Carrying a lot of heavy camera equipment on an overnight hiking trip … is a little crazy. It’s just too much weight. For a three-day backpack trip, you might need to carry 35 to 40 pounds of food, clothes, and camping equipment. Add to that 8 to 12 pounds of cameras and lenses, then another 8 pounds for a tripod, you are then carrying 60 pounds. I do not recommend it. That being said, I will do it on occaision to photograph remote locations.
But how to carry all this stuff? “Photo backpack” sounds perfect, but truthfully, these things are designed to carry camera equipment and not much else. Photo backpacks cannot carry all the food, clothing and camping equipment for overnight trips. A hiker’s backpack is necessary. I use a large backpack, stuff a camera bag inside of that, then make daytrips from camp, carrying only the smaller photo bag.
In the past, my camera bag on these trips has been a waist pack plus a small day pack. In fact, the LowePro Orion AW actually comes with both (at least mine did years ago). The waist pack allows fast access to camera equipment without removing a pack from my back.
For my upcoming trip, I will be using a Kata 3N1. This bag quickly converts from a two-shoulder backpack to a one-shoulder sling. On top of that, it has a small compartment at the top, just big enough for lunch and a jacket. Compared to the Orion AW waist bag, the small 3N1-10 is about the same capacity, while the larger 3N1-30 has twice the capacity and still provides fast access to equipment.
My large backpack is an old Kelty Super Tioga external frame pack. Because most hikers today use internal frame packs, most don’t realize that an external frame pack is still a good option in some cases. Some people seem to believe that external frame packs are relics from WWI and no longer manufactured today. Of course, this is false. Just as an example, the ancient and venerable Super Tioga lives on in 2009, though the name has changed. I recently ordered a replacement hip-belt for my Super Tioga, which simply is not possible with an internal frame pack.