Any serious photographer or videographer should have Lowepro packs in their wildlife assault gear. (Photo of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming by Jetsetters Magazine photographer Robert LaGrone.)
I recently received a Trekker AW II or better known as the ProTrekker. It is not a photo bag; it is a fine piece of well-constructed luggage. The Pro Trekker is actually a backpack that carries all the photo essentials in padded protected compartments. I can even hang my tripod off the side.
There are more pockets and Velcro that a space station lab. The straps are fully adjustable for any sized person, I am certain you could assault any of the big peaks with this bag. The interior size in inches is 23 x 60 x 20 or in cm 30.5 x 15 x 52. What a bag!
The body contoured, full adjustable technical harness system of the Trekker AWII series ( there is also the Super Trekker — bigger than the Pro, and Photo Trekker — smaller than the Pro) transfers the load from your shoulders to your hips. All elements of the system work together to maximum carrying comfort. The trademarked CollarCat shoulder straps, introduced by Lowe Alpine in 1987, are the result of hundreds of hours of research and testing. They have a 3 dimensional curve that arcs perfectly around your collarbone, neck and shoulders to prevent fatigue and strain on muscles. You can pack a lot of equipment into the thing and not worry about sore feet.
The waist belt is padded with bi-laminate foam to prevent hip abrasion and provide support for the load. The highly advance, quad stretch material conforms to your body contours for optimum comfort. The foam back pad provides lumbar support and the breathable mesh allows evaporation of moisture from your back. I guess we will have to loan it to our Jetsetters Magazine photojournalist going to Libya this fall.
The load adjustment straps and stabilizer bring the pack closer to your body for better balance and stability. The sternum strap is elasticized to prevent breathing restriction and the shoulder fatigue. They are adjustable to allow unrestricted movement of your arms and shoulder’s Now if I could only get it on a plane as carry-on luggage. The Photo Trekker is more ideal as a carry on.
The most important safety feature are two security buckles, one on each side of the pack. They must always be fastened after the compartment is zipped closed to retain structure of the bag, to protect the zipper and to secure the backpacks contents.
There is also a handy item I discovered by accident — The all-weather cover. The patented all-weather cover protects the pack and your equipment from dust, sand, rain, or snow. It also works as a protective sheet for sorting through your gear when the ground is wet or muddy. It has a unique kangaroo type pouch to store it all away and hidden from the body.
The tripod mount is one unique feature I really am impressed with. To attach the tripod, remove the hook and loop fabric from the inside of the holder and unwind the strap, then you can attach the tripod to the front or either side of the bag. There are quick release buckles for those photo finish camel races in the Sahara.
Now what is really cool about this pack is the Daypack. which can be removed from the main pack and used — for the day! It has its own sternum and shoulder straps as well.
Another great feature is the ability to zip up the harness, shoulder straps, and other waylaying straps under their own cover so they don’t snag on an airport carousel.
There is something called a water-resistant YKK zipper for quick access The Super Trekker and Pro Trekker both have accessory pouches and pouches for lenses. Lowepro also holds the patent on Sliplock attachments — slots that allow you to position optional Sliplock accessories whenever they’re most convenient on the front or sides of the backpack, or on the shoulder harness and waist belt. Although not included, a variety of sizes of Sliplock pouches and accessories are available for carrying items, such as compact camera, binoculars, battery packs, film or water bottles.
The ultra-comfortable Spandura-lined (another Lowe trademark) harness is composed of closed and open cell foam. And you can adjust or customize the interior pockets. For those nature photographers and videographers, the silent zipper pulls ensure quiet trekking.
AW II Trekker series — The Super — The Pro — The Photo Trekker, are by far the best constructed camera/video equipment pack I have ever seen or owned. No wonder my local photo store can’t keep them in stock!
Photography is more than waiting around for opportunity oo happenstance to take that one killer photo or waiting for the light to become perfect or waiting for the wildlife to show up at the warthog watering hole. Adventure photographers that fill the pages of National Geographic with colored wonder literally fling themselves in harm’s way to capture a truly lasting gem of an image. Rappelling into volcanoes, hang gliding over the Sahara Desert, or up close and personal with a brown bear is part of the job description. Risk for reward is what makes an adventure photographer stand out from just a professional photographer. They take risks, up to the point where their lives may be endangered, but then back off across the line to expose insights into human and animal behavior in ways that are amusing, awesome, and inspiring. If you want to cross that line then you must view “Through The Lens”
Everyone knows that the photographers of National Geographic Magazine are considered the best in the world. After viewing “Through The Lens”, a DVD produced by National Geo about how adventure photographers live and work, I realized the extraordinary effort it takes to take that “perfect” shot, the one that lands on the cover.
National Geographic also publishes countless photography books, but my favorites are the Field Guides. They are packed with tips on not only darkroom ideas, but often Photoshop and digital imaging hints, such as using layers in Photoshop to made a composite of a picture with different exposures. Or never sharpen a photo in Photoshop too quickly, to avoid grain and noise. Or this field tip: Low light will increase digital grain. And one I really liked: Compositing for illustration in Photoshop can be more effective by using a slight bit of Noise from the Filter menu.
The Field Guides are not large in size, you can toss them into your camera bag for quick ideas in the field, and all the books in the series are written by professional photographers/authors. The Field Guides not only inspire but also inform. There is a handy index in the back, and a resource section that is beyond compare, with links to photography websites, books, magazines, and more.
And the most important tip I learned from the Field Guides? – Adventure photographers travel light, never carrying more than what they can run with!
No photographer is complete unless they have a photo vest. You have to look the part. A safari tan vest is as much a part of the adventure photo look as long lenses and a safari tan. With the digital revolution you no longer have to carry as much equipment or accessories to get the one shot you want, but you still want lots of pockets for travel documents, GPS, portable DVD burner, water bottles, flashlights, powerbars, insect repellant candles, and PDA and voice recorder.
National Geographic still supplies one of the best adventure photography vests – The Weekender Air Vest.The Weekender is lightweight, less than a pound, it rolls up easily for the day bag, has all the requisite zippers and pockets, and the back mesh keeps you cool when shooting in the Elephant Grass. It is classy enough to wear to wildlife fund raisers.
The vest is made of NyLite, a high performance featherweight nylon woven with fine multiple filaments resulting in a lightweight cotton-like fabric that is much softer, yet tougher, than standard nylon. It is as soft as down and will not wrinkle, shrink, or fade, and it is quick drying.
Now that you have your Lowepro for your field cameras, along with NGS Field Guides, and are dressed sartorially correct for the Safari crowd, you still need something to pack you personal belongs in.
National Geographic comes through again in flying colors — yellow. Their travel bags are distributed by Interbrand. The yellow borders on the bags ae actually trademarked. I recently received one of their wonderful Castle Peak rolling luggage bags, and the capacity for the weight was phenomenal, 3600 square inches, and weighing only eight pounds. The dimensions in inches is only 14x22x8 and qualifies as carry-on luggage.
The spacious interior offers two zippered pouches, clothing tie-down straps, and a zippered garment cover. The inline skate wheels make for easy rolling, and there is a hideaway locking extension handle and comfort grip top and side handles for easy transport
The bag is made from something called DuPont Hypalon, a protective material that is water resistant and resists wear and tear from weather, heat, and chemicals.
You are now ready in style for those harsh environments – begging for a government grant to climb Kili.
Once you get back home you need a great way to sort and organize your photos and the folks at PICASA software have developed a great way for you to organize your entire catalog of photos on you PC computer — get your photos ready for webcasting or sent out to your favorite stock photo house, or find that one shot for the cover of your favorite magazine — Jetsetters Magazine. Okay, we are only online and have no cover per se, but you may want to check our new interactive area call Jetsetters Blog at www.jetsettersblog.com which has a great resource for photographers and writers, or you may want to join our Travel Writers Network and travel and take photos and videos like a true Jetsetter!
— By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.