We are parked on the southern bank of the Mara River in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania watching a slow build up of wildebeest and zebra that we hope are going to brave the river crossing to the North bank. We’ve had 2 crossings this morning and have already got some great images but we keep pushing, hoping to perhaps shoot one of the huge resident crocodiles hunting for breakfast. On the seat next to me is the Manfrotto Backpack L and it’s had a really hard couple of months traveling with us to some very harsh destinations in Africa.
The backpack arrived at our home some months ago, just before our trip to Odzala in the Republic of the Congo to shoot photographs for African Icons (www.africanicons.co.za), the new book we are working on. (It’s about the 21 must see things and places in Africa). I deliberated long and hard as to whether to take it along instead of my regular camera bag as it’s not good to take untried stuff on an important and very expensive shoot but in the end my reckless side prevailed and against better judgement packed my Nikon D800, D7100, P330, 24-70 f2,8, AF-S 80-400, 10,5mm fish eye, SB-900 flash, laptop, hard drives, chargers and various other bits and pieces into it, strapped my carbon fibre tripod and monopod onto the front and headed to the airport. Surprise, surprise. It fitted into the overhead lockers although on some aircraft I needed to pack the monopod and tripod separately which is no big deal.
With its slightly unconventional design and versatile strap system, the backpack is a little different to the norm, and so requires some getting used to. The bottom compartment contains the cameras and lenses and the flexible access flap allows easy and quick access to the contents in various ways. The top compartment houses the flash, P330, battery chargers and various other bits and pieces. Small compartments on the front and sides of the pack are useful for torches, filters, releases and other bits and pieces and then, right down the back is a padded laptop compartment. Accessing the camera gear is quick, easy and logical. Nice and compact and well thought out. It doesn’t look particularly like it contains cameras and so does not attract unwanted attention which is great when you are trying to not look like a photographer as so often happens when you are traveling to remote areas.
Shame, it was a bit of a baptism by fire for the backpack. As mentioned we’ve been to Odzala (https://www.mahlatini.com/blog/2012/05/gorilla-tracking-in-the-congo/) and then to the Great Rift Valley, Amboselli and Satao Eleria Conservancy in Kenya (http://www.sataoelerai.com), the Serengeti in Tanzania (http://africanicons.co.za/the-icons/serengeti/), Kruger National Park (http://africanicons.co.za/the-icons/kruger-national-park/) and Madikwe Game Reserve (http://rogerandpatdelaharpe.com/blog/photo-safari-wild-dogs-of-madikwe/) in South Africa and Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana (http://mashatu.com) and the bag has performed flawlessly. We are thrilled with it and it will be with us as we shoot the rest of the 21 African Icons we are working on (http://africanicons.co.za/the-icons/icons-list/).