typical product reviews are ok to draw a baseline but I prefer opinions from people who have invested time with one or have gone through a few and settled on one they liked.

    Thanks
     
  2. fivegrand

    fivegrand Guest

    I have the Tamrac Pro-9 (now called simply the 759 - tamrac.com/759.htm) and I really really like it. It might be bigger than what you want, but it's carry-on sized, it's been rained on (but not in), and has plenty of growing room. It's freakin' heavy but still plenty comfy with two bodies, four heavy-glass lenses, two flashes, two sets of batteries for all of the above, an iBook, a small camcorder and "stuff." That about stuffs it clear full, with "creative packing" techniques. I also have a sling bag (Velocity 9) from Tamrac. I highly recommend Tamrac pretty much in general.

    The one major drawback to a backpack of course is that to get to anything in it, you have to take it clear off and put it down. Usually not a big deal unless you're on the run (that's why I got the sling bag).

    I would recommend going to a shop and laying hands on one.
     
  3. exitnine

    exitnine

    321
    Jun 5, 2008
    Boston, MA
    How about Lowepro, Fastpack 350.
     
  4. Are you looking to carry ALL of your lenses at once? Including BOTH of the big lenses? And ALL of your flashes at once? If so, some of the bigger Tamracs like the Expedition 8x (model 5588) may be required.

    If you're looking to carry a more practical kit (subjective, I know) then there are some less expensive options out there. I like my Nikon 5877 laptop backpack, made by Case Logic. Specifically, I like that it has a top-load camera+lens compartment that allows quicker access for shooting as opposed to having everything in one large compartment. I can hold my D80+24-70/2.8 in the camera compartment, along with my 15-30mm/2.5-4.5, 18-200, flash, and 70-200/2.8 in the lens compartment. You could most likely fit your D80+35-70/2.8 in the camera pocket with the 35/2, 18-200, 80-200/2.8 OR 300/4, and SB-600 in the lens compartment. There are also tall/thin accessory compartments on each side that would hold chargers, batteries, SD cards, and could probably even hold one flash each if you needed all 3. It has tripod straps and several other mesh pockets for flat items. The laptop compartment holds my 14" Dell D630 (not that thin as far as 14" models go) comfortable... it could probably hold a fairly thin 15.4" laptop, though it might be tight. It has a hard ballistic-nylon bottom so it sits upright when fully loaded and gear is more protected when sitting down on hard surfaces. It's fairly slim and will go overhead or under-seat on mainline aircraft with no problem... I've fit it overhead in an RJ without the laptop, and under-seat on an RJ with the laptop.

    Best part is the price... $62.50 for the Nikon version (black/grey with yellow trim), and $53.24 for the Case Logic version (model SLRC-4, black/grey with orange trim). It's not a LowePro or Tamrac in terms of build quality, but for my gear it was the lowest-profile (thickness) bag I could find to hold exactly what I needed. I expect to get a few years of casual travel use (5-10 trips/year) before I either outgrow it or something breaks. If I only get a year out of it it's still worth the price.
     
  5. You didn't state how many lenses you want to carry. Is this just enough for out-and-about, or are you looking to carry all your gear (however much gear that you have)?

    I've been using a LowePro FastPack 350 for a few months now. Jerric wrote a good review here:

    https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=145186

    My opinion is that it's very good, but not perfect. The slam-dunk feature for me is being able to access my gear without fully taking off the pack. The worst aspects are that the comfort isn't optimum and it's heavy.

    Camera compartment

    A fairly typical configuration is my D80 + grip with the 17-55 with hood reversed, with 70-200VR with hood reversed. One of them on the body, the other in the "bottom" side compartment. With that configuration, if the 70-200VR is not attached to the body, I can't fully seal the Velcroed divider though I've learned to at least pinch it in and attach it at the top of the divider.

    The above leaves room for two more lenses in the other side compartment, e.g. an 85/1.4.

    The 70-200VR is long enough that when it's attached to the body it's a bit of a squeeze to get it in there, but it works.

    Top compartment

    Very useful and a surprising amount of space. I've had everything in there from an SB-800 in its case with two water bottles and juice boxes inside of a gallon Ziploc, to two SB-800's in cases, to even the 70-200VR inside of its case jamed inside.

    Notebook compartment

    A definite squeeze for a widescreen notebook. 15" one fits. It's not rigid inside so don't step on the bag :biggrin:

    Comfort

    It's just "okay." This is going to depend a lot on your build. I'm not totally happy where the pressure points are. Using the waist and chest straps helps.

    OTOH I've survived having it strapped on for six hours in very warm weather. Assembly for a parade, the parade, lunch on the grass afterwards, a carnival. It was wearing on me, but I survived. This config was without the notebook inside -- 70-200VR + 17-55 + 18-200VR, plus three water bottles and three juice boxes (all consumed during the six hours).

    Convenience

    This is why I use it. It's a good compromise between a sling bag and a conventional backpack. I can access the gear without fully taking off the backpack. I slip out of the right strap, swing the back under my left arm with the strap still hanging from my left shoulder, and I can change lenses or put the gear back in. I don't have to take the backpack fully off of me which is always a concern in crowded environments, not to mention inconvenient.

    It's not quite as convenient as a sling bag since I have to undo one strap, and because I have to angle my body to make sure the left strap doesn't slide off my (thin) shoulder. A sling bag criss-crosses so is very secure when you rotate it up front.

    But the two-strap backpack form is superior in comfort to the one-strap sling bag when you're carrying heavier gear.
     
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