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Pack It In
by Steve Kozak, M. Photog, CR, PPA Certified


If you enjoy outdoor and nature photography, you already know that the great shots are not taken from the scenic overlooks. To get the best images, you frequently have to hike down trails, climb steep hillsides, traipse over rocks, slosh through streams, and lower yourself into crevices. All of this is very difficult, if not practically impossible, while trying to carry a camera bag. Several years ago, I discovered the photographic backpack which gives me the ability to carry equipment on my back rather than by hand.

I always found the traditional camera bag to be difficult to take into places I like to photograph, especially with its irritating shoulder strap. Hiking in the mountains and canyons frequently requires using the hands to steady the body or to pull yourself up on slippery slopes and steep trails. Having the equipment on my back frees both hands for a better grip.

Backpacks come in many sizes to accommodate a wide range of equipment. If you're like me, you like to have all of your equipment with you at all times. If so, a big backpack is your choice. However, it does tend to make the pack pretty heavy, and if you are not in top shape, the weight of the pack can wear you down. You may prefer a smaller pack in order to preserve energy while on the trail.

If you do decide on a larger pack, I suggest several "training" outings before you get out for the long haul. Gradually add weight to your pack and increase your distance until you feel you can handle the pack for a long day's journey. A pack also needs to be fitted for your comfort and these practice runs will help you find your pack's comfort zone.

Some photographic backpacks have adjustable, padded compartments to allow you to snugly fit lenses and cameras into the pack. This helps to protect your equipment from rough "jolts and jars" on the trail. During a trip to Monument Valley a few years ago, I watched in horror as one of the workshop participants’ bag accidentally took a tumble down a steep ravine. We managed to retrieve the bag and we were all amazed that the cameras and lenses survived without a scratch.

Being able to reconfigure the interior of your backpack allows you to custom-design your pack for the particular trip you are taking. I especially like being able to design the pack to hold cameras with the lenses on. This way when I stop on the trail, I simply open the pack and take up the camera - ready to shoot. I can even have several bodies with different lenses on each body.

I have jokingly called my backpack "the secret of life", but that is really not far from the truth. Being able to get outdoors, off the beaten path allows me to clear my system of the stress from city life, and takes me back to nature which often gives me a new perspective on life. Being able to photograph the beauty I see on my journey allows me to bring the adventure home. Seeing those images again and again will at least hold me over until the next trip.

Lowepro Backpacks
If you are ready to get serious about outdoor and nature photography, you are ready for a photographic backpack from Lowepro. Backpacks allow you to get your equipment into the most difficult locations you might encounter while keeping your hands free so that you can safely navigate the roughest terrain.

Whether you carry a full system of digital bodies and lenses or if you have only one camera, Lowepro has a pack that is right for you! The following is a summery of just a few of the backpacks available:


Mini Trekker AW - This pack is for the photographer who carries several bodies and an assortment of lenses. It easily holds 2 SLRs and up to 8 lenses plus accessories. The interior can be customized each time you take it out, for a perfect fit of equipment and accessories.



Photo Trekker AW II - If you like to have your equipment with you in the field, here is the perfect pack for you. The interior can be redesigned over and over to allow you to carry exactly the equipment you might want for any given trip. With all of this room for camera bodies and lenses, it still is compact enough to travel as "carry on" luggage on airlines. This is the pack that I personally carry.



Nature Trekker AW II- The built-in All Weather(AW) cover protects your equipment from rain, snow, sand and sun. Perfect for extensive 35mm digital systems. The Nature Trekker AW also comes with the Trekker tripod mount.





Steve Kozak is an active member of the Texas Professional Photographer’s Association (TPA) and the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). He has earned the “Master of Photography”, the “Photographic Craftsman”, and the “Certified Professional Photographer” degrees from the PPA. Steve’s photographic work has been accepted into numerous exhibitions, including a prestigious EPCOT Eastman Kodak exhibit in Orlando, Florida. He also has works in the Loan collection that travels the world to promote the PPA. Steve’s work has appeared in numerous professional publications and he frequently writes for the Professional Photographer and Texas Professional Photographer magazines. To learn more about Steve, please visit his website at www.photoproworkshops.com.

Click here to download a printable version of Pack It In.
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