In 2010 I had a problem, I was travelling to a remote location and I didn’t have enough batteries to last the estimated duration of the shoot. I also didn’t have enough cash to buy four £50 Canon batteries. The only other option was to acquire third party batteries. They were a fraction of the cost and the reviews were positive. But still, third party, or non-branded batteries as they can also be called, sent my spider-sense tingling.
There’s something that bothers the majority of people when it comes down to having an item which isn’t the main ‘brand’. It’s completely a social issue, which probably stems back to certain moments in our childhood, but it often causes us to overlook some great gear because it isn’t as well known as the others.
I absolutely love my Lowepro Fastpack 200, it’s travelled over 5000 miles with me, and I’m sure it will travel many more. However, as much as I love the bag, it certainly has its limitations. It’s not weather proof, there’s no space for a laptop, and the camera department can’t hold more than a few lenses and the camera. If you want these features then you have to pay more money, and the price hike is steep.
Earlier this winter I was asked if I wanted to try out a camera backpack from USA Gear. ‘Sure, why not’ was my reply.
What a pleasant surprise it was. For $20 less it’s 20x the bag the Fastpack 200 is.
Working from the exterior of the bag inwards, you are presented with a variety of ways to wear the bag. You can wear the bag like a regular backpack, along with a waist and chest strap to help seize control and balance, or you can configure the straps into a sling which helps for quick and easy access to the camera, all too helpful when there’s a moment that requires you to get your camera within seconds. Usually, a sling set up and a backpack setup would be two individual bags if you were to buy another brand.
On the side there is an area to place a tripod with a corresponding strap to keep it firmly in place.
Although I would imagine that placing a heavy tripod in here along with a fluid head would throw the bag and its wearer off balance. However, it is a great function for smaller tripods, monopods, and even large bottles of water.
There are two quick access areas on the exterior of the bag. One specifically designated for memory cards and another area to place small items in. This so far has become my designated headphones storage area.
Inside of the bag there are three separate storage areas. The one on the rear of the bag has been designed to store a notebook.
On the top of the bag, we have a storage area which is great for utility storage and other essentials. It’s similar to the fastpack 200, but USA Gear bag opens in a much more proficient way. The fastpack 200 opens like a standard backpack, yet the USA Gear bag opens with a flap which allows you to search and rumble around inside without the need of holding open the bag.
However, the fastpack 200 does have an area allotted onto the back of the bag where you can slot pens and other items into separate holders. The USA Gear bag just has a single net where items will muddle together.
The main compartment of the bag can be opened two different ways. You can open the side flap which will give you instant access to the camera only, this would be the access point for those that have the bag set up in the sling option. The other method is to lay the bag down and open the main flap as normal.
Like a Lowepro backpack, you are able to customise the layout of the camera compartment with velcro separators. You can lay the sections out in an array of different ways to suit what lenses you have. This compartment can sufficiently hold 5 lenses along the camera. Both entries to the mid compartment also have storage areas attached to themselves on the flaps.
The bag also comes with a waterproof cover that you can pull over the bag when the weather starts to turn grey. I’ve never used a USA Gear product before, but they have skilfully made use of the available space, nothing has gone to waste and the bag is a triumph because of it.
If you’re looking for a new a camera backpack and want to keep as much cash in your pocket as possible, perhaps securing a USA Gear DSLR Backpack. I have the inkling that my Fastpack 200 won’t be passing through airport security anymore.
As a special IndieTips.com offer, you can save $15 off the bag today by using the code USAGDSLR at the checkout on Amazon.com.