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A few years ago I decided that it was finally time to invest a better solution to protect and carry my gear to shoots. I had been doing filmmaking as a side business for a number of years and had started out on a very small budget. Over the years I had built up my gear, but one thing I had not done was to invest in a proper bag to carry it around in. I just made do with an old sports bag, but this was no longer cutting it. I was worried about my gear getting damaged and also I felt quite unprofessional when turning up to shoots without a proper bag. So I decided that it was finally time to upgrade to something better.
I didn't have a huge budget to spend and wanted to rather keep things functional while still economical. I wanted to keep some money aside for more lenses and some other gear that I needed. So I decided that getting a new Lowepro bag would not be possible at this stage. I originally wanted a Lowepro bag because I thought they were the best, and all the professionals I had seen using them. I thought to myself that I if I could get something better than what I was currently using, for now even if it only lasted a year or two, it would help serve my needs in the interim. I could then save up and get a more expensive bag at a later stage.
So I hunted around classifieds sites and online forums and eventually came across someone selling a Tamrac 5587 Expedition backpack. Just a side note that this model has been discontinued. I had heard of Tamrac but did not know too much about it. I examined the pictures online and decided it would be good enough for my needs. I contacted the guy who was selling it and arranged to meet him to have a look at it.
To my surprise, the bag seemed reasonably good, and since he was not asking a lot for it, I decided to buy it. I have not regretted doing so and in fact, I have been pleasantly surprised by this bag, especially since I thought it was just a temporary solution. As such, I thought would list some of my findings after using this bag for the past two years. I generally do about 2-3 gigs a week, so it still gets a reasonable amount of use.
Things I like
1.) Build quality - the bag is very sturdy and has held up well over the last two years. When packed with my gear it feels very secure on my back and the gear does not move around at all. The quality was actually very good and I would say that it is comparable to Lowepro in most ways in that regard. This is a big plus considering it is significantly cheaper.
2.) Space - the bag has a lot of space. There are lots of compartments to put my gear in. I can adjust these to fit my gear as needed. Also, something I find very useful is that it has a quick clip on the side to which I can attach a compact tripod. This is great when travelling or hiking up a mountain somewhere. I also like the fact that there is not only space for my gear but also my laptop which is very useful. Overall, it makes travelling to shoots very easy.
3.) Price point - the fact that this bag offers so much, but is a lot less expensive
4.) Durability - the bag is a few years old now, being second hand when I bought it. It does not have any noticeable wear or tear on it and is still functioning just as well as the day I bought it. So I think it has been well worth the money. Below are a few recent pictures of my bag.
Things I Dislike
1.) Bulky at times - it is a bit bulky if you are going to use it for a shoot where you do not need to carry too much gear. This is mainly due to the fact that it packs a lot of compartments into one bag and seems to be made for bigger shoots.
2.) Interior finish - one of my pet peeves with the bag has been the interior finish. It would have been nice to have it finished with something more velvety to add extra snugness. My bag has a nylon style interior. It still gets the job done, but is just not as nice as it could have been.
3.) No rain cover - it would have been nice if they had included a rain cover with this particular bag. One that could be deployed when needed and then folded away when dry in the bag itself. It has not been an impossible thing to deal with and I have attached my own rain cover when needed, but it is not a very elegant solution straight out of the box.
For the price point, you can't do much better than this bag. It has held up well and has served most of my needs impeccably. There are a couple of small things which I found slightly annoying over the last couple of years as mentioned. But by no means have I felt that it was a bad buy. The interesting thing is that given that it was my intention to just use this bag for a while, and then upgrade to a Lowepro, I still have not done so. There has been no real need. I am happy with this bag and see myself using it for years to come still.
Just note that this model has been discontinued by Tamrac. The model I would now go for is the Tamrac Backpack Anvil 27. The Anvil 27 gets excellent reviews on most major photography or videography sites. The bag uses materials that are engineered to be light but offer a significant amount of protection. It also now comes with a rain cover, so you can carry it in any weather conditions. It is very rugged but still remains comfortable to carry around on long shoots.