Recommend a mama hiking daypack?
January 12, 2015 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a bag that can hold my dSLR plus everything I need for a day hike with small children.

I like to take my kids and spend 4-6 hours playing and hiking in the woods. I haven't found a great bag for this, and now I have a dSLR I'd like to bring along, too. My kids are 4 and 1.5, so not old enough to deal with their own stuff yet. We've got diapers, lunch, water bottles, extra clothes, and I usually have some knitting or a book or something. I prefer to travel as lightly as I possibly can. I need something that's comfortable to wear on my back and comfortable to carry in hand/over my shoulder, because the toddler alternates between being on the ground and being on my back in the carrier. We're not walking long distances -- there's bursts of walking, followed by long periods of hanging out while kids poke things with sticks or climb trees. If it helps, I'm a relatively tall, sturdily built woman (5'8", 180 pounds). I'm willing to spend up to $200 for the right bag. (Or if that budget is out of whack, let me know; I'm used to thrift store prices.)
posted by linettasky to Shopping (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if a sling bag might work for you?
posted by umwhat at 10:17 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

$200 is plenty for a good pack. If you can manage to get to a store that keeps a lot of bags in stock, I'd recommend trying a bunch out, because they all fit differently.

I just picked up this bag for 80 bucks at Campmor. It is HUGE for a day pack, and suits me well for commuting. I am about your height (but with a short torso) and it fits me very well. Tuck-away hip belt, three big pockets so you can separate diapers from snacks (two of these have internal dividers) plus a few more pockets for sunglasses, water bottles, keys, etc. Very well built for the price. The only thing is that if you need to one-arm it, you'll have to do it through one of the arm straps; there is no separate shoulder strap.
posted by Opposite George at 10:20 AM on January 12, 2015

I have been extremely happy using a camera pouch inside a "regular bag". I have a larger one that holds a camera and two extra lenses (or one and an external flash). Then I can use it with whatever general purpose bag I want. For shorter trips or when I'm traveling light, I use a messenger bag, which makes it very convenient to get at the camera without stopping. But for a longer hike, or if I've got more weight to carry, I prefer a backpack. Bags that aren't made specifically for cameras are way way cheaper.
posted by aubilenon at 11:31 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

How are you carrying the little one right now? Would you consider switching to a kid carrier with more cargo room? They can be very spendy new but my sister and brother-in-law have had excellent luck getting Kelty kid carriers on craiglist (they last a long time and obviously families outgrow them at some point).

Also is the 4-year-old carrying a pack at all? Might want to load that one up with the diapers - no real weight for them but you could save a lot of space in your own pack for heavy stuff like books and water, and they get to feel like they're helping.
posted by mskyle at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2015

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