20 February 2017

Modifying a regular backpack into a camera backpack

The search for the perfect camera bag is seemingly never ending, and as such I'm always looking at bags, and more recently that search has included bags from tactical (military) manufacturers.   I've found that the "molle" system (a means to attach various pouches and pockets to bags) is a much better system to help create the "perfect" bag than any photography manufacturer has yet come up with.

My current camera backpack, a Tamrac is stupidly uncomfortable when even moderately loaded.  Strap a tripod on the side and...  let's just say it doesn't get used often.

So, after much research, reading reviews, watching videos, looking at photos, I decided to build my own bag starting with the Hazard 4 Second Front backpack, and with a trip to the deserts of California and Arizona looming for later in the year, I decided on the coyote (tan) colour.

First up was to source some supplies.

 The padding came in the form of a yoga mat, for just £1.99 from the local sports store.

 A 5 metre long length of hook and loop tape (5 cm wide)

 The tan felt I purchased annoyingly didn't work very well with the hook and loop tape, but I used it anyway to cover the expanded foam yoga mat.  

 Spray glue, £2.99.

 A very sharp knife to cut the foam to size.

My plan was to put the foam padding around the inside of the bag to in part help it hold its shape, and also to give the inner padded dividers something to attach to.  I held it in place just to help measure out the correct size (130cm x 11cm)

I tried to sew the hook and loop tape in place, but with a sewing machine not quite up to the job that was a big bag of fail, so I used the spray adhesive again.

This it what it looks like after covering the foam with felt, and hook tape on the outside, loop tape on the inside.

A closer up look of the outer loop side.

 Using a bit more of the yoga matt to form the bottom of the bag, this was also covered in felt.

Hazard 4 do actually make padded dividers similar to these, but sadly they are not available for purchase in the UK.  The postage cost from the USA is stupid, so I decided to make my own.  Not exactly up to Hazard 4 quality, but they'll do the job until I can purchase the dividers from a UK retailer.

Cut a bit out of the loop tape to enable the dividers to "stick" nicely to the inside of the bag.

Not the final layout, and a bit of a mix of dividers but it gives the idea.

One of the things I like about this bag is the ability to open it just a bit and easily get inside.

With foam inserted, the bag keeps its shape, and even stands up straight (ish).

Room for improvement, but I'm fairly pleased with my efforts for version 1.0.

I'd like to source some loop fabric and use that instead of the loop tape, which would improve the look of the bag, and also reduce the weight a bit.

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