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I'm planning on going on a short backpacking trip at the end of this month and would like to take along my DSLR. What are some good options for me to carry and store my camera and a tripod if I'm also carrying around a big hiking backpack with me?

Specific to my situation, I'd like to consider cheaper options as I don't plan on backpacking enough to make a considerable investment.

Thanks guys!

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Also, another question maybe someone can comment on. How do slings like the BlackRapid or the LumaLoop do with hiking? Do they swing while walking around? –  Perishable Dave Oct 4 '11 at 20:29
    
No matter how you cut it, a big camping backpack + a DSLR is awkward and heavy! Fact of life! –  dpollitt Oct 4 '11 at 21:49
    
I'm traveling to New Zealand for two weeks in about a week and a half. I too am bringing a T3i with me, and I'm going to haul a tripod (ugh). I'm going to have a backpack, but I will also have a spare bag just for the camera, a Crumpler 5mil home. I can report how things went with the dual pack system when I get back ;) –  whatsisname Feb 1 '12 at 5:18

15 Answers 15

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Having the camera accessible is critically important to get a variety of shots along the way. Huge backpacks are not ideal for this. I used a Top-Loading zoom bag when I carried fewer lenses ;) This bag is quite cheap and will serve you in the future too, it comes in different sizes and colors.

The tripod should easily be able to be attached to your backpack. Below is good for a small one or on the side. Most backpacks have plenty of straps or at least loops where you can attach straps to hold additional items. If you use a Gorillapod SLR-Zoom, then it is even better to hook it somewhere you can reach. I often simply loop its legs around the camera bag strap and barely notice it.

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I second this. I did a 5 day trip over the mountains and had a 400 range toploader AW bag from Lowepro. Because we already had roughly 70 lbs worth of gear, a simple bag centered on the main bag was important. Instead of using the strap, I used carabiners to hook the bag to hang below my backpack. Worked great! –  AndyML Oct 3 '13 at 21:02

Probably the cheapest option (that I used on a two-day mountain trip) is to carry it on a good padded neck strap (I use Lowepro Transporter) and leave enough room at the top of your backpack (padded with a shirt or towel) so you can tuck it there in case it will rain. You might want to have a plastic bag with desiccant for extra safety.

I used a Gorillapod for tripod. It was small enough to carry in the backpack. A normal tripod can be attached to bag with some straps; you could tuck one tripod leg inside the bag (or its pocket).

Carry a spare battery and memory card. Try to take no more than 2 lenses, more will add weight and hassle with no significant increase in photos taken.

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Good reminder on the spare battery and memory card. Recently bought the camera so I haven't bought extras yet. What did you use to store your camera in the backpack? I'm reluctant to store it without any protection. –  Perishable Dave Oct 4 '11 at 20:35

For walking with a DSRL always ready to shoot, I find the Spider Holster to be really handy. I leave out the camera strap and the lens cap, but put on a filter and the lens hood for protection. Then I can walk hands free and only need about one second to reach for the camera and get it ready to shoot.

Caveats: I never tried using it for more than a few hours walk. Not sure it would be comfortable if you use it all day long. And it's not cheap.

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Good for the hood, skip the filter. Not sure is this kind of holdster is compatible with backpacking backpacks though since they have their own belts. Maybe ThinkTank makes something suitable but it would be rather expensive. –  Itai Oct 4 '11 at 20:06
    
It can be used with any belt up to 5 cm wide and ~ 3 mm thick. It can also be attached to the SlipLock loops of my Lowepro backpack. –  Edgar Bonet Oct 4 '11 at 20:20

I use Lowepro Lens pouches to hold my lenses, and a Op/Tech neoprene cover for my camera body. I toss it in the backpack in these holders. When I am ready to take photos, the camera and a lens go on the neck strap, and I use a Lowepro pouch attached to the waist belt of my pack for another lens. When I am done shooting, it all goes back in the pack well protected.

This allows you to move your heavy camera gear around the backpack for times when you really need good distribution of weight, as opposed to a big heavy lump of camera bag.

I also recommend an Op/Tech Reporter strap, which is designed for two cameras. But I don't use it that way. It has two quick release attachments, one I use for the camera, and the other I use to attach to quick releases on my backpack shoulder straps themselves (available from Op/Tech or REI). This way,when hiking, I can take the load off my neck, and still use the camera.

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For my backpacking trip, I just carried my DSLR with two lens in the daypack that was attached to the main backpack. It is very convenient when you can just throw your backpack in some hostel's luggage room and just detach the daypack and go do touristy things..

Of course, it did not have any support for the camera, so I padded the day pack with towel. Having a comfortable backpack is more important if you are going on a longer trip.

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I did the same thing, but over time I began to have problems with the dust / sand / lint that inevitably accumulates in such backpacks. Ideally, I would still have used the backpack, but also had the camera in an old-school leatherette molded case or a holster-style case. They're both smaller and less dusty than a towel. –  jozzas Oct 5 '11 at 1:38

I asked similar question not long ago, and together with David Lambert we exchange our views. You can find this discussion here.

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Don't think I can use the options you listed. If I'm carrying a hiking backpack then I'll need something that would complement it. Helpful thread however. –  Perishable Dave Oct 5 '11 at 17:31
    
It wasn't much of my comments (I had idea in mind, and by testing I found what I was looking for) but David's approach that been relevant, especially thinking out of box "Do I really need big special bag for camera or I can use some other alternatives?" –  peter_budo Oct 5 '11 at 21:44

Check out the Lowepro bags. I've been using one for my gear, and they are great. They should have one to meet your needs!

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After spending hours on the internet to find a backpack suitable for me, I've decided on the CaseLogic SLRC-206 Backpack. Its not the cheapest, but not very pricey either. I also had a chance to use this backpack for a 4 days trip where it proved to be very handy, fast, safe, durable and comfortable. As a bonus, you can take a laptop or use that extra space for some of your clothes.

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http://fstopgear.com/

F stop gear makes ridiculous bags. They are normal backpacking bags with camera units that are expandable. I'd say they were your best bet.

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Really? The link works for me. Tidy googling. –  Matt Giesbrecht Feb 1 '12 at 13:13

I use the Lowepro Fastpack 350, and I think that it will suit your needs fine.

The lower area contains compartments for camera and lenses, and the upper area is just a single compartment for "other items". There is also a separate compartment for a 17" laptop, and the size of the backpack fits within the regulations for airplane carry on luggage.

I've been very happy with mine. It feels solid build, and very comfortable to wear.

There is a smaller model, 250, which will only fit a 15" laptop.

I purchased mine on amazon.co.uk for £49.95, which I would consider really cheap.

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How much photo gear will you be carrying? It sounds like probably a body and lens, and little more. In this scenario, consider how much you'll just carry the camera outside of the backpack -- will it often be around your neck or in your hands? For me, the answer is a clear yes, so having a photo backpack with padding and special compartments is sort of a waste. I would just get some padded wraps to protect the camera while in the bag (or even just use a sweatshirt or similar) and choose a backpack based on other preferences.

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I mostly rely on 4 bags for various purposes.

I have a Lowepro Fastpack 350 and as suggested before, is a nice spacious bag, the bottom half is compartimented and dedicated to photography, the top half is just an empty space which is versatile. Despite that, I find that the versatile space is generally not enough for travel and the space for hear is not well used unless you carry a fair amount of it. To me it works fine when I carry Camera + 2-3 lenses + maybe a flash, otherwise you risk carrying a bulky bag that is mostly empty.

I have a Targus Campus which is not a camera bag, is a laptop bag, but is very spacious and being a laptop bag is fairly padded and protects your gear if you are not carrying multiple items that will knock on each other.

I find the Think Tank Retrospective 20 really useful for urban use. It's more spacious than it looks, you can carry a fair amount of gear (more than you can carry comfortable on one shoulder) and the compartments are very adaptable so it's quite suited to mixed use. Also, the padding is not as thick as other bags so it may not be the best choice if you expect it could be hit but on the other side it has pretty good internal size for it's external dimensions. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it.

Finally the Lowe Alpine Travel Trekker II 70 which also isn't a camera bag, but a travel one. Also a bit pricey but it's incredibly versatile and has a kangaroo pocket for you to carry your day pack. So whatever bag you have to carry your gear, can be adapted into the backpack and carry it as a single item.

Considering you only intend to carry one camera with the attached lens. And I'm assuming this lens is small/medium, you may be better off buying a camera holster and use a travel bag instead of a camera bag.

Also mind that ideally you want to avoid carrying camera and clothes mixed up because of the humidity on the clothes. Specially used ones.

If I were to travel with only camera + attached lens with the bags I have. I'd carry the Travel Trekker and the Targus (as a daypack) attached to the Kangaroo pocket. I'd just make sure there isn't anything on the targus that can damage the camera.

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The Lowepro Compuday Series.

It includes a backbag as well as a messenger style bag and provides room for your camera as well as a laptop and other things.

You can find more information here.

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I would consider the Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack 200EG. It's really handy where you can fit the camera with a fairly long lens in the bag and have other spaces where you can put other stuff (you didn't specify the lens in your question so I'm assuming that it maybe a long lens). Look at the images for this bag cause it'll give you a hint about the options that you have to divide the bag.

Also it's pretty cheap, you can find it form 35-40$

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Depending on what kind of backpacking you are doing. One option that I've heard of people using is to instead look for lightweight, small, durable cases that you can put your gear in and then place within a hiking backpack. A true hiking backpack is typically much larger than a camera bag, so this normally isn't a problem.

There is also this hybrid product (Naneu Adventure K5). Looks like they basically did what I'm talking about, but made it attach to the backpack. Looks like this one even supports removing the camera pod from the bag and using it as a camera only backpack for short hikes away from base.

You might also be able to find a camera bag designed for lashing to a typical hiking backpack, but I'm not sure if such a thing exists.

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