As someone that always seems to be on the hunt for that perfect camera bag for every occasion, I know there is no shortage of options. But in my everlasting search, one bag I have always been lacking is a good camping backpack that could also carry some camera gear. The backpack style bag I have had in the past have either been great camera bags, or great camping bags. When I saw the Tahquitz backpack though, I got excited.
The first thing I noticed about the Tahquitz backpack is its stylish looks. One of my main issues when finding a bag is the style of it. I know this has nothing to do with function, but it’s just always been a requirement for me. I need my bags to have an appealing aesthetic as well as function appropriately. An added benefit to the material used on the bag is that it helps with water resistance.
The next thing I noticed about the bag is that it has multiple functions. You can have it setup to be strictly a backpack for gear, or you can add the removable compartment to the bag to allow you to store a camera (sold separately). This compartment attaches to the bottom of the bag and you also has access to this compartment from an external zipper. The cool thing about this zippers location is that when you don't have the camera compartment attached, you now have access to gear at the bottom of the bag without removing all your stuff from the top of the bag.
When accessing the main compartment of the bag, you actually have two different options. The main entry point is from the top, but this entry point is a bit different then normal bags. Instead of a traditional zipper entry, this bag has a roll top styled closure similar to what you find on dry bags. This type of closure makes the bag more resistant to water, but also gives you the ability to fit more inside the bag depending on how much you roll the top. Instead of the traditional buckles you see on dry ags though, this bag uses a set of fasteners on the side of the bag that use magnets to hold them into place. Its also feature two different sets so that you can still close the bag if you have more gear loaded inside.
The second entry is in the form of a traditional zipper, but this zipper actually runs down the entire side of the bag. This is actually amazingly useful when loading gear into the bottom of the bag. Because the bag is fairly tall, without the zipper, you would have to reach your hand way down into the bag. With the zipper though, it's super easy to pack the bottom of the bag and just zip it up as you get things packed. I also found this zipper useful when accessing stuff in the bottom of the bag because you can also zip from bottom.
Aside from the main compartment and the detachable camera compartment, there are not very many other storage options. This is the main issue I have with the bag. On the top there is a zippered pocket and the back there is a “hidden” zippered pocket. Both these pockets are about eight inches deep and as wide as the bag. The front pocket has some room to expand so it good for small to medium sized items. The back pocket is pretty tight and is really only good for flat items such as documents, passports, etc.
On the inside of the bag there is an unpadded pouch type pocket. This pocket has two main uses. The main use is for a water bladder of some type with supporting hose ports on either side of the bag. The other use is for carrying up to a 15” laptop. While the pocket isn't padded, t is supported by the padding used on the back of the bag. This pocket is also raised up from the bottom of the bag so that when you set the bag down, items in the pocket don't hit the ground. There is also a zippered compartment inside the bag, but this area is strictly to hold a thin plastic piece that is used to add some rigidity to the back of the bag.
Aside from those three pockets, there is a water bottle holder that can be zippered close to help with the aesthetic of the bag when not in use. There are also awesome hip straps that can be hidden away when not in use. I love this because I don't always use the hip straps and i hate they way the flop around when not in use. On the front of the bag there are hidden away daisy chain straps that can be used to attach various items with clips or nets.
Another small issue I have with the bag is with the camera compartment. Although I love that it’s removable and can be accessed from the exterior, it's a bit too small. It can hold a Nikon D750 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, but it’s kind of a struggle. The compartment is large enough, but the access port is where the issue is. It’s almost as if the pocket needs to be able to unzip another couple inches to allow more room. When using it with my Fuji kit, things get better. I can easily fit my Fuji X-PRO2 with 23mm f/2 lens along with the Fuji 16mm f/1.4. The padded divider also has some elastic pockets that can be used for small items like memory cards and batteries. This is good because there are not enough pockets on the bag to store smaller items.
What I Liked
- Hideaway hip straps
- Water resistant
- Removable camera compartment
What I Didn't Like
- Camera access port is a bit small
- Lack of pockets
In conclusion, this is a great backpacking and camping bag for when you need to pack a small amount of camera gear. While I would prefer it had a few more pockets, in real use I didn't feel extremely limited in my options. The hidden daisy chain is also useful for attaching a smaller pack if you need the added space. The main backpack will cost you $139 and the added camera compartment will run you $49.99. For a total of $188.99, it's a pretty reasonable price for the features and versatility you get.