Most of the Nikonians I have met have a “dirty little secret”. We are bag junkies. While we can go on ad nauseum as to why a certain lens or camera is superior for a given application, we become baffled when confronted with how to store and transport our gear. Let’s face it, if there were a “perfect” bag solution out there, we’d all own it by now.
My bag needs seemed simple enough at first. I usually shoot wildlife subjects either from a car or after a short hike on well-defined trails. I need to transport my gear, including my 500mm lens, on aircraft, preferably as a carry-on item. I want freedom of movement and easy access to my equipment. This scenario seemed easy enough to solve, but then how come I was never quite satisfied with my large backpack?
Backpacks, of course, are excellent for hiking with your gear. But when it comes to accessing lenses and filters in the field, you must dismount your bag, shuffle through it, and then remember to close it before you put it back on (otherwise your lenses are rolling down the cliff). The thick padding of most photo backpacks is great for comfort, but really restricts one’s ability to carry the pack on a plane. I found that I had to buy a slightly smaller bag than I would have liked in order to comfortably carry my gear on a plane, and even then I had to get creative with the strap/harness system in order to fit it in an overhead bin.
On the 4th Annual Nikonians Photo Adventure Trip (ANPAT), my solution was to wear the backpack over a photo vest. This provided me some access to my accessories (filters, film) without having to dismount, while the pack was easy enough to carry around. Usually, I found my pack to be mostly empty in the field if I was carrying my 500mm attached to my camera on my tripod. While this hybrid solution was pretty good, wearing the backpack compromised many of the pockets in my vest. Before the 5th ANPAT, I wanted to find a new solution.
Enter thinkTank photo.
I found thinkTank Photo quite by accident while browsing the Nikonians forums. Turns out that they had published first-hand accounts of how pros travel with their gear on airplanes. That got me thinking about trying several of their products for the ANPAT to South Dakota, where I knew I’d need access to a variety of lenses; from my wide-angle all the way up to my 500mm lens. I decided to try the Modulus Speed Set and the Airport Addicted bag. After using these products on the 5th ANPAT and for several other photo excursions, I’ve decided that they fill most of my requirements for a versatile carrying solution. So, I am going modular from now on.
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