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MindShift Gear BackLight 26L first shoot review

December 20, 2017

MindShift Gear is the sister brand to ThinkThank Photo and is the brand behind the Rotation 180 series of bags.


With a focus on outdoor and adventure photographers and the BackLight series of bags is the latest addition to their line up, also the brands first back panel access pack.

There are three main ways camera backpacks are set up (well actually four if you include Mindshift’s Rotation system); front panel access, side panel access and rear panel access. Each has its pros and cons, but the main advantage of back panel access bags is that when you need to put your pack down to pull out your camera, the straps don’t touch the ground. This especially important if your shooting in a location where the ground is wet or muddy, ie outside.

Also because the camera access is on the rear of the bag, it leaves the front open for storage laptops, tablets, extra layers, food, hydration bladders, etc.

Unfortunately, there are negatives to this system the main one being that given there is a hole on the rear of the bag, it makes it pretty difficult for adjustable harness systems so if the bag doesn’t fit you well you’re out of luck.

Rear panel access also makes it impractical for suspended mesh venting systems, and their carry capacity is a touch smaller the front access packs because the zipper needs to pass under the shoulder straps.

With 26L of carrying capacity, there is a surprising amount of room for gear inside the BackLight, and it happily engulfs my Canon 5DMKiii with a 100-400 MKii lens attached, five additional short lenses and various other gear. It’s not designed for pro-level bodies like the 1DX or Nikon D5 and might just be deep enough for a 5D or 7D with a battery grip.

There is also a cavernous front pocket with dedicated sleeves for a 15in laptop and tablet. This pocket is seriously huge and will fit heaps of layers, food and might even be big enough for a bivy.

There’s also an additional smaller pocket on the front and a very tight zippered pocket on the top of the bag.

Its got compression straps on the sides, daisy chains on the front, attachment points ice axes or trekking poles and water bottle pockets on either side too.

The insert is fixed with customisable padded dividers, and empty the bag tipped my scales a 1.74kg / 3.84lbs.

As with all MindShift, bags the BackLight 26L has the hidden tripod cup, which sees a small pocket for the legs and a top strap which tucks into a small pocket in the top of the bag. You can also utilise one of the water bottle sleeves and the compression straps on the side of the bag too.

One feature I’m not so sure about is the elastic strap to wrap around your neck in the back panel. The idea behind is so you can hang the bag off your waist and get to your gear without having to actually put the bag down, adding some ‘rotation’ to the bags feature set.

I’m not so sure this is actually a feature, mostly because you can do this with any rear panel access bag. So far every time I’ve zipped and unzipped the camera compartment the elastic band has stuck in the zipper.

I’ve only taken this bag out a handful of times to date, and I’m planning to take it down to the Tour Down Under with me at the beginning of January. Keep an eye out for for the full review post-race.

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