These days, there are a lot of options when it comes to packing your photo gear in the field and to and from shooting locations. In the long run, though, it often comes down to a choice in how you carry it once you've got it packed. If you're like a lot of photographers, you may have a little trouble deciding whether slinging it over your shoulder, carrying it on your back or simply grabbing it by the handle works best. If you're like me, the choice may vary from one assignment to another. Fortunately, I've worked out a solution and I'm going to share it with you in this article.
Let's look at the advantages of a backpack: It's easy to carry, especially if you're carrying a lot of gear for a long time. It's “stealthy”, meaning that it doesn't have to look like it's full of expensive photography equipment, which can be an advantage when you're unsure of the turf you're on. Many backpacks are more weatherproof and durable than the average shoulder bag, too. Last, but not least, they usually have room for some personal gear along with your camera equipment.
On the down side, a backpack is harder to stow under a seat or in a luggage compartment, and accessing your equipment takes more time when you're carrying it on your back. If you need to switch gear often while you're shooting, a backpack simply isn't the easiest option.
Now, how about a bag? On the plus side, a bag is usually more accessible, even when you've got it slung over your shoulder. The overall footprint is usually smaller, which is nice if you need to tuck it out of the way. When you're on location, it's a lot easier to lug around and get in and out of than a backpack.
The bag isn't without disadvantages. The first is fatigue; if you're packing a lot of gear a long way, the weight isn't distributed across both shoulders. A bag is also more prone to bumping into things, since it's usually at your side. There's usually just enough room for the photo gear, so you'll need something separate for personal stuff like a rain jacket, bug repellent, sun screen, sunglasses – you name it.
I'm sure each of you has her or his own points that could be added to either side of the debate. Actually, that's kind of the point; which one works better depends on the photographer, the shoot, the location and a whole host of other things. Wouldn't it be nice if there was something that combined the best of both ideas?
Thanks to the geniuses at Ikigai™, there is now. Their new line of Rival Bags combine all the advantages of a backpack and a shoulder/grip bag into one unique carrying system. The design is based on a durable backpack with a removable cell that safely organizes and protects your camera gear and doubles as a shoulder or grip bag when you need accessibility. It's a revolutionary concept that's all about versatility, durability and comfort.
Now you can you pack your gear in on your back and remove the cell to use it with or without the shoulder strap on location. You can also purchase extra cells separately, which is great for photographers who need different sets of equipment for different jobs. Not only that, you can stuff your personal gear in the backpack without interfering with access to your camera gear.
I'm not going to list all the details about these awesome new carrying systems, because everything you need to know is on the Ikigai website. Go find out about the company, their products and who's already using them and I think you'll agree that this is the best solution yet to the problem of how to carry your photo gear.