What’s the point of a backpack as a camera bag? I want to hone in on this before I defend my idea as a photographer who tests arguably the most camera bags on the web. The purpose of a backpack as a camera bag is the same as the one you choose for everyday life: your back. Messenger bags and slings tend to throw off your back if they’re too heavy. As a professional photographer, you’re going to be carrying these with you everywhere. The smaller ones are fine, but if you need to carry a lot of gear then you’re most likely sporting a backpack.
Again, it’s because you want it to be better for your back when you want/need to carry a lot of gear.
A backpack provides a lot of comfort and balance that slings and messenger bags don’t. Essentially, it’s about balance. Wear a messenger bag for too long and it will start to shift your shoulders. That’s the case with me and a number of other photographers at least. Consider what happens when the weight of a tripod is added to one side of the camera bag. As a photographer who travels a lot, walks for endless miles through airports, and typically has a tripod on his bag I can tell you from experience that it’s very nonsensical.
If the point of a camera bag is to hold a fair amount of gear and also be able to accommodate to a tripod, why the heck would you throw off the alignment of your back by putting the tripod on the side?
Thus far I’ve only shown bags from Tenba and Shimoda, but if you look at the abysmal way that Vinta does it, you can see it’s more or less something that is industry wide. With the Peak Design messenger bag, you’re supposed to put it through the top flap and therefore risk the weather resistance built into the bag. It’s the same with their backpacks.
I have seen this implemented well with very few camera bags. With the WANDRD PRVKE packs you can store your tripod on the bottom of the bag. With Manfrotto’s Manhattan bag, you can also put it on the bottom. Another option for camera bag makers could be to put it on the top, and yes, there are those amongst you who indeed put it on top or on the bottom, but it should be an industry standard.
I can guarantee you that any photographer who choose a backpack doesn’t sit there and say, “I’m going to use a backpack because I want to throw my back out of alignment!” Instead, if they need to work with a tripod, and in order to keep balance, they’re forced to hold their tripods instead.
Please folks, fix this.