Someone asked me a question about a particular camera backpack. About 3 years ago (2014), before I started this blog, I did some extensive research on backpacks. I can imagine that there have been a few new models since 2014, but I have not kept up with current backpacks since I did not need any other backpacks after I got my Lowepro Flipside Sport and Vanguard Adaptor backpacks, but perhaps the old research can be useful to you.
At the time, the types of backpacks were between:
- traditional front-loading* (aka front-access)
- new back-loading* (aka back-access)
- and some side-loading* (aka side-access)
*Yes, most backpacks also have some top loading compartment, so the description focuses on the main compartment.
At the time, I wanted a back-loading backpack due to its many advantages:
- When you place it on the ground, dirt or moisture from the ground or floor doesn’t get on your back and arms.
- Thieves can’t get into a back loading backpack while you are wearing it.
- The entire back compartment can be available in a flash on some models.
- Many models can be emptied and used like a regular backpack.
- (and some models allow you to access the back without putting the bag on the ground)
So I put together a table of all the back-loading models I could find (in 2014). Here is what I found (in 2014):
This table was tailored for my needs, so take any evaluations in it with a grain of salt.
Again, I can imagine that there have been a few new models since 2014, so do some research if you are interested in this kind of backpack.
If theft is not an issue, side-loading backpacks:
- also have the benefit of keeping dirt off your back and arms (except in extreme cases),
- but in a smaller package which is very beneficial when you are working in tight conditions.
I recall doing a similar comparison a few years ago when I sent looking for a side-loading backpack, but I can’t find it. I recall that there weren’t too many models, and Vanguard Adaptor seemed the best choice at the time because it had:
- the largest side compartment
- could be accessed from both sides (not common)
Now, a quick search in Google Images for “side loading camera backpack” or “side access camera backpack,” shows several more models to choose from (including Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack which looks very interesting).
- Unfortunately, you won’t find many with tripod mounts on the side since the main compartment is competing for that same real estate.
- Watch out for backpacks that look like they are side-loading, but just has a small pocket on the side.
Now there are more backpacks with a side loading compartment that opens up to the front, too. In my case, I would not choose these since they do not prevent dirt from getting on to your back.
Traditional front-loading backpacks
Just do a search for camera backpack and most will be front loading. I don’t have or want one of these so I can’t give you any recommendations on these.
Good luck in your search and I hope this helped you.
It appears that Adaptor also made another (short lived?) side access backpack, the Reno 34. The other Reno models (41 and 48) were back access. These appear to be clearing out of BHPhotoVideo and Amazon and aren’t listed on Vanguard’s website. I found this out via my news reader which listed the BHPhotoVideo deal.
And I just heard about the Tenba Solstice (back loading) on the PetaPixel Photography Podcast.