Ultralight but Fully Featured: MindShift Gear Releases Three Innovative, Expandable Camera Daypacks.

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

Think Tank Photo’s nature (and urban) adventurers’ backpack-making spin-off MindShift Gear has released some new camera daypacks, a trio ranging in capacity from 16 liters through 25 liters to 36 liters in total capacity.

The UltraLights are, the MindShift folks tell us, “the lightest photo daypack series ever”. But unlike some other ultralight daypacks and larger backpacks I have read about in the past few months, MindShift’s UltraLights do not skimp on essential carrying capabilities.

All three have an integrated tripod, monopod or trekking pole mounting system on the front and, from the product photographs in each pack’s web page, the system’s straps look strong enough to securely hold small to mid-sized photo or video tripods or monopods. I am an urban trekker so cannot vouch for trekking poles but I do know something about carrying video monopods and tripods.

All three daypacks also have integrated side-panel compartment access to key photo equipment, allowing you to tilt the pack off one shoulder and pull out your camera to grab a quick shot or do a rapid lens change. With the exception of the FirstLight series, MindShift Gear packs are designed to be used without removing then placing on the ground or other flat surface to get to your equipment, an invaluable feature in often messy terrain outdoor or insecure urban surroundings. My ground cover recommendation for when complete removal is necessary? A MindShift Gear Contact Sheet for sure.

As daypacks, the UltraLight series has been created to carry a camera and two, three or four of your most essential lenses, depending on whether you prefer full-size DSLRs, APS-C DSLRs or the increasingly popular mirrorless camera systems from brands like Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic or Sony.

Each UltraLight model is configured to hold photographic equipment in the lower compartment and personal items like clothing, food, supplies, hydration reservoir, tablet or notebook computer in the upper compartment.

The two larger models, the UltraLight Dual 25L and UltraLight Dual 36L, give you the option of converting the upper space into a second gear carrier via an r180º Panorama/Horizon Photo Insert to more than double your daypack’s camera and lens carrying capacity.

UltraLight Dual 36L image 1

Another feature both larger packs share is that the lower camera compartment can be removed through a trap door and converted into a shoulder bag, belt-mounted bag or chest pack with the aid of MindShift’s Tripod Suspension Kit.

Further elaborating on that expandability theme, the UltraLight Dual 25L and UltraLight Dual 36L both have a webbing rail on one waist belt, a zip-up bag integrated into the other. The webbing can support a Filter Nest, Filter Hive or Lens Switch Case while the permanently-attached zip-up bag will hold smaller personal items, or small gear like MindShift’s House of Cards.

For those rare days you may wish to shrug off the mantle of moviemaker or photographer altogether, an internal trap door platform allows you to quickly convert each UltraLight daypack into a purely personal, camera-less backpack. Never one to entirely forgo carrying a camera though, I would be inclined to zip up a compact into the integrated waist belt bag. A Panasonic Lumix ZS100, perhaps?

With the UltraLight series having just been announced via email press release, I have not had a chance to see or try one out yet. But, based on my firsthand experience with MindShift Gear’s BackLight 26L Daypack, written about here, I can vouch for that pack’s high quality design and manufacturing, and the innovative thinking that has gone into it.

The BackLight 26L is a pleasure to use and carry, is designed for female and male body shapes, and has got me through some demanding days romping about in the urban ranges of Sydney and its suburbs, heavily laden with moviemaking gear.

If the BackLight 26K is anything to go by, then, the three items in the UltraLight range should carry out their functions equally well. I am definitely in the market for lightweight camera bags and backpacks, so long as they carry my gear safely and are versatile enough to be configured differently based on each day’s changing needs.

Based on specifications and photographs, I would recommend the UltraLight Dual 16L if you wish to travel light and fast with mirrorless camera and lenses or smaller DSLRs with standard zoom, and personal gear above. If you need to carry a little more, then choose the UltraLight Dual 25L or UltraLight Dual 36L and add optional extra carrying capacity with Panorama/Horizon insert, Switch Case and one of MindShift’s Filter Nests or Filter Hives.

Safe but easy transportation of screw-on and 4-inch rectangular filters, filter holders and longer lenses such as the recently announced pro-quality Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 Aspheric Power OIS lens or Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS, have now got me seriously thinking about the need for backpack expandability.

MindShift’s UltraLight series amply enables that, especially in the mid-sized and larger models with the added benefit of keeping size and weight down to reasonable limits via their lightweight materials and construction.

Ultralight & full-featured: MindShift Gear releases three innovative, expandable daypacks. Click To Tweet

UltraLight Dual 36L

Via MindShift Gear:

MindShift introduces UltraLight, the lightest photo daypack series ever. Designed for convenient access to gear and spacious capacity for personal items, all accessible without removing the pack. The UltraLight™ Dual 36L feature a removable insert, which can be worn as a shoulder bag or beltpack. Inside the backpack, you can drop a trap door that converts the bag to a single-compartment daypack.

Removable camera compartment converts to a shoulder bag with included shoulder strap or attaches to your belt for access on the go

Side-panel provides access to all of your camera gear without taking the bag off and allows you to work out of your bag without getting your harness dirty, wet, muddy or icy

Removable camera compartment converts to a shoulder bag with included shoulder strap or attaches to your belt for access on the go

Removable camera compartment converts to a shoulder bag with included shoulder strap or attaches to your belt for access on the go.

Side-panel provides access to all of your camera gear without taking the bag off and allows you to work out of your bag without getting your harness dirty, wet, muddy or icy

Side-panel provides access to all of your camera gear without taking the bag off and allows you to work out of your bag without getting your harness dirty, wet, muddy or icy.

Additional Features

  • Dedicated compartment for laptop, tablet or hydration reservoir. Fits 3L hydration or 15” laptop
  • Large capacity for personal gear: extra layers, a light jacket, food, etc.
  • Removable camera compartment converts to a chest pack with the optional Tripod Suspension Kit
  • Integrated tripod/monopod mounting system on front
  • Trap door platform allows you to use the entire bag for personal gear
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included
  • High quality YKK RC Fuse zippers, 420D high-density nylon reinforced stress points for long lasting durability and strength
  • Highly breathable three-layer shoulder straps with daisy chain for additional gear
  • Internal compression strap and drawstring collar maximize capacity and minimize bulk
  • Stretch side pocket
  • Internal zippered mesh pocket for small items
  • Zippered lid pocket and zippered waist belt pocket for quick access to small items
  • Accessory loop for mountain axe or hiking poles mounting
  • Lid closure doubles as a lash point for a large jacket or other bulky items
  • Ergonomic zipper pulls are easily gripped with gloves or chilled fingers
  • Adjustable dividers for different camera gear configurations
  • Adjustable sternum strap
  • Camera compartment lid tucks into side opening lid for quick access
  • Nylex LCD protector provides a place for your camera strap while covering your LCD
  • Compatible with the Filter Nest/Hive and Switch Case, Tripod Suspension Kit and Panorama/Horizon photo insert

Gear Profile

  • Holds 1 standard-size DSLR (Canon 5D MarkIII or Nikon D810) and 2-4 standard zoom lenses
  • Holds 1 gripped DSLRs (1Dx or D4s) and 2-3 standard zoom lenses
  • Fits up to a 15” laptop or most 3L hydration reservoirs
  • 20L of capacity for personal gear
  • Maximum lens size:
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 attached to body with 70-200 f/2.8 detached

Learn more about the UltraLight Dual 36L Here.

(cover photo credit: snap from MindShift Gear)

Karin Gottschalk

Karin Gottschalk

Karin is a documentary moviemaker, journalist, photographer and teacher who conceived and cofounded an influential, globally-read, Australian magazine of contemporary art, culture and photography. While based in Europe, contributing to the magazine and working in advertising, she visualised a future telling the same sorts of stories with a movie camera and audio recorder. Now back in her home base in Sydney, Karin is pursuing her goal of becoming an independent, one-person, backpack multimedia journalist and documentary moviemaker. Mentorless and un-filmschooled, she is constantly learning and sharpening up her skill set.
Karin Gottschalk

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