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Customer Review

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for Clik Elite, January 10, 2011
First thing.... I'm a photographic enthusiast wavering on the Professional/Consumer markets. Basically I make some money off of my photos but at the end of the day its not my Career, that being said, I still have professional equipment. The reason I think its important to mention that is because priority #1 is keeping my equipment safe and dry, #2 is being able to walk around or hike 8 hours a day without setting my bag down. I don't think that you would be here right now if you didn't own a camera so the long review is because its hard to find good info on these bags.

I own a 7D, T2i, 17-55 f/2.8, 17-40 /f4 L lens, 50mm f/1.8, 70-300f/4-5.6 IS USM, Kenko Extension tubes.

The main problem in my photographic world, is it is a pain in the ass to go on a long hike or travel to a 3rd world country with a normal camera backpack. Yes, they protect my equipment which is #1 on the list, but they absolutely suck for anything else. The issue is that the bags are made for protecting camera equipment not for pleasing outdoors enthusiasts, Clik Elite has solved this dilemma by ingeniously creating an entire line of high quality hiking packs that have space for photographic equipment.

The Obscura has a bottom compartment with side access that can fit your camera body and a large professional zoom lens, this compartment has hard plastic sewn into the linings which make its easy to place your camera there with confidence. There is another compartment on the inside of the top where you can place more lenses and equipment. This compartment can be customized by moving pieces of Velcro dividers. Finally on top there is sufficient room & little pockets for filters, memory cards, and things of that nature. I can fit everything I mentioned above including everything else I use in my Obscura. (having both camera bodies is annoying so I usually only carry one, but both can fit if needed.)

Since 2007 I have spent over 6 months in Africa; Lowellpro, Tamrac, and Tenba have made my life miserable on long days. I ascended a Volcano in Rwanda in which took 4 hours of Hiking straight up for a couple thousand feet. I was able to get very nice photos at the top but I wanted to shoot myself when I got back to the bottom. If I were to do this again there is no way in the world I would ever do it without my Click Elite bag. This is because at the end of this 8 hour debacle this would be the difference

1) My shoulders wouldn't be burning and slightly bruised due to bad weight management.
2) My back and T-shirt wouldn't look like someone collected a bucket of sweat from the biggest looser and dumped it on me.
3) If it were to suddenly rain (as it often does in Central East Africa), I wouldn't have had to stop think "Is it really worth it?" because I'm confident in the weather proofing.(Water will not bead on the inside of the bag)
4) Side access would have made it very easy to stop for a moment and take a nice picture while on the side of the mountain.
5)If a mountain Gorilla had decided to try and eat me, it would have been much easier to run faster than my comrades.

So 1) is the most important there for me so I will explain completely. When you have over $2,500 of camera equipment you don't want to put any of it at risk, hands down that is most important thing. So ensuring that you have a safe backpack for what you own comes at the sacrifice of loosing features of high-end hiking backpacks. This is another list of what I feel Clik Elite finally gave back to me in my Obscura vs. my old bags.

A) excellent shoulder straps with both high and low weight adjustments, they also include very comfortable cushioning woven into a breathable mesh material allowing air to circulate at a much better rate. The shoulder straps also have abdominal and sternum attachments that make spreading out the weight a very efficient process. So when I spend 3 weeks in which everyday I'm on my feet with my equipment and I don't feel safe setting it down just about anywhere the difference between regular straps and these is Night & Day. Much like being stuck with crutches, they don't really suck until after a couple of days and your armpits hurt every step you take. So when its part of your job to carry equipment and it hurts just to put your pack on... you have a problem.

B)Same padding material along the back, nice breathable material that keeps my body from freaking out. Everyone hates sweaty back, so this design really helps with that... bigtime. The huge plus here is a light weight plastic sheath that curves to the contour of your spine further controlling weight distribution.

C)Hydration: this a key factor for hikers and travelers... not for photographers. Most camera companies would never even think of adding a hydration pack to their bags but Clik Elite understands it's a must. And personally for me, in Africa & Europe its HUGE. not only do you not have to carry annoying water bottles but the weight of the water isn't stuck to one side of your bag. Please note that if the water really had anyway to actually damage equipment I would probably skip it. If there was a puncture in your hydration pack, the water would easily drain out the bottom near the outer layers of the bag.

D) Optional side or center mount for tripod. Again this is a weight issue, having my tripod mounted on the center of my bag is absolutely lovely. The side mount is preferable for quick access, but after 6 hours of having something on your back you tend to notice which side is heavier and it gets old quick.

E) NON-Separated compartments. This is another thing that is HUGE for me. I can't stand not being able to put a jacket, a notepad, and a book in my bag to go along with my equipment. In all of my other bags, there had been a clear compartment for Camera/lenses and then above that was a small compartment for other things, but they were never efficient at holding anything. I recently traveled to NYC for new years and used my Obscura as my carry on. In it I was able to fit all of my equipment(yes...ALL of it) as well as a large laptop, a beanie, a pair of gloves,
a shirt, an 8X11 notepad, and a decently thick book. Now this was pretty heavy and I would never intend on serious travel that way, but I was darn shocked that it was even possible.

Summary: Truth is.. I love Clik Elite, they answered thousands of cries for high quality back packs with Space for a Camera Vs. Camera bags with "daypack" space, it truly is a wonderful thing. As a Semi-professional I will never look anywhere else for a bag until this problem is recognized & corrected unilaterally. Making a professional photographer on a Safari a little jealous was the overwhelming justification of my own assessment. Hearing "What the Hell is Clik Elite, and where do I get it?" was pretty cool coming from the national geographic type.

So whether I'm hiking, biking, or camping I'm covered. Whether I'm taking Safari photos for some Yuppie or stuck in BFE Kenya... I'm covered. If I'm in Central Park or Times Square, I'm covered. Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Munich, Madrid.... you get the point.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2011 10:25:50 AM PST
R. Lee says:
can you post some pics of the interior of the pack and maybe how it sizes on you(how tall are you?)? been interested in this pack for awhile but there is barely any info and hardly any stores carry it.


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2011 3:20:39 PM PST
StephenC says:
Might take me a day or two to get some pictures up. As for your questions I'm 5'9, and the bottom of the obscura stops just above my kidneys. The bag is not nearly big enough to be considered a "mountaineering" bag so it's clearly a "hiking" backpack with safe space for your equipment. Its not bulky either. First you have the side access where you would keep your Camera Body and if needed a professional zoom lens; there is hard plastic sewn into a fabric cylinder making this compartment at the bottom of the bag. Then if you were to open the top of the bag there is a Pouch, with 2 padded Velcro dividers naturally making 3 smaller pockets. This is where I put my extra lenses and my flash. The rest of the inside of the bag is like a normal backpack except at the bottom there is the plastic/fabric shell holding your camera body. Besides that there is a zipper pocket on top of the bag with lots of little storage areas for filters and memory cards, then there is a mesh pocket on front that fits Misc. items.

If you want to tell me what you would mostly be using it for I could probably help more. For instance I also own the Clik Elite: Pro-Body Sport which is a smaller bag but still fits a fair amount of equipment. I was worried about spending the money if it wasn't practical, but that bag has turned out to have a completely different function for me (I use that bag for personal or event photography, not nature or hiking). If you're worried that the bag is either too big, or too small let me know, because I know what its like to not want to spend the wrong 160$. Clik Elite makes a lot of bags though so one type would probably work perfect for what you need. Also if it helps I almost bought a Crumpler bag the "Sinking Barge", which is over 240$ and in retrospect my money was much better saved & spent on the Obscura. No I don't work for Clik Elite, they just brought a new practicality to the market that fits my niche exactly. Hope this info helps.

Posted on Jan 17, 2011 10:43:50 AM PST
Andrew Lui says:
Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the detail report. I have some questions for you.

1. You have Canon 7D. How easy for you to get the body out of the side access hole? The hole is not that big from the photo. I have the 5D which is the same size as the 7D

2. The sweating issue for the backpack is one of my top concerns. Did you use it in hot and high humidity weather? How bad is the sweating in the back?


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 1:33:38 PM PST
StephenC says:
Hello Andrew,
1. To answer your question honestly, yes there is a little fight to get the 7d out of the bag for side access but not so much to where I would say that its a pain in the butt. It is not enough for me to warrant a complaint on my part, I can still get the camera out within 10 seconds only using one hand. Also you have to think of the alternative, which is no side access. To me its more of a pain in the butt to take my bag off my back and rummage through it to get my camera. Also its not to the point where you would scratch anything or break something on your lens. Also it might be good to note that the space inside is a bit bigger than the hole. My 7D still fits nicely inside of the pack, I'm not shoving it in there just to make it work.

2. This is a factor that is never taken into consideration for normal camera bags and it pisses me off, even if you're not hiking or out in the boonies. What if you photographed a 6 hour event and at the end of the day while doing your networking would you really wanna look like you ran a 5k? I certainly don't. Answering your question isn't necessarily black and white, it depends how hard your working and where you are. I've used this bag over 100 times on a day where its over 85 degrees with normal humidity and the difference between this bag and my old ones is immense. Basically minor sweat vs. a big wet spot on my back that feels rather disgusting when I drive home haha. But I've also been in conditions that are 100+ degrees and in those situations its almost impossible to avoid back sweat. So to give you some info that is concrete; on a day where you arn't moving around like crazy this bag should give you a vast improvement over bags that have no airflow built into the straps and back cushions. However if you're working in high heat and high humidity then you might be stuck with sweaty back no matter what bag you get, that being said there should still be a vast improvement. Also another good way to put it is, as far as hiking bags go, I don't think they make many bags that are more geared up for that problem. If sweaty back is as annoying to you as it is to me then you should be happy with the difference it makes in conditions where sweaty back is actually avoidable.
Good luck.... Hope this info helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 3:02:03 PM PST
R. Lee says:
thanks for your fast reply. i have tried the pro and it is good for daily use. only problem is i have kids and the compartment on top is too small to carry anything. i also tried the nature medium and that pack is way too big for daily use. i was wondering if the obscura was closer to the nature in size? i looked into the cloudscape but that doesn't have side access to the camera.

this is what i intend to carry.

d7000 with 16-85mm attached
external flash
maybe a micro lens

change of clothes for the kids
jacket for me

now i'm deciding between the obscura and cloudscape. i would buy them both if they weren't hat expensive. just wished a store around me carries clik. hate having to pay for shipping and find out i can't use them.

once again thank you so much for your info and fast reply!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2011 11:31:28 AM PST
StephenC says:
Yes, the obscura is closer in size to the nature but a little more practical if you ask me. The nature is bulky even if you put nothing it in, the obscura will expand as you stuff it with equipment. I like the obscura better because of its identity as a Hiking backpack, the features it comes with there are what make it such a good bag for me. The cloudscape is a smaller version of the Obscura with a 20 Liter compartment versus the 30 liters found in the obscura. I have my probody sport for something that small, but I run into the same problem. I can't fit extra clothing or notebooks in the bag and it really gets to me.

From what you described about what you're carrying it looks like the obscura will fit your needs too. I carry a little more equipment but I also like to carry a jacket and a change of clothes. I have to fold mine as thin as possible and put them lengthwise down the pack, that seems to work well. If I have a jacket that would be a lot thicker than a sweatshirt then I roll it up and use the mesh side pocket. When I bring food or energy bars, that stuff will go in the Front Mesh pocket, which will actually hold more than you would think. I have put sandwiches in there before as well as 500 page books. I also usually have some other misc items that find there way in the bag as well. I love the bag, and honestly the photos make it look bigger until you fill it to capacity yourself. It is the perfect amount of size and carrying space for me. The bag isn't so bulky that I'm constantly bumping into people, but its not so small that I can't carry what I need for an overnight job.

Hope this info helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2011 6:30:00 AM PST
SpaceSheep1 says:
Thanks a lot for such a detailed review! I ordered mine today, unfortunately didn't have chance to see it in person, hoping my 5D MkII will fit as well as 100-400mm zoom lens (maybe even attached to the body) :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2011 11:58:54 AM PST
StephenC says:
Finally Posted some pics of the bag, sounds like you wanted to see them pretty bad.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2011 9:14:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2011 9:20:20 PM PST
R. Lee says:
thank you so much for the pics. it definitely does not look as bulky as the nature medium. i have been researching this and the cloudscape for a month or more. i will be ordering it now. thanks again!!!

Posted on Sep 5, 2011 7:12:08 PM PDT
Ipswich Guy says:
Hi StephenC,

Thank you for you detailed review. I am in R. Lee's camp, I have kids and need enough space for their stuff as well as mine. My only remaining question, how isolated from sand and dirt is the camera compartment from the rest of the pack? We live at the beach. It would be very nice to be able to rummage through the main compartment and not worry about sand getting down into the camera part. I have an old lowepro and always felt that the gaps in the divider panel were a big compromise in the utility of the bag - and that was before kids.
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