Customer Review

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rugged, strong, versatile and functional, September 24, 2011
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This review is from: Aktiv Pak AP400 Professional All Weather Multi Purpose Camera & Photo/ Computer Laptop Backpack for Nikon D3000, D3100, D5000, D7000, D90, D300s, D3, D3s, D3x Digital SLR Camera (Camera)
I've used a standard Canon bag for my camera rig for a few years. But it never felt strong enough or sufficiently protective for my gear. Plus, the Canon logo felt like having a "STEAL ME" sign when I carried it in public.

Recently, when putting together a new rig, I decided to look for something more heavy duty and a little more anonymous. (I know that other photography enthusiasts can always spot photo gear, but anonymous to the lay person...) I read a ton of reviews on a bunch of different items, and ended up going with the Aktiv Pak AP400.

This bag isn't particularly pretty, made of a coarse, matte black material and very little in the way of decoration. There are straps, clips, zippers and pockets all over it. It's meant to take abuse and keep on functioning. And it is BIG. This isn't a 'carry your camera around town and snap some quick pics' kinda bag. This is a 'lugging all my gear to a location for an all day shoot' or 'taking my laptop and camera rig on the airplane' type of bag. It's got space, very functional extra pockets, and a pretty flexible velcro padding system in the main compartment that is easy to rearrange to your needs. The inside zipped pockets are thoughtfully designed - with meshed plastic covers for easy visibility and leather covers for the zipper pulls to protect your gear. The laptop storage in the back _just_ fits a 17" and keeps it snug against your body. The padding on the back is sufficient and the chest straps are strong and comfortable. The chest and waist straps do a nice job at distributing weight and making it easy to carry a lot of gear - which I do (detailed below).

To give you a real-world example of how I use this bag, here's the rig I've been carrying around this weekend:

. Canon 60D with vertical grip (lens always off in the bag)
. Polaroid PL-144AZ flash
. 17" MacBook Pro with neoprene sleeve
. Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (small and very light)
. Canon 100mm f2.8 macro (long and a little weighty)
. Canon 100-400mm f 4.5-5.6l is telephoto (huge and heavy)
. Manfrotto tripod, fairly heavy (strapped into the dedicated tripod holder on the right side)
. Manfrotto monopod, very light (kludged into the left side pocket and held tight by the main compartment strap)
. various other smaller equipment - lens pen, mouse, cords and cables, etc

This is a pretty significant amount of weight and bulk, and the Aktiv Pak carries it very well. It does, however, make me look a bit like a Ghostbuster wearing a proton pack - but I don't consider that a bad thing. :) Getting through narrow doors can be a challenge as well. If I'm going an area where that bulk on my back is inappropriate, I switch to using the top handle. It's sturdy and comfortable, but I don't trust it to hold all that weight reliably for long. (plus it's pretty hard on the shoulder)

Without the tripod/monopod attached, this just looks like a standard backpack, just with a a lot of straps and things.

Bonus - built into the bottom of the pack is a rain guard you can pull out and completely cover the bag with. It seems a little difficult to situate well over the bag and keep in place. But it's very easy to put back in its compartment, and it contributes a little extra padding to the bottom of the pack.

Overall, I really like this bag. It's incredibly functional and understated, which is exactly what I was looking for. I've only had it a for a few weeks, so I can't speak for its longevity yet, but I expect this bag will hold up for a long time.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 11, 2014 11:48:40 AM PST
catlou says:
Thanks for explaining that the rain cover is packed underneath the bag! It's well hidden.
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