Packing Cameras: Part II

custom front pack full of camera gearThis is an update to my original post on packing cameras. I had such good luck with my smaller custom front pack from ZPacks and the insert that I made that I decided to do a second one. I had Joe make me a totally custom front pack out of cuben hybrid with the addition of two side pockets (for water bottles) and a mesh front pocket. The size of this front pack is ideal, I have just enough forward visibility that the pack does not interfere with foot placement (at least for any trails I have been on) and the attachment system is the same as my other front pack so I can mix and match. I had this pack made primarily for hiking gear like clothing, food and other items I want ready access to during the day. However, I decided to construct another camera insert to have the flexibility of my smaller one. Once again this can be done cheaply, with foam boards and duck tape. I know it doesn't look pretty but for me it's all about functionality. The roll top front pack is seam taped and waterproof so all I needed to do was provide support and protection for my camera gear. I could go on about the functionality of front packs but I'll leave that for another post. Let's go through a basic rundown of what I wanted to carry and how I constructed the inserts.





bottom insert stays in pack


First I constructed a bottom section (to stay in the pack) that was wide enough to be a tight fit and tall enough to accommodate 2 GoPros, a lens hood, and a Contour Roam.











second removeable trayI wanted a shallow tray section that I could easily remove that could hold smaller items like batteries, remotes, lens cleaners, etc. I made this stiffer with more foam and with a cord pull so I could easily remove it to access the bottom section.









cone holder/tray and dividerpack contents stacked Lastly I needed a way to secure my Pany GH2 with a telephoto lens attached. I found that making a cone shape cradled the camera and lens perfectly and makes it very easy to remove the camera for quick shooting. I made a double layer foam lid to go on top of the second section/tray to protect and separate the lens cap from the items in the tray.


The first photo in this blog shows the pack with everything shown cinched up. I am able to get one complete turn on the roll top to make sure that it remains waterproof.

I do have the option of exchanging the bottom section and the tray. This modular system allows me to carry all my cameras, some, or a combination of other items and just the cone and GH2. I have found that this, along with my other front pack, also allows me to secure my gear for the evening if I'm just under a tarp where I don't have to worry about dust or moisture getting at the cameras. Understand that I am an avid front pack user so this system makes sense for me. I have also tested this newer front pack while trotting/running on the trail and, like my other one, I am able to minimize the bounce by adjusting the 4 securing straps. I always qualify my techniques with "what works for me may not work for you".....but I hope this provides some ideas for viewers that would like a cheap (foam board and duck tape) and easy way to protect and carry cameras while maintaining the lightest weight. FWIW, I had Joe construct this custom front pack by using his existing medium size dry bag, all he did was add the suspension and the pockets.

custom front pack on the Wonderland Trail

ZPacks custom front pack