One of the coolest things about photography is the gear itself. Professional and hobbyist photographers love to try the latest lenses, the newest super high resolution cameras and the coolest flash equipment. I have a ton of gear and I really enjoy talking with others about what I’m currently using.
But one thing that’s super difficult to figure out is how we’re going to carry our gear. There are all sorts of different sizes and styles of camera bags and I own plenty. I have different bags and cases for almost every situation and I’ve found that no one bag is perfect for everything. Because I’m always on the hunt for better ways to transport my gear I buy new bags all the time. Recently my friends at LoveCases contacted me to see if I’d be interested in trying out some of their products and sharing my experiences with their customers. For this blog entry I’ll be talking about camera bags in general and I’ll be reviewing the Tuff-Luv E-Volve Expedition backpack.
the Right Gear for the Job
Different styles of photography require different gear. When I’m shooting interiors, for example, I’m not using a 200mm zoom lens. When I’m hiking in the mountains a roll-around camera bag the size of a small suitcase doesn’t make much sense. I’ve always looked at what I’ll be doing and I use the equipment that makes the most sense.
I have big camera bags that hold a ton of gear and my 15″ laptop and I have small sling-style bags that barely hold a camera and a lens. Because I do a lot of landscape photography I sometimes have to hike miles to get to my scenic location. That’s when I grab a backpack like the E-volve Expedition I (Astra) by Tuff-Luv.
What do I look for in a Photography backpack? It needs to be comfortable with large padded shoulder straps and it needs to have enough adjustability to make sure it feels good when I’m wearing it for a full day. It needs to carry the gear I’m going to use and it also needs to carry the important non-photography gear that I always bring. But it also needs to encourage packing light. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not smart to carry too much gear on a long hike. Currently I’m testing out a photography backpack that covers all of my requirements.
the E-volve Expedition Photography Backpack
The E-volve backpack from Tuff-Luv fits the bill perfectly for me and I was delighted that it wasn’t super expensive (29.99£ or about $46.00 at the time I wrote this blog post). At that price I don’t mind using it and beating it up good. If it lasts me 6 months of hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains I’ll be thrilled. With normal usage I’m sure it will last much longer. Here’s a look at the E-volve bag when it first arrived:
The bag is separated into three main compartments. The lower compartment is designed for carrying your camera, lenses and flashes. Inside there are removable dividers that allow you to change the configuration and customize it to your specific needs. It’s a bit small for a large pro-style camera (with a battery grip) but my Sony A900 did fit without a problem with my grip attached. With the E-volve my A900 fit much better without the grip than with the grip (which is great since I try to keep my weight down when I’m hiking).
Another nice touch is how the padded photography gear holder can easily be removed. Without the gear holder installed the backpack can be used to carry clothes or whatever you might need on non-photography trips.
The second main compartment is a large area above the photography gear compartment. This section of the bag doesn’t have any dividers for photography gear and I think that’s great. It really encourages me to only pack the photography gear I’ll need and not to bring a bunch of gear that adds unnecessary weight (and probably won’t get used anyway).
This upper compartment is the perfect place to pack things like rain gear, snack food, extra clothes, bug spray, sun screen and anything else that might come in handy on a long hike. Here’s a look at the top compartment of the E-volve (opened):
And the third main compartment of the E-Volve backpack is designed to fit a laptop computer. My 15″ MacBook Pro fits comfortably (with room to spare) and it looks pretty well protected by the extra padding. I’d never bring my laptop on a hike but when I’m traveling it’s super handy. This area can also be used for flat items like tablet computers or smaller soft-boxes when you won’t be bringing your full-sized laptop along.
In addition to the three main compartments there are plenty of smaller pockets scattered around that are perfect for holding smaller items like keys or your cell phone. Overall it offers plenty of storage options that allow quick and easy access to whatever you need.
Big comfortable shoulder straps are important to me and the E-Volve really fit the bill. There’s also a large padded waist belt and a lot of padding for good lumbar comfort. Right now the straps are all a bit stiff but I’m sure they’ll improve with usage. Here’s a look at the shoulder straps:
One final feature I’ll mention is the integrated rain cover that hides in it’s own compartment on the bottom of the backpack. I’m the kind of photographer that doesn’t stop shooting when the rain starts falling and having some additional protection for my gear is definitely welcome. Here’s a quick look at the rain cover:
Currently I’m on the road (shooing more interiors for my favorite A/V company) and I’ve been using the E-volve Expedition for getting some gear (along with my laptop) from shooting location to shooting location. So far I’m super happy with how it’s been working for me. Right now the top compartment is filled with hard drives and power cables and the lower compartment has my DSLR body along with a few wide-angle lenses.
I have a few mountain hikes planned for the very near future so I’ll be able to follow up this blog post with some real world experiences on real landscape shoots. Keep an eye out for the shots as well and how the E-Volve performed in the wild.
Be sure to check out LoveCases.co.uk
Their complete line of camera backpacks are here.
If you’re looking for a great photography backpack that won’t break the bank be sure to look at the Tuff-Love E-volve Expedition here.