Prior to our Switzerland trip in March 2014, I spent a week searching for the perfect backpack to carry my gear and travel with. I read countless camera backpack reviews, visited B&H in NYC to see bags in person, scoured the internet and asked for advice from friends in the business. The consensus? It's nearly impossible to find the perfect pack. And I had high demands.
First, my camera bag needed to fit in an overhead bin on an airplane but still big enough to carry the following:
- Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon 16-35mm f/2.8
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.7
- Canon 50mm f/1.4
- Canon 580EX II Speedlite
- Benro Carbon Fiber Tripod with Manfrotto head
- Battery chargers
- 17'' Macbook Pro
- Water bottle (Nalgene)
- Enough pockets to store miscellaneous cards, books, passport etc.
- Space for a jacket or some clothes
Through my internet searches, I finally came across this review of the new Gura Gear Uinta by Shutter Muse and decided this would be the pack that I would get.
At first blush, the pack seemed durable and large enough to fit the majority of items on my travel wish list, including my 17-inch Macbook Pro. However, it needs one more small pocket on the outside (perhaps the waist belt) or inside where keys, sunglasses or other small items can be stored.
It's easily customizable, too. Removable modules can be inserted to hold camera bodies, multiple lenses, external hard drives, batteries and clothing needed for whatever that day calls for. Learn how in install the Modules in the Uinta here.
The pack is also rip resistant (essential for all our physically demanding hikes) and made from Lightweight Custom Water-Resistant Ripstop X-Pac Material (also important, particularly since I planned to take this pack skiing). There's a waterproof rain cover to provide that extra bit of protection and, most importantly, it's comfortable.
Cons: First and foremost, this camera backpack is relatively expensive. Fully loaded with all the inside modules and tripod/ hydration system runs in around $400. It's definitely an investment. There's also no aluminum frame or support system, so carrying a lot of weight can be tough on your shoulders.
WHO SHOULD BUY THIS PACK:
- Those who want a solid day pack to carry a camera body, a couple of lenses and possibly a tripod and/or laptop.
- Anyone who wants a smaller pack for carrying onto an airplane (it fits in most overhead bins).
- If you want the versatility of combining ICUs (internal camera units) in various configurations to meet your day hike demands.
Gura Gear Uinta Details:
- $199 (for backpack only)
- $89.95 (medium inside module)
- $69.95 (small inside module)
- $39.95 (tripod and hydration system attachment)
- TOTAL: $398.85
- External dimensions with modules inside: 12.5 x 20.5 x 10.5in
- Internal dimension with modules inside: 12 x 20 x 8in
Volume (bag only):
- 30 liters
CONS: While this bag offers a ton of options, no backpack is perfect. For starters, if you are planning to carry a lot of weight and really fill the backpack, the absence of an aluminum frame really takes a toll on your back. The adjustable chest strap and hip belt offer additional support, however sometimes it just isn't enough.
Bottom Line: For a photographer looking to purchase a photography backpack, first understand there will never be a perfect pack. Once you have realized this you can move on and accept that every backpack has its pitfalls. The Gura Gear Uinta is a durable backpack that will go with you into the trenches and back. It's tough design is perfect for adventure photographer, just be weary that your back might get tired after a while because of the lack of support in the bag. For nearly $400 you are getting a quality backpack, however I think the price, understandably will scare many people away.
I purchased this Gura Gear Uinta backpack for personal use. As always, all opinions are my own.