The holy grail

Did I discover the holy grail for travel bags? Nope. But I couldn’t resist this blog post title, so sorry for that one. (look here for the German version of this post)

When it comes to travel bags, I’m not the kind of collector as some fellow photographers are. I’m quite traditional and stick relatively long with the bags I buy. In fact, I probably only bought 4 or 5 photo bags in my whole life and almost all (except the first one) are still in use.

So, what is my experience and what am I using right now?

Practical and inconspicuous travel bags

In general, I prefer to keep my equipment on me in a mostly inconspicuous way, so that it does no shout “Hey, here’s my expensive photo equipment. Come and steal me!”. In addition, I like to feel comfortable and not carry too much weight.

My switch to Fuji a few years ago made my equipment a bit lighter, so there’s already more comfort.

So, here’s what I bought in the last years and what I currently use and why.

The big transport box

I was looking for years for a rock solid transport box, where I could store my whole gear for a specific job (e.g. landscape, architecture, industry) and that I could put in the trunk of my car. By doing this, I could have everything on site, with the option either to carry it a few steps on location, or to transfer specific items in my carry on bag.

While the industry “standard” seems to be the Peli cases, they are just too expensive for my use and I was looking a long time for an alternative. And so, this year I got the “Vanguard Supreme 46D waterproof camera case with removable divider system” (UK , DE , US , FR )*.

It is a great hard case, with an optional soft case inside (depending on your order, so make sure you buy the right one), with dividers and a net in the cover. I can now fit all my equipment in (e.g. 2 cameras, 5-6 lenses, filters, L-brackets, batteries, cleaning stuff, …. without any problem. Rock solid and water proof.

Vanguard Supreme 46D Waterproof Camera Case with Removable Divider System
Vanguard Supreme 46D Waterproof Camera Case with Removable Divider System
Vanguard Supreme 46D Waterproof Camera Case with Removable Divider System

The allrounder

The “ThinkTank Retrospect 10” (UK , DE , US , FR )* is a great allrounder that I use frequently for landscape or travel. It has enough space to fit in a camera with 2-3 lenses, a backup camera, batteries, cleaning gear, brackets and you can put an additional powerbank, cables etc. It is also very practical as an onboard hand luggage for traveling.

ThinkTank Retrospective 10 Pinestone

When moving around in a city, I prefer not to look too much as a tourist and I use the “Vaude agapet Daypack bag” (UK , DE , US , FR )* quite often. It is relatively small, but I can fit the Fujifilm X-T2 with a 16-55mm or 10-24mm, with additional small stuff.

Vaude agapet Daypack bag

The classic photo backpack

The “Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic” (UK , DE , US , FR )* I’v been using for 10 years now is a solid backpack. that I’ve used on different trips where I had to take more gear (Iceland, Canada, Namibia, …). It is large enough to put all my airplane carry-on gear (tripods and non critical gear go into the checked luggage), plus a 15″ MacBook Pro, travel documents, wallets, power bank, Kindle, … It has a classic photo back pack design, does not look too big and helps avoiding discussions on overweight hand luggage at the airport (just carry it “lightweight” with a smile, and nobody bothers you). I put a little bit of foam (that I get when I order wall prints) in the bottom of the laptop compartment to avoid the laptop hitting the floor. There is enough space for most stuff, but it is not really comfortable to wear for a longer period (e.g. more than half an hour), as there are no hip belts.

Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic

The best of 2 worlds

So recently I was checking for a new backpack that could have a double function as a photo bag and backpack, with enough space to store a good selection of gear and still enabling me to pack hiking equipment for a day or two.

As you know, as soon as a backpack is labeled as a photo backpack, the price goes up. And it will always be a compromise. So I got back to the hiking or trekking backpacks I own. They are built on purpose for trekking and carrying a specific weight at a relatively high comfort level. I thought about how I could complement them to make carrying photo equipment more easy and safe.

My current backpacks are the “Deuter Guide 45+” (UK , DE , US , FR )* and the “Deuter Trans Alpine 30” (UK , DE , US , FR )*. The first one was extensively used in 2013 on my first Kilimanjaro ascent and in 2016 on the West Highland Way (Scotland). The second was my full full bag on my 6-day TransAlp Mountainbike Trip around the Mont Blanc Massive (France, Switzerland, Italy) in 2013. Both are very comfortable and I enjoy their features.

Both have a practical interior subdivision that separates the bottom compartment from the main compartemt. This separation is ziplocked and can be opened completely to give a single, large compartment. Based on general packing principles, the bottom compartment is the perfect storage for camera equipment that you use regularly, and the main compartment is for all your other stuff. Here is where you put photo gear that is not used all the time.

So I bought the “Yimidear Lightweight Shockproof Padded Partition Camera Insert Protective Bag” (UK , DE , US , FR )* which fits both backpacks perfectly. If you plan to get one, the color to choose is orange, as it helps a lot to find small, black pieces of equipment.

Yimidear Lightweight Shockproof Padded Partition Camera Insert Protective Bag (orange)
Deuter Guide 45+ with Yimidear Lightweight Shockproof Padded Partition Camera Insert Protective Bag (orange)
Deuter Trans Alpine 30 with Yimidear Lightweight Shockproof Padded Partition Camera Insert Protective Bag (orange)

Added flexibility and protection

To complement, I bought a few “Walimex Lens Pouch Neoprene” (UK , DE , US , FR )* to protect my lenses and a “Walimex Pro Camera Pouch Neoprene” (UK , DE , US , FR )* in case I just throw in the main compartment (or for additional lenses that do not fit in the Yimidear camera insert. They are of good quality, have a carabiner and a belt loop and are very reasonably priced. One disadvantage: they stink like hell, so get them into fresh air for a few days if you plan to use them in your backpack together with clothing. And they are all a little bit too big for the Fuji lenses (in diameter) as the dimensions are most probably based on “full frame” camera lenses.

Walimex Lens Pouch Neoprene
Walimex Pro Camera Pouch Neoprene
Walimex Pro Camera Pouch Neoprene, with Fujifilm X-T1 and wide angle lens attached

 

One more thing

Until now, I carried my round glass filters in one pouch, and the rectangular 100m filters in an other one. Carrying those two bags was not really practical and so I recently got the “Mindshift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case” (UK , DE , US , FR )*. Now I carry all my 100mm filters, all my round filters, a two filter wrench set, 2 stepping ring, all in this small case. And if occasionally you need one more carrying case, you may take the insert out (it has a separate cover) and use the case for addition stuff.

Mindshift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case
Mindshift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case

 

Summary of travel bags and other gear used and recommended:

The big transport box

  • Vanguard Supreme 46D Waterproof Camera Case with Removable Divider System (UK , DE , US , FR )*

Allrounders

  • ThinkTank Retrospective 10 Pinestone (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Vaude agapet Daypack bag (UK , DE , US , FR )*

The classic photo backpack

  • Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic (UK , DE , US , FR )*

The classic backpack, extended version (accessories)

  • Deuter Guide 45+ (newer edition) (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Deuter Trans Alpine 30 (newer edition) (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Yimidear Lightweight Shockproof Padded Partition Camera Insert Protective Bag (orange) (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Walimex Lens Pouch Neoprene Size M, 10 x 14 cm (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Walimex Lens Pouch Neoprene Size XL, 10x23cm (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Walimex Pro Camera Pouch Neoprene (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • Mindshift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case (UK , DE , US , FR )*

Filters and filter accessories currently used

  • Mindshift Gear Filter Hive Storage Case (UK , DE , US , FR )*
  • eFonto/JJC Lens Filter Pliers Clamp Filter Wrench Set for Loosening Stuck Filters with a diameter from 46 to 62 mm (UK, DE , FR ) *
  • K&F Concept 62-77mm step up filter ring (UK, DE , US ) *
  • K&F Concept 72-77mm step up filter ring (UKDE , US , FR ) *
  • Formatt Hitech 100mm Graduated Neutral Density Kit (UK, DE , US , FR ) *
  • Formatt Hitech 77mm Wide Angle Adapter for 100mm Holders (UK, DE , US , FR ) *
  • Haida Filter Pocket for 100 Series Filter Holder (UK, DE , US , FR ) *
  • Formatt Hitech FC77IRND4.8 Firecrest 77mm Filter (UK, DE , US , FR ) *
  • B+W 77mm #110 Neutral Density (ND) 3.0 Filter +10 Stops – F-PRO Mount (UK, DE , US , FR ) *
  • Rangers Extreme 77mm Variable ND2-400 Objektiv Filter 5.6mm Ultra Slim (UK, DE , US , FR ) *

 

My (almost complete) gear list is available here on my blog.

 

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