by Gary Stanley
When I tested the LowePro Mini Trekker last year, I mentioned that if you are an outdoor photographer and travel around this country as I do, you can probably relate to the troubles we all face carrying camera equipment onto airplanes.
Not long after September 11th I’d checked my clothes and all my personal effects, but not my backpack with my camera equipment. I always carry-on my gear and never let it out of my sight. Then I found myself boarding a small plane nowhere near the size of the one I’d just left. The photo backpack I’m carrying weighs about 40 lbs, has all my equipment, and doesn’t fit above or in front of where I’m sitting. The nice stewardess offered to have my bag put below with the luggage – no way!
Fortunately the gentleman sitting across from me let me put my camera bag on the floor under the seat in front of him. He graciously sacrificed his legroom for my camera gear.
When I returned home I’d purchased a Mini Trekker, transferred most of my camera equipment over to that bag, and I love it. This is a bag that is comfortable, lightweight, and easy to carry just about anywhere. Do I still use my big pack? Sure, but only when carrying really big lenses. For my day-to-day shooting I love the smaller Mini Trekker.
Now I’ve discovered another problem. My laptop! In the past few years I have carried my laptop as a separate carry-on along with my camera bag, and so far that has been okay. Next week I’ve got an all-day lecture/seminar to do in which I need to take my digital projector along as well. Let me re-emphasize: IT’S NOT GOING INTO CHECKED LUGGAGE !
Uh oh! We have a serious problem here – or do we?
Enter the CompuTrekker AW from the folks at LowePro. Thanks to this great little idea, I can now pack my laptop with my camera gear, allowing me to bring my digital projector on board as a second carry-on. The laptop fits snuggly in place between the bottom of the bag and the shoulder support straps, or simply put, against my back.
With the addition of today’s lightweight carbon fiber tripods and compact zoom lenses, traveling light, yet well equipped, is easier than ever.
The CompuTrekker AW allows me to carry the D100 bodies, my Nikkor 12-24 the 24-120 VR, and 80-400VR and macro lens with no problem. I still have room for my flash, my converters, filters, batteries, and compact flash cards. And once I arrive at my shooting destination, I can easily carry a carbon fiber tripod in the outside tripod holder on the top of the bag as well.
The big bags are impressive and may be able to carry everything plus the kitchen sink, but to me, the CompuTrekker AW is ideal for everything else. The overall dimensions are similar to the Mini Trekker, only a little thicker in order to carry the laptop in full padded comfort. Now I can take what I need, including my laptop, without feeling like I had to leave something behind. Another welcome addition to the CompuTrekker is the popular AW (all-weather) feature. At the bottom of the camera bag is a Velcro pouch that stores in a built-in pouch and looks kind of like a large shower cap. With cover fitted your gear is safe from anything short of a monsoon.
Obviously the laptop storage feature is most valuable in the point A to point B transfer of your equipment. Once at your destination, the laptop can be removed and you’ll use the bag in a normal fashion. While you could carry it with you on modest hikes, I probably wouldn’t. After all the laptop is not exactly light, nor is it as rugged as your camera gear. Without the laptop the CompuTrekker AW was very comfortable, and fit the contours of my back very well. And just think about all the other things you can carry in that space, like a photography magazine, a camera manual, a lightweight raincoat, a gray card, small reflectors, or your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (just kidding).
I guess it’s confession time, I just transferred all my gear to my new CompuTrekker, and gave my Mini Trekker to my wife. She says that some things in life just aren’t fair.
LowePro’s CompuTrekker AW Details
The CompuTrekker AW is a great new backpack designed specifically for digital photographers on the go. The new CompuTrekker AW is the perfect travel companion for photojournalists and location photographers who need a compact way to safely store and transport digital cameras, accessories and a notebook computer.
- Durable reinforced construction, shock-absorbing closed-cell foam padding and tough, water-resistant outer fabric protect the contents from moisture and sudden impacts.
- A padded camera compartment with adjustable, padded dividers allows you to customize the bag to best fit your equipment.
- An adjustable backpack harness with padded, contoured shoulder straps, quick-release sternum strap and waistbelt make the bag comfortable, even when hiking rough terrain.
- A padded laptop/notebook compartment with zipper and quick-release buckle keeps your laptop safe and secure.
- A quick-access hide-away Tripod Mount, SlipLock attachment loops and a number of laminated and zippered organizer pockets to provide fast access to equipment.
- A built-in all weather cover offers protection against weather, dust and sand.
- Main Compartment: 11W x 5D x 15H in. (28 x 12.5 x 38 cm)
- Notebook Compartment: 12W x 1.5D x 15H in. (30.5 x 4 x 38 cm)