As a traveling photographer, I live and die by my travel gear. Certain situations call for different solutions and you just have to be prepared for all of them. My custom Pelican cases I once posted about get me just about everywhere, but those other times where I need to either be lighter on my feet or take less gear I have to look elsewhere... and that's when I found my Dakine Reload 30L.
I've had tons of photo backpacks throughout my career. From a basic Canon 200 to all different Lowepros. As my stash of gear and on location needs grew, so did my need for a carry all backpack. The problem being, that as the available backpacks got bigger, they got more awkward to carry and even more awkward looking. I eventually got tired of looking like a turtle with a huge shell every time I entered an airport, so I had given up and tossed my backpacks in a closet in favor of my Pelicans.
While I love my Pelicans and there's literally no place they can't survive, there are a few situations where they're a tad too much to carry. For example, spending a weekend in the woods covering the Rally America racing series, it helps to be as light on my feet as possible. Being able to throw a bag over my shoulder and take off to keep up with the event is much better than dragging a wheeled case around. However, I was still stuck with the prospect of carrying a huge, ugly bag on my back. After complaining about all this to a friend, he suggested I check out Dakine's newest photo bag.
I had checked out Dakine products before, (they make clothes, bags, and accessories for action sports for those who haven't heard of them) but I had never thought to look for a photo bag from them. Photographing action sports is incredibly demanding and often requires as much physical labor as the athletes themselves between carrying gear and hiking up to find a spot to shoot from. Dakine's ties to action sports must have allowed them to notice the need for a big bag that was also easy to carry, (and didn't look terrible either), because they seem to have answered the call.
The Reload 30L is, in my mind, one of my best recent pick ups. It carries everything I need to take out on a shoot, while not being super bulky. I love being able to head to the track or the woods and work out of a single bag rather than a collection of rollers. It also helps me keep organized because in the heat of the moment, covering an event I can be pretty forgetful and would honestly walk off without my bag if it wasn't on my back!
If you're in the market for a new backpack, take an honest look at this pack. Something from outside the typical photo equipment makers is a welcomed change of pace.
Dakine Reload 30L Specs:
Photo Specific main compartment
Padded laptop sleeve
Fits most 17" laptops
Multiple internal pockets
Deployable rain cover
Padded waist belt
Compression molded back panel
Water Bottle pocket
Adjustable sternum strap
What I like:
- Holds a ton of gear without making me look like I'm ready to climb Everest
- Fits perfectly in airplane overhead bins
- Sits comfortably on my shoulders even though I'm a bigger person
What could use improvement:
- Laptop sleeve isn't padded on the back side, so if your camera bodies stick up above the dividers, it can be a pain to get a laptop in without opening the camera compartment also (think TSA checkpoints)
Check it out on Dakine's site here.