Review by Mark and Leslie Degner
MindShift Gear recently released a new photo daypack, the BackLight 26L. We would consider it to be a small to mid-sized photo backpack or a daypack (29 cm W x 51 cm H x 20 cm D) since it’s a bit smaller than many photo backpacks, but it still has plenty of room for an all-day photography excursion. The padded camera compartment is designed to carry a standard DSLR camera body (without an attached battery grip), four to six lenses, a flash and other accessories, or one or two mirrorless cameras, five to seven lenses, a flash and other accessories. The closed-cell foam dividers that are included allow for a considerable amount of customization of the camera compartment. There are also two zippered internal mesh pockets for storing a variety of accessories.
Access to the camera compartment is through the zippered back panel. This is a feature we really like as it helps keep the back of the pack and the shoulder straps clean and dry when the pack is put down on the ground to access your camera gear. Since the BackLight 26L is a smaller sized daypack, it has been designed so that you can actually access your camera gear without taking off the pack. Simply loosen the waist belt a little, slide the shoulder straps off and then swing the pack around in front of you. There’s an adjustable neck strap that helps keep the open back access panel against your chest, providing hands-free access to your camera gear – a nice little feature.
There are two zippered front stuff pockets that provide an additional nine litres of storage space for carrying a variety of items like a rain jacket, gloves, headlamp, snacks and other miscellaneous items. In the larger of these pockets there are separate dedicated compartments for a 10″ tablet and a 15″ laptop. On each side of the backpack is a large water bottle pocket with a clinch cord. Also on the front is a daisy chain, ice axe loops and side compression straps for additional lash points for attaching gear on the outside of the pack.
A tripod or monopod can be carried either on the front or the side of the daypack using the included tripod mounting systems. It comes with a removable seamless waterproof rain cover that protects the backpack from the elements, and it can also be used as a ground cloth.
Although the BackLight 26L is a mid-sized photo daypack, it still has to carry a considerable amount of gear, so it needs to have a harness system that’s adjustable and rugged to fit comfortably, distribute the weight properly and handle the weight of the gear. The good news is the BackLight 26L delivers on all accounts. The shoulder straps and waist belts are nicely padded and adjustable, and there’s a sternum strap to help keep the pack from shifting. In addition, there are padded back panels with an air channel for increased comfort and support. With the backpack fully loaded, even with our different body sizes, we both were able to get it properly adjusted for a comfortable fit for hours of hiking and photography.
The MindShift Gear BackLight 26L ($249.99 US) is really well made, using high-quality materials and zippers, and should provide most outdoor photographers with many years of dependable use. The comfortable and adjustable harness system makes carrying your camera gear a lot easier, even after a long day of hiking. Available in two colours, charcoal or greenfield, the BackLight 26 photo daypack is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a new camera daypack.