Friday, 26 September 2008

Kinesis Journeyman field report

Yours truly in action in Ladakh, August 2008, photo by Caroline le Barbier
Notes on the backpack: on my left, the brown bag carries my tripod, left strap has a carabiner to hold hydration tube in place, right hip has water bottle pouch, strap hanging to my right is the camera stabiliser strap. camera not shown on chest - it's taking the picture.

Following my initial observations on the Kinesis Journeyman backpack system, here is a field report/review after using it on my trip to Ladakh.

How I used it

By way of an introduction, it's worth mentioning how I used the various components throughout the trip. As I mentioned before, I bought a buch of stuff with a number of possible configurations. This is the great strength of the Kinesis gear. As I was new to the kit, and the trekking was a new way to carry gear, I was keen to try as many options as possible.

These are the main uses I had:

Belt & pouches as a walk-around
Hydration pack as a sling pack
Internal pouch as a shoulder bag
Journeyman fully kitted as a daypack

All numbers are the Kinesis product numbers.

Observations on the small stuff

Belt kit - comfortable, stable and easily set-up. I'd prefer the attachment points to be aligned so I can fit a triple-wide (like the internal pouch) central on the belt. Having said that, I'm inclined to get a double wide anyway (see more on that later). typically I used just an A126 pouch and water bottle.

Hydration pack - I attached a shoulder strap from another bag, and added the water bottle pouch to the outside. This made a useful sling-pack, good for carrying food/water, light jacket etc on a short day, or for a spot of shopping around town.

Internal pouch (Vo90)- a nice, all-day touristing shoulder bag. Again I used a shoulder strap from another bag. I carried the Zeiss Ikon, 20D, 2nd lens, water, light jacket plus usual small stuff (batteries, cards, film etc). Worked well - nice size for a small outfit. I could have easily added the small pouch for some extra storage.

The Journeyman pack in action

Fitting & size - I found the fitting to be a bit on the large size but comfortable. I'd reckon that you need to be about 2" taller than Kinesis recommends for the large harness. Likewise belt sizes are generous by about 2".

Weight distribution - excellent. The pack is stable, the belt sits nicely on the hips and the overall pack seems to get more comfortable with increasing load. Being able to attach the inner pouch at the top of the sack is a huge bonus for weight distribution.

Tripod - straps nicely to the side. i stuck the feet into the mesh pocket. I was carrying a Gitzo 0540 tripod (one of the really small ones) to cut domw on weight, but trials with my 3540LS have been successful, too. I'm not sure I'll ever use the feet pouch (T164).

Camera strap on harness - this was the big bonus. Having the camera always to hand meant I took more photos. It also meant I wasn't constantly removing the pack, which made it more comfortable. having it attached to the shoulder straps made the weight diappear. using a longer lens (like my 70-200 f/4) was a bit cumbersome when climbing as the lens hangs down a bit, but great with the 17-55.

Water carrying - using a hydration pack inside the sack meant i drank more during the day (a good thing, especially in hot weather at altitude) and again meant less pack removal. In cooler climes (like the UK) I wouldn't bother with the extra water bottle.

Overall comfort - probably the most comfortable day pack I've ever used (and I've owned a whole bunch). It carries a load of gear, is great for weight distribution and has enough options for any photographer. I'm really looking forward to my next LF outing as a result. Don't worry about the size, though - the cinch straps make light work of shrinking the thing when lightly loaded.

Other stuff - it was a breeze to strip down for airlines. I took off the belt and aluminium stays, giving a full-size carry-on. I could easily have stripped it down further if needed. I'm inclined to get a lens pouch to put on the hip belt. Then I can have easy access to a 17-55 and a 70-200. With an LF in tow as well, that would be a good set-up.

Negative points

Not many, really. I wish there was a way to attach pouches inside the front pocket. It's qutie a large space and small stuff rattles around a bit.
Sizing guidance is a bit off - I was OK but definitely borderline despite what Kinesis say.
Personally I prefer a sack with a top lid rather than zip closure, but I'm willing to compromise on that point.


An absolutely top pack. Rugged, well made, comfortable and good for photo gear plus your regular walking kit. As close to my ideal pack as I think I could get without building it myself. thoroughly recommended for those of you who like to do some serious walking and lug a bunch of camera gear around at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doonster, glad to have stumbled on your blog. That's a very comprehensive review! I was planning to write a review on the Journeyman; it looks like I might just point the way to your site.



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