GEAR REVIEW - Mindshift Gear Travel Away 22L Backpack
The nice folks over at Mindshift Gear were kind enough to send me one of their Travel Away Rotation 180° Backpacks (22 litre). I'll be reviewing it here from both a photographic point of view and as a functioning bag for outdoor pursuits.
When I was handed the box from the delivery driver, my first thought was "Is there anything inside it?" Upon opening, I retreived a very light-weight yet solid backpack in an attractive charcoal grey. As I love a bit of new gear, I immediately began investigating and quickly became surprised at the array of features, build quality and ergonomic design. Over the years, I've used numerous backpacks, but the Mindshift Gear is definitely something very different.
The first and most obvious feature is the intergrated belt-pack. This can be rotated around your waist, once a magnetic lock is released. The belt-pack is an ingenious design, as not only does it provide support for the entire bag but, also can be removed and worn exculsively. It resides behind the reinforced, well-padded and comfortable back support of the main bag and is also padded itself.
The belt-pack consists of one large, main compartment with multiple sub-compartments and two side pouches. This provides enough room to safely store and quickly access a mini tablet, smart-phone, point-and-shoot camera, wallet, passport, tickets, money, route maps and any other keepsakes that'd rather not have to hunt in the backpack for, yet don't want to carry in your hand, get creased up or damaged in your pocket.
Likewise, the design of the backpack has been very well thought out and engineered. The shoulder straps are amply padded, giving you a comfortable carrying experience. A height-adjustable chest clasp keeps them firmly in position, while two looped webbing sections allow you to attach various equipment using a carbiner, or other Mindshift Gear products, like the Multi-Mount Holster.
The back support, is sumptuously padded, with spaces between to aid with ventillation. I tend to sweat like a pig in a butcher's shop when on the move, so having a bit more airflow is certainly welcome. On the rear of the bag are a pair of elasticated pockets, which are ideal for drinks bottles and things of that nature, that you can grab in a hurry. If you're straddling a bike or perched on a mountain side, the ability to rehydrate yourself without removing your backpack is great.
There are two main compartments to the Travel Away. The first is the more spacious, having dedicated sections for a 15" laptop and iPad. The rest allows room for a jacket, footwear, other clothing, magazines and more.
The second compartment is slightly smaller but, offers more protection as both the bottom and back are reinforced with plastic. It is in here that I would carry a small DSLR, or compact camera when not in use, although just as a precaution I would utilize a protected case or wrap the camera in something to offer some cushioning against the plastic of the bag interior.
The side pouches are ideal for stowing smaller accoutrements, like a beanie hat, gloves, scarf, compass, medicine/first aid supplies or even a small pair of binoculars. Once you are finished with the belt-pack, you simply rotate it back around your waist inside the backpack. What is particularly nice, is the fact that the magnetic lock automatically re-engages itself, so there is no fear of the belt-pack ever accidentally shifting its position, regardless of what you're doing. Fantastic!
For photography, the Travel Away 22L is ideal if you are travelling light with a small camera like a Fuji X100 or other CSC camera system. While you can fit a DSLR and a few lenses inside (I actually managed to fit a 70-200mm f/2.8 inside a lens case, D800 and a 50mm f/1.4), together with a small tripod, this isn't really the intended purpose of the backpack. If you're doing "serious" photography rather than just taking a camera along with you to do the tourist thing, then I would highly suggest looking at Mindshift Gear's other excellent range of bags which cater specifically for us shutterbugs.
This backpack is aimed for day trips, going for a hike in the wilderness or mountain biking through the woods. It's large enough to carry everything you'll need on a short excursion, without being cumbersome and tiring to haul around. It's very comfortable, light and stylish, while having some of the best ergonomics I've ever seen on a bag. The Rotation 180 system provides a quick and unique way to access and stow your most important personal effects, without the need to remove the bag. It comes in a handsome charcoal grey or a sporty blue. If you're going on holiday and want an everyday backpack that will make life that little bit easier, then take a look at the Mindshift Travel Away and other incredible bags.