In Search of the Perfect Backpack: My Life As A Gear Junkie!

Clik Elite Probody Sport at Rock Creek Reservoir--Wamic, Oregon

It is not the pack we carry, but ourselves.  

—Gideon Lasco

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“Another one?” my husband said from across the room, as I tore open the packaging that harbored my newest backpack.  For years, my husband has told me that I’m a gear junkie, but I refused to believe him.  The truth is I was in denial.  One day, not so long ago, while opening the closet door, the truth tumbled down on me.  That’s when I had to admit it.  I am a gear junkie!

I hesitated to write this story, that is, until I learned that I am not alone with this gear dilemma; that others share this same compulsion of collecting more gear than they actually need.

From fly rods to hiking staffs to snowshoes; from tents to titanium coffee cups, to miniature lanterns; from knives and sporks to packable chopsticks, to tiny cooking stoves and coffee presses, the collection grows.  Of all the gear I’ve accumulated through the years, backpacks (daypacks to be more specific—and now camera backpacks), make up my largest collection. 

I’m the kind of person who has more backpacks in her closet than purses.  I find that as my needs change, so do the backpacks; it seems there is always one better than the last.  There was a time, a brief time, that I narrowed the choices to three.  There was the small backpack for light trips to town, the medium-sized backpack for day hikes, and the large waterproof backpack for times spent on and near the water; a compromise that worked for a while, but ended when digital cameras (the DSLR), appeared on the market.  Again, I was in search of the perfect backpack. 

Backpacks are a personal item, and everyone’s needs are different.  For me, the backpack must be attractive, and function like a backpack; I don’t want it looking like a camera bag.  It must be durable to protect gear, and comfortable, not bulky, and should allow easy access to camera and other gear.  Since I live in a rain forest, I would like it waterproof, and at the very least, water-resistant.  Through trial and error, and a dollar amount I don’t dare to discuss, I’ve concluded that the perfect backpack does not exist, or does it?

I needed a camera backpack I could live with, and did my research.  The truth is, despite good reviews and five-star ratings, until a backpack is field tested by the person that plans to use it, disappointment looms.  My first choice was the Lowepro Primus minimus.  A solid, well-made camera backpack that looks great, protects gear, and is extremely comfortable to wear.  Unfortunately, getting to my camera and other gear proved a major inconvenience.  In addition to cost, the choices were getting slimmer.  I then remembered a camera backpack I had seen and considered, but was reluctant to buy because of the costly price tag.  Finally, after much debate, I caved in and shelled out the bucks for the Clik Elite Probody Sport.

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Clik Elite Probody Sport is a DSLR daypack that is both stylish and durable.  At 19.5″H x 11 1/2″W x 6″D, and a volume of 900 cubic inches, it surprisingly holds a lot of gear.  There is an adjustable chest strap.  The shoulder straps are comfortable and padded with material that wicks moisture from the body.  The waist belt is light and comfortable, and distributes weight evenly; when not in use, it can be tucked away.  (Shoulder straps and waist belt hold Clik accessory pouches.  There are also built-in chest ports compatible for Clik Elite chest packs.)  The back panel, which also wicks moisture from the body, can hold a 3-liter (100 oz.) bladder (sold separately).  Because I carry a canteen, I use the bladder panel for extra storage. 

There are two spacious compartments–upper and lower.  The upper compartment, although without pockets to separate items, is quite roomy.  The lower compartment is the camera bay that is nicely padded, and has a waterproof zipper.  (Earlier models, such as mine, have a small zippered pocket on the outside of the camera bay flap.)  The camera bay holds a pro-size DSLR with attached lens.  (I carry a Pentax K10D with an 18-55mm lens with an attached 52mm wide angle-macro lens, or the 18-200mm zoom lens.) There is also room for extra lenses, flash, etc.  Similar to the Lowepro Fastpack, the camera bay allows for quick and easy access without having to remove the backpack.  (Earlier models have a storage compartment on the bottom of the backpack.  This, however, was replaced in the 2011 model with a flap inside the camera bay to hold spare batteries and memory cards.)  Other features include a small zippered pocket above the upper compartment that will hold a phone, keys, etc.  There is a side mesh pocket with a tuck-away tripod attachment, a front mesh pocket with compression cord, and a small zippered front pocket.  In the 2011 model, there is also a tuck-away rain cover.

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Like so many backpacks before it, I expected disappointment, but was I surprised!  Shortly after its arrival, it accompanied me to central Oregon for a fly-fishing workshop with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.  An all day event, I wore the backpack for eight hours, and was impressed with how comfortable it felt, and how quickly I could retrieve my camera and other gear.  Tested against the elements, it withstood a number of downpours that, despite not having a rain fly, repelled the rain like water off a ducks back.  While the Clik Elite Probody Sport may not fit the needs of everyone, it certainly fits mine, and was well worth the additional cost. 

This could very well be the last time I will have to hear my husband say, “Another one?  How many backpacks do you need?”  Then again, one never can tell, but for now, for me, this is definitely it!

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All rights reserved.  Copyright 2011

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*To learn more about Clik Elite Probody Sport visit:  http://www.clikelite.com/products/probody-sport/

*Read Guy Schmickle’s review at:  http://explorethelightphotography.blogspot.com/2010/12/gear-review-clik-elites-probody-sport.html

*For more quotes by Gideon Lasco visit:  http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2011/09/quotable-pinoymountaineer-hiking.html

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