The DigiStows
The DigiStows (courtesy, Osprey)

What’s the best pack for camera gear?

I have been trying to find a good pack for packing camera gear. Although there are camera backpacks out there, they do not allow me to carry personal stuff, and they don't seem to be that well made. My question is...without hiring a sherpa, what company makes a "real" backpack that would allow me to carry both. I have looked at the Deuter Futura Pro 42, and would make the bottom compartment into the camera storage. I will go out for a day, maybe a day and night. Thanks a lot! Daryl Wheat Ridge, CO

The DigiStows

I dunno, this one seems relatively easy. As someone who once lugged a whole bunch of camera equipment (much wiser now—I carry a little digital Canon G10, $400, and nothing else), my solution is: A pack that carries well and carries what you need is paramount. Hit that bar, then retrofit for camera gear.

The DigiStows The DigiStows

Because, as you say, there are no camera-friendly packs that cross over into the backpacking arena. Lowepro’s Super Trekker ($596) is big but strictly built for cameras. It doesn’t even have a “gear” compartment.

I think a really good camera-toting pack would be the Gregory Whitney ($359). It’s a classic, big internal-frame pack—nearly 6,000 cubic inches of capacity, fabulous suspension, ruggedly made. And…lots of ways to pack stuff, with multiple pockets and zippers.

For less money, REI’s Mars pack ($200) is a little smaller but very similar in design. It also has multiple access points for stashing gear.

I always liked to add outside compartments, and would strap on after-market bits. Those are hard to find these days, but Arc’teryx still makes a good add-on external pocket—the Accessory Pocket ($30). It can be fitted to any compression straps and can hold a couple of short lenses or one longer telephoto. Osprey also makes a line of useful add-on pockets called DigiStows, which as the name implies are designed for today’s digital gadgets. They run $15 to $25.