Backpacks, Bags & Storage

Transporting & Protecting

Proper storage selection is perhaps the most important consideration any photographer can make, following gear selection. After all, if you’re going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your gear, it only makes sense to protect these precious investments, both at home and when hiking & traveling. I have searched extensively for the finest in backpacks as well as home & travel storage. The items below describe my solutions for each. My selection criteria are simple: 1) room, 2) durability, 3) weather protection.

For backpacks, no one beats Tamrac. Unfortunately, even within the Tamrac brand name, their best backpacks (the M.A.S. “Extreme” Series) has been discontinued. The good news is, these packs can still be purchased from Ebay, in mint (even new) condition, if you look. I actually own all 4 of these exceptional packs. I use the smallest, 757, for local hikes when I only bring a few lenses. The next size up, the 767, is perfect for getting on airplanes, when you want to bring a bit more gear for a trip, but not everything you have. I use the 777 or the 787 for very long drives, to important cathedral hikes, etc., or on epic flights, where I want to bring as much gear as possible but am not weight-restricted by flight constraints.

These terrific backpacks allow me not just to ‘bring’ my gear, but to protect it in the process while out in the field. Their exterior is made of waterproof PowerGrid™ Cordura® nylon with Spectra® PowerGrid™ internal fabric. Military-spec hardware, and high-density, closed-cell foam padding make these the most durable, comfortable packs you will ever find—and the interior also offers more room than any bag you’ll find. Even better, all zippered areas are covered and therefore rain-resistant. Everything that can be thought of to protect your gear has been added to these packs.

That said, Lately I have come to enjoy shoulder bags more so than backpacks for field deployment. Which I use depends on whether I am walking (and want lens-access while doing so), or whether I am just “taking all my gear” to a certain spot (blind/flight) to use my gear only at the final destination place. When I am photographing mobile, I have found Ruggard shoulder bags to be both reasonably-priced and thoughtfully-designed, with their better models coming with rain protection also. Of course, Lowepro is another great brand.

Finally, for home storage, nothing beats a gun safe. Nothing. Aside from the obvious theft-protection, they are also highly fire-resistant, and they allow you to place multiple closet dehumidifiers in them as well to keep moisture at bay. I highly-recommend adding a Liberty Custom Door Panel to your safe to increase storage capacity for smaller photography items (filters, etc.). Gun safe shelves are adjustable, and removable, so you can configure the inner layout/dimensions to suit your needs.

* Tamrac 787 Extreme (M.A.S.) Super Photo Backpack
Tamrac 777 Extreme (M.A.S.) Summit Photo Backpack
* Tamrac 767 Extreme (M.A.S.) Photo Trail Backpack
* Tamrac 757 Extreme (M.A.S.) Photo Pack
* Ruggard Alpine 600/800mm Lens Backpack

* 2-Camera Cotton Carrier Vest System (x2)
* BlackRapid Sport Breathe Camera Strap (x2, one L, one R)
* Magpul Gen 2 MS4 Dual QD Sling (x2)

* ONA Brixton Camera/Laptop Messenger Bag (x2, one for laptop, one for street)
* Ruggard Navigator 55 DSLR Shoulder Bag
* Ruggard Journey 34 DSLR Shoulder Bag
* Lowepro EX 140 Shoulder Bag
* Lowepro 11cm x 11cm Lens Case

* Cabela’s Classic “Fatboy Jr.” 48-Gun Safe
* Liberty Custom Safe Door Panel
* Airboss Closet Dehumidifiers
* Pelican 1560 Travel Case (x2)

For travel, nothing beats Pelican. Pelican travel cases are watertight, crushproof, and are packed with impact-resistant cell core padding. They also come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Handles pull out, and each unit has rollers at the other end, so they’re great for travel and airline deployment (although, lately, I have been preferring to use my larger backpacks for this as well).