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Thread: Cycling with camera, backpack

  1. #1
    Ausphotography Regular Patrick K's Avatar
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    Unhappy Cycling with camera, backpack

    I am about to buy a bag for my Canon 500D, ef 100-400 zoom, 100mm macro, the 2 kit lenses, 430 EX flash and a 1.4 teleconverter. I've pretty much decided on a Lowepro 400AW (although maybe this is overkill?). I live in the bush and mostly do bird or macro photography and I'm wondering how this gear would go travelling on my bike on a mountain bike down the dirt roads of my neighbourhood (potholed, corrugated but not extreme off road conditions). Is this kind of gear up to the bounces? Does this type of pack provide enough protection? Should I just stay in my car for my local photo expeditions?

    Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
    Canon 7D Mark II Canon EF-S 15-85mm, EF 100-400mm f5.6L Mark II, 100mm f2.8 macro, MP-E65, 430 EX II Speedlite, MT-24EX Twinlite
    Canon 1.4X teleconverter III

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    First of all, I’m not a mountain biker so I’m not sure of the shifting forces you would experience with such a heavy gear load riding high up on your back?

    To keep such a full load stable would require a very good waist belt and a sternum strap to prevent the shoulder straps moving around too much, or maybe even slipping off a shoulder?

    I would imagine that you would need to tighten the straps quite firmly to keep the weight close to your body and prevent it from swinging around – a tight waist belt and sternum strap may restrict your breathing if you over exert yourself?

    I suspect your back will become quite damp with perspiration and this will be exacerbated by the backpack so take that into account – make sure the back is well padded, allows air circulation and handles wetness well.

    Generally, I’ve found a backpack to be more useful for carrying a lot of gear to a site then taking it off to work out of it. I find them not really suited to quick action due to the need to take them off, put them down somewhere flat to then unzip before accessing the stuff inside.

    If you will be cycling through vegetation, keep the lines of the backpack clean so it will not snag on branches.

    Will you be carrying a tripod as well – take that into consideration and where it will fit on or in the backpack.

    Cheers

    Dennis

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    I have a Lowepro Flipside 400AW backpack which I use to carry my gear around. Although I used to do a fair bit of bike riding I have used it only once on my back while riding and found that it makes you feel rather top heavy.... This backpack has all the strips and straps the previous poster said it should have to feel comfortable but still.... with a 5D2, a flash, a 24-105 and a 100-400 and some bits and pieces plus a 2.5kg tripod (got special straps for that as well) it is a fair load which either walking or biking you wouldn't want to carry for a long time. But... you are probably a young guy and I am pushing 70...

    The bag is well padded and flexible to organise. It got lots of pockets and spaces and it is weather proof (up to a certain level of course). Only draw back is that the backside opens to the main storage section and when you do not zip that closed when turning over to get at the other side everything drops out....
    Carrying it on 2 - 5 km walks in bushland it gets a bit sweaty under the straps and backside so I limit those walks to the winter season (and early spring and late autumn).

  4. #4
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I have the Lowepro Flipside 400 as well and think it a fabulous backpack, the best I've used as it is very versaile and easy to get to your gear and is customisable. I have used it when on my foldable bike and found it comfortable enough whilst riding, but that was on good tar sealed/concrete bike paths, not rough tracks. I actually also had the Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII lens case on the waist belt of the Flipsdie 400 as well, but that is a little more tricky and unbalanced. If I were to take my 300mm again, I would put it on a rack on the bike rather than attached to the waist belt of the Flipside 400.

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    Patrick, can I recommend looking at either the Kenti or Guru by F Stop Gear. They specialise in outdoor photo bags and they make great stuff.

    I've got a Guru with Slim Medium ICU and it'd be great for MTB. They also have the Kenti which isn't as versatile but far more compact and probably suit your gear a little better.

    They are a bit more expensive than the likes of Lowepro but I've never liked the build quality of Lowepro and the FStop stuff is really bomb proof.

    As far cycling with the gear, it'll be fine. You body absorbs most of the impacts particularly when you are standing up on the pedals, it'd probably receive more shock/vibrations if it was in a pannier or on the floor/seat of your car.
    Last edited by mikec; 30-12-2011 at 1:16pm.

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    I also have the 400aw, its a great bag, can fit lots and is quite comfortable, it does have good straps and padding, it also has teh waist and chest strap.

    I have used mine for hiking, carry cameras and beer at the same time and also on a number of occasions on the MTB. However my experience on the bike has been all onroad stuff, no serious bush bashing. It works well and is manageable with a medium tripod strapped on back as well. Obviously you can really load it up and its gonna affect your centre of gravity a bit, however this is not gonna be isolated to just that bag, any medium size bag will do that.

    Some of the bags Mikec mentioned are also good, however it does depend on your budget, you can easily blow 400 bucks on a bag, the 400aw is reasonably priced and I think its build quality is very good for that price. Mine has had quite a flogging over the years and does look a bit worse for wear, the zip heads are corroding (seascape stuff) and it has a few scraps from hiking, but has always protected the gear (and beer)


    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick K View Post
    Is this kind of gear up to the bounces? Does this type of pack provide enough protection?.
    as mentioned by the previous posters, it should be ok when its on your back and properly distributed in the bag, but no bag is gonna help your gear if you and your bag take a spill.
    Some Nikon stuff... gerrys photo journey
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    No amount of processing will fix bad composition - trust me i have tried.

  7. #7
    Ausphotography Regular
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    Thanks everyone for your very helpful replies. I'm pleased to hear that my gear will survive. It won't be serious bush cycling, just some bouncy gravel roads with corrugations and holes, so I think with care I'll be fine for stability. Mike, is there a distributor in Australia for the Fstop gear or do you buy it from overseas?

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    Patrick there is an Aus Distributor but he dosent always have the full range of stock but he is very helpful if you email him. Look up Rod Thomas Photography.

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    I bought a 400AW also about 3 weeks ago! Its just awesome. I have most similar gear to yours, extra body and a few things. Fits all the gear great, is really well protected. It should just squeeze in to over head luggage on most flights. Highly recommend this bag. I also have a Rover AW for a smaller combo when I know (think I know) what I need for a trip. I can shoot you a PM of where I managed the best price for it.
    Hayden

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  10. #10
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    Thanks Hayden and Mike. I ended up finding a 400AW at such a good price that it was a bit hard to go past and have ordered one. Thanks to everyone for your help. I don't know how this thread acquired the little downturned mouth symbol - it wasn't my intention.

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