altA bit of Scandinavian style and practicality is applied to the photo backpack to come up with a very smart looking product which also happens to work very well in the field. Report by Paul Burrows.

It’s a pretty crowded market in camera bags and backpacks at the moment and there are some clever designs out there too, but there’s always room for one more. If you think you recognise the Thule brand, you’re right… it’s already well known in this country for its extensive line of car roof racks, roof boxes, bike carriers and even snow chains. And it also knows a bit about making bags and cases too because a range of general luggage has been available for a while.

Given its outdoors and travel orientated product ranges it makes sense for Thule to try its hand at bags and packs for photographers on the move. It’s got off to a flying start because the Perspektiv series won the ‘Best Photo Bag’ category in this year’s TIPA Awards, and with good reason. In addition to the photo backpack featured here (model TPBP-101), there’s also a smaller daypack which has the same design and features.

altFor starters, the backpack is a pretty good looking thing which is no mean feat given most of them look like a crumpled mess of straps, pockets, toggles, zips and mis-matched fabrics. In comparison, the Perspektiv pack is super cool, finished entirely in d-grey with ice-blue accents… very Scandinavian. What you also notice is that it’s almost a uniform box in shape rather than a collection of bulges and bumps. What this translates into is much greater efficiency in terms of the space that’s available inside… no wasted nooks and crannies here. If you think the exterior grey is a bit restrained, get ready for the inside story because the ice-blue colouring is used everywhere and it’s pretty dramatic, at least until you get some gear in there.

altThe Scandinavians – Thule is actually based in Malmö in Sweden – know a thing or two about extreme weather conditions so the Perspektiv is designed to cope with the cold and the wet. Under the collective title of ‘Cloudburst Technology’ is a range of weather-proofing measures, including welded and taped critical seams, special fabric treatment, self-sealing zipper tracks and a built-in rain cover. Inside the pack is what Thule calls the ‘Safezone’ which starts with the tough chassis design and includes padding and insulation. The interior layout is, of course, modular, but all the smaller dividers are doubly thick and additional restraints are provided so everything will stay securely in place when you up-end the pack to carry it on your back.

While the exterior dimensions are actually reasonably modest, the Perspektiv backpack still manages to swallow up a significant amount of gear – two mid-sized D-SLRs (think Nikon D810 or Canon EOS 6D) and up to six or seven lenses, the biggest being a 70-200mm f2.8. Inside the main ‘lid’ are two clear plastic-fronted pockets – the smaller one can hold accessories such as filters or card-readers while the bigger one will take a laptop or a tablet. There are some slim pockets on the outside for things such as travel documents or a mobile phone, but basically the idea with this pack is that everything fragile travels inside the internal ‘cocoon’. That said, there are two options for carrying a tripod externally, either on the front or on one side. Incidentally, the Perpektiv pack is sized to be carry-on legal even on the smaller, regional airliners. Unladed, it weighs in at only two kilograms which means you aren’t using up a lot of your weight allowance with the pack itself and nor do you have to lug around any unneccesary extra weight.

altThe ergonomically-shaped shoulder straps are padded and fully adjustable; and the cushioning on the pack itself is also ergonomically shaped with a breathable fabric covering to wick away sweat. Even fully loaded, it sits well on your back with an even weight distribution so you don’t feel that your balance is being compromised in any way. Additionally, the taller, narrower configuration of the main body, means it doesn’t move around when you’re on the move. The main opening is against your back so, if you’re in a crowded area, you can be pretty confident that nobody is going to get to your gear… at least not without you knowing about it. It’s also very well made and, in fact, is covered by a 25-year warranty on manufacturing-related faults or failures so Thule must be fairly confident that it’s up to the job.

We’ve sampled a fair few photo backpacks over recent years and the Thule Perspektiv impressed us with both its comfort and its practicality, particularly in terms of its carrying capacity versus its external dimensions. And the fact that you don’t look like an overloaded Sherpa when you’re carrying it is a nice bonus. The Thule Perspektiv photo backpack is priced at $430 and the range is distributed in Australia by Thule Australia. 

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