|Mike Byrne Field Tests the Adventure K5|
|Friday, 27 March 2009 21:34|
Our new Friend of Naneu this month hails from Canada: the talented Mike Byrne.
Mike is an independent filmmaker/photographer who spends much of his time working outdoors and in the backcountry. His most recent passion has been the Canadian Rockies, where he has shot pieces on backcountry lodges, ice climbing, ski touring and hiking. You can learn more about his amazing photography here.
He requested that we send him an Adventure K5 for an assignment he had in the Rockies earlier this year. A few weeks later, Mike sends in what consists in the most in-depth (5 pages!) anyone did on our bags. In addition, not only did Mike submit a technical review, he also took the time to write a narrative review that makes us feel almost present with him, on location, during his trip.
Here is Mike's in his own words.
I have been a professional photographer for almost 30 years. In those years I've put a zillion miles on my shoes in search of the perfect shot: sunrise at Kili's summit, grizzlies feasting on Pacific salmon, cannon's belching smoke at a Civil War re-enactment.And as I've aged, I've spent countless hours looking for a decent camera backpack. I've never found it.
But after 30 years, my life has finally changed.
I have many complaints about camera backpacks. But my biggest complaint is that most camera backpacks aren't designed for hiking, or skiing, or climbing, or just plain walking for six hours. They carry your gear safely, but the less time they spend on your back, the better they feel.
Conversely, most traditional backpacks don't make good camera bags. Have you ever been hammered by a tripod head as you duck under a low branch? Or dented your K1000 when you stumble on a steep slope?
Finally, most camera backpacks have no room for important little essentials like food, clothing, and shelter.
Last summer I was preparing for a week's hiking and photography in the Canadian Rockies - three peaks, six passes, about 60 miles of backcountry trekking. I diligently searched the net for new packs. And I was mightily surprised. There are now several companies making interesting new packs.
And one company, Naneu Pro, was advertising an honest-to-goodness full-size pack called the K5 Adventure. The K5 was listed as an 85L pack with a removable camera pod. Alas, the pack was not yet available. I made the trek using a traditional backpack.
Skip forward a few months, to January 2009. I'm preparing for another trek into the Rockies, this time on snowshoes. My assignment is to produce both stills and video to promote the area. In desperation I call Naneu and am told that the K5 is now available. I'm like a kid in a candy shop.
The K5 arrives the day before I leave. At first glance, it looks great. The construction is similar to a high-end hiker's backpack. The harness system looks professional, the padding, straps, tie-downs and pouches are all well-designed.
I quickly load up the pack with maybe 30 pounds of gear and head out for a five mile hike up a nearby hill. The pack sits comfortably, the tripod doesn't bang the back of my head, and I snap off a few frames at the summit just so I can say I didn't lug all that gear for nothing.
Back at home, the pack still looks great, my back feels great, and I know, for the first time in my life, I have found a pack that is both a great hiker's bag, and a camera bag.
That night I carefully select my gear for the trip: a 5D Mark II, a 16-35mm, a 50mm, a 135mm, and my trusty 70-200. I add a couple of flashes, spare batteries, battery charger, and a handful of CF cards. Everything except the flashes fits comfortably into the camera pod.
Then I get serious. I stuff my cold weather gear into a compression bag: down jacket, down mitts, long johns, ski pants, a couple of toques, a pair of light gloves, and several layers of fleece. The bag fits easily into the bottom compartment of the K5.
In the top compartment I put a stuff bag of spare clothes wrapped around my two flash units. There ºs still tons of room for other stuff, like a sleeping bag, but I'll be staying at backcountry lodges so it will be a light load this trip.
In the very top pouch I toss a bag of nuts, my first aid kit, my Leatherman, and my headlamp. A water bottle tucks conveniently into a side pouch. I strap my ski poles onto the other side and my Manfrotto tripod tucks securely into a pull-out pouch at the bottom centre of the pack. All told, I'm carrying 35 to 40 pounds, which is nothing if the pack is any good. And there's lot's of room for more stuff, if I wanted to carry it.
Day one is an nice seven mile hike from Temple Lodge near Lake Louise, Alberta, over Deception Pass, to Skoki Lodge. Moving uphill gradually, I stop a couple of times to take some shots of my group. In about two minutes I can drop the pack, pull out the camera pod, setup the tripod, and be ready to shoot some video (one of my goals this trip is to test the video capabilities of the 5D).
It takes a little longer to pack everything up, but I ºm happy with the functionality.¬† Obviously I ºd be faster if I was just shooting stills as I could forgo the tripod.
Moving onto the steeper parts of the hike, the weather turns nasty with strong winds gusting across the pass. I really appreciate the stability of the K5 and the knowledge that if I take a tumble my camera is well protected.
The trek in takes me about three hours. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been conducive to photography and I settle into the amazing hospitality of Skoki Lodge. I fail to notice that my back isn't sore - anywhere.
Over the next few days I go out on several excursions. I spend one morning with a fellow showshoer, a day with some folks on touring gear, and a day with some cross-country skiers. The camera pod can be rigged as it's own little backpack, which is great for short excursions.
By the end of my trip I'm as sold on the K5 as I was on the first day. It's a well-designed, well-built backpack that carries camera gear safely with good accessibility. If you're heading off on a long trek and your equipment includes a healthy mix of camera gear and hiking gear, this is the bag for you. Nothing I've tried or seen can compare!
The K5 Adventure from NaneuPro is a backpack designed for backcountry photographers. It features a camera pod that will carry your camera equipment safely and securely and two compartments for food, clothing, and a modicum of other gear.
The camera pod will carry any full-size DSLR and up to four lenses, including a 70-200mm, plus a few accessories. The camera pod is accessible via a size zipper in the middle of the pack, and can be rigged as a small backpack on its own.
With the camera pod inserted in the middle of the pack, there is a lower compartment big enough to hold a sleeping bag. The main compartment of the pack sits above the camera pod and provides adequate space for food, clothing and a small amount of gear.
By camera bag standards, the K5 has huge amounts of storage space for non-camera gear. But only the most efficient of packers will find a way to squeeze in a tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, food, and clothing (in addition to camera gear).
There are two pockets on the hood of the pack and one zippered side pocket, plus mesh-style pouches on each side of the pack. There are two tie-down straps and a pouch to secure a tripod.
The K5's harness system is typical of a high-end backpack - comfortable, effective, and adjustable.
The best solution for backcountry photographers; excellent harness system; roomy but adjustable for smaller loads; good tripod carrying system.
Two quibbles only: the tripod tie-downs don't lock, allowing the tripod to work its way loose over time; a small defect in the stitching of the bag.
|Last Updated on Monday, 10 January 2011 15:43|