View Full Version : Carrying a SLR

02-25-2005, 21:03
Ok, this is a question for you photo geeks, rather than gram weenies. I am thinking of carrying my SLR (3 lbs in the bag!) on my next long distance hike and want to test out a method for carrying in on my upcoming romp in the Prettiest Place in the World (aka, The Grand Canyon). If I put it in my pack, I won't take as many pictures, particularly of those that are really interesting. So, I want to carry it where I can get at it right away without taking off my pack.

I've got a Lowe Nova mini bag that I can attach through my hip belt. The problem is that it rides a little lower than I would like. That is, if I'm moving about, it tends to bump an area that I would rather not have take a thumping. Unfortunately, the hipbelt I have from ULA has pockets, and is too wide to make it through the narrow loops on the back of the Lowe.

I've thought about:

1) Buy a new pouch with wider loops and ask Brian to make me a special hipbelt for it.


2) Attach the Lowe via a sternum strap. This would bounce around a bit, I think, and not be terribly stable.


3) Get a fancy fanny pack with a padded belt and carry the SLR on my hip.

So, what do you fine photographers use to carry your gear (Howie, Old Phart, this means you).

02-25-2005, 22:17
I used Dana Design's "Wet Rib" to carry my SLR for the last half of my AT hike and was pleased with the performance. You may want to simply take a look at how the Wet Rib attatches to a pack and try to similarly modify your pouch's attachments. Otherwise, most SLR cameras should fit one of the two sizes offered unless you are toting around an abnormaly large lens. It attaches to each of a packs shoulder straps thereby hanging across your stomach and above the hipbelt. At first, I also had problems with it thumping (into my stomach) and bouncing a bit. This was because I could not tighten the straps enough (they maxed, or minned out because i am thin) Cutting out the buckle and making some mods alleviated the problem. To keep my camera dry I put it in a ziplock bag, or two.. One problem I had was remembering not to carelessly toss my pack to the ground. When not 'buckled up' the Wet Rib likes to swing around on its straps into rocks and trees -yikes!
Hope you figure something out that works well for you.

TJ aka Teej
02-25-2005, 22:28
3) Get a fancy fanny pack with a padded belt and carry the SLR on my hip.
I sling a fanny pack over one shoulder, pull on the strap to move the bag behind my hip while hiking, pull it forward when I need to get at the camera. Zip locks are a must, of course.

02-26-2005, 01:13
You might want to look at http://www.kinesisgear.com/ which is a modular system. They have some options that can be clipped into a normal pack. If I am going to be doing a lot of shooting I hang my camera around my neck, and then I have webbing which I attach to my shoulder straps which helps support the camera and keeps it from bouncing around.

02-26-2005, 09:04
Ever thought of carrying a rangefinder? Smaller, better optics, yes, I'm getting off topic.
That said, I use a small bag over one shoulder so the camera rests at my waist and is easy to access. I put the camera bag on before my pack. In it I keep the camera, a few roll of film and a large ziploc in case it starts to rain. I don't like threading it through the hip belt because it tends to fall off, or hit the ground hard when I take off my pack.
To see some of my trail photography look at www.visualalex.com

02-26-2005, 11:51
the history of carrying my camera goes as follows:

-in october of 2000 i set off from springer with the slr in my backpack and a point and shoot in my pocket. i took literally no pictures with it and ended up sending it home two weeks later.

-in april of 2002 i set off from the roan highlands with the slr attached to a side compression strap on my pack with a small carabiner. this proved to be a decent method for me but i didn't like that the camera wasn't protected.

-in october of 2003 i set off from katahdin with the best system i have found. i use a Lowepro off trail 1 (http://lowepro.com/Products/Beltpacks/modular/Off_Trail_1.aspx). i use a small carabiner to attach the handle to my sternum strap and thread the belt of the case around my torso (in between my pack and my body) and have no problems with it. the system doesn't bounce and the belt strap around my torso doesn't bother me.

i used this same set up in 2004 and am currently using it on the north carolina mountains to sea trail. in the off trail 1; i carry my camera body, 3 lenses (28mm, 50mm, and 100mm), extra rolls of film, a shutter release cable, a small spiral notebook and pen for recording the camera settings of each shot, and two small silnylon stuffsacks for when it rains.

when it does rain, i also have a larger OR stuffsack that i put everything in and then store in my backpack. i don't take any chances.

i don't know what kind of water system you use, but i have just recently started (since i began hiking the MST) using one of the side lens cases to carry a water bottle. i can fit two camera lenses in one of the side pockets, so it works out nicely. now i can stay hydrated and take pictures too.

although it is a little bigger and heavier (1.8 pounds) i also carry a Quantaray - QT-100 Compact Travel Tripod (http://www.ritzcamera.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&productId=29946). i have found that this works quite well for those long exposure sunrise/sunset/nightime/moving water shots.

i guess that is about all for now. 125 miles down and roughly 825 to go before i reach the sea- with camera in hand.

02-26-2005, 12:39
Well, I'm still looking for the perfect system to carry my eos 300D and 3 lenses (17-40/4L, 50/1.4, and 70-200/4L), but I'm looking seriously at something along the concept of the LuxuryLite front pack. That one, of course, is not padded in any way, so it wouldn't really be suitable for carrying a camera, but the concept of using a counter balance is supposed to help in carrying loads like a pack. My system fits pretty well in a Camelbak Hawg, so I'm thinking about making a padded version of that and attaching it the same way as the front pack.


02-26-2005, 17:42
Aarn Bodypacks has twin packs that may suit your needs, one mounted on each shoulder strap. Maybe one for body/lens, and the other for spare lenses and film and doodads or whatever.

Check out http://www.aarnpacks.com/products/accessories.html

I think it could make be a little less bouncy than sternum or hip pocket options. At the least, it may give you some new ideas for having something custom-made for your particular pack & camera setup.


The Will
02-26-2005, 21:57

I would be one of those "photo geeks" you refer to. And while I, like most of the rest of the backpacking community, have gone to some lengths to limit pack weight, my photography is not an area in which I'm willing to compromise for the sake of weight--my camera goes where I go.

I am tremendously pleased with my current camera carrying system. I use a Dana Design Rib. The greatest benefit is accessibility. I purchased a Rib that is mounted on the left side of the pack (perspective as you are wearing the pack) so I can reach in with my right hand and already have my finger on the shutter release button as I remove the camera. My SLR and primary lense combination is somewhat heavy--a Nikon N80 with a 24-120 zoom--but it rides well in the pocket. For protection of the camera I got some 3/8th inch closed cell foam and cut it in the shape of the Rib, clam-like so the pad protects the side of the camera against your body, the side away from your body and underneath. Then I just keep a heavier duty plastic shopping bag folded in the pouch to wrap the camera in when its raining.

Now, if I could only access my tripod as easliy when wearing my pack...

Tha Wookie
02-26-2005, 23:30
I use a Lowe bag like what grizzly adam uses for my Nikon F3, but without the bottle slots. It's about as small as it gets with padding. I usually keep my 24-50 lens on it and my 35-110 in a custom made sil-nlylon padded lens case that buckles to my shoulder strap.

gotta go

02-28-2005, 11:08
Thanks for all the suggestions.

The Old Fhart
02-28-2005, 12:21
I just posted a photo of my Tamrac camera case on my sternum strap here. (http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/6279/sort/1/cat/500/page/1) I am using a 28-200mm Sigma zoom as my main lens and it fits in the case nicely. The advantage of having the case on the sternum strap is that the camera is more protected but it may block your view of your feet in some instances. I have also used it in the hip belt where it isn't as well protected and my arm may chafe brushing on the case but I can see my feet. I'm not sure which I like best but right now it is on the hip belt. The only time it is inside my pack is when there is extended heavy rain and I know I won't be taking the camera out.

02-28-2005, 19:00
The Dana Rib looks nice, but does it have any padding?