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09-04-2009, 09:02 PM   #1
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Rear opening backpack for travel...?

Ok so in a spending spree I recently bought a Crumpler Keystone backpack because someone was selling one locally.

I am going on a "big trip" in 2010 and I need a secure backpack for walking around, etc, during the day (and also as a carryon so I can take my gear with me).

I don't have much that I am planning on taking (photo wise)... just a K200, DA40, and Tammy 18-250 (+grip +extra batteries and cards...) but the purpose of the trip is definitely not photography so I want to keep the photo gear to a minimum.

I was hoping that this bag would be able to handle the photo gear I want plus maybe a bagged lunch and a water bottle or something. On that front I think the size is really good...

The only thing I am worried about is that the rear entry is really annoying. I was thinking it might be more "secure" because we are going to some places that are more notorious for thefts / muggings (i.e. south africa). I have used the bag for a couple of days so far and it really is well made and I can tell it will probably last a long time, and that it probably is slightly more "safe" than, say my current backpack/messenger bag, but sometimes the rear entry just kills me.

My question(s) is(are): do you guys think a rear-entry pack is overkill? Are there other bags that could possibly fit this bill for me? Do any of you guys have a rear opening backpack? If so what do you think of it?

Thanks so much!!
==
Dana

09-09-2009, 03:10 AM   #2
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I've got Lowepro Primus AW - I don't really care how safe it is, but it happens to be a rear entry pack.
Sometimes really annoying - it takes quite a while to actually get something from the pack. Sometimes quite handy - I can drop it on the ground and get inside while keeping the harness mud-free

I like it, does the job for me, i.e. I can take enough photo gear, food, water and clothes for a really long walk (like 20 miles).

For theft safety - I'm not sure if it's a good choice, it screams "fancy-camera-bag" from half a mile
09-09-2009, 06:01 PM   #3
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Do you think it screams fancy camera bag because of the Crumpler logo or because people will see that it opens from the rear? If its because of the logo I can just sew a big maple leaf over it...
09-10-2009, 02:30 AM   #4
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I meant my Lowepro pack - Crumplers are a bit more stealthy

09-10-2009, 10:07 AM   #5
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Ix is correct about Crumpler stealth: I travel with a Crumpler Whickey and Cox rear opening backpack and nobody recognizes it as a camera bag (unless I've got a tripod attached -- then I know I've been recognized because people start handing me their cameras and asking me to take group photos ).
09-10-2009, 02:13 PM   #6
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I have a couple backpacks as well as a lowepro slingshot aw200. the backpacks rarely get used... for what you've described, I'd think the slingshot would hold what you want - cam stuff, rolled up clothes in the main section and your lunch up top. no drink holder though, so get a canteen or drink holder on a separate strap. also, no tripod holder. LOVE the ability to get the camera out in seconds w/ out taking it off or even to have a platform to change lenses when I have to make a change. I usually carry 3-4 lenses and keep my filters or flash up top. the weather shield is great... a little awkward in more aggressive hiking/climbing as the weight shifts more than I'd like, but for 90% of applications, it's been my go-to bag.
09-10-2009, 08:38 PM   #7
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Dana, did you want rear entry or front entry for more security? I've not used one yet, but the Alpha series by Naneu Pro has that option:

Alpha Backpack - Travel Backpacks & Digital Camera Cases for Photography Equipment & Electronics - Military Ops Series | NaneuPro.com

I recently purchased the K4L rear entry travel/camera backpack that I did some initial impressions about it on my blog. I will be testing it's comfort, features, etc. on extended hikes. Fully loaded is very comfortable - much more than the Lowepro Nature Trekker I had. I am not suggesting this backpack (if that's what you want) though, I am suggesting it's smaller brethren: the K3L if a front entry is not what you want.

Background: I've tried several Lowepro products and if not for the gear I usually carry, they would have been fine, but often too rear heavy and hard the back. Most backpacks are not designed to accommodate taller people - I am 6' 3" tall. I also wanted the laptop compartment option. I decided that after discussing on the phone with Pentax pro Kerrick James that I should try the K4L. He's a bit shorter at 5' 10" tall - which is what most backpacks seem to be made for, yet it fits me well too. It's build quality is very, very good - I don't think I'll have any regrets for a combination camera/hiking backpack of this kind.

The K4L is a larger unit though - perhaps the K3L is another consideration? You can see the K3L specs on their website too.

Disclaimer: I was recently invited to come on board to test/review their products, including betas not released to the public. The review on the K4L (initial impressions) was for a product I bought, not someone gave me. I will be testing and reporting on the Sahara 217F as well.

You are welcome to ask questions - I'll do my best to answer them!

Regards,
Marc

09-10-2009, 09:33 PM   #8
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Vagrant: actually I tried the lowepro slingshot bag at the store. It was one of the only bags that my local camera store actually had so I was eager to try it out because I don't like buying stuff sight unseen. But I have never used a "sling" backpack before and I walked around for quite a bit with it on but I didn't really like it. Also I thought that the top compartment was a bit small, although I do like the idea of having a separate compartment for camera stuff.

Marc: I have never heard of Naneu and they look like great packs. In fact the alpha looks pretty much perfect. It doesn't look like it is too big, it has 2 compartments, and the camera one is rearward opening! Also it is made from "Ballistic Nylon" !! Maybe even the bravo would do, but it looks like that might also have a small top section. I would have to check it out in a store to see... but damn... It doesn't look like there are any Naneu dealers in Vancouver... just my luck! I guess a Seattle road trip is in store...

Do you think that either (or both or neither?) of these packs would be able to stand up to 8 months of trekking through jungles and cities and camping and all sorts of weather (probably not snow but you never know...)


And yeah I did want a rear entry pack for the "security" although I will probably just be carrying the camera in my hands rather than in the pack so people will definitely know I have a camera. I guess I was thinking that they wouldn't be able to open the zippers and snatch it, or the lenses, as easily. And I mean if someone is going to take a knife to the thing and slash it to get what's inside I don't think there is much I could do about that anyway.
09-10-2009, 10:00 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dananielsen Quote
Marc: I have never heard of Naneu and they look like great packs. In fact the alpha looks pretty much perfect. It doesn't look like it is too big, it has 2 compartments, and the camera one is rearward opening! Also it is made from "Ballistic Nylon" !! Maybe even the bravo would do, but it looks like that might also have a small top section. I would have to check it out in a store to see... but damn... It doesn't look like there are any Naneu dealers in Vancouver... just my luck! I guess a Seattle road trip is in store...

Do you think that either (or both or neither?) of these packs would be able to stand up to 8 months of trekking through jungles and cities and camping and all sorts of weather (probably not snow but you never know...)


And yeah I did want a rear entry pack for the "security" although I will probably just be carrying the camera in my hands rather than in the pack so people will definitely know I have a camera. I guess I was thinking that they wouldn't be able to open the zippers and snatch it, or the lenses, as easily. And I mean if someone is going to take a knife to the thing and slash it to get what's inside I don't think there is much I could do about that anyway.
Hi Dana,

I'm impressed with their gear so far. The K4L is water resistant 1680 Ballistic Nylon. It's really heavy duty material.

I don't mind taking some images and posting them on the blog sometime soon. It's heavier material, no question! I think it is also important to mention that Naneu Pro is one of the few (as is Lowepro) with a Lifetime Warranty on their products (defects in workmanship and materials). I do know that the zippers on the K4L are also the best quality - the heavier duty YKK versions. I suspect it will last quite well. See this page for reports, etc.:Naneu Blog

I have someone I can contact Naneu Pro. I guess they liked my images and my writing style enough to invite me on board. You are welcome to send me a PM and I'll see what can be done in terms of finding information, etc. I may be able to get what you need. Just confirm what you want if it isn't covered in the above statement. I'm headed out to Utah on Monday so I'm getting limited on time online as I must be out the door at 3:30AM on Monday.

Regards,
Marc
09-11-2009, 12:16 AM   #10
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Hi Dana,

A good lightweight rear opening pack is the Lowepro "Flipside 200", enough for camera, a couple of lenses, batteries, and a small pack of sandwiches, all the essential for a good day out in fact! It also has a tripod strap, an external mesh pocket for a small water flask and a zippered pocket on the outside for notepad, pens, spare memory cards etc. It has an external carry handle of a sensible thickness and is comfortable to carry with the handle as well as over the shoulders.

Follow this link for more information on the bag!

Best of all it doesn't shout out "look at me"!

Richard
09-11-2009, 10:38 AM   #11
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Dana, I have had the Naneu Pro Alpha for a couple of years and I highly recommend it. It is not all that big so I wouldnt go smaller. I think that it is about right for the gear you were describing. You can remove the module for the gear if you want to use it as a normal backpack. With the module you dont have too much room for other things so I wouldnt recommend anything smaller. It is pretty discrete and very nicely built. If you are tall you might find some difficulties getting the shoulder and waist straps confortably positioned in a nice balance but you can do it. I love that bag.
09-11-2009, 07:56 PM   #12
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Thanks Gruoso, that is good to know about the size. It is always hard to visualize the bag from online descriptions and specifications, even if they give you the dimensions.

Also I am fairly short (5'7") so I am not too worried about strap adjustments since they always seem way too long for me anyways.

As for the size of the top compartment, do you think you would be able to fit a netbook in there? (Dimensions ~ 10"x7") I really want to get my hands on a physical copy so I can check this for myself but I was just wondering if you happened to know if you can or not.


Tristar: I haven't actually looked at the Flipsides yet but I will when I next make it out to the store. Luckily Lowepro bags are pretty well known and can actually be found in my camera stores! (Unlike the Naneu Alpha which I am now drooling over but hopefully someone from the company can help me out there). And apparently the Flipside doesn't break the bank either (even here in Canada!) so that is always nice!
09-14-2009, 07:39 PM   #13
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Dana since you don't have that much photo gear you might be better off getting a backpack made specifically for touring/hiking if you are going to be using it for days and weeks on end. Comfort sounds like it would be the highest priority. Plus a true backpack will be better weather sealed and hold up to the elements.

You could get a simple insert to put the photo gear in then place it inside the pack.
09-14-2009, 09:56 PM   #14
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Don't have firsthand experience yet, but I'm thinking of getting a Flipside for my trip to Everest Base Camp next year. They have videos on how it can be opened without fully removing the backpack, though I don't know exactly how practical it is to rotate the bag around your waist. I guess you could also wear it as a frontpack rather than a backpack...
09-16-2009, 06:19 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Rico: I am definitely getting a backpack specifically for packing all of my stuff. However I need a daypack to take around with me that will also act as a carryon because I am not super comfortable putting my gadgets, etc, with checked in luggage. A photo insert is definitely an interesting idea though.

I am currently speaking with a sales representative at Naneu Pro, trying to get my hands on a copy of the Alpha or Alpha L because I like that there are 2 different compartments to keep camera stuff and "normal" stuff separate, and I like the look of the bag and its size and features. However being in Vancouver presents a challenge because they don't seem to have very many dealers here.... If I do end up getting it I'll definitely post a review though.
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