by Mike McNamee Published 01/08/2014
It's all Charlotte's fault this! She came onto Skype ticking about camera bags (the lack thereof) for women - does such a thing exist she asked?
A Google search for 'ladies camera rucksacks' brought 931,000 hits but they ranged from quilted hand bags through to completely unsuitable expedition rucksacks.
American-based B&H excelled themselves with an offering of enough handbags to satiate Amelda Marcos - 214 to be precise and all, without exception, would have looked good on Maggie Thatcher's arm. None had shoulder straps!
An advanced search on 'Camera Backpacks for ladies' brought us to a single hit - 'camera backpacks for women' on Maria's stuff but we got an error message "This page is not currently public" _ pahhh!
We got a little closer on a modified search and this threw up the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22 litre AW which stores a DSLR with 18-105mm lens, two other lenses and an iPad. The camera is accessed through the back of this sack, it has a rain cover but lacks tripod holding straps. Close but not quite Carlsberg Close! The LowePro Trekker 300AW will hold your tripod, either underneath the sack or on the side. User comments on this unit complained about the shoulder straps getting mucky when you placed the bag to open the front up and the tripod slapping around. The below-mounted tripod is certainly a no-no for dwarfs like McNamee - the clanking into your bum gets to be very tedious after five miles in the hills.
Overall, then, the lack of a decent camera bag which fits the ladies is profound. This should not be so - when we searched the Cotswold Outdoor site we came up with 50 women's fit sacks, 22 of which were classed as day sacks, 19 of which were a little large at over 45 litres (more on size requirements later).
One company that is at least making inroads into these issues is Black Rapid. Charlotte can't big them up too much! They have ladies' designs for their camera sling straps which allow the camera to be brought into action faster than almost all other methods. McNamee has the Sunsniper sling which has an uncanny resemblance to the Black Rapid gear. It has been extensively and usefully used for a few years although it is not suitable on steep ground as it will crash a camera into rock very easily.
The only successful method of carrying a camera on steep ground that McNamee ever found was the kangaroo pocket of an old-style Telemark 'Everest' top. It was good in every situation except when cutting ice steps when the ice and spindrift would rapidly fill the pocket and turn the camera into an ice cube.
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