Getting Familiar with the rotation180° Panorama
Available in blue or charcoal, the backpack has two sections. The one that justifiably gets the most attention is the rotating waist, or belt, pack that is securely attached to the backpack at the bottom. Release a magnetic latch and pull to the front to reveal this pack. Unzip the lid, and voilà!
Before releasing the small pack, first make sure to firmly secure the waistbelt end to end. Otherwise, you’ll pull the small pack free, with only a lightweight tether to keep it from dropping to the ground. This action might be enough to destabilize you and the pack on rough or uneven terrain, so exercise the proper precautions.
Accessed via a zippered panel at the top is the upper section. This is where you stow personal stuff, like a change of clothing, insect repellants, and anything of a bulky nature, including some light camping gear. Or, if you splurge for the optional r180º Panorama Photo Insert, you can stow a camera body with attached lens, a couple of other lenses, and a shoe-mount flash in this fully padded and adjustable insert. However, be aware that this occupies the entire upper section, leaving no room for your other stuff.
There are sadly few pockets, but I’ve managed to make do.
The Panorama features the full complement of straps: fully padded, contoured shoulder harness with compression straps up top; adjustable chest strap; contoured and padded waist belt (which is part of the rotating waist pack). And it has an internal frame.
In the Field
Working with the waist pack takes a little getting used to. There’s a special bungee cord that’s designed to make the flap fly more easily out of the way, but I still seem to have problems. For some reason, I found this procedure—from releasing (and relocking) the magnetic buckle to freeing and rotating the small pack—easier on the Pro version than here. But I’m sure that will work itself out in time, as it did with this bag’s big brother.
This design’s key advantage lies in that rotating belt pack. When you’re surrounded by water, snow, mud, or heavy vegetation, with no place to set the bag, the rotating pack is a lifesaver. It also works well on city streets and in public parks, where you don’t really want to turn your back on the scene in order to retrieve the camera.
There’s really only enough room for a D-SLR, such as my Nikon D610, with an attached lens, such as my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC or Tamron 70-300mm VC. You can store more, individually on end (upright), if you don’t mind putting all the pieces together in the field. My problem with that is this: What if it suddenly starts to rain? Not so easy to get everything safely put away, is it?
To allow me to carry more stuff for quick access, I use a photographer’s vest (using these pockets to hold a white balance test target, cell phone, lens tissue/blower, and lens cap when not in use). And I’ll wear MindShift Gear’s Lens Switch Case on my belt (or attach it to the pack). I usually keep a flash in this belt pouch, which was originally designed for a spare lens, or, more to the point, to make it easier to switch lenses on the fly.
The r180º rain cover is optional and strongly recommended for heavy downpours and dusty environments.
I would have preferred more pockets, especially a pleated outside pocket for a light jacket since the camera insert took up the entire interior, and a roomier mesh water bottle pocket. But by and large, I was very happy working with the rotation180º Panorama. I took it on a nature hike for openers. I even found it useful in the city, so I wouldn’t have to put the pack down and watch my back when accessing my gear. Especially at a busy skate park. And I managed to fit a sling strap in the waist pack by refashioning the included dividers around the camera with attached lens (the trick is to create a “basement” level out of the dividers and slide the strap in here). Still, if I did need to get at more gear, I found removing and donning the Panorama easy enough. OK, I’m still getting used to the rotating belt pack, but that hasn’t interfered with me getting at my gear in an efficient manner when I needed it. And wearing summer or winter garb, I was always comfy wearing this photo backpack.
Comfy & wears well; stabilizes load on your back; breathable airflow back padding with internal frame; rotating (and removable) belt pack facilitates use of camera with attached lens in mucky, wet surroundings and on crowded streets; protective of camera gear; roomy (if you don’t add the optional camera insert); built tough; largely weather-resistant (but benefits from optional rain cover); hydration sleeve; carries tripod; numerous lash points.
Serious scarcity of pockets makes it necessary to use optional pouches; rotating belt pack takes a little getting used to.
Serious or casual hikes over any terrain; nature, wildlife, and landscape photography; macro & close-up photography (keep straps secured while bending over); street photography. D-SLR system (full-size or compact).
None really, but I wouldn’t use it for wedding or portrait photography.
Where can I get more info?
1105 N. Dutton Ave. Suite C
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Toll Free: 855-757-2727
How much is it?
Direct: $199.99 ($199.99 at B&H or Adorama).
Overall size & weight: 9.8 W x 19.7 H x 8.3” L (25 x 50 x 21 cm); 3 lb (1.3 kg)
Construction: coated nylon (durable & weather-resistant); 3-ply bonded nylon thread (keeps seems weather-tight), YKK zippers (you can’t do better than this); polyester lining; closed-cell foam (anti-shock).
Does It Reach pixelPERFEXION? (100 pixels is best):
r180º Panorama photo backpack: 95 pixels, practical, protective, comfortable.
It’s simple really. I’ve outlined this numerous times in countless articles for Shutterbug Magazine and in the 2014 annual Shutterbug Expert Photo Techniques special issue. But allow me to reiterate briefly (and in no order of preference). Here’s what to look for…
Comfort and stability. If you can’t get comfy wearing a fully-loaded pack the first time out, you’ll never be happy with it. If the shoulder straps constantly slide off your shoulders (granted, the chest strap helps here—but it shouldn’t be entirely necessary, except to keep the pack from swinging around and throwing you off balance), if the straps dig into your shoulders, if they lack shoulder compression straps at the very top (to further stabilize the load and provide breathing room between bag and back), if you can’t easily adjust the straps on the go without removing the pack, then it’s the wrong bag. If the waist belt is not contoured and padded, it’s the wrong bag. The waist belt takes some or all of the weight off your shoulders and further adds to stability. And for long, arduous hikes, the pack should feature an internal stabilizing frame.
Organization and protection. The bag should provide a fully padded, fully user-adjustable section for your camera gear—and it should fit the gear you plan to use. If you use fast lenses, the interior modules should accommodate the lens’s girth; if you use long lenses, then obviously interior modules should be long (and wide) enough. All without piling stuff on top of each other. Don’t be afraid to move dividers around and add padding where needed, so nothing shifts while in transit. Compression straps that wrap around the sides of the pack are helpful toward this end. And there should be space for your personal stuff, from a water bottle or hydration bladder and rain slicker or light jacket to perhaps an extra shirt and socks, and lunch/snacks, first-aid kit, insect repellant (use permethrin applied to clothing before you leave home; DEET or non-greasy Picaridin on exposed skin when on the trails), plus wildlife guides, and perhaps a tablet. The pack should provide for carrying a tripod (over the front or side—there are arguments for and against either approach). Some bags will also let you lash ski poles or hiking sticks to the pack. And there should be an organizer pocket for a pen/pencil, paper notepad, small accessories (lens/body caps, cables, lens tissue or equivalent), and trail maps. You might also want to carry waterproof matches. As for the pack’s exterior, it should be made of nylon, which is most durable and highly resistant to mold. The fabric is usually ripstop nylon (parachute nylon or packcloth). Ripstop is lightweight, in contrast to Cordura, which, while the toughest nylon out there, is also a bit more abrasive and heavier. The padding also acts as an insulator. Make sure you can’t see through the seams. Finally, no bag is watertight. That's why we need a rain cover, which is sometimes optional.