By TC WORLEY
Clik Elite touts its camera bags as “performance packs for adventure photographers.” As a professional photojournalist, I decided to put the company’s Medium Nature pack to the test and see if its claims are true.
Before I even strapped the pack on, I was impressed. The “fully lined and taped” zippers were smooth and sturdy — a must for the heavy gear a photographer needs to carry. An adjustable “LadderFit” harness system help this pack carry like a real outdoors pack. Wide waist straps and adjustable sternum straps enable you to truly fine tune this bag.
To test it out, I chose a calf-burning overnight cycling trip through the river valley areas of central Minnesota and Wisconsin. If there was a flaw in its design, I had 140 miles to find it. At first, the waist straps, while great for hiking, were digging into my ribs and thighs with every pedal stroke. A few yanks on a strap here and a loosened buckle there and the pack blended into the periphery.
Throughout the ride, the pack carried my gear safely and comfortably — largely due to the “comfort molded back panel” that kept items from digging into my back, which is a common complaint I have with other photo packs.
Size-wise, the Medium Nature has about 2,100 cubic inches of capacity — enough room for my larger, pro-grade camera body and several medium sized lenses. Larger lenses have to ride in the upper, unpadded stash compartment. Several mesh pockets kept convenience items handy, while delicate items such as media cards, shutter releases, and spare batteries go in the numerous small, zippered pockets. There’s even a fuzzy stash pocket for sunglasses.
The pack comes ready for a water bladder. I personally am too cautious to use this feature. A water bladder hovering over several thousand dollars worth of photo equipment is not a risk I am ready to take. Instead, I use the mesh side pocket with a water bottle.
Shoulder straps are gel-soft and dreamy. A feature I did not notice at first — a rain cover that stores neatly beneath the back in a rather marsupial-like pocket — is a nice touch. Come rain, dirt, or high adventure, this pack is made to protect.
All these features do have a price. And this pack is not light weight. It is noticeably heavier than the Dakine Mission Photo, a photo backpack I’ve used for the last few years. But I can honestly say that I feel my gear carries better in the Clik Elite. It is far safer and more accessible, too.
It should be better than the Dakine. At $235, it costs nearly double.
But if you are looking for a photo pack that can be fine tuned, is tough as nails, and will likely last for years, I would put my money on the Clik Elite — it is top-shelf equipment. www.clikelite.com
—TC Worley is a freelance photographer in Minneapolis. He shoots regularly for New York Times.