Is it Time for a New Camera Backpack?
I’ve gotten more than a few inquiries from readers of Shutterbug and this blog asking the same question: “What ever happened to the Joe Farace Reporter II backpack?” The answer is simple: The manufacturer decided to discontinue production of the backpack as well as its siblings the slightly smaller Joe Farace Reporter and smaller yet Mary Farace Daypack, which seemed to be a favorite of many film shooters. That’s the answer to the question but what these folks really wanted to know is what do I recommend to replace it.
I recommend the same photo backpack that I’m using now: Think Tank Photo’s Airport Accelerator. Priced at $279.75, it has a similar exterior size (4 x 20.5 x 9-inches) as the Joe Farace Reporter II backpack but has many new and improved features such as the ability to hold a 17-inch laptop computer and an iPad. If you’re going to take it through an airport, you’ll be glad to know that it’s International and domestic carry-on size compatible. The Airport Accelerator holds two pro size SLR’s, standard zooms and will accommodate a 600mm f/4 lens with body detached or a 500mm f/4 lens with attached SLR. I’m still saving my pennies for one of these lenses but have other that fill it up.
As befitting it’s airport designation the backpack has quick access pockets for the laptop and a top pocket to hold boarding passes as well as three rugged handles that makes it easy to toss into—or extract—from an overhead bins. If you’re as paranoid as I am about have stuff stolen when traveling, the Airport Accelerator has a clever cable lock and locking YKK zipper sliders. The laptop and iPad are stored in a separate (and lockable) zippered compartment.
And like the now discontinued Joe Farace Reporter II backpack, the bottom hinged main compartment lets you open the bag completely for quick and unencumbered access. There’s tripod/monopod mounting system where I plan to attach (not as many pennies needed for this purchase) a colorful MeFoto tripod. If you a hiker, for me not so much, or just general schlepping —I tend to sling the bag over one shoulder—the adjustable and contoured harness is comfortable and provides lumbar support. A height adjustable sternum strap allows for the good fit. It has air mesh paneling to keep your back cool. Airport Accelerator has a removable waist belt for additional stability when walking or running to catch a connecting flight. The backpack can be used with one of Think Tank’s Pro Speed belts for extra support and capacity by adding pouches and other useful and practical gear from the company’s Modular accessories system.
What most important to me is backpacks solid build quality and quality finish. The rugged durable construction includes an exterior that’s been treated with durable water repellent while the underside is coated with Polyurethane. The bottom panel is made 420D velocity nylon and it’s all been nicely stitched together so it won’t fall apart using three-ply nylon thread. Now you may be asking: Is it as good as the Joe Farace Reporter II backpack? I think it’s even better and it’s my backpack of choice whether I’m traveling by air or Land Rover.