Gear Guy

Do any camera-gear backpacks have hydration systems?

I can’t find a camera-gear pack that includes hydration system capability. Any help from within your deep “bag” of experience? Clay Wimberley, Texas

I admit, that’s a tough one. The best pure camera backpacks are from Lowepro, such as their Super Trekker AW II ($390 street price; It’s big, holds a ton of camera gear, and puts everything at your fingertips. But it’s really not a pack that’s designed to do much else except carry cameras. There really isn’t a convenient place for so much as a jacket, let alone a hydration unit. Or lunch! And it sounds as if you’re really doing some backcountry photography, not just schlepping around camera gear.

So, I’d recommend you keep adapting non-photo backpacks to your ends. Osprey’s Atmost 65 ($229; holds a lot (4,000 cubic inches of capacity), a great suspension, and outside pockets for camera gear for those things you want to keep handy. Add to it some REI Accessory Pockets ($15; for extra lenses and other stuff. The Atmos is hydration compatible, with a pocket for a bladder and slots for the tubes, but you’ll need to buy your own bladder. I also like Marmot’s Bridger ($249;, which is adapted from the Dana Designs line Marmot purchased. It’s a touch smaller than the Osprey, and has two roomy vertical pockets on the outside that are perfect for lenses. Tripods tie on easily, too. You’d have to simply slip in a hydration bladder, such as an MSR DromLite ($25 for 2-liter model; The Bridger goes for $250.

Not a perfect solution, I admit. But I think with some planning and a few after-market additions you’ll get along just fine.

Get more advice from the Gear Guy as he picks this season’s top gifts in’s Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll probably find a few things to put on your own wish list, too.

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