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I've been shooting with a reduced frame camera for a long time (Canon EoS Rebel family), so it was a surprise to me that my Nikon D600 and lenses didn't really fit into the backpacks I was trying them with. I'm looking for something to travel with as a day pack.

I looked specifically at the Lowepro Fastpack 250 and the Kata 3N1 Sling and I felt that these were not really set up for full frame cameras, even with movable partitions.

What I would like to have is a bag that I can open up and see everything, like in the picture below (a Tenba). But I can't seem to find one for the bigger body, wider lens and lens hood (reversed), except in the much larger bags.

I have the kit lenses, 24-85mm and 70-300mm (with hoods), and I would like to be able to put the camera in with the bigger lens attached. I normally wouldn't carry much more than that, other than some cleaning tools. A tripod strap on the back would be nice, but not essential. As a day pack, any other equipment would be kept in the car or a hotel room (with the exception being while I am en-route, on a plane for example). Room for a tablet or laptop would be nice while en-route, but I am unlikely to carry this at any other time.

This Tenba shows how I am used to accessing my equipment, but the bag is bigger than I would like. . My old Lowepro had a lower compartment like this (it only held one camera, which is plenty for what I am looking for) and an upper compartment without the dividers.

Tenba Shootout

Can someone point me in the right direction? I would prefer something in the $100-$150 price range, but any suggestions are helpful.

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Yikes! Those lenses sticking out with the shiny glass where a lens cap should be really bug me. –  Olin Lathrop Jan 25 '13 at 22:48

6 Answers 6

That is the classic exact fit problem :) You are looking for something that fits your gear but if it fits more, you declare the whole thing too big.

The only way to solve this problem is to walk into a store with your gear and try the bags that look right one-by-one. I always ended up with something the right fit this way.

Now, I happen to have a ThinTank StreetWalker which I reviewed recently and a Nikon D800. With the default configuration, the D800 actually fits. A little tight on the grip side but you do not have to force it. As a bonus, it won't be moving at all. There is really plenty of space for the Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm F/2.8 attached or even 70-200mm F/2.8 by moving one divider. It also fits an additional 3 mid-size lenses easily. If you place the main divider a little bent at the bottom, it probably won't be tight at all.

You'll have a little too much room but it is an extremely comfortable backpack and its narrow design makes it less encumbering than others.

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Thanks. ThinkTank has some solid candidates for me to look at. The Airport Essentials model also looks interesting. (Won't carry a 15" laptop, apparently, but will hold a 13" laptop.) Yes, I think I'll have to take my gear in to the shop and test fit. –  Jim Jan 25 '13 at 3:45

Just get a decent size daypack, wrap each of the lenses and stuff in their own plastic bag, and be done with it.

Those packs look pretty useless to me. Where are you going to put all the other stuff? What about the windbreaker, sweater, and water bottle? Depending on where you're going hiking, the water bottle can be the biggest and heaviest thing you bring, so the camera seems small in comparison. Figure a gallon of diluted gatorade is only good for as little as 3 hours in the desert in summer, for example. In the winter you need more spare layers, so either way you probably want twice the room in your pack as a camera and a few lenses would take.

Very little bad is going to happen to photographic gear on your back. It doesn't have to be padded perfectly. I wrap everything in its own plastic bag. The provides a little padding, but mostly just keeps things from rubbing against each other and reduces how wet things get when you get caught in the rain. Don't trus the pack to provide all the rain protection.

Keep in mind that a camera in a backpack is useless for taking pictures. You either want it around your neck when you're immediately taking pictures or around the neck and one shoulder when walking. The latter keeps it from bouncing around like a pendulum. Therefore the camera will be in in the pack when you're just trying to get somewhere, it has started raining, etc. All the fancy padding doesn't really help anything, seems to take a lot of space, and severly limits the flexibility.

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Yes, I have done this. I have a Pac-Safe backpack that I like for what it is, and it has served this purpose before. I had the camera in its own case, which I "tossed" into the sack. I may consider this for my travel. In the mean time, I am evaluating the other replies. All very helpful. –  Jim Jan 25 '13 at 23:20

Lowepro, Kata and Think Tank all make great bags, but I agree that it isn't easy to choose a bag. personally I prefer the Lowepro, they have better prices and also maybe because it's easier to find reviews about their bags compared to other brands.

Have you tried the Lowepro's Bag Finder? it allows you to choose a body, lenses and other equipments that you like to carry. I just tried it with D600 body, two lenses with similar sizes to what you have and a 15" laptop. from the results it seems that the Fastpack 250 (about $73) is a nice choice.

I'm not sure why you say that it isn't good for FX bodies. it's a large bag and it seems that you should be able to fit the D600 and 70-300mm attached plus many other stuff.

This photo shows the Fastpack 250 AW with Canon 5D and 70-200mm f/2.8. the D600 is almost the same size as 5D, it's just 7mm thicker and that lens is longer than Nikon 70-300.

Canon 5D + Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack

Photo: The Digital Story (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Kata also has a useful website with a pretty detailed bag finder which you can try, after finding the bags look for online reviews.

If you're going to shop online, I know B&H has a great customer service and they will help you with choosing a bag, just give them a call (or email) and ask them to confirm whether you can fit your equipments in the bags you like, you can also try their live chat. I have not tried the Adorama, but I except them to be same.

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Thanks for the tip about the bag finder (+1). This style bag doesn't work for me. Interchanging and storing a long lens and/or a short lens is a problem I have with this configuration. –  Jim Feb 23 '13 at 6:54

Lowepro Vertex 100 ? Shown on the page below carrying a D800, 24-70, 70-300, 85mm prime and a flash (review #4).

http://cambags.com/bag-type/backpacks/lowepro-backpack-bags/item/177-lowepro-vertex-100-aw.html

If that looks a bit small there are bigger versions. I have the next size up (Vertex 200) and its a comfortable bag to wear.

That cambag site is good for comparing bags and reading reviews.

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Thanks for the cambags link. I didn't know about it. –  Jim Jan 25 '13 at 23:21

Try the Case Logic SLRC 206:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/693295-REG/Case_Logic_SLRC_206_SLRC_206_SLR_Camera_Laptop_Backpack.html

Lots of room and has the optional tripod strap.

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I have a small version of one of those. On one side it's not big enough for a large gear set or large lenses (but maybe your model is a better fit) but on the plus side, it's very handy as it can be flipped over the shoulder and becomes a sort of big waist-bag allowing easy exchange of lenses, etc. For me - with a D3100 and all small lenses - it's the ideal fit. –  Marco Mp Jan 26 '13 at 19:01
    
I like how this looks. Unfortunately, I don't think I had a chance to see one where I was shopping. I would have liked to look at it in person. –  Jim Feb 23 '13 at 6:47
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I settled for a Kata MiniBee-110 PL. Price was $179 plus tax at Samy's Camera. This is a bit more than I wanted to spend, but now I know how my wife feels when she's buying a purse.

(Here is a picture from the Kata site, overstuffed with mistreated lenses:)

MiniBee 110 PL

This is similar to the Tenba that I mentioned in my question. It's alctually a little deeper (front-to-back) than my D600 needs, but I couldn't find anything smaller and configured in a similar way.

Advantages/Likes:

  1. I like the bright orange/yellow inside for visibility.
  2. Partitions are adjustable into any position. Velcro edges can stick anywhere. (Even the black strap shown inside can be moved around.)
  3. This is very lightweight.
  4. It's not very deep (from-to-back).
  5. Zippers work easily.
  6. Tripod can be stopped to loops in the center of the back.
  7. Compartment that holds a small laptop or tablet without doesn't add as much depth (front-to-back) as other backpacks.

Disadvantages/Dislikes:

  1. There is not much specialized storage space separate from what you see in the picture.There is a very small pouch inside the back cover, near the top. The pouch shown on the bags's side in the picture is very small. They say the pouch on the opposite side can hold a water bottle, but it is tight.
  2. The adjustment straps are very long. What do I do with all of the extra?
  3. The laptop compartment is wide enough for a 15 inch macbook pro, but it's not tall enough. I can carry the laptop inside, but I can't zip the compartment closed.

I'm going to take this to Europe as a tourist. I think it will be fine for carrying my equipment while flying and for walking around all day. Not having much extra space may actually mean my companions will have to carry their own things, instead of putting them in my bag! But I will be travelling light, essentially with what is in the picture below (which I see is pretty distorted form the cell phone camera):

enter image description here

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