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SidePath or TrailScape: which backpack is right for you?

Mindshift Gear just launched two new backpacks, and I am trying to find an excuse to use them both. Sometimes I feel guilty because I’ve a growing collection of backpacks, but how can one resist, with solutions as the SidePath or the TrailScape?

SidePath or TrailScape: which backpack is right for you?

The SidePath is a lightweight backpack for a day trip, or anything in between. The TrailScape offers a spacious interior, allowing for plenty of photo gear, yet maintains a slim and compact profile. Which one is right for you?

Photographers always tend to collect bags of different sizes and sorts. There is no such thing as having too many photo bags. It’s something me and my wife always laugh about: she has a collection of handbags that fills a lot of space in her wardrobe… and I’ve my photo bags and backpacks hanging around my office, because I always want to have a choice of bags for different situations.

When recently she asked me to choose some of my photo bags to store away, so as to get more free space in my working area… I could not find a solution to the problem. Although I’ve stored some older bags, some so battered they will not be used any longer – I’ve so many memories attached to some that is is hard to part with them  -, I like to have a choice of bags around, because I always feel that I’ve to have the right tool for the right job.

I’ve a MindShift Gear rotation180° backpack which is used for when I want to carry more gear and use the rotating belt pack, which is great when you’re moving about in the field. Then I’ve a Think Tank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive, which I nicknamed the “little school”, that I use mostly when I’ve a workshop at a specific location. I carry flashes and LED panels inside it, with batteries, diffusers, reflectors, cables and everything else. I also have a MindShift Gear Multi-Mount Holster 30, for when I want to travel really light. The belt pack from the rotation180° backpack is also used on its own, as I it can carry quite a lot (a 100-400, 17-40mm, DSLR body, Speedlite 580 EX II and some batteries and a few extras) and is great to use on your shoulder or around the waist when you’re shooting.

SidePath or TrailScape: which backpack is right for you?

I also have a shoulder bag Think Tank Photo Speed Racer V2.0, although it does not see much use these days, but was my everyday bag for quite some time when Think Tank Photo launched it.  I still keep around some older shoulder and backpack models from LowePro – even the original backpack Orion AW with beltpack, designed by the team that years later founded Think Tank Photo –  and a model from Manfrotto that I tested last year and has been hanging around ever since. My cat Yellow sleeps on top of it so it must be comfortable.

Although years ago, when working for newspapers and magazines, I used shoulder bags a lot, backpacks have been always present and gradually became my main choice, because of weight distribution, especially when carrying more than a camera and lens. Backpacks are also the logical choice for outdoors and trekking, and that’s what I’ve mostly done. Because of that, for short day outings I still use a small backpack, a battered red LowePro Micro 200 that has long lost any resistance to water, but is suitable to carry some gear protected… as long as I don’t get caught in bad weather.

This is where the new backpacks from MindShift Gear come in. One of the greatest challenges outdoor photographers face is how to carry their smaller, and yet still sophisticated and expensive camera gear in a backpack of sufficient quality to endure the rigors of the wilds.  To meet their needs, MindShift Gear has released the SidePath, a lightweight outdoor photography backpack that features superior materials and construction.

The SidePath immediately attracted my attention, because it is red and would make a “nice pair” with my Jeep Cherokee. Although red is not the best choice for Nature, sometimes I do think you’ve to give in to fashion.  The SidePath is a lightweight backpack (1.6 lbs.) made with superior materials and construction. It’s, says MindShift Gear, a great grab-and-go bag that can be used for travel, a day trip, or anything in between. Rear panel access keeps your gear secure and your harness clean. A roomy zippered compartment fits a 10” tablet and all the supplies needed for one-day adventure. Interior trap door adds versatility by converting a camera bag to an open daypack.

The SidePath’s contoured back panel with lumbar support, air-channel, lightweight harness, and adjustable sternum strap provide all day comfort, according to the information provided.  The backpack is constructed with P600D and 420D nylon,  high quality YKK zippers, 420D high-density nylon with re-enforced stress points for long-lasting durability and strength.

In terms of gear capacity, the SidePath holds 1 large (un-gripped) Mirrorless body and 1-2 standard zoom lenses or primes, or 1 compact DSLR (Rebel, 3300 or 5300 series) and 1-2 lenses, a 1 DSLR (5DMIII or D750) with 1 standard zoom or 2 primes. There is still space left so you can carry up to a 10” tablet and 8 liters of capacity for personal gear. To better understand what the SidePath can hold watch the video. One note from MindShift Gear: the maximum lens size the backpack can accommodate is a 24-70mm f/2.8 attached to a D750 or 6D.

SidePath or TrailScape: which backpack is right for you?

The TrailScape is the next step in terms of space. With a capacity of 18L, about half the capacity of the rotation180°, this backpack fits a complete camera system, including a 70-200mm f/2.8 attached with hood in the shooting position. Examples? Well, a Nikon D810 with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached to a body and the hood in the shooting position and 2-3 additional lenses or a Canon 5DMIII with 24-70mm f/2.8 attached and 4-6 additional lenses or, if you go mirrorless, a Sony a7mII with 70-200mm f/4 attached and 5-6 additional lenses. With its multiple lash points, photographers can carry extra gear, such as a light jacket and lunch. And, its laptop and tablet slots allow them to use this as their “go to” backpack while in transit.

“At MindShift, we are focused on meeting the needs of outdoor enthusiasts who are often carrying sophisticated and expensive electronics deep into the wild.  What they seek are protection and comfort,” said Doug Murdoch, MindShift Gear’s CEO and Lead Designer.  “The TrailScape’s removable webbing waistbelt helps stabilize the bag while active and its contoured back panel with lumbar support and robust harness provide for all day comfort.”

Now that you know a little more about the two new backpacks from MindShift Gear, which would you choose? If you already have a backpack to carry all your gear, the SidePath may be a good option to try, as it seems ideal for small hikes. But if you are looking for your next backpack to carry a bit more gear, the TrailScape – I really like both backpacks and the names chosen – may be adequate. It holds everything the SidePath does and some more. Check the videos to get a complete idea of what these two new solutions offer photographers and videographers.


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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…

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