|Hakuba's PSBP-30 Backpack
by Gary Stanley
Funny thing about photographers, give a group of them a choice of five
good photo bags and you will probably get a different opinion from each
one. Well that's okay, because I have my opinion too. I have tried all the
major brands of professional backpacks and can speak from experience, none
of them are perfect! But this one comes awful close.
There is good reason for this of course. We as photographers are all a
little different, and have different needs with regards to equipment,
comfort, style, and use. I remember trying to help someone pick out a new
bag for a trip to Africa. I suggested a bag that would allow you to access
all of your equipment from one compartment, it would be quicker. 'Hey,
it's easy, and you don't have to remember in which compartment you put a
particular lens'. The man looked at me and said, 'it's dusty where I'm
going and I don't want to open up everything to the sand and dust'. Well
you can't argue with that kind of logic.
I suppose that's why there are so many different models to choose from.
Hakuba of course makes several different models as well. So, what should I
look for in a camera bag for my needs? Well here is where the experience
comes in. I have developed certain pet peeves that I consider important
enough to influence my purchase.
1. Zippers: If you spend half your time tugging and struggling
with those zippers, somewhere along the way you're going to miss an
important shot. Thankfully the Hakuba zipper systems work like a dream.
They seem rugged and I could easily work them with one hand, and that's
important to me when I'm in certain situations. My last 'Pro' bag always
took two men and a boy to operate. The comment made to me was, 'It's
because of the way it's weatherproofed, the zipper is better protected'.
Then why does the bag come with a rain cover? If weather gets that bad
I'll cover the bag anyway.
2. Size: I know you have a lot of equipment, but hey! I still
want it as a carry-on and that means not trusting it to the airlines
luggage handlers. I would much rather loose my clothes than my camera
gear. Once again this bag from Hakuba has more than enough room for all
my important equipment, and yet is still more compact than the
3. Comfort: If you spend any amount of time with a pack such
as this on your back, it should be comfortable. If straps begin to rub
parts of your body raw, it won't be much fun by the end of the day. I've
used Hakuba's backpack now for several months and am more than satisfied
with the comfort
4. Design: There are Pro bags out there that are very well
padded and if dropped from a Camel I'm sure they would survive. My last
one was designed by a photographer friend of mine, who is as big as a
Camel, okay a Moose. This bag could survive a landmine, it weighs more
empty than my bag does full (not really, but it feels like it). The
waist supports look like the arms of the robot from 'Lost In Space'.
They're always in the way and very unhandy. For his size it probably
isn't a problem, but for me no thanks. Yes, it is well made but I still
The bottom line: Don't buy a bag because all the pro's use it. There is
much more at stake than having the same bag as everyone else. It has to
work for YOU! And I am happy to report that both Pam and I are thrilled
with the performance of this bag. We just got back from a week in Northern
Maine. She had her 500 f/4 Nikkor, her new Tokina 24-200, the 105 macro,
the 300f/4 Nikkor, camera bodies, and all of her other basic accessories
with room to spare. Not bad, and, she can still lift it too!
Photography by email