The One Perfect Bag Is A Lie............

Disclosure........I am a Vanguard Pro which means they sponsor me....But it DOESN'T mean what I write below isn't my honest feelings......Read on my friend!
I am also a member of the Olympus Visionary Program, but again, I love my gear and speak from the heart.

 Are you in search of "the one perfect camera bag"?  If so, I hate to break it to you but.....There is no such thing. No really, there isn't. I've spent the last 8 years being very involved with a few different bag manufacturers, and now, even sponsored by one, and can STILL say...There's no such thing as the perfect bag. This isn't Lord of the Rings folks, no "one bag to rule them all" here.

So now that I've gotten that through to you ( I mean, you believe me right?) and you have decided that the unicorn of the bag world isn't real, we can now get to the meat of this post. So what am I here to write about? I am here to tell you that there IS such a thing as "the perfect bag for specific situations". I hope this helps make things a little easier after dashing the unicorn dreams. I want to spend the rest of this post talking about a couple of bags that for me, have become the perfect bags for specific conditions/settings.

 

Vanguard Endeavor 900

The Vanguard Endeavor 900 is listed on the Vanguard website as a bag designed specifically for birders thanks to the way the bag is laid out. My time with it has made me realize it is perfect for my trips out into the field where I don't require a backpack. So from hiking wooded trails near my home, or venturing out onto frozen piers in west Michigan in the winter months, the Endeavor has become my perfect get out into the field bag. 
 

Vanguard Endeavor 900 holding the Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

Vanguard Endeavor 900 holding the Vanguard VEO 265CB Tripod

The Endeavor, although not a "big" bag, is perfect for those who shoot with a mirrorless camera like the ones I use from Olympus. In my bag, right now, I am carrying an OM-D E-M1 MkII, an mZuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, mZuiko 12-100mm f/4, mZuiko 300mm f/4 (with MC-14 1.4x teleconverter) and a 30mm f/3.5 macro, and 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye!. Oh..And how could I forget I also have in this bag a NiSi filter system, and assorted notepads,batteries, lens clothes etc... :) Don't believe me?
Check it for yourself!!


 

STUFFED...But not over stuffed :)

STUFFED...But not over stuffed :)

Vanguard has definitely made this a bag for an afternoon outing of shooting. So much so that they were thoughtful enough to make one of the saide pouches insulated...Why?
SAMMICHES!!!
 

Did you think I was lying? This isn't a fairy tale folks...We have SAMMICH STORAGE!!!

Did you think I was lying? This isn't a fairy tale folks...We have SAMMICH STORAGE!!!

I could go over all the specs with you if you wanted. You know, things like; Water repellent and durable fabric
• Ergonomically shaped and well-padded strap
• Sturdy double sided, well balanced carrying handle
• Attachment for spotting scope/tripod/monopod/any other gear
• XXL silicone zipper pullers
• Modular dividers and dedicated pockets for ultimate set-up freedom
• Water tight pocket to keep essential personal effects secure, clean and dry
• Heat insulated pocket specially to keep snacks fresh and tasty
• Large divider horizontally locks into place to create working platform for sketching, taking notes, checking a guide, etc.
• Water resistant, easy to clean, anti-scratch and durable material on the bottom and anti-shock elevation feet
• Total coverage rain cover
But that isn't my style (instead I stole the specs of the Vanguard site), I'd much prefer to leave you with this parting thought, and parting action shot of the bag. 

If you are looking for a camera bag that is as equally at home in a birding blind with your spotting scope and camera gear, as it is slogging through snow on a frozen pier, or down a muddy woodland trail (don't forget the sammich!) then you should consider the Endeavor. Rugged build, outdoorsman/woman designed, and capable of hauling a lot of gear easily....This is now my "go to" bag when I jump in my car to shoot.

 

ALTA SKY 49

 

Now above I mentioned that for most of my short "into the woods" trips the Endeavor is perfect right? But what about those trips that are maybe not so short, or that require getting off the beaten path and doing some "real hiking"? For those situations you need more than a standard shoulder bag. Shoulder bags just don't stay put when you are climbing over fallen trees, or when traversing the face of a steep hillside. And let's be honest, for walk that could be several miles, they just aren't comfortable enough. That is where a good backpack comes into play. 

Say hello to the ALTA SKY 49.

The Alta Sky 49......Made for going the distance.

The Alta Sky 49......Made for going the distance.

As with any of the bags from Vanguard the Alta Sky line of bags are designed to work. Period. The materials are very durable and tightly woven to prevent snags and tears, they include rain covers(you can see above the rain cover tag noting the cover in a hidden compartment), and have strap, and padding designs made to make wearing these packs for long distances, and comfortable experience.  The Alta Sky packs look good too! Now, this isn't some "hipster at the coffee shop" looking bag, because, well, those dudes don't do what us dedicated photographers do, and that is actually hike miles into the woods and countryside to take photos.

Sorry guys...No lattes where I shoot.

MIles to go.....And not a worry in the world. Yes, I use my VEO 265CB as a walking stick....Don't you? If you look closely at my side, you can see the waist belt. This makes the bag even more secure and comfortable when wearing it off trail.

MIles to go.....And not a worry in the world. Yes, I use my VEO 265CB as a walking stick....Don't you?
If you look closely at my side, you can see the waist belt. This makes the bag even more secure and comfortable when wearing it off trail.

Yeah so you are probably thinking, "sure it's comfortable, but can it hold much gear?" Well...Yes...Yes it can!

What did I carry to the beach in my Alta Sky?  An Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII (w/ battery grip), Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkI (IR converted) , Olympus 300mm f/4 (w/ 1.4x teleconverter attached), Olympus 12-100mm f/4, Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8, Olympus 8mm fisheye, Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro...And filters, lens clothes, batteries...And some other stuff.....WOW! A LOT of gear!

What did I carry to the beach in my Alta Sky? 
An Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII (w/ battery grip), Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkI (IR converted) , Olympus 300mm f/4 (w/ 1.4x teleconverter attached), Olympus 12-100mm f/4, Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8, Olympus 8mm fisheye, Olympus 30mm f/3.5 Macro...And filters, lens clothes, batteries...And some other stuff.....WOW! A LOT of gear!

What's that weird section on the back?

That little pouch on the back? Oh it has a couple of uses!

That little pouch on the back? Oh it has a couple of uses!

If you are the observant type you may have noticed that triangular "flap" on the back and wondered what on earth is that? Well my friends, I just happen to have the answer to that ;)
That "flap" has a few roles to play. First is that it is like a pouch for stowing all the looted Incan treasure you find while hiking to Machu Pichu with this backpack on, second, it can hold your tripod securely(there are straps behind the flap;), and third, it will hold your drone!!! Don't have a drone? Well get this pack and then you will be 100% justified in buying a drone right?

So there you go, two bag options for two different types of photo excursions. And no matter what type of photography you do, a good bag will make the journey to your location easier and more comfortable. And in the end, that will help you to make a better photo.

Thanks for reading, now get out there and make some photos!
 

After a long trek through the woods I got to end my day with a Lake Michigan sunset and no back pain :)

After a long trek through the woods I got to end my day with a Lake Michigan sunset and no back pain :)