Review: Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Panorama Backpack

I’ll admit it - I’m spoiled. I started my experience using MIndshift Gear bags with the original Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Professional, and I’ve been spoiled by that experience. I love that bag, but wanted a smaller bag for one day trips or short adventures where I only needed only needed one or two lenses. The Rotation 180 is a wonderful bag, but its very bulky for a short jaunt through a city where you may only need a limited amount of gear. Enter the Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Panorama.

I purchased this bag after numerous trips around the England, where I felt that the 180 Pro was too big for my needs. The Panorama, being smaller, is better suited for carrying a single dSLR body and one or two lenses with a tripod, while still having space for a light jacket or rain gear. The first time I really got to put this bag through its paces was when I took a three week trip through central Europe, with stops in Italy, Greece, Turkey, France and Spain. In these trips I needed something lightweight and flexible for the variety of terrain and environments I could encounter. I opted to leave the 180 Pro at home and carried the 180 Panorama the entire trip, and this review details my experiences with that bag.

PS - I am a firm believer that I need to put a lot of use into a product before I review it. At this point, the Rotation 180 Pano has covered over 3,000 miles of travel......

The Rotation 180 Panorama in the Barcelona, Spain airport after we finished three weeks and over 3,000 miles of traveling together. As you can see, the bag is in basically pristine condition, despite more than a few heavy rain storms and having been tossed on the ground a few billion times.

The Rotation 180 Panorama in the Barcelona, Spain airport after we finished three weeks and over 3,000 miles of traveling together. As you can see, the bag is in basically pristine condition, despite more than a few heavy rain storms and having been tossed on the ground a few billion times.

First, I love the bag. It is wonderful at many things, and is perfect for a lightweight hike with a limited amount of equipment. Where the bag struggles, however, is when you compare it to the features of it’s big brother, the Rotation 180 Pro. I realize it’s unfair to compare a $500 bag to a $200 bag, but some of the things I’ve come to love about the 180 pro are missing from the 180 Panorama, and those features become very noticeable. With that all said, let’s break down the bag in detail.

The rotation feature of this bag and the big brother 180 Professional make Mindshift Gear bags my absolute favorite for travel and outdoor shooting. We spent several days in Venice (I am seen here shooting sunrise in San Marco Square) and the city flooded on several occasions while we where there. Although this created a problem for my footwear, my camera gear never was at risk as I could keep it elevated off the ground while rummaging through the bag.

The rotation feature of this bag and the big brother 180 Professional make Mindshift Gear bags my absolute favorite for travel and outdoor shooting. We spent several days in Venice (I am seen here shooting sunrise in San Marco Square) and the city flooded on several occasions while we where there. Although this created a problem for my footwear, my camera gear never was at risk as I could keep it elevated off the ground while rummaging through the bag.

Construction
As we’ve come to expect with everything produced by Mindshift Gear or their parent company, Think Tank Photo, the construction on the 180 Panorama is top notch. Only the highest quality materials are used, and after three weeks of total torture (including more than one heavy rain storm and several encounters with mud), the bag looks virtually brand new. In areas where you’d expect to experience a lot of wear on the bag, such as the bottom, Mindshift Gear has put heavy duty tear resistant fabrics. It is a wonderfully constructed bag and I could probably pass it off as brand new despite heavy use.

Rotation Feature
The rotation feature of this bag is the big selling point - you can walk around with the camera stowed but quickly access it without ever taking the bag off. I fell in love with this feature when I started using the Rotation 180 Pro, and love it still on the 180 Pano. The belt slides smoothly one handed and the rotation pack is just big enough to hold my D800 with Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens; however, the camera would not fit with the external battery pack in place. That’s okay - I purchased this bag for light travels, when I only wanted one or two lenses with me, and it does that well. My normal “deployment” was to carry my camera on my shoulder while stowing my 2nd lens (the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens) inside the rotation pack and do lens swaps that way. It worked quite well and left space in the main compartment for raincoats or light jackets. 

Like the other Rotation 180 Pro bag, the 180 Panorama has a “safety leash” designed to keep the rotation pack from ever falling out of the bag. I like having the safety leash, but I think it’s a little too long on this particular bag; I often got entangled in the leash when securing the waist strap. It’s a fairly easy fix to shorten it, but having never encountered this problem with the other bag, it was frustrating to experience this problem (and it happened almost daily). 

There is one other feature I wish for inside the rotation pack, and it’s a feature I’m shocked that Mindshift Gear overlooked…. a little clipping point for things like the memory card wallet. The only clipping point for something like that is in the top pocket of the bag, but I like to carry spare memory cards with the camera.

I wanted to get the Rotation 180 Panorama for short day trips like this one through Cambridge, England. The Rotation 180 Professional was just too much bag when I only needed to carry one or two lenses, but the 180 Panorama really excels at filling this niche.

I wanted to get the Rotation 180 Panorama for short day trips like this one through Cambridge, England. The Rotation 180 Professional was just too much bag when I only needed to carry one or two lenses, but the 180 Panorama really excels at filling this niche.

Backpack
The rest of the backpack is well designed; it has one large main compartment big enough to easily hold two raincoats, etc. The normal deployment was to carry my wallet, cell phone, and jackets inside there, which pretty much filled the entire compartment. There is a small top pocket, which is actually fairly sizable and was great for holding business cards, spare memory cards, cleaning cloths, and other little accessories. There is one side zipper pocket deep enough to stash a water bottle,  but it was actually designed for a CamelBak type bladder (I didn’t carry a hydration bladder for fear of puncture during such a long trip). There is also an external pocket that I think was actually designed to hold a water bottle, but it’s just way too small and bottles always fell out. I ended up using it to stash spare tissues and maps….

Comfort
When traveling, comfort is king. While I won’t go so far as to say this bag is as comfortable during a long day as it’s big brother, the 180 Panorama certainly holds it’s own during a day of exploring. Of course, packing light and smart makes a big difference in comfort, and the whole point of purchasing this bag was for the small size and lightweight design. I would say fit is average for a busty woman - the Rotation 180 Pro is extremely comfortable on my small, yet curvy, frame, and the 180 Panorama, while not winning any awards for comfort, met my expectations during long 14 mile days.

I'm no neat freak and it certainly doesn't bother me to toss a bag haphazardly on the ground, but in Mykonos, Greece, I needed the weight of the bag to help hold my tripod firmly in place while taking some long exposures. My hair should be a good indicator of the wind strength, but the Rotation 180 Pano sprang into service as a weight nicely.

I'm no neat freak and it certainly doesn't bother me to toss a bag haphazardly on the ground, but in Mykonos, Greece, I needed the weight of the bag to help hold my tripod firmly in place while taking some long exposures. My hair should be a good indicator of the wind strength, but the Rotation 180 Pano sprang into service as a weight nicely.

Tripod Mounting
When it comes to carrying a tripod with the bag, you have two options: 1) mount it with one of the two included methods or 2) mount it with extra accessories sold by Mindshift Gear. Although I own the accessories required for option #2, I didn’t plan to carry the tripod daily. Anticipating I’d only need it for certain environments, I opted to use one of the included methods of transport. Those methods are to strap it to the outside of the bag using the tripod “pocket” or attach it to the sides of the bag with the included strap and elastic bungee. The golden rule is to always put the heaviest items closest to your back, so I never mount the tripod on the far outside of a bag, and instead used the side mounts. These worked reasonably well, but certainly required the removal of the bag in order to access the tripod, which sort of defeats the point of having a bag where you don't have to remove it to access the camera….. If you use the extra straps sold by Mindshift Gear, you can mount the tripod in such a way that you don’t have to take the bag off, but I would have probably knocked over 1000 trinkets in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul if I’d used those mounts! 

Rain Protection
Houston, we have a problem. The Rotation 180 Pro comes with an elaborate and well designed rain cover that connects in such a way that you can access all the rotation features of the bag while still being waterproof. The same system is sold as an accessory for the 180 Panorama. Not realizing that the rain system was not interchangeable between the bags, I didn’t purchase the rain gear (it was also not made very obvious on their website that the two were not interchangeable).

Imagine my dismay the day before we leave and I’m trying to mount the rain cover with no success……. 

It wouldn’t be terribly difficult to adapt the rain cover from the 180 Pro to fit the 180 Panorama; it would be a little baggy since the bags are different dimensions, but with a few Velcro attachment points, the rain cover *could* be interchangeable. I don’t care if it’s a little baggy - rain gear doesn’t have to be taught to work - it just needs to cover. 

In a last minute frenzy of packing, I grabbed the rain cover that came with the Think Tank Photo Shapeshifter backpack. This is a simple rain cover with two synch cords - although I couldn’t use the rotation feature of the bag with this in place, at least it was something and it fit. I’m glad I brought it - at one point in Toulon, France, we were caught in a total downpour. I got so wet that my entire jeans, underwear, socks, and shoes were drenched (it took 4 days for my jeans to finally dry out….)! Even with the rain cover I did have, the bag got damp (though not soaked). 

I’m going to get on a soap box….. if I spend almost $600 on a backpack, like I did with the 180 Pro, I expect as many things as possible to be backwards compatible from that bag to the other bags in the Mindshift Gear series. I understand some things, like the main compartment padded organizer won’t swap between series due to tremendous differences in bag sizes, but making the rain cover compatible between the two should only take a few pieces of Velcro. I hate feeling like I’m being nickel-and-dimed as a consumer and this is the first time Mindshift Gear / Think Tank Photo has disappointed me.

The Mindshift Gear bags are all designed for outdoor and adventure photography, so I think it’s a crime that the bag doesn’t include any rain protection. Even the crude rain cover that came with the Think Tank Shapeshifter was effective (and those bags retail for the same price). If you purchase this bag, expect to buy rain equipment for it or re-use something you already own, because the bag itself can only handle a light rain before the contents get wet. 

I fell in love with the Rotation 180 Panorama during this trip and that bag can expect to travel many more miles soon. That said, I certainly will still have application and use for the big brother 180 Professional, but, for now, I'm done shopping for camera bags!

I fell in love with the Rotation 180 Panorama during this trip and that bag can expect to travel many more miles soon. That said, I certainly will still have application and use for the big brother 180 Professional, but, for now, I'm done shopping for camera bags!

Overall
Despite the frustrations with the rain gear, I am very happy with my purchase. I bought this bag to fulfill a niche (light day hiking with 1-2 lenses) and it does a great job at meeting that objective. It’s well built, comfortable, and works exactly like it should. If you’re looking for a lightweight and small backpack that can be used for light excursions with minimal gear, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Panorama. If you plan to carry alot of equipment or need something for longer hikes, you really should save up for the 180 Professional, because it is a spectacular bag. What you purchase really should be determined by the type of shooting you’ll be using it for, because the bags are similar in so many other features. Just know that if you opt for the 180 Panorama, you’ll be looking to purchase additional rain gear!

Review: MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Professional Final Review

Last December, I purchased the MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Professional backpack and posted my initial impressions of the bag to my blog (read that article here).

I promised in that review that I'd come back later with some follow-on analysis about the bag after I had a chance to put it through the paces. After all, with a bag this expensive, you want to know how it held up to real world shooting, not just a studio session!

I must say the MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Professional met and exceeded my expectations in every way possible. It has held up beautifully to hundreds of miles hiking and traveling and I have always been able to get my equipment loaded comfortably and easily - no matter what I'm packing! The rotation feature works just as well as advertised and will change the way you think about photography backpacks.

The video review below goes in detail about this bags performance over the past 10 months of use and gives my final impressions of this outstanding bag. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to any photographer looking to change their hiking experience - I could have saved alot of money to buy this bag first!

Join Kristen from Scenic Traverse Photography as she provides a review of the MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Professional Backpack. This is one of the best bags for adventure and outdoor photographers on the market, and Kristen will walk you through her favorite features.

Equipment Review: MindShift Gear Rotation 180 Backpack (Initial)

Photographers are gear whores. We love our gadgets and gizmos and are always looking to get that next best thing. I'm no exception - I own more camera bags than purses! 

I've been on a quest for a great photographer backpack. Normally, when going on a long hike, I'll pack my gear into a designed hiking backpack, but these bags don't offer the protection for camera gear that I'd like. Additionally, the design of these bags can make it a real pain to get to your gear in a timely manner and require you to remove the backpack to access the compartments.

I own several camera backpacks, my favorite of which is the Think Tank Shape Shifter. It's a great travel bag and I can carry everything I need for several weeks of shooting. Unfortunately, it's not a great bag to hike with; it lacks a true backpacking frame and has no place for me to hold water while I hike. I've read about plenty of photography-specific backpacks that would solve these problems, but they were either too big for my female frame, or didn't satisfy all of my needs. 

A few months ago I heard about a new company called MindShift Gear. They're owned/operated by the same folks who run Think Thank Photo (and I love all the Think Tank products I own), so I was immediately intrigued. They started as a Kickstarter project to build camera bags for hikers and got so much attention that they raised over $100,000 more than their goal! Clearly, there's a demand here that isn't being satisfied by the current marketplace! 

The hallmark bag for MindShift Gear is their Rotation 180 Professional bag. What makes this bag so unique is that the belt harness can unclip from the back of your pack and slide to the front while you wear the bag, allowing access to your gear without taking the bag off. At first this seemed too gimmicky. I've never been a big fan of these "12-in-1 swiss army knife style do everything" bags and was pessimistic about how well this contraption would work. I was impressed, however, with the bag's layout and construction, so I decided to check it out at my favorite camera shop, which happens to be a dealer - Ace Photo.

My main goals when looking at the bag were to assess the fit (particularly since it's a bag designed for men and I'm a curvy woman!) and how well this bag rotation thing worked. 

I was blown away by the fit - this bag is very similar to my high end backpacking bags in that every strap is adjustable in a zillion points, meaning I could adjust it to fit perfectly. The bag was very comfortable and the shoulder straps didn't lay awkwardly over my female curves (some competitor bags are known for being very unforgiving to busty women). In fact, with a few minutes of tweaking, I had this bag sitting like it was custom built for me, which was surprising since I've got a small 5'6" frame. 

The rotation feature stunned me. Although the bag was empty while I played in the store, it moved very smoothly and was a one hand operation to move the belt bag back into place. The clip that holds the bag into the backpack is also operated magnetically, so you only have to get it close for it to snap back into place - very handy for a behind-the-back operation. I actually think this bag may work even better when fully loaded as the weight will help keep the bag in place.

Another important requirement for this bag is that it could accommodate my large format film photography as well as my digital photography. Much as I hate to adjust those padded inserts, this bag can switch between setups with minimal modification to those dividers (see below for load outs). 

I purchased the bag and have been adjusting it at home, but haven't had a chance to test it in the field yet. However, I thought I'd share some initial impressions in a blog and update with a video blog in the future after I've put some serious miles on this thing. 

I'm a photographer, so let's look at the bag in pictures (apologies in advance for the mediocre product photography- I do better with trees!)

The front (or is it the back?) of the bag. Lots of attachment points for rigging gear. It's made from a heavy duty material that will not tear as it brushes past some twigs. The zippers are also well made and weather stitched to minimize any moisture entering the bag. Of course, it also comes with a rain cover that can be mounted to the bag in the event of serious downpours. 

The front (or is it the back?) of the bag. Lots of attachment points for rigging gear. It's made from a heavy duty material that will not tear as it brushes past some twigs. The zippers are also well made and weather stitched to minimize any moisture entering the bag. Of course, it also comes with a rain cover that can be mounted to the bag in the event of serious downpours. 

This side has the compartment for holding a hydration bladder (Camelback) and an exit point for the straw. It also has a mesh pocket for a water bottle or other snacks. Both of these are key for long hikes. The waist belt on this side has a small pocket for stashing a granola bar.

This side has the compartment for holding a hydration bladder (Camelback) and an exit point for the straw. It also has a mesh pocket for a water bottle or other snacks. Both of these are key for long hikes. The waist belt on this side has a small pocket for stashing a granola bar.

The shoulder strap assembly has several adjustment points, allowing for almost custom fit on this bag. In this photo I also have the rigging for the optional tripod mount attached (the carabiners on each shoulder strap). The back pad also has a nice mesh panel to help keep you cool. 

The shoulder strap assembly has several adjustment points, allowing for almost custom fit on this bag. In this photo I also have the rigging for the optional tripod mount attached (the carabiners on each shoulder strap). The back pad also has a nice mesh panel to help keep you cool. 

This is the side where the magic happens! At the bottom is the clip that magnetically disconnects and allows for access to the rotating camera bag. There's also a large pocket on this side which holds the included rain cover.

This is the side where the magic happens! At the bottom is the clip that magnetically disconnects and allows for access to the rotating camera bag. There's also a large pocket on this side which holds the included rain cover.

The Finer Details

This is what the flap looks like when opened. An elastic cord keeps the flap up and out of the way while you rotate the bag.... this bungee is also adjustable to make the flipping action more pronounced. 

This is what the flap looks like when opened. An elastic cord keeps the flap up and out of the way while you rotate the bag.... this bungee is also adjustable to make the flipping action more pronounced. 

A close-up of the clip that secures the flap. It's magnetic, so you only have to get it close for it to re-engage. The thumb cut-out makes it easy to detach one-handed behind your back.

A close-up of the clip that secures the flap. It's magnetic, so you only have to get it close for it to re-engage. The thumb cut-out makes it easy to detach one-handed behind your back.

A close-up of the shoulder straps and the rigging mounted on them. This buckle is for the optional tripod mount. There are also elastic pockets on the shoulder straps that can be used to hold a GPS, cell phone, or Snickers bar.

A close-up of the shoulder straps and the rigging mounted on them. This buckle is for the optional tripod mount. There are also elastic pockets on the shoulder straps that can be used to hold a GPS, cell phone, or Snickers bar.

The exit point for the straw from the hydration pocket (bladder not included, but cheap to buy from REI). Notice the big zippers that are less likely to jam up with a little dirt or mud.

The exit point for the straw from the hydration pocket (bladder not included, but cheap to buy from REI). Notice the big zippers that are less likely to jam up with a little dirt or mud.

Big zipper pulls make it easy to open these zippers, even with bulky gloves on. Sweet!

Big zipper pulls make it easy to open these zippers, even with bulky gloves on. Sweet!

Another side shot, but on this image you can see where the zipper for the expanding front pocket is located. That pocket is huge - I could easily shove an iPad in there if I felt so compelled.... more likely this is where I'd shove my rain gear so it's separated from the camera equipment.

Another side shot, but on this image you can see where the zipper for the expanding front pocket is located. That pocket is huge - I could easily shove an iPad in there if I felt so compelled.... more likely this is where I'd shove my rain gear so it's separated from the camera equipment.

The back pad opens to allow access to the main compartment, meaning you could theoretically access the main compartment without taking the bag off if you rotated the entire bag to your front. This pocket would be a great place to stash a cleaning cloth or other relatively flat items. I wouldn't shove anything too bulky here as it might stick out on your back funny.

The back pad opens to allow access to the main compartment, meaning you could theoretically access the main compartment without taking the bag off if you rotated the entire bag to your front. This pocket would be a great place to stash a cleaning cloth or other relatively flat items. I wouldn't shove anything too bulky here as it might stick out on your back funny.

Same view (inside the back pad access point) but this time I'm showing the inside of the optional padded insert. This insert allows you to use the main compartment to store additional camera gear. The other option is to use this for holding some day hiking equipment. When I carry my large format film camera, I'll need this insert, but will probably opt out of it when shooting digital (I say that now....)

Same view (inside the back pad access point) but this time I'm showing the inside of the optional padded insert. This insert allows you to use the main compartment to store additional camera gear. The other option is to use this for holding some day hiking equipment. When I carry my large format film camera, I'll need this insert, but will probably opt out of it when shooting digital (I say that now....)

The main compartment can also be accessed via a panel on the top. The influence of Think Tank Photo on this design isn't lost- there's a mesh pocket at every turn!

The main compartment can also be accessed via a panel on the top. The influence of Think Tank Photo on this design isn't lost- there's a mesh pocket at every turn!

This is what the bag looks like when you've pulled the waist belt out from the backpack. It's the size of a large fanny pack. Although hard to see in this photo, there is an attachment clip here that keeps the waist belt tethered to the backpack so you don't have to stress about dropping this if the waist belt suddenly disconnected (unlikely). 

This is what the bag looks like when you've pulled the waist belt out from the backpack. It's the size of a large fanny pack. Although hard to see in this photo, there is an attachment clip here that keeps the waist belt tethered to the backpack so you don't have to stress about dropping this if the waist belt suddenly disconnected (unlikely). 

Here's a close-up of the previously mentioned tether. No excuses for dropping something!

Here's a close-up of the previously mentioned tether. No excuses for dropping something!

The belt pack removed from the rest of the backpack. You could carry this as is on a short hike, but I don't see myself doing much of that. The fact that it can be removed might be useful if your carry on bag was overweight .... sorry TSA, this is TWO bags, not ONE! The front pocket here has another rain cover to protect this when it's not housed within the backpack.

The belt pack removed from the rest of the backpack. You could carry this as is on a short hike, but I don't see myself doing much of that. The fact that it can be removed might be useful if your carry on bag was overweight .... sorry TSA, this is TWO bags, not ONE! The front pocket here has another rain cover to protect this when it's not housed within the backpack.

The inside of the belt bag. Notice another mesh pocket an rather expansive cargo area. There are several pockets and modular dividers that will make this a very versatile setup.

The inside of the belt bag. Notice another mesh pocket an rather expansive cargo area. There are several pockets and modular dividers that will make this a very versatile setup.

MindShift Gear sells a pocket similar to the modular pockets made by Think Tank Photo that can be added to the waist belt. I didn't buy that pocket, but found that my existing Think Tank Photo pockets could be mounted. The pocket needs to be rigged as shown to work properly. Although I don't see myself needing more pockets on this bag, this is handy for allowing me to keep things like binoculars or a teleconverter at hand (or more snacks... nom nom nom)!

MindShift Gear sells a pocket similar to the modular pockets made by Think Tank Photo that can be added to the waist belt. I didn't buy that pocket, but found that my existing Think Tank Photo pockets could be mounted. The pocket needs to be rigged as shown to work properly. Although I don't see myself needing more pockets on this bag, this is handy for allowing me to keep things like binoculars or a teleconverter at hand (or more snacks... nom nom nom)!

Belt pack/waist belt with the extra pocket mounted. 

Belt pack/waist belt with the extra pocket mounted. 

The whole thing mounted back into the backpack (with the extra Think Tank Photo pocket attached). 

The whole thing mounted back into the backpack (with the extra Think Tank Photo pocket attached). 

Load Out Testing - Digital

Although I'd never carry all my lenses on a hike, I loaded them all up just to say "I can"... this is the padded insert for the main compartment with a Nikon 80-400mm lens (left) and Nikon 105mm macro (right). I also have a handful of filters in there.

Although I'd never carry all my lenses on a hike, I loaded them all up just to say "I can"... this is the padded insert for the main compartment with a Nikon 80-400mm lens (left) and Nikon 105mm macro (right). I also have a handful of filters in there.

A more realistic load out in the waist bag. I almost always carry my camera in my hands vs in the bag, so I didn't worry about making space for the D800. I have (from left to right): Nikon 24-70mm, binoculars, 1.4x teleconverter, and Nikon 14-24mm lens. Plenty of space for more filters or a speedlight.

A more realistic load out in the waist bag. I almost always carry my camera in my hands vs in the bag, so I didn't worry about making space for the D800. I have (from left to right): Nikon 24-70mm, binoculars, 1.4x teleconverter, and Nikon 14-24mm lens. Plenty of space for more filters or a speedlight.

Load Out Testing - Large Format Film

I will have to use the padded insert in the main compartment when I carry my Zone VI large format (4x5) film camera. The camera takes up the majority of the compartment, but I have space on top for a box of film, my light meter and loupe. Note: I would carry the camera body in it's protective wrap, but removed that for the sake of the photo.

I will have to use the padded insert in the main compartment when I carry my Zone VI large format (4x5) film camera. The camera takes up the majority of the compartment, but I have space on top for a box of film, my light meter and loupe. Note: I would carry the camera body in it's protective wrap, but removed that for the sake of the photo.

The waist bag loaded out for large format film. I have both lenses and film holders in here, but plenty of space for more equipment. I'd probably also put my film changing bag and some extra holders back here.

The waist bag loaded out for large format film. I have both lenses and film holders in here, but plenty of space for more equipment. I'd probably also put my film changing bag and some extra holders back here.

Extra Accessories

This is the top pocket accessory. This is super handy if you are going on a weekend hike and hoping to use this bag as your primary backpack for the trip. This pocket could hold some critical equipment to make that sort of trip possible. It attaches with 5 quick clips.

This is the top pocket accessory. This is super handy if you are going on a weekend hike and hoping to use this bag as your primary backpack for the trip. This pocket could hold some critical equipment to make that sort of trip possible. It attaches with 5 quick clips.

A close-up of the clips and their mount on the bag. Very easy to attach or remove.

A close-up of the clips and their mount on the bag. Very easy to attach or remove.

The pocket attaches to one of the many loops on the front. The straps are long enough that I think I could probably shove a bedroll or something underneath the pocket and use that tension to hold it in place. 

The pocket attaches to one of the many loops on the front. The straps are long enough that I think I could probably shove a bedroll or something underneath the pocket and use that tension to hold it in place. 

With the front pocket in place, the bag looks almost the same as it did without!

With the front pocket in place, the bag looks almost the same as it did without!

This is the tripod cup for those who wish to mount a tripod to their back. This is a gizmo I'll probably never use as intended -I will either mount it to my side using that mesh pocket or use their tripod mounting system to carry it. However, this pocket will be a great place to stash a coat!

This is the tripod cup for those who wish to mount a tripod to their back. This is a gizmo I'll probably never use as intended -I will either mount it to my side using that mesh pocket or use their tripod mounting system to carry it. However, this pocket will be a great place to stash a coat!

The clips for the tripod cup. It starts to get a little busy when you have the tripod cup and the extra top pocket mounted, but not so busy that it's unmanageable. 

The clips for the tripod cup. It starts to get a little busy when you have the tripod cup and the extra top pocket mounted, but not so busy that it's unmanageable. 

Accessory straps. In case you haven't mounted your snowboard or Christmas tree, these straps could probably do it. Outside of trying to carry an overnight camping load in this bag, I don't see much use for these straps on day hikes, but maybe I'll be proven wrong. 

Accessory straps. In case you haven't mounted your snowboard or Christmas tree, these straps could probably do it. Outside of trying to carry an overnight camping load in this bag, I don't see much use for these straps on day hikes, but maybe I'll be proven wrong. 

Half of the tripod mount system. This ring goes around the tripod head and then clips to two carabiners mounted to the shoulder straps. Check out MindShift Gear's website to see how this works - I'll have to get a picture taken when I'm mounted up to help explain this better.

Half of the tripod mount system. This ring goes around the tripod head and then clips to two carabiners mounted to the shoulder straps. Check out MindShift Gear's website to see how this works - I'll have to get a picture taken when I'm mounted up to help explain this better.

Initial Impressions

So far, I'm very impressed with the bag, but need to take it out before I render a final verdict. The construction is top notch and there's no question this bag will last for a long time. The bag is packed full of little features, a number of which I've failed to mention up to this point (including the fact that the frame design allows it to free stand upright and the tripod accessory is a great arm rest). 

I have one very minor concern as I go forward to start using this bag, but it really is minor (I'm digging for issues). When the tripod mounting system is used, it creates alot of straps that dangle in front. I see it as very likely that I'll get caught up in these straps or get them twisted under my shoulder, creating a nuisance when I need to fish them out constantly. Maybe I'll be proven wrong about that, but it's the most glaring flaw I see with an otherwise flaw-free bag. 

I'm going to use the bag for a few weeks and will report back with a video blog, so stay tuned for more! I also plan to do a post with the bag outfitted for a weekend camping trip to see how it would fare for a solo overnight hike.

Note that I'm in no way affiliated with any company or product mentioned in this post. I paid retail for my bag and was not asked to review it, but did so because I hadn't seen many women talking about this bag, and our needs can differ. I also hadn't seen a conversation about using this bag with large format film, so hope to add to that discussion. You can buy this bag directly from MindShift Gear or use their website to find a dealer in your area.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see my future blog posts about this bag!