Dakine makes the best packs in the business for shooters, and here's why.
Chances are, whether you ride with it or not, you have a pack. If you ride with your pack, it's essential that you can carry water, some snack food, and a few tools and a spare tube, as well as anything else your non-pack toting buddy is going to need to get out of the woods. That last part is debatable, which is why I request that my buddies bring some cash on the ride, as backcountry spare tubes can go for a pretty penny.words and photos by Brad Walton
Over the years my pack has gone from welterweight to obese with an aging desire for longer rides and more photo gear. The adage of keeping it simple got thrown right out the window, and now my buddies have a game to see who can guess how heavy my pack is. If being the group scribe is something that interests you and 'pack mule' status is of no concern, Dakine
has stepped up to the plate with a few products that are of utmost necessity for adventure sports gear hauling:
Dakine Sequence (left) and Apex (right) when they were new last year
Dakine's Apex and Sequence backpacks have served me so well for the past year that I can't imagine how I would be able to ride well carrying all the gear I do with anything less. The similarities between the two include mega-durable construction, excellent fit and retention, great looks, and an impressive feature set for each. However, these purpose-driven packs are built for completely different yet related venues, with the Sequence being a dedicated photography bag and the Apex being an extended-length ride pack that just so happens to have room for photo gear. Either way, both the Apex and Sequence are the best bags for transporting your photo tools to the trail.
Dakine Apex getting worked this winter during the building frenzy
For $125 USD, the Apex
is hands down the most useful backpack I have ever seen for mountain biking. To put it lightly, Dakine thought of everything
. Some of the features take a long time to utilize or even to discover, but Dakine is on your side when it comes to organizing your next sustained mission. I've regularly used the Apex for riding, trail building, hiking, as airplane carry-on luggage, and as a grocery basket. I've had the zippers so tight that the bag would hardly close, but the zippers didn't bust. The Apex fits a lot of gear comfortably, but it's gotta be the simple camera carrying system I've been using that makes this pack so ideal.
Apex with an internal padded f.64 camera holster bag
Although it looks like a regular sized pack, the Apex is expandable to hold large volume. The main compartment serves as the photo zone in my Apex. Coupled with a holster-style camera bag like the f.64 HCX Large Holster Bag
, my camera gets toted around comfortably, with padding and rain protection. The large holster bags can hold a regular size SLR camera body with a small-ish lens generally under 70mm. I usually drop a flash (in it's stock nylon pouch) in the bottom of my Apex and put the holster bag on top of it. This provides a well-balanced carry for minimal camera gear. On days when I know I'm going to take a few photos, there's still room for another flash and small lens.
Another view of f.64 camera holster bag and how it fits in the Apex
Apex back padding
The Apex features adequate back padding designed with airflow in mind for the long haul and carries weight near effortlessly with it's perfectly aligned pack straps with full adjustment for where it rides on your back. The padded main shoulder straps are wide enough to spread the load across your shoulders and durable enough to carry as much weight as you can fit in the Apex. A beefy waist strap with plastic buckle adds security while the sternum strap provides full lockdown to prevent de-shouldering of the pack mid-ride. Zippers are seam-sealed and combat rain for awhile, although the pack's nylon fabric is not entirely waterproof (making it waterproof would add considerable weight).
Dakine's armor and full face carry is hands down the best
Remaining largely unchanged for 2009, the Apex is chock full of compartments, straps, and clever features. Most notably, Dakine's armor and full face carry is the best in the business. If you wear a half-lid, it will fit inside the outer pouch pocket and can be retained using adjustable straps to carry to the trail or to the top of the mountain on long days. Armor carry straps keep your pads secure at the bottom of the pack, and stash away into their own pouches when not in use, which keeps them from ending up caught by your tire. A new bladder is also in place for 2009, making fill ups that much easier.
Armor straps ingeniously tuck away to keep from getting caught
The main accessory pocket provides more than enough space for tools, a spare tube, and lunch, with built-in, zippered mesh sub-pockets for organization of small parts. Up top there's a fleece-lined sunglass/goggle pocket, and down low on both sides are zippered stash pockets perfect for keys and wallet. There's even a map/ toilet paper dryzone pocket.
Ample space in the tool zone for various trinkets and sandwiches
Stash pockets on each side
Apex's outer map/TP pocket
Hydration is a must for any sustained efforts, and the 100oz bladder is an industry standard. Dakine's bladder system is well thought out, and includes such features as a flow shut-off in the bite valve, a quick disconnect at the hose/bladder interface, and a bladder retention clip that prevents "bladder wedgie", a bothersome phenomenon occurring when the bladder empties and falls to the bottom of the pack and bunches up right next to your back. Sounds silly, but trust me, it's annoying and Dakine integrated an easy fix.
Bladder retention clip prevents "bladder wedgie"
Sequence pack high in the alpine
Serious photo days require serious gear. For location shooting, you'll need a Sequence
pack, or maybe even a Reload
pack if it gets too serious. The Sequence nears the end of the ride-able spectrum as the Reload is a bit big and bulky for actual riding.
For 2009, Dakine redesigned the $150 USD Sequence, giving it a sleek look similar to the smaller Apex pack while still maintaining the large capacity carry. The internals of the '08-'09 Sequence remain the same, with a rear-opening entry to a removable padded photo gear pod that sports velcro-adjustable compartments. The rear-opening entry is key to keeping your photo gear easily accessible and your back padding out of the dirt while shooting.
Sequence's removable padded photo block
In similar fashion to the smaller packs, the Sequence has beefy pack carry straps with waist and sternum closure. The Sequence carries a heavy load easily. I am constantly amazed with just how much gear this pack can carry and still remain comfortable. I've spotted Sterling Lorence at Whistler riding with this pack, and I've been on a ride/shoot with Colin Meagher who was also sporting a Sequence. Neither one of these guys had under 30 lbs in there, so if that's fine by you, this is your pack.
Sequence's ample back padding
Sequence has enough padding and fits well enough to giv'r
For those who prefer to be totally self-sufficient, the Sequence has several accessory pockets other than the main photo block, including a large exterior pocket on the front of the pack, two smaller pockets on either side of the bottom, and a good size pocket up top. If you're carrying the Sequence around, you're going to be spending some time shooting so you should make the talent carry some of the load, like tools, tubes, and such.
Sequence outside accessory pockets
I still can't believe all this stuff fits in there, comfortably nonetheless
I'm sure I've left out some of the many features of the Apex and Sequence, but you photo geeks get the idea. When you're long past the point of your bike being worth more than your car, and now your photo equipment is worth 5x your car, buy a nice pack to carry it all in. Happy shooting!
-www.dakine.com --Brad Walton