SLR/Rucksack solution for hiking

You’ve got a SLR and are planning a long hike (like the TMB trip I’ll be on in a few weeks). You don’t want to just hang the camera around your neck, or to have to drop the backpack every time you want to take a photograph. You’ve spent some time researching dedicated camera backpacks such as the LowePro backpacks at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com, and have tried to find hybrids that are good for both carrying a camera and being practical on a long hike, but haven’t had much joy. That’s where I was about a month ago.

After reading many of the discussions on the camera forums, I came to the conclusion that rather than a hybrid or specialist photography rucksack with many compromises, that I should stick to a classic hiking rucksack to get the best weight, practicality and comfort. I tried a LowePro TopLoader, but felt that it took up too much space both within the rucksack and on a belt or harness; so now plan to protect the camera and lenses with individual neoprene cases, stored within the body of the rucksack.

Taking the design conceptfrom the original drop-down camera-attached leather cases, I’ve found a range of neoprene cases from Zing that allow you to protect the camera without taking up too much space. When on the camera, they allow you to continue to use the shoulder straps of the camera. When shooting, you can leave the case attached to one of the straps, so that it is ready for when you’ve finished shooting.

Zing cases are available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

The next component my system needs is some way to support the camera ready for quick access, without packing it away in the rucksack. I tried a top loader style pack on my belt, but it wasn’t quite right. I then found a neoprene strap with a detachable camera mounting system from Kata on Terry White’s blog. When combined with a suitable backpack with D-rings, or similar - this allows you to support the weight of the camera by balancing it against the weight of the pack. The strap is well constructed, with reasonably solid and easy-to-use clips.

The Kata KT A91E Reflex E Camera Strap is available from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

The pack I’ve bought didn’t have D-rings, however the straps do have a spot where you can place a carabiner. I found the s-biner at amazon.com and .co.ukwhich seems to do a nice job of providing a solid connection for the clips from the Kata strap. A pair of size 2 or 3 s-biners look like they will support the camera.

I may also add a third s-biner to make a connection between the zing case and my waist strap to stop the camera from bouncing around when walking. 

I plan to take a test hike at the weekend to trial this solution, but initial results are looking good so far.