As a traveling journalist known to wander solo in forbidding landscapes while trying to capture my adventures in words and photos, almost nothing is more important than having the right gear — specifically the right camera bag. If you have the wrong bag, it can feel as if your back and shoulders are breaking. (I still have a shoulder injury from a heavy pack that didn’t have a waist belt.) Or you can end up with something that just isn’t spacially effective.
Over the years I'd estimate I've spent close to $1,000 on camera backpacks. It sounds nuts, I know – but considering that the majority of them are $200 to $300 it makes sense when trying to find the perfect fit. A good pack should not only have room for your camera, tripod, chargers and lenses, but also compartments for your computer, a change of clothes, toiletries and other things you’d bring in a carry on.
But, like Goldilocks, finding the right fit was hard. The first pack I had was sporty, good looking, and had decent space for my non-camera items, but didn’t have a waistband, which, if you’re trekking or walking for long distances (I was) kills your back. The second pack had a waistband but was large, bulky and didn’t have enough room for a change of clothes, toiletries or other essentials. It also only had a front top opening so if you needed a toiletry, you had to open the whole pack and everything would fall out.
It wasn’t until this summer while on a trip to Zambia, that I found the perfect pack.
My friend Danny Seo was on my trip and doing a feature on Victoria Falls for his magazine, Naturally by Danny Seo, and had brought his photographer, Biz Jones along. I was immediately in love – with Biz’s bag, a Brevite rolltop backpack. It was not only good looking but also comfortably carried two cameras, lenses, and a tripod, as well as a clothing change, her toiletries, and water bottles.
“Where did you get that?” I asked. “I’ve looked everywhere – I’ve never seen this pack.”
“The internet,” she laughed. “Everyone needs to know about this bag,” I said. “I know!” she said.
Brevite was founded by photographers for photographers and it shows, even with the little things like having a lens cap holder on the waist belt so you won’t misplace your cap (So. Many. Caps!) or having a rolltop so, it can expand. It also has openings on the top (via the roll) as well as on the front and side – so if you just need to grab a toiletry or your camera quickly you can. In addition, the camera is packed into a separate bag within the pack so if you want to use the pack for a hiking trip or something else you can remove all the camera gear and pack it like a regular bag. What was also useful is that the bag has a large computer slot.
While looking for bags that wouldn’t kill my back, I had come across some pro hiking packs – but they all only fit a 12-inch laptop – too small for my 15-inch monster. The second I got home from Zambia, I immediately ditched my bulky, heavy pack and ordered the $185 bag. Best money I’ve ever spent.