Backpack for hiking supplies and easy access side pocket to DSLR camera?
December 26, 2013 4:48 PM   Subscribe

Husband loves to take photos when hiking, but hates taking his backpack all the way off and on again every time he wants to reach for his camera. I need a hiking backpack for my husband that will hold all the regular stuff for a day hike but with some sort of easy access zippered side pocket where he can just reach around to grab his camera, shoot photos, and put it back inside while leaving the backpack on his back the whole time. Ideally for $60 or less. Searched around on amazon but cannot find it. Any suggestions? Thanks!
posted by skjønn to Shopping (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try an attachment to whatever backpack he likes.
posted by Capri at 5:31 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Capture clip
posted by Rikocolin at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The usual approach to this problem is a strap, not a bag, unless he takes very few pictures or the camera is in the way hanging around his neck. If he actually has an SLR with a large lens or multiple lenses, that's not going to fit in just any exterior pocket. He will need a camera bag if that's the case, but if he has a point and shoot that's pretty small, what about a hip pack of some kind for easier access?
posted by slow graffiti at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2013

Assuming you do mean a legit DSLR, I can't imagine a pack that would have a pocket like this. My daypack would hold my DSLR with a lens on it in the main compartment, maybe- but there would be there be room for literally nothing else.

Might I suggest a slightly different answer- the Blackrapid camera strap. It "holsters" the camera on your hip so it doesn't bounce around, and you can easily sling it into place for a picture. It works kind of like a rifle strap- in fact I think I read it's very similar to what the Marine Corps uses. This is what I use b/c a) there's no chance of every fitting my DSLR in any pack and b) If I have to dig it out the opportunity for a photo of, say, wildlife, is long gone.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:32 PM on December 26, 2013

I'm sure someone is working on knocking this off but my Chrome Niko does this, sorta. Single strap so you can swing it around your torso and the door flap wraps around one side. Not in the budget though.
posted by asterisk at 5:42 PM on December 26, 2013

I have one of those Capture Clips that Rikocolin linked to. I used it for the first time this past summer and for the most part I liked it. My camera was always within reach and I could pull it out, take a picture, and put it back without even stopping. I even found a compatible ball head for my Gorillapod so I could pull the camera off my strap and mount it on the tripod quickly. The whole system worked very well.


The camera isn't protected from the elements. I carried a drybag with me for stream crossings or in case it rained but to use it I'd of course have to put the camera in my pack.

The camera is the first thing to hit the ground if you fall and is out in front so it can get bumped around. I'm of the mind that if you take an expensive dSLR hiking (or even kayaking), there is a certain amount of acceptance that it might get damaged. I'm ok with this and I make sure I'm careful. Occasionally I'd put it in the pack in the drybag if I was on a tough area where I thought I might damage it.

You really need to remove the camera if you take the pack off. As a result I almost left it behind at one point.

If you're out to simply take photos you're probably better off with a dedicated photo pack, but if you're also carrying hiking gear this was a pretty good solution. I think it's a good idea as long as you know its limitations.
posted by bondcliff at 5:52 PM on December 26, 2013

My wife and I generally tackle things like this logically - since the pockets for many things are external, we carry each others stuff. Need a drink? Then we stop and pull it out of the other's pack. So you could definitely do the same thing with cameras.
But - I recently backed a kickstarter that might suit your needs. This is THE perfect thing for easy access to cameras on the trail.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:07 PM on December 26, 2013

Well, my plan is to custom-make a neoprene camera sleeve with a built-in belt clip. The idea is to be able to keep my camera handy (I don't like having to dig for it in a bag or fanny pack) while providing it with some padding and protection from the elements. I don't know if a commercial version exists or not, but as a project I think it will be fairly inexpensive and quick. I haven't actually done it yet though, so I can't say how well it works.
posted by Scientist at 8:29 PM on December 26, 2013

I saw a couple people on the AT carrying bags that attached to the front straps of their existing backpack (example 1, example 2). At least one was carrying a camera this way. I'll see if I can find out where they got them.
posted by wearyaswater at 5:32 AM on December 27, 2013

The packs wearyaswater mentions are made by Aarn, a company in New Zealand, and generally have good reviews. If you modified it with some padding, this chest pack from ZPacks might work, too, and would be very water/dust resistant. This strap system is another option.
posted by BlooPen at 5:52 AM on December 27, 2013

Good eye, BlooPen. The Aarn balance pockets are part of a pack system (ie they fit onto Aarn packs) so they're out of your price range. Nice, though.
posted by wearyaswater at 6:49 AM on December 27, 2013

There are some things to consider: Good camera gear is heavy, so you don't want to load it all on the outside of the pack on the back, because it will pull the hiker backwards, and make him unstable. Also, branches and rocks will tug at things on the back of a pack and perhaps pull them right off, unbeknownst to the hiker. So you want a streamlined (i.e., not sticking out the side) solution on the front of the pack.

I use a Lowe Top Loading Zoom bag clipped on to two d-rings that attack where the pack's sternum strap is anchored. I can easily reach the camera, it doesn't alter my balance, and it never gets stripped off by branches. If I need to carry some small accessories (e.g. filters), I use a small pouch on my hip belt (again, on the front). The tripod has no choice but to go on the back; it's too large to go anywhere else.

BTW, this has been a pretty irritating problem for me for a long time. One other solution is to accept that a good photograph deserves some serious contemplation and set-up, and the one should save the good camera for those times and use a small, high-quality P+S for the quick snaps.
posted by klanawa at 10:03 AM on December 27, 2013

I'd suggest either carrying the camera itself on a neck-strap for more convenience or in a camera-specific case on a neck-strap for more protection.
posted by ilikemefi at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2013

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