20 September 2014

Tamrac Adventure 10 backpack

The Adventure 10 is a mixed hiking and photography backpack from Tamrac. This means that, contrary to the traditional photo backpacks, which only function is to carry and protect photographic equipment, this particular pack includes in its design an additional separated top compartment suitable for the transportation of items normally needed by nature excursionists, e.g. additional pieces of clothing, food, hiking equipment, etc.
This versatility makes it the right photography backpack for any hike that takes you farther from the parking lot, giving you a higher autonomy in anything that exceeds a morning or a afternoon walk.
I'm growing rather fond of my Tamrac Adventure 10 nowadays. Why? Well, in Summer time, here in Madeira, there isn't much we need in the hills except a couple of boots in our feet, a hat, a t-shirt or a polartec fleece and a pair of shorts. For food you carry a couple of power bars or snacks and for drinking you just need a filled up 1 liter water bottle. That's all. During that gentle season, my favorite photographic pack is the trusty Lowepro Inverse 200 AW belt pack. It has plenty of room for a Pro (D)SLR, together with a couple of lenses and a flash, and can also carry the needed food and drink.
In the Winter season, now starting, it's another story. The weather becomes unpredictable in Madeira's highest peaks and trails. The natural excessive humidity in the air, the sudden rain showers, the stronger winds and the low atmospheric temperatures, all conspire to change a peaceful walk in the hills into a living hypotermic hell in a very short notice. In those moments the difference between panic and self-control is proper equipment and preparation.
 
For the actual preparation you have to start working months before. You have to know your trade. And being an experienced hiker, as in all human activities and endeavors, requires commitment, dedication and time. Grouping the necessary equipment is easier. You don't need to be a PhD for that. You just need to follow a check-list taken from the web. Using it properly, however, requires you to reread the above paragraph.
Well, the first piece of equipment for us nature photographers of the Northern Hemisphere facing the arrival of Winter might as well be this dual-purpose backpack, that will allow us to carry, besides photo gear, all the other items to make our walks in the wilderness a bit more comfortable. A rain poncho or a Gore-Tex jacket, a all-weather cover for the backpack itself, additional dry clothes, a flash light, a mobile phone, a compass and charts or a portable GPS - don't forget a whistle and a signaling mirror - are all items that I stow religiously on the Tamrac's top compartment.
If I can find a negative detail on the Tamrac Adventure 10, this is, without doubt, its harness, back padding and straps system. These are quite simple and - it doesn't really matter how much you try to adjust them - you'll have a hard time trying to equilibrate the pack on your shoulders and back. Not nearly in the same league as the Lowepros. But for the luxury of an internal aluminium frame, you have to be prepared to pay twice the price. As in many things, you get what you pay for. Zippers are also far from perfect, being a little stiff and the opening of the top compartment could be better engineered. Besides that, this particular pack doesn't bring an all-weather cover. So, if you are planning hikes in rainy conditions, you better buy one on the E-Bay, from the many Chinese sellers out there. Four or five Euros should do the trick.
The 17' laptop compartment (visible here, near the back padding) is a must, and, due to that, this backpack quickly became my all-around carry-on air travel bag, allowing me to bring on the cabin all the valuable photographic and personal items that, otherwise, I'd have to send to the hold.
Two mesh pockets on either side allow for a small tripod transport or a water bottle. Along the pack's body and straps there are several points for connection of accessories of the M.A.S and S.A.S lines, also compatible with several accessories from other makers.
Bottom line: if you want a dual photo backpack that does the job, without damaging excessively your bank account, you will not make a mistake. The Adventure 10 is a reliable piece of equipment, with plenty of load capacity, without the bells and whistles that characterize more expensive options. However, if these bells and whistles are important for your needs, you should look nearby, on the higher specialized Lowepro competition.