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Camera Bag Waist Packs
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Andrew Urlacher
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Camera Bag Waist Packs on 03/31/2013 06:45:36 MDT Print View

I'm looking for a waist level camera bag for my wife. She's a pretty serious photographer and has been wanting something to carry her camera and extra lenses in a waist pouch type setup instead of around her neck when she day hikes with me. Weight isn't really a concern, she's not shooting for UL, just something to make carrying her photo stuff a little more comfortable. I've been looking at something like these.

I'm mostly ignorant when it has anything to do with cameras or camera accessories, so any advice on where to look and what to look for would be greatly appreciated.

This is for my wife's birthday in a couple weeks and I'd like it to be a surprise, so I've gotten about as much input from her as I can without arousing suspicion. I'd prefer getting the item from REI; I've got store credit to use up and I'd like to be able to return the item without any hassle if she ends up disliking it.

I know this isn't standard BPL stuff, but any thoughts you guys have would be helpful.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

I'm a backseat expert! on 03/31/2013 08:09:58 MDT Print View

My area of expertise!

I don't know what kind of camera your wife has, but I'll assume it's a heavy DSLR for argument's sake.

Here's what I've found:

1) The best waist pack is the Sprint from Clik Elite. The sprint is very stable. However, there are two kinds of waistpacks- small ones I can wear under a backpack and large ones I can't, and this is the latter. if she has a backpack, the Sprint probably won't work.

2) The best system I have is to use two carabiners to attach a LowePro Toploader AW 45 or AW 55. Now, Lowepro makes two different kinds, the cheap "regulars" and the "Pro" line. You want the REGULARS, not the pros. The extra features come at literally 2x the weight, and the complexity of the lid means the weather shield is uselessly complicated. Having a chest loader is actually WAY better than a waistpack for me, because it encourages me to shoot more since I'm not constantly adjusting a waist pack that rubs on a backpack.

3) Now, if you're day hiking and carrying nothing, there's one more option: The Clik Elite Access is a version of the Sprint that attaches on the chest, so it's the most stable and the most convenient and the safest (since, by instinct, your arms shoot forwards if you fall down). This is what I would use if it attached to my backpack straps, which it doesn't.

4) I haven't liked mountainsmith as much as anything else. I wouldn't dive in. The cases at REI that I like are the Lowepro Outback, lowepro AW 55, and the Pacsafe Venture V8, although that last one is heavy as a truck. These would all be chest packs, though. The Clik Elite stuff is so good when it comes to waist packs, it might be worth the risk of having to pay return shipping to Amazon or Clik Elite themselves.

Caveat: I am a guy, and not a woman, so without being too graphic, anatomy might mean the Sprint is the way to go. Clik Elite has larger storage waist packs, too, which would allow you to carry the ten essentials and a raincoat next to your DSLR< or an extra lens. Check them out!

Edited by mdilthey on 03/31/2013 08:17:54 MDT.

Andrew Urlacher
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Lowepro Outback on 03/31/2013 09:33:52 MDT Print View


Thanks for all the info. I'm guessing that she wouldn't want a chest pack because of the aforementioned anatomy dilemma. The Clik Elite stuff looks pretty fantastic. She uses an old Flash 18 when we go day hiking, so it probably wouldn't get in the way of anything worn on the waist.

Have you had any personal experience using the Lowepro Outback? She seemed interested in it when we were at REI a few days ago, but it just seemed kind of wonky and cumbersome to me, granted I wasn't the one trying it on and I won't ever use it.

Edit: She uses a Canon Rebel with a wide array of lenses.

Edited by anarkhos on 03/31/2013 09:37:09 MDT.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Think Tank Modular System on 03/31/2013 10:16:15 MDT Print View

I find Think Tank has the most well designed and innovated modular belt system.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lowepro Outback on 03/31/2013 10:35:45 MDT Print View

Big photo backpacks are usually terrible things. I recommend a good day pack with a decent suspension and add a waist holster for the camera, hung on the backpack waist belt. There are modular waist belt systems but they get to be heavy and cumbersome if you add much more than a camera bag and a couple lens cases.

Fanny packs are uncomfortable with any real weight and bounce. Any pack arrangement that is side mounted is in the way of moving arms and catching on brush and other obstacles.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Camera Bag Waist Packs on 03/31/2013 12:49:02 MDT Print View

This really can't be answered without knowing the equipment involved. There is an infinite number of camera lenses possible, and every combination would require a different pack setup.

I've been down this road before.

Your wife may want a belly pack, but only if the camera gear is really small and compact. If the belly pack gets too bulky, then she can't see her feet, and that may lead to stumbling. It does for me.

I fully understand the desire to keep the camera gear off the back, but what works best for me is a camera bag that I can put over my neck and one shoulder so that it hangs on one hip. If one shoulder gets tired, I can swing it around to the other.

In such a fairly standard camera bag arrangement, I keep a DSLR body with a long lens mounted so that the lens points downward and there is a top flap. Additionally, one pocket on the camera bag holds the second lens. As soon as you start talking about a third lens or a fourth lens, things get totally out of control.

LowePro has about the best line of camera bags around. I've tried other brands that are lighter in weight, but the zippers don't work as well as LowePro. For opening speed, I added a velcro closure strap. So, I can leave the bag unzipped except for bad weather and airports.


Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Exception to the Rule on 03/31/2013 14:01:10 MDT Print View

Agree with Bob that we need to know what she shoots with.

Waist pack on the hipbelt would be ideal, but I have yet to rig it. I have a 32" waist, so my buckles are like an inch from my hipbelt on either side. not a lot of room for rigging a camera. Additionally, I wouldn't want to get hit in the groin every time I descend too fast (I already get smacked in the face if I'm lazy and don't thread my sternum strap in my Lowepro).

I haven't used the Outback personally, and would only consider chest-mounting it. I wouldn't think about using it around my waist.

The Clik Elite Sprint is the exception to the rule that hip belts are cumbersome. A wide surface area and a padded hip-molded harness means it stays put.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Camera Bag Waist Packs on 03/31/2013 14:14:02 MDT Print View

Do a Google search for "Camera Pack Galen Rowell."


Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Camera Bag Waist Packs on 04/01/2013 20:12:32 MDT Print View

+1 on the Think Tank line. The Speed Demon or the Changeup are probably the best choices, since they aren't so deep as to impede movement. I've been wearing a Speed Demon with several extra pouches for years at work, and it handles a lot of weight in comfort. The Changeup can be a waist pack, chest pack, or shoulder bag. It will take the accessory pouches on its waist belt.

Think Tank is popular with professionals who don't much care about fashion.... :)

But backing up a second, I'm not sure I'd want to hike with a large waist pack system. Maybe that's because I wear it in front, so I can reach everything quickly. Perhaps worn in the back would make it comfortable for walking in the mountains.

What is she carrying? Does the camera itself have to fit inside? Or just the spare lenses and other accessories? (That makes a HUGE difference in the size of the bag.) Go sneak into her camera bag and report back with brands and models :)

Edit: Both of the bags you listed are very small.

Edited by ken_bennett on 04/01/2013 20:14:39 MDT.