No one really expects to fall in love. It kind of just smacks you in the face when you least expect it. All of a sudden there’s an extra air of excitement, a little more spring in your step. This may sound ridiculous (I am talking about a camera bag after all) BUT I challenge you to try this bag and NOT fall in love with it. I’m pretty certain it can’t be done.
Are you a hiker? Do you enjoy nature? Do you find yourself doing photo shoots out in the boonies where you groan at the thought of having to drag your gear through the terrain? If you’re like me, you can answer yes to all of those questions. Assuming you said yes (if not, there’s no need to keep reading this article) you probably have also struggled with finding a gear bag that works harmoniously.
Enter: Mindshift Gear’s Rotation 180 Professional. The end all, be all, of outdoor hiking/camera gear bag combo. It has everything you can think of and then some. Seriously, there are even hooks for my ski poles (which by the way, I can’t wait to test out)! When the folks at Photofocus let us know that MindShift wanted us to try out their gear, I was intrigued. I had never seen bags like theirs. Not only does my photographic style lend me to be traipsing through the woods more often than not, but I love hiking & camping. I’ve always carried a shoulder bag when I’ve hiked with my gear and it’s kind of worked (kind of not) but for whatever reason I never gave a better solution much thought.
When the Rotation 180 Pro arrived, I was impressed. It was a monstrous looking bag. So many compartments and latches and levers and straps. I spent a good 30
minutes just staring at the bag, going over every inch and being surprised and delighted at all the thoughtful details they’ve put into it. Everything has a purpose and is artfully designed to be in the proper place. The weighting and balance of the bag is solid and doesn’t create pressure points as it distributes the weight evenly.
The main point to the bag is that the bag can be accessed even while it’s still on
your body. This also happens to be what I was most excited about. The main reason I didn’t have a hiking style bag for my gear before was that you’d always have to stop and pull the bag off, set it on the ground, dig around, take your shot, put it back on. It was a pain in the neck (and back) literally. So how easy is the 180 rotation? Pretty darn easy. The motion to reach back and flick (the geniusly designed) clip out is easy. It’s within a comfortable reach for me (I’m 5′ 7″) and the hook to grab and pull is in
an intuitive spot. All that’s left to do is just to give it a good tug and it slides right out and around the front of your waist. The size of the compartment is generous. I easily fit my Mkiii with the 70-200 2.8L on, my 85mm, and my 35mm inside with room to spare. To get the compartment back in, a nice tug on the opposite side slides it right back in, the flap pushes down, and you hear a soft click letting you know it’s in place. I noticed the motion to get the compartment back in was slightly trickier than pulling it out, especially when I had the compartment more filled as it was heavier and required a smidge of support from underneath to get up over the bottom ledge. Regardless, even that was within easy reach to do.
The interior of the main body of the bag was unexpectedly cavernous. So much could fit in the lower compartment that I wasn’t sure what else to put in there! I threw a couple more lenses in, a 50, my 17, and there was still a ton of room.
Since my first big test of this bag was going to be hiking in the Pacific Northwest (which requires a plane trip) I made the decision to use the bag as one of my carry on pieces of luggage. BONUS: you’ll be happy to know that this bag fits perfectly into overhead airline bins. And I mean perfectly. So, I decided to fill the extra space with the other necessities. portable hard drives, card readers, extra cards, lens cleaning stuff, extra batteries & chargers, and even my LED video light & headlamp. Guess what? There was STILL room. Ultimately, I ended up stuffing my rain gear (for me, as the rain cover for the bag has its own tidy little hiding place) in the rest of the empty space. Both turned out to be great calls as we got stuck in a thunderstorm on Mt. Rainier and can confidently say the rain cover works like a champ. Oh yeah, and there was still more space. The top of the bag has a detachable pouch perfect for stuffing keys, wallets, phones, pens, a compass, and other little ancillary gear that you don’t want to have to root around the inside of the bag for.
The exterior was great as well. Plenty of room for accessories to hold tripods/monopods, ski poles/walking sticks, space for up to a 3 liter water bladder (which was probably my second favorite part about the bag), etc. The way things were even configured it’d be super easy to strap a bed roll or small tent in, too. The side pockets were handy and even the belt had a nifty pocket right on the hip which I found useful for easy access & storage for my trail map. Another incredibly useful feature was the “hidden” zip on the backside of the bag that allows you to get into the main cavity of the bag without having to filter down through everything. It opens up a nice cross section that makes everything super easy to get to, even when you have to take it off to access. It was nice to not have to dump everything on the trail to get to that one thing at the bottom of the bag.
I have to say that even with the bag fully packed it was heavy, but it wasn’t awkward or cumbersome to deal with. It felt very in tune and balanced with my body. I could crouch and stand up easily, I could balance over logs & rocks, ascend and descent steep faces without feeling encumbered by the bag. Major kudos to MindShift for their engineering prowess.
As for the workmanship on the bag, I have to also give MindShift high marks. The stitching was solid and tight. The pulls & straps were flawless and worked well. The materials were durable and cleaned up easily. There wasn’t one area on the bag that I questioned or wished was done better.
All in all, I can wholeheartedly recommend this bag to ANY photographer in need of taking a good amount of gear out into nature. You’ll finally have a bag that will enable you to do what you do best without having to fuss with it. It’ll be the best “assistant” you ever have!
Lisa is a D.C. based wedding & portrait photographer. Check out her