Back in 2002 I bought my first photo backpack. A Lowe-Pro that has served me well and been all over the world, but it’s getting full and a bit awkward for me to use in the field. I blame scope creep - that I’ve acquired a lot more gear over the years and actually use most of it every time I go out. For a few years I’ve casually eyed different backpacks and even had another Lowe-Pro in my B&H cart, but didn’t pull the trigger on it. There was something wrong with all of them that kept me from committing. Then I ran across a KickStarter campaign from Shimoda and fell in love. Behold the Explore v.2.0 -
Pardon my bad phone pics and my old deck furniture (cushions cover most of the wood when in use!)
Ok, granted I haven’t actually taken it into the field yet, but I already think it’s pretty great. Not only are there two stow-able pockets on the side for a water bottle and a tripod (or a spare pair of shoes, or whatever…), but there is an open compartment in the top for a jacket and lunch, etc. I love that. It has a pocket for a 16” laptop and/or a CamelBak if you so desire. Plenty of access both front, top and rear, solid construction and great looks. I’m not affiliated with them, but thought I’d share my first impressions and photos.
A big selling point for me is the adjustable harness - I have it in the middle because that’s where it’s most comfortable so far. It has a removable waist belt that really works. The harness is adjustable to fit close to the body and balances nicely. I have the women’s technical harness on the way - it was an option in the KickStarter campaign and is the same, but has two chest straps. One goes above and the other below the girls. I’ve never had a backpack company (or really almost any manufacturer) take women’s anatomical differences so seriously before and it’s great. Terrific pockets and stuff on the straps themselves and a nice comfy back plate. There are aluminum tubes that make up the outside frame and the core unit for the gear is soft, yet slim and the velcro grips really firmly.
I went with the 30 liter medium mirrorless core unit. There are many other configurations available and the other color is Army green. It has a lot of pockets and you can even get to your camera from the side if you want.
Otherwise it lays flat down and opens in the back. It has three carry handles - top, bottom and side. Great for moving the thing while it’s open. Oh and don’t you love the light blue interior? So much better for actually finding the stuff you cram into it.
There’s a cover that fits over the core unit to keep your gear even more secure and it came with some extra straps if you need to carry camping or sporting gear as well and there’s a rain cover. I’ll get out with it when it stops raining and being humid and see how it does in the field. I can’t wait!
I think it starts shipping from Shimoda’s website and from B&H etc. in November. If you’re in the market for a Landscape or Nature Photographer oriented pack, give it a look. It’s so configurable that I’d be shocked it it wouldn’t work for you. It comes in one larger and one smaller size, too.
Happy trails to me!