MindShift Photography Backpack Review

A big Thank You to ThinkTank Photo, makers of the MindShift line of photography bags. This was a great opportunity for me to capture some photographs and write a review for them. After reviewing these bags, I have joined up with them as an affiliate. Check out their great products here.

One thing that I have learned from this review is that I may have a fetish for photography backpacks! There’s a unique allure that draws me in every time I see a new one enter the market. I guess I just haven’t found the perfect one yet. However, this one comes very close.

Read on if you want to hear how my experience was with the MindShift BackLight 26L and 36L backpacks.

The BackLight is great for outdoor adventure photography and can be used in harsh conditions. It is a backpack that can store all of your gear while getting you comfortably to your outdoor destinations.

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USE:

🎒 Day hikes, overnight backcountry sleepovers, hut trips and just about anything else you can throw at it in the great outdoors.

PRICE:

$249.99 (26L) Available in Charcoal, Greenfield or Woodland Green

$289.99 (36L) Available in Charcoal or Woodland Green

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this product was an excellent one. I put the 26L to the test in the Colorado outdoors while hiking, skiing and filming some clips for my YouTube channel.

The first impression that I received during unboxing was pleasant. Both of the bags were lightweight and well packaged. Included on the inside of the pack was a configuration card that gave some great examples on how the inside of the bag could be configured. The card got me up and running quickly.

The inside of the bag has a modular design and contains removable sections of padded fabric that can be moved around and adhered with velcro. This makes the storage in the main compartment extremely flexible for carrying DSLR bodies, lenses, filters and a cornucopia of other tools for outdoor photography.

Accessing the inside of the bag was easily done through the rear-panel. I found the zipper on the rear panel to be a bit stiff which slowed me down a tad. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I did miss a photo of a deer while hiking because of it. The zipper got stuck around one of the corners so it delayed me as I reached for my camera. Although this happened, it is still an efficient way to use this backpack.

The bag’s shoulder straps are some of the most comfortable straps that I have ever worn. I did not experience any muscle fatigue or pain with the straps. I also attribute this to the beefy waist belt that handles the majority of the load of the pack. Also very comfy, the waist straps are easily adjustable with gloves on and have straps on the outside for attaching accessories. My only negative feedback with the waist straps is the material on the inside that rests against your body. By the end of the first day of use deep powder skiing, the material had rubbed off and was obviously very worn. I’m not sure if it was rubbing against a zipper or something on my ski jacket, but I would expect this not to happen on a new backpack with a similar use case.

The front of the pack has dedicated compartments that fit a laptop up to 15″ along with a small tablet. I was able to not only carry those items mentioned, but I was also able to stash away a base layer and a mid layer of clothing too.

The pockets are extra deep! Upon returning from a ski trip, I had put my extra battery pack below my laptop and it got pushed way to the bottom. When I returned home, I had totally forgotten where I put it, checked all the pockets in the bag and still couldn’t find it. Two weeks later, I found it deep in the bottom while reaching down there for something else that had fallen in. This backpack can serve as an all-in-one day pack and photography bag. It really has the perfect size and combination of pockets.

There are a lot of additional features too! Here’s a quick list of everything else, directly pasted from the MindShift website:

  • Daisy chain, ice axe loops and additional lash points for expanding your carry capacity
  • Includes tripod/monopod mounting system on front or side
  • Block and tackle style adjustment on the waistbelt provides 2:1 mechanical advantage
  • Flap-keeper neck strap allows you to work out of the bag, unencumbered
  • Two large water bottle pockets with cinch cord fits a 32oz Nalgene
  • Side compression straps with locking SR buckles for additional lash points
  • Air channel and lumbar support on rear-panel for all-day comfort
  • Ergonomic zipper pulls are easily gripped with gloves or frozen fingers
  • Highest quality YKK zippers, 420D Velocity and 420D high-density nylon for long lasting durability and strength
  • Front stuff pockets for trail essentials: headlamp, gloves, chargers
  • Adjustable dividers for large telephoto lenses, traditional photo gear or personal items
  • Top zippered pocket for quick access to essentials
  • Interior mesh pockets for storing filters, batteries, cables, etc.
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included
  • Compatible with the Tripod Suspension Kit, Filter Nest/Hive and Switch Case

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PRO TIP:

With the waist belt still buckled, remove the shoulder straps from your shoulders and spin the pack around your waist to your chest. Let the bag hang from your hips and access the gear from the rear panel compartment. This is the quickest way to access your photography gear without having to set the bag onto the ground. Very efficient!

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, rugged design with extreme comfort built-in.

Burly waist and shoulder straps are not only comfortable, but are fully adjustable with easy to use webbing.

Rear panel compartment allows for quick access to gear on or off your body.

Looped zipper pulls are easily put to use, even with gloves on.

Room for a 15″ laptop, small tablet and some extra clothing layers in addition to photography gear.

👎 Rear panel compartment zipper is not fluid and smooth when trying to quickly access gear. It seems to get hung up a bit around the corners of its rectangular path.

After a full day skiing deep powder and accessing the pack multiple times, I noticed that the material on the inside of the waist straps was very worn on one side.

SPECS:

  • Exterior Dimensions:
    11.4” W x 20.3” H x 7.9” D
    (29 x 51.5 x 20 cm)
  • Interior Dimensions:
    10.2” W x 19.3” H x 5.9” D
    (26 x 49 x 15 cm)
  • Laptop:
    10” W x 15.3” H x 1”D
    (25.5 x 38.8 x 2.5 cm)
  • Tablet:
    9.3” W x 10.2” H x 0.6” D
    (23.5 x 26 x 1.5 cm)
  • Weight:
    3.9lb (1.8kg)
  • Volume:
    26 Liters

The MindShift BackLight. You may have just found your perfect outdoor photography backpack! Head on over to their site now and check ’em out.

➳ MindShift provided equipment and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.

Phoozy Thermal Capsule™ Review

A big shout out to eXclaim IP, LLC, makers of Phoozy, for allowing me to capture some photographs and write a review for this space age, mobile phone product. Is it a case or a sleeve or both? You decide.

Read on if you would like to hear what I think… 

Over the past few years, I have been continually frustrated with my iPhone batteries dying in the cold while alpine skiing, ski touring or on outdoor photography adventures. In the past, I would literally take my phone out of my pocket and it would die immediately after taking a picture or video. This would put a damper on my day because I prefer to rock out to my music playlists while charging down the mountain. The only way to get it to turn back on was to plug it into a charger – something you can’t do on a chairlift or while tree skiing.

Overheating iPhone batteries have also been a problem in the summer time, especially at the neighborhood pool and on the patio at my favorite pub.

The Phoozy has come to my rescue and if you struggle with these same issues, it will enhance your outdoor, mobile phone experience as well.

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USE:

Outdoors while exposed to extreme cold or direct sunlight and generally anytime you need to ensure that your phone battery doesn’t discharge from the cold or shut down due to overheating.

Available for iPhone, Samsung, Google, Huawei and other mainstream mobile phones.

PRICE:

$29.99 Silver with other color options coming soon. Gold is now available in select retail stores and on Phoozy’s Amazon page.

Online reports rumor a new XP3 series with Realtree Edge™ and Realtree Fishing™ camo colors. These are expected to become available Spring 2018. That’s right around the corner!

I am sending vibes to Phoozy in hopes that they will also send a few of these new designs my way for a follow up review. If they do, I will setup some giveaway contests so that you can benefit from this product too. 🙏

MY REVIEW:

My overall experience with this product was a good one. I put it to the test in the Colorado mountains skiing and on a local outdoor photography excursion in the late afternoon sun.

The first impression that this product gave me when I opened the box was one of intrigue. I pulled it out of the box and noticed that it is extremely light. The reflective material caught my eye in a good way and their marketing material was an interesting read too. I like the clever marketing play on space suit technology and how they have adapted that into their product. However, this product isn’t just for astronauts.

Build quality on this product seems to be good. Stitching is solid and burly while both the outer and inner materials are excellent. Two sewn in tabs at the top make it very easy to open and close the Phoozy, even with gloves on. The velcro just inside the opening at the top is strong and grippy as you would expect.

As far as drop protection goes, I did accidentally drop the product with a phone inside from a height of about 3 feet. However, it was difficult to tell how protective it really was because my phone already had a case on it, inside the Phoozy. There was absolutely no damage to the phone or the Phoozy when I dropped it.

I did not get a chance to float their claim of the capsule being buoyant in water. This could be a benefit if using it while boating in the summertime or while at the neighborhood pool, but I would recommend having a thin, waterproof case on the phone in addition to the Phoozy. The Phoozy is not fully waterproof, only water resistant, so be aware of that.

Overall, I would highly recommend this product for outdoor, winter activities in the cold.

I would also like to see a larger Phoozy produced for storing up to 5 DJI Mavic Air drone batteries. This would be a huge benefit during the winter in the backcountry.

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PRO TIP:

In a pinch, when your phone is not inside the Thermal Capsule™, place your phone camera face down on top of the padded Phoozy to protect the camera lens. It can double as a comfy little bed for your mobile phone while at your desk.

RATING:

👍 Lightweight, padded design at an affordable price.

Definitely extends the life of the phone battery in extreme cold and keeps the device from overheating in direct sun.

Thin to medium thick phone case can also be on your phone while using the Phoozy.

Tabs are great for ease of use and it has just the right amount of padding on the inside to protect your screen.

👎 Slick finish. I didn’t like the insecurity that I felt on the ski lift as I pulled it out of my pocket to change the music on my phone. The case felt like it was going to slide right out of my hand and fall out of bounds on the slope below.

SPECS:

  • Dimensions:  7″ x 4″
  • Materials:  Chromium shell™. This shell provides military grade protection from heat, cold and solar radiation. The Impactor Core Layer™ provides military grade drop protection and buoyancy in water. A Space Penetration Layer™ gives the shell durability and the Softtouch Protective Liner™ keeps your touch screen from getting scratched inside the capsule.
  • Protection:  Reflects more than 90% of the sun’s energy with military grade (810G 516.6) protection from solar radiation. Rated from 200°F to -32°F.
  • Note: This is not a phone cooler or heater. It prevents overheating in the sun and extends battery life in cold temperatures.

The Phoozy. I recommend you take one on your next outdoor adventure so that you get the optimal battery life out of your mobile phone.

➳ Phoozy provided products and associated materials for this review. All photos are a courtesy of LaGuardia Adventure Photography.