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Unread 03-19-2013, 05:59 PM   #1
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Backpacks for strobists?

So I finished shooting at megacon and did a handful of photoshoots which I think were pretty successful. Only problem I had, though, was my backpack! I only had a regular school pack to fit a single lightstand & umbrella but over the day it dugged into my shoulders and gave me incredible back pain the whole time. The fact I was able to get the shoots done at all just amazes me! The weight wasn't so much of an issue so much as the comfort.

Anyway I'm wondering for anyone who does do shoots at conventions (or travels in general) what kind of backpack would you recommend for carrying photographic equipment? I heard good things about the lowepro trekkers but I'm not sure if I have the cash to shell out for that.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 07:35 PM   #2
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Since I was using a DIY beauty dish, I just had to carry the dish on the lightstand (as if I was carrying a rifle on a walk-about) with it resting on a shoulder and holding the light stand at a good balance spot. I know some guys have a tall stroller so they can roll their stands and brollys wherever they go (unless it involves stairs, then I suspect they have to carry it up the steps). There are camera backpacks which allow you to velcro/tie up the light stands on the sides of the backpack.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 08:20 PM   #3
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If your shoulders are hurting from the straps, it's a bad one, that is why school backpacks (or school anything) is best avoided. They are only made to last a year and the main focus is on looks, not function. The good backpacks are supported from the waist, not the straps. It should have a belt that provides actual support as a well as a horizontal support that runs between the straps.

I use a good hiking or other outdoor (camping, mountain biking, etc.) backpack. It should be around $50. or less. I always try to avoid buying 'camera' anything when I can because it seems like the markup for anything marketed to photographers is far too high.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 04:40 AM   #4
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If you only need something to carry light stands and umbrellas, you can get a tripod bag. I have one that came with my studio kit, and I use it every time I have to carry my light around.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 08:17 AM   #5
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Hey Pat, post one of those pictures you got of my Steampunk pack

I can't really recommend something quite like that though, it's heavy enough that I am beat down by the end of the day. Not just my shoulders, but my whole body. Still, building something based around an ALICE frame from the military surplus store might be something to look into.

I have a lightweight secondary frame that I need to set up, for days (and events) where I don't want to carry my whole Steampunk rig.

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Unread 03-20-2013, 02:11 PM   #6
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I'm working through the mountain of photos!

At the end of the day, I'm still of the opinion that if you get an assistant to follow you around for lighting help, it'll make all the difference in the world. Otherwise, lots of hassle with dragging stuff around and looking dead by day 2.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 10:18 PM   #7
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The LowePro Photo Trekker series is pretty serious, with a lot of the same tech as in their high end mountaineering packs (adjustable back harness, for example). Good fit is the key, same as the high quality waist belt. Check out ThinkTank too.

A good photo backpack should have a lot of the same features/fit/comfort as a hiking/mountaineering/alpine backpack. I do a lot of rock climbing/hiking/backpacking, so I have become very picky with bags. =)

The Trekker's are $200+, but the price is pretty comparable to other quality backpacks that size. Your back won't regret you dishing out the money on it, that's for sure!

I have used mine heavily for 5-7 years at conventions, cities, deserts, mountain ranges, by the ocean, in the forest... the list goes on. Make sure to size the bag properly to your body and strength. If you get a massive bag and are too weak, it'll destroy you.

Lately I have switched to a roller bag, which is more expensive and less versatile than my backpack.
Easier on the body once you get a decent amount of gear, provided you are in areas with good accessibility.
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Unread 03-20-2013, 11:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Patcave View Post
Otherwise, lots of hassle with dragging stuff around and looking dead by day 2.
At least then you're able to cosplay as a zombie with minimal effort.
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Unread 03-21-2013, 12:15 PM   #9
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Just slather on some grey make-up, and I'm good as a photog-zombie, that's fo' sho!
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Unread 03-27-2013, 11:24 AM   #10
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Oh crap, forgot that this was thread for Nathan's steampunk speedlite pack:

PS_28478 by Patcave, on Flickr
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Unread 04-09-2013, 10:49 PM   #11
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I use a Standbagger for carrying light stands and umbrella-based modifiers these days. You can even stash a pair of speed lights in the outer pockets, and if you get the three pocket bag, you even have a place for your radio slaves.
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Unread 04-10-2013, 02:17 AM   #12
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I have a Think Tank backpack that has straps meant for attaching a tripod on the side, I use them for compact lightstands. With bigger stuff I'm also kind of at a loss, a normal suitcase can handle a lot of gear as long as you use small stands, but I haven't figured out any decent way of trucking my studio stand and boom around. A tennis racket or baseball bat bag is an OK option but not really meant to handle so much weight.
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