Brian's Photo Blog — Article 173
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The Revolutionary Tamrac Evolution 8 Camera Pack
Saturday 13 October 2012   —   Category: Equipment
February 2016 Update — Apparently Tamrac’s Evolution line of backpacks has been replaced by their newer Corona line. Because the old links to the Evolution packs don’t work any more, I have updated the links to take you to the equivalent Corona packs instead.
When I purchased my new Micro Four Thirds (µ4/3) camera system a few months ago, I realized that I needed some sort of day pack in which I could carry a good chunk of my camera equipment when I was out and about, but not on a long hike. For major hikes on which I needed to carry liters of water and some food, as well as some hiking equipment, I always use my Kata Ultra-Light Bumblebee 222. But for shorter trips, or outings where I don’t need to carry a lot of water or food, the Kata hiking backpack is definitely overkill.

As usual, I spent quite a bit of time researching camera backpacks on the Internet, comparing all the offerings from manufacturers like Lowepro, Kata, Think Tank Photo, Case Logic, Tamrac, and more. There were models from each manufacturer which seemed like they could work for me, but it was hard to tell just by looking on the Web. Nevertheless, I decided to give the Kata 3N1-25 PL a try, even though I had not seen it in person.

Once it came, I realized very quickly that it was not going to work for me — basically, it was too small. Plus, the layout and functionality wasn’t quite what I was dreaming of. Obviously I had not really learned the lesson which I recounted in my Tale Of Four Backpacks. I was still learning the hard way that it is really necessary to go camera backpack shopping in person in order to find the right one. So the Kata went back to Amazon, and I went back to Pro Photo Supply in Portland for the third time in as many weeks — as I shared in Exploring the Urban Jungle.

It was very helpful to see the various backpacks in person, although the camera store did not stock all of the models I was hoping to see. But I saw enough to realize that the way I imagined a backpack to be after reading about it on the Web was often quite different from the way the backpack impressed me in person. In the end, the Tamrac Evolution 8 (now Corona 20) seemed like the best of the bunch for my needs.

As you can see from the images to the right, this is a very versatile pack. It can be worn with one shoulder strap as a sling, or with two as a traditional backpack. Equipment can be accessed through two openings on either side of the pack, or through the larger opening in the front. It has plenty of room for my iPad in the dedicated computer pocket, plus room for a water bottle or two and other personal items in the padded top compartment. I really like the non-slip texture of the shoulder straps, which work really well to keep the pack in position on my shoulder when using just one strap. And for me this pack is just the right size — big enough without being too big.

In the Evolution 8 pack I can fit my Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera with any lens attached, plus at least four addition lenses, or even all of my µ4/3 lens kit if I so desire. In addition, I can carry some camera accessories, like extra batteries and memory cards, filters, lens-cleaning tools, and more. Of course, all of this equipment can start to feel kind of heavy, and I have found that the weight is easier to bear when using both straps as a backpack rather than just one strap as a sling. To the right is a photo of myself, taking the pack on an afternoon outing.

The wonderful thing about this pack is that, even when using both straps, I can easily swing it around to my front by simply slipping my right arm out of the strap, and letting the pack hang by one strap on my left shoulder, as demonstrated in the stock photo to the right. In this pretty-much-horizontal position, I can quickly and easily get my camera out and take a photo. (To see this in action, watch the first video below.)

Not only that, but I can even change lenses without taking the pack off and setting it down. It perhaps does not sound like a big deal, but once you experience it, it is wonderful! With ALL of the previous packs I have owned and used, I have had to take them off completely in order to change lenses. Do that often enough during one outing, and you come to realize it’s a big inconvenience and a real pain! I am so pleased to now have a backpack which is versatile enough to carry all the equipment I want, and allow me access to it all without having to take it off. Just what I was dreaming of!

Another nice touch which can be particularly useful in wet locations like Oregon is the Evolution 8’s integrated rain cover, which, when taken out of its zippered storage pocket and slipped over the pack, provides an extra level of protection against the elements. This would have been extremely useful when we were hiking the Mist Trail at Yosemite a couple of years ago, or when walking behind the waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park.

Of course, the type of camera pack that you want and need could very well be quite different from what I’m looking for — it’s a very individual decision. That’s why there are so many models out there, from so many manufacturers. But as you can probably tell, I highly recommend the Tamrac Evolution 8. I would encourage you to find a local camera store which stocks it, so you can try it out in person. If it ends up being the wrong size for your needs, Tamrac also has a smaller Evolution 6 (now Corona 14) and a somewhat larger Evolution 9 (now Corona 26), as well as many other photo backpacks.

Be sure to watch the first video to the right to see the Tamrac Evolution in action — it will give you a better idea of how it works. Also, don’t miss the second video, which provides a brief, humorous and entertaining demonstration of the pack’s purported ability to protect your camera gear — this video is definitely contrived, yet well made.

Well, there you have it. I’m finally using my dream camera pack, and I’m so happy with it and excited about it that I just had to share the good news. Who knows? Maybe the Tamrac Evolution 8 (Corona 20) will become YOUR dream photo backpack too!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 173
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