Apart from your camera, lenses and accessories one of the most important considerations should be the camera bag you use.
Your camera bag should above everything else protect your gear but let’s be honest, it’s kinda nice if looks good as well.
Now I am of the opinion that photographers are always in the market for a camera bag – always – and from a personal point of view I am currently sitting with at least four old camera bags that I am not using anymore. Why? Because each trip I go on, each new destination, requires something different from the bag I take long so I am always on the lookout for a bag that not only caters for that specific trip but also does everything all the other bags do as well.
The reality is this – there is no one perfect camera bag out there. You won’t find it! However, if you know what you are looking for and what you will be using the bag for you can find what you are looking for.
A few weeks ago I spent some time up in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve where Andrew and I put the Escape Backpack from Clik Elite through it’s paces. The reason we chose the Escape is that is was perfect for that destination and specific trip which would involve a lot of hiking, a sleep out under the stars and not too much time on a game viewer.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the Escape followed by a video review we shot in the Tuli and a few pros and cons to consider.
– External Dimensions: 53 x 27 x 20 (cm)
– Total Volume: 24.58 liters
– Weight: 1,56kg
The first thing you will notice about the Escape is that is quite a large bag without seeming bulky. The bag feels very stable and unlike most other backpacks did not have a lot of loose elastics and straps all over the place. When opening the bag I was very impressed with the padding of not only the sides but the inserts which splits the bag into various compartments. There was no doubt that my equipment would be safe in this bag. Another thing I quite liked was the color. The brown and khaki colors made for a nice change from the normal black bags and considering this bag is designed to be used outdoors it works very well.
This is hands down the most comfortable camera backpack I have ever used. The bag is padded in all the right areas and the lower back support is absolutely spot on while the shoulder straps are wide enough, and padded well enough to not cut of chafe even after walking more than 10 kilometers with a fully loaded backpack.
Even though the Escape is designed to be comfortable I was suitably impressed with the amount of gear I could easily fit into bag. On this trip I carried the following:
– Nikon D3s
– Nikon D7000
– Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II
– Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8
– Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8
– Nikon SB600 SPeedlight
– Sony HDR Camcorder
– Chargers for all of the above
– Nikon 10×50 Binoculars
– Small Travel Tripod
– Gloves, Beanie and Long Sleeved Fleece
– Various small accessories such as headlamp, Leatherman etc.
The Escape is designed to help you take along your photo gear when on foot and access to all the major pouches and main camera compartment is pretty simple. The Camera Nest insert which you can see in the image below is supposedly there to make you easily access your camera without having to completely open the main compartment. The theory is quite good but I did have a bit of a problem trying to pull my D3s with 70-200mm attached as the hood got stuck on the way out. If you were to use a smaller lens I am sure it will work just fine as the theory is quite solid.
The one thing I did find very handy was the various loop and attachment points on the strap that wraps around your body. This allows you to either attach lens holsters or, like I did, a DSLR with wide angle lens which lets you walk without having to carry something but still allows you to grab and shoot should it be necessary. The tripod sling and foot pouch is also a great addition but can only cater for smaller tripods.
From a walking point of view this bag is absolutely superb. It gives you the ability to safely carry all your gear with you. From a game drive point of view you might struggle a bit as the bag will not hold two pro DSLR bodies with lenses attached. If you only have one camera body and up to three lenses the bag will however do just fine. Horses for courses so if you are looking at this bag make sure to ask yourself what you will be using it for and also keep in mind what equipment you are going to be putting in it.
The following video was shot on the last day of our Tuli trip and in it Andrew and I share our thoughts on the Escape while specifically looking at the comfort and functionality of the bag.
Pros of the Escape Backpack
– Large enough to carry a lot of equipment.
– Stable, sturdy and safe.
– No unnecessary straps and elastics that get in the way.
– Space for a 2 liter hydration back.
– As comfortable as a backpack can be.
– Includes a fully waterproof rain jacket.
– Includes a organizer pouch
– Easy to attache additional lens holsters or accessories to waist straps.
– Loads of packing space for accessories and clothing.
– Specific tripod sling and foot pouch.
– At a price of around R2,400 great value for money.
– Looks good!
Cons of the Escape Backpack
– Cannot take two pro bodies with lenses attached.
– Not great for on a game drive vehicle IF you are using two camera bodies.
– Tripod attachment can only cater for smaller tripods.
– When fully loaded tends to roll forward onto it’s ‘face’.
– Cannot remove camera without taking backpack off your back.
When describing the Clik Elite the brochure uses terms such as ‘balanced‘, ‘flexible organization‘, ‘mobile comfort‘ and ‘high-performance‘ and that probably sums it up. The Escape is a fantastic camera backpack which gives the average consumer the functionality and comfort of a pro-level bag.
After using the Escape for four days out in the field – literally – I can say that it will definitely be my go-to bag for any of our trips that involves a lot of hiking or time on foot out in the wild.
As mentioned in the video, and in the cons above, there are a few things to consider when choosing this bag but as long as you know what you want to use it for I have no doubt that you will also score the Clik Elite Escape Backpack a 9/10!
Thanks to Clik Elite SA for the chance of doing a in the field review of the Escape.
If you are keen to check out the Escape Backpack or get yourself one come and pop in at the Wild Eye offices of drop me a line. Watch this space for more product reviews in future.
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt[divider scroll_text=”Go to Top”]