Friday, 5 December 2008
The latest edition of TGO magazine (January 2009, even though it’s early December) includes my review of a selection of camera bags (there’s lots of other good stuff including an excellent piece by Ed Douglas about the ridiculous media storm and the idiotic and disturbing statements by people you might think should know better such as the Cumbria director of public health on the recent Original Mountain Marathon). Unfortunately I could not include my favourite camera bags, which I’ve been using for over 25 years, because they are no longer made. Camera Care Systems (CCS) began making camera bags in the early 1980s and in my opinion nobody has bettered their designs. I’ve lugged their bags many thousands of miles through desert and forest and snow on long walks and they’ve always protected my cameras well. I’ve even had them bounce down a few thousand feet of ice and snow without damaging my cameras. But CCS are no more so for new bags people have to look elsewhere.
Writing about camera bags reminded me of a query that comes up regularly on outdoor and photographic forums, which is how to carry a camera when hiking. There are many options, some involving complex tangles of straps and buckles that look far to restrictive and time-consuming to me. I worked out a solution that I find comfortable when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail many years ago and wanted two SLRs – one for colour film, one for black and white – easily accessible but protected in padded bags. After attaching the bags to my pack hipbelt and shoulder straps in various ways I discovered that it was best to keep them completely separate from the pack. I slung them bandolier style across my body on wide straps so the bags rested below my ribs and found this didn’t restrict movement and actually felt quite comfortable. I’ve carried my SLR cameras like this ever since, though on most trips I only carry one plus a compact as backup. This simple but effective carrying system can be seen in the photo, taken on the GR20 in Corsica a few years ago when I carried two SLRs again – one for digital, one for film this time. The cases are CCS ones but the method works well with other bags. I’ve recently carried LowePro, Zing, Ortlieb, Kata and Crumpler bags like this and found them comfortable.
Photo info: On the GR20 in Corsica. Canon EOS 300D, Canon EF-S 18-55 lens @22m, f5.6@1/100, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.