Carrying Cameras and Equipment

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Carrying all the equipment you need for field photography can be quite a challenge. Often you wind up wanting to bring both large format and 35 mm on the same trip. This section shows a tr ansport solotion I am quite satisfied with. It has been working well for me for several years now. This solotion may not provide enough carrying capacity if you are planning to spend the night during a hike, but it might still be working as inspiration in your own inventing process where you find the solution that works best for you.

I started off with a bare freighter frame from Camp Trails (no, I have no connection with this company except for this purchase). 

The requirements in creating a useful carrying system could be formulated as:

  • It should be as comfortable as possible.
  • It should be easy to start shooting.
  • It should be easy to transport the equipment when not adapted for carrying.
The first requirement was to a large extent taken care of the purchase of the freighter frame. By using care in the continued process in I was able to preserve the comfort that the freighter frame offered. In order to carry heavy loads with comfort, the heavy stuff should be close to your back at approximately the same level as your shoulders. There are exceptions to this general rule, so that when skiing or skating the load should be lower in order to improve your balance.

Two additions have been made to the freighter frame, one at shoulder level and one at the lower right corner. The addition at shoulder level is a length of square aluminium tubing that has been foemed into a U-bar for the larger part of its length.  On this bar are two large hooks located to mount the larger/heavier camera bag. I have made a mistake here, the hooks should be placed a little bit off center (to the left on my frame) in order to balance the weight of the tripod. According to my original plan, this should have been done by packing the bags in an unbalanced way. Unfortunately it does not work like that. The part of the bar that extends on the right side of the frame is acting as support for the tripod that is strapped to the pack with shock cords. 
The addition on the lower right corner is a support for the lower part of the tripod. The current design of this is not the best, but it works.

The pictures show the frame loaded with a larger bag for my 4x5 equipment and a smaller bag for 35 mm equipment. Note that the bags have bands and buckles that secure them to the sides of the frame. The upper bag stands on the bar and hooks and is not supported by the lower bag. When carrying both 35 mm and large format equipment, the former goes on the top and the latter below. The reason for this is that I use 35 mm for the faster actions, like wildlife and birds. The 20 seconds it takes to remove the 35 mm bag from the freighter frame is rarely of any importance when taking a large format picture. I am planning to make a scope bag that will allow me to carry a 35 mm body with the 300 mm (and possibly an extender) attached and easily accessible.

This solution to the carrying problem works for me. It might not work for you, but it may act as inspiration in finding a solution that does. I have made extensive day hikes with it carrying weights around 25 kg. I have never tried to bring along supplies for overnight trips, although I think it would be possible, even if very heavy.