Backpack Allows You to Replace Items Without Removing the Bag

Review by Gilmar Smith

I recently put the MindShift Gear BackLight 18L backpack to the test on one of the most demanding adventures: a long day with kids in a crowded theme park during a hot and humid summer day in Florida!

This backpack may look small (10.6″ W x 18.5″ H x 7.1″ D), but its padded rear compartment holds lots of gear. My camera with my 70–200mm lens, three lenses, plus a few accessories fit comfortably in it. If configured differently, it could fit two camera bodies and three or four lenses (up to a 300mm lens). The bag has lots of storage options. Inside the rear compartment, there are two zippered pockets for small gear or accessories, such as batteries, memory cards, cables, remotes, etc. On the main front pocket, you can fit up to a 13″ laptop and a large tablet, all kind of personal items, a change of clothes, and snacks. For those personal items I’d need handy, such as my 360 camera, EpiPens, car keys, park passes, I used a small zippered pocket on the front of the pack.

The Gear BackLight 18L comes in two colors, Charcoal and Woodland Green, and it includes a rain cover. I thought the green one was a great break from the collection of black camera bags I have at home. (It also comes in two larger sizes: the 26L for $249.99 and the 36L for $289.99.)

You could either mount a tripod in front of the bag or in one of the side pockets, as I did, which gives you more use of the front compartments. I was concerned at first about carrying my tripod this way in case I bumped anybody with it, but after I strapped in the tripod, it was clear that wasn’t going to be a problem. It was secure, and it wasn’t sticking out to the side of the bag.

In the other side pocket, I fit two bottles of water and, even with all of this stuffed in, I was able to fit the bag in the theme park lockers while I went on the rides. This Gear BackLight 18L bag is a good size to take as a carry-on on an airplane. [Always check with your airline.—Ed.]

One of my favorite features is that you can access your gear without taking it off. Just make sure you have the waist belt on, take the shoulders straps off, and slide the bag to your front. As you unzip the bag, put on the neck strap to keep the bag flap open as you get your camera or change lenses. Easy! Not having to take off the backpack to access my camera was a huge plus for me, especially when I’m out and about with my kids.

I carried this bag all day long in a really crowded theme park on a sweltering summer day, and so far, it’s been the most comfortable and easy-to-carry bag I’ve ever had. I usually stay in the parks until closing time to get shots of the fireworks and pictures with no people in the frame, and I was able to carry everything I needed all day comfortably. The MindShift Gear BackLight 18L holds just the right amount of gear, and it’s the perfect size for me. I’m about 5.1′, so other bags aren’t as comfortable on my back because they’re usually too big. The padded waist belt also made a difference because the weight was well distributed so all the weight wasn’t on my shoulders. The airflow channels in the back panel did their job well too; I felt my back was getting some air and it was moisture-free—unlike when wearing other backpacks.

You can also attach other MindShift gear accessories to the padded waist belt, such as the Tripod Suspension Kit, Filter Nest, Filter Hive, and Switch Case. ■