Tamrac's Expedition 7x backpack. Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
SCARY FACT: I have more camera bags than shoes!
Canon Canada was gracious to provide me with a Tamrac Expedition 7x camera bag along with the ir Canon 1Dx camera body and a Canon 400mm 5.6 lens to test drive on my latest adventure. Along with my own gear, I took the Expedition 7x bag to the limits.
Preparing for travel to any location with photographic gear can always be a challenge when planes, weight restrictions and weather become major factors.
Over the last few years, packing photographic gear has become a fine art for me and when I was accepted into a residency program in the Norwegian Arctic in June of 2013 with an international group of 25 visual artists and writers, my polar experience from multiple trips to Antarctica kicked in immediately while in preparation to pack.
WHAT'S IN THE BAG
Canon 1dx body
Canon 5D Mark II body
Canon 400mm 5.6 lens
Canon 70-200 2.8 lens
Canon 24-105 F4 lens
Canon 16-35 F2.8 lens
Canon 2X convertor
13 inch mac air
2 lacie mobile hard drives
various filters, cords, spare batteries and chargers, waterproof memory card wallet
The bag weighed in at 28 pounds or about 15 kg fully loaded and follows me everywhere while I fly. Everything I needed to shoot, in the event my checked in baggage was delayed, was at my disposal. My tripod and tripod head along with most secondary cables, spare batteries and other miscellaneous items were in my checked-in baggage. I always make sure I can hit the ground running in the event my bags are delayed. Clothes can always be purchased, camera gear, not so much.
Once at my destination, I reduce my camera gear immediately and only take what I need when shooting on shore. The rest stayed in my cabin on board ship.
The first thing I noticed wearing the Expedition 7x, fully loaded, when the weight limit was at its maximum, was the comfort. A snug fitting backpack with even weight distribution, made it surprising comfortable compared to other brands I have used over the years.
I tend to push these bags to their limits this way because when on location shooting I generally bring what I need for that shoot, allowing much of the added weight to be removed when my prime focus is to shoot with only what is needed, instead of everything in my arsenal.
Hiking in the arctic terrain during a multitude of conditions, wearing the Expedition 7x on top of my polar layer was not even an issue. The durable material was exposed to wind, snow, sleet and even rain. Rocky, snow-covered and sandy shores, showed no sign of wear and tear on the exterior surface as well.
On land shooting in various locations while in Svalbard, I tailor made the interior to handle immediate needs; which generally were 3 lenses and a couple of canon camera bodies. An average day was 6 -8 hours of shooting either wearing the bag or leaving it in a safe area on land while shooting nearby. The majority of the time it remained with me.
IN THE ARCTIC (DURABILITY)
Outside the majority of the time, the waterproof zipper provided added relief against snow and moisture in this location and while I was disappointed that there was no rain cover provide with the bag, It handled the elements very well during several hours of a light Nordic rain with no issues of moisture leaking through.
Inside compartments allowed for storage of cords and batteries quite easily and the see-thru compartments made for easy for finding what I needed at a glance.
Compartment construction allowed for easily moving dividers to conveniently store all cameras and lenses snuggly while travelling.
The Expedition 7 is the first bag I have used with the laptop compartment on the outside of the bag and not next to your back sliding in behind the shoulder straps behind. I found this to be a great advantage because it meant all the extra camera and lens weight wouldn't be on top of my Mac Air, not that it would do any damage, but the thought of my laptop resting on top was one less thing to worry about. It was quick to grab and the added weather sealed zippers gave more peace of mind with the elements.
Fully loaded and expanded it did challenge one airplane compartment due to the bulkiness of the backpack straps, but sliding them to the side and angling the bag in the overhead compartment solved that problem. The common main flap design, which when unzipped folds back like a lid found on the majority of bags, does expose everything to the elements while searching for gear. A butterfly design or something of similar nature would be a great alternative.
Always important to remember, fully zip up the bag before returning it to your shoulders so nothing falls out, something that all of us forget at one point or another. I have fallen victim to sometimes moving to fast to get the next shot.
It would be an added bonus if all the backpack straps could be sealed in a self-contained compartment and zipped shut to avoid them being loose and flailing about, getting tangled or stepped upon.
Great, solid bag that comes in a variety of sizes to meet your photographic gear needs.