Camera gear always gets a huge deal of attention and photographers spent loads of time checking out the latest lenses and new super low light camera bodies. This is all fine and well but all too often one of the most important parts of the games is left as an afterthought.
Your camera bag. That piece of photographic gear that keeps all the other pieces of expensive equipment safe.
For the last two and a bit years I have been using a Pro Elite Backpack from Clik Elite SA and even though most of the time I don’t really think about it my trip to Svalbard made me again appreciate the quality of this camera bag.
Before looking at what I put the bag through in the snow, keep in mind that for more than two years I have had the bag loaded with between 15 kg and 25 kg of camera gear when traveling to places like the Mara, Botswana and places like Svalbard and I am quite hard on my equipment. The bag, fully loaded, fits perfectly into the overhead baggage compartment but don’t ask about carry on luggage weight restrictions – different story although I have never really had a major issue.
It has now been through pretty much any type of weather you can imagine and even with the heavy weight it has been loaded with it has maintained it’s form and structure perfectly unlike many bags loose their shape and become soft with extended use. The form of the internal compartments and outer form is still perfect even though it has some ‘attitude‘ on the outside from all the adventures it has seen with me.
Last week I returned from Svalbard where my Pro Elite was loaded with the following:
- Nikon D3s Body
- Nikon D800 Body
- Nikon 600mm f/4 VR
- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
- Nikon 14-24mm f/2.9
- SB-600 Speedlight
- GoPro 3 Black Edition
- Clik Elite Memory Card Valet
- Chargers and cables
When went on land with the zodiacs to photograph species such as Walrus and Reindeer I removed all the chargers and cables and left them on the ship and then carried the 600mm – sometimes attached to a Redged monopod – in my hand, ready to shoot as and when needed.
Whenever an opportunity presented itself I would either shoot with the bag still on my back – very comfortable – or slip it off and onto the snow, zip open the top flap which gives me access to my second camera body and lenses and shoot away.
At some points the bag would be in the snow for a good 45 minutes or so and even though it got wet on the outside it was only the outside layer that was wet, my gear inside safe and dry all the time.
Here is a quick iPhone video of one of the walks we did in search of Reindeer – which we found a short while later – to show the environment we were faced with. Most of our walks were a couple of hours in duration and even when trudging through the snow the bag and it’s comfort was the least of my worries when compared to how cold my feet were at times.
Two years and a whole lot of abuse later my Pro Elite backpack is still doing what I expect it to do – protect my gear when I travel and make it easy for me to do what I do.
Svalbard again reminded me of the functional quality of this bag and I feel very comfortable recommending this bag, or any other bag from Clik Elite for that matter, to anybody looking for a great way to protect your camera gear.
During the trip Andrew and I also used Redged Gimbals, including the latest Carbon Gimbal, and we will be posting some thoughts on these in due course. For now, it’s worth mentioning that even after being left outside on the deck of the boat in sub-zero temperatures for extended periods I could just slide my lens in and fire away. Very smooth, very stable and overall a fantastic product but more on this soon.
If you are serious about your photography make sure you pay attention to how you travel with and protect your gear. I have and I can highly recommend the Pro Elite backpack!
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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