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Published on June 29th, 2010 | by admin

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Mountainsmith Encourages Recycling, Photography, Endeavors

Most of our photography is urban, centered around events, portraits, buildings… but it’s a shame to miss the natural world. Too often, it’s just a bit too much of a pain to lug your several pound DSLR around, whether it be Canon, Nikon, Sony, if you have one lens or several. We’ve tried our hand at park photography, and while Ansel Adams might just turn over in his grave when we complain about lacking wifi hotspots in the wilderness, anyone can appreciate a couple of bags to help you manage your load.

We’ve worked with Mountainsmith before, and their Modular Hauler. Much like that one, today’s items are actually a couple of bags in one, and work together. The first to be reviewed is the Lariat 65 Recycled- ours was a quite pleasant Lotus Blue but a Pinon Green version is also available. Perhaps the neatest part of the bag is that the body is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, apparently 23 of which go into making one bag.

This is one solid internal frame bag, capable of carrying enough clothing and gear for almost a week. It features a compression molded back panel, which offered a bit less airflow than we like- our backs got pretty sweaty, pretty quickly. Our shoulders were happy though, as the load (up to 65 liters) was distributed evenly across the reinforced, dual density straps and both upper and lower waist/chest cross-straps. Some folks will love the detachable summit pack; we found it to make a pretty nice daypack, but require a bit of effort to get attached securely enough to not imbalance the pack. Hydration is handled through the provided sleeve, but you’ll need to add your own bladder.

There are more compression straps and loops than we could count. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but there are trekking pole mounts, ice axe & tool loops, not to mention the haul handle and expansion collar over the adjustable height top, not all of which we used. The bag itself weighs five pounds- not too bad, considering the padded and frame, but a bit heavy for the carrying space (4275 cubic inches total). There’s even a removable safety whistle! Everything from the zippers to the loops seems pretty sturdy and durable,

At $160, it’s one of the best bargains we’ve seen in this class. And if there isn’t quite enough space for you, or you’d like yet another detachable section, there are easy attachment loops that fit onto the next item up.

We wanted to like the Endeavor Camera Messenger bag just as much. Made for the DSLRs around the size of Nikon D90 or Canon EOS 40D, it offers plenty of pockets and nifty organizational options- a side pocket, two zippered front pockets, and plenty of interior space. But it comes only in black with a yellow interior, which was certainly a bit odd on it’s own, and definitely did not look so good next to the Lariat. At 3 pounds, it fits in the common middle ground between an ultralight neoprene sleeve aimed at general protection and a more serious bag with dedicated space for your flash, lens, filters, and such (with more solid padding for your camera body or bodies).

Also, it felt just a bit too expensive at $110. There are some nice additions: you do get the organizational Kit Cube (decent for a spare lens or two with a little fiddling) and even a rain cover. The zippers are well protected against the elements with flaps, and the Endeavor is made from the same 450d ReDura PET fabric as the bag, again from recycled bottles. A removable shoulder strap and the bag itself are fairly well-padded, and the internal laptop compartment fits up to a 15.4-inch model. We found it a little unbalanced when fully packed, but everything fit nicely and safely inside.

When attached to the Lariat though, we weren’t really sure of stability or comfort- carrying the complete load ended up being a bit too much for our testers, and the more sensitive and fragile equipment felt a little too exposed on the larger pack. Ultimately, the Endeavor just didn’t offer either the style or the features we really like in our camera bags, and though the easy connection to the serious Lariat pack was OK, it didn’t quite make our gear much easier to carry and protect.


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