As a bag maker myself, choosing a bag for myself from the seemingly endless variety out there in 2016, including looking back over previous years seasons, is an arduous task to say the least. It basically means research and meta research.
The Arc’Teryx Arro 22 bag is not perfect for my needs, but it does fulfill a few of the criteria I required such as a stiff back panel and robust design with robust materials that are tried true and tested.
My need for this pack are as a 2nd version every day pack for essentials, then for work and then for groceries.
I am a documentary filmmaker & I carry a basic two camera interview setup at all times:
I carry two mirrorless cameras with lenses, a Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder and two fistfuls of accessories to make that all go, that lot fits into a Domke F-5Xb which nestles in the bottom of the pack and under that I have cut a 1 inch thick piece of high impact foam to compliment the foam already in the pack’s base -take this into consideration as I talk about what else I put in this bag. Additionally I have an 11″ MacBook Air in an STM sleeve case, two external drives a thimbleful of accessories power and cables. Sometimes Ill even take non folding Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
I also carry a Sirui tabletop tripod and occasionally a full-sized micro tripod (Sirui T025X). All of this fits into my Cilogear 20L Worksack (which truthfully, is probably more like a 16-17L).
With all that in there, I would say the Arro is about 50-60% full. If I need to get groceries on the way home, I can grab the trifecta of veggies, a pound of flesh a small tub of yogurt, butter and a handful of treats from the bulk section, & that will all fit into the main compartment. The “bubble” as I like to call it, is an added bonus on this pack. I believe that 22L is the main compartment size, and the bubble is probably another 6-10L (my dimensional reasoning escapes me here). At the bottom it holds a fist size ziploc with daily essentials. After that a 1L Platypus ‘bag’ of water, lightweight jacket & cap.
What I wasn’t expecting with the Arro 22 is how high the pack rides when on a bike. Even full, it sits higher then I would expect given the strap engineering and location on the back panel. I suspect it’s because it is a narrow long pack. The bottom ridge, I tend to nestle on the top of my jeans belt. This isn’t a major problem for 10 mile round trip rides in Seattle but if I were going on a camping bike trip, I might have to look at other bags I have.
Like I said, it’s a long narrow pack, which makes it good in busy urban environments, and for getting through crowds. The bottom of the bag is wider, so it does hold more than you would think it should.
I’ve already been in a prolonged heavy rainstorm and it kept its contents dry.
The straps are thick, which is not the current thinking on packs today, however, they are very comfortable with load or not. The strap adjusters help to keep the straps present when not in use, so picking up the bag via the top handle and swinging it over your head to put on your back is the easiest I’ve experienced on any pack including my own *flawless* pack designs.. The bag just belongs on your back.
The high density back panel is very sturdy and very comfortable. There is a small hardly discernible curve on the lumbar which makes the pack extremely comfortable (I have scoliosis & it’s still extremely comfortable). There is a removable PVC panel which I have tried with and without, the added weight is a non issue but the benefits of having added rigidity is priceless. The additional hip-panels also contribute to this comfort.
I will say, that in hot weather, you will sweat heavily into the back panel, and I could foresee this as being a problem in hot weather, and the material will soak up sweat like a sponge. I may modify my pack by adding two 2″ disks of foam at the lumbar area to a stand-off position.
As far as Hydration Packs go, well that is kinda weird on this bag. There is a long narrow elastic mesh pocket in the inside of the back panel, but there is no hook to hang it from, so you have to rely on the hydration pack’s own integrity to stay put. I was already using a Hydrapak 2L, which, incidentally is similar to what Arc’Teryx show on their website; a pack with a bridge lock top closure that simply rests on the top of the mesh pocket ~we will see how well that elastic top stands up to use after a year of wrestling..
The side pockets are ‘meh’ really not enough for a water bottle, but fine for whatever you can fit into them. Some is elastic & and loop for a carabiner, and the other has superman grade velcro which holds tight whatever you put into it (we will see how well that is in a year of heavy (ab)use.
I’m surprised I actually had so much to say about this bag, but so far and envisioning 5 years from now, I suspect I will still love this bag. Arc’Teryx are the Apple of backpacks, with astounding functional design backed up by gorgeous aesthetics.
I purchased mine at Berg’s who had the lowest price available at the time and really lovely customer service.
I love and respect all of the people I photograph on the streets. I see you, and I see you in the fragmented moments when you are off guard, unaware, and existing in the space between consciousness and biology.
To my heroes, my street loves; my respect, always.
Imagine yourself as a cinematographer, tasked with the job of making iconic scenes with your camera.
The producer is watching you closely, because you are the one who realizes the dream. You are under pressure to make the world wow to your brilliance.
You have to be conscious in the moment, conscious behind the camera, aware and awake to make opportunities for yourself and exploit them further.
Take your time, instead of making one image make 5 or 7. Move around, look at the place you are in, think dimensionally.
Watch the elements as they move, snap the moments as they occur, add your own control factors, manage the scene without interfering in it.
Know your lens, and know what the image will look like you’ve taken it.
Be conscious in the viewfinder, even if it isn’t at your eye.
Shoot to complement the thoughts in your mind, not the other way around.
I’ve lived in Seattle since November 25th 2004, and in that time I have seen some slow changes, lost touch with a lot of people who moved on, disappeared left town etc. It’s really not until 2013 that the physical changes happened in the city that I could start to think I was living in a dynamic place.
I came to the US with an expectations of grandeur.
I was really surprised when I got to New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and DC and was hit in the face with the fact that these were aging cities, and the sense that the people living there, really didn’t have much actual control or say over anything that went on, because democracy got in the way. Id assumed the US was bright shiny and new.
As a European, I had always grown up with places that were maintained and there was a real sense of local pride and everyone was involved in it.
Over the years and traveling around, I’ve seen enough of it to tell me that this country is definitely a continent in decline. A place strangled by conservative values, and disregard for everything except money.
The US is definitely not a place I want to grow old in, and yet, I don’t know where else there is now that hasn’t adopted the same capitalistic values, and with that the utterly destructive nature of that which is held in high regard: individualism.
In sorry to say that it’s only now, 25 years into my career, that I am becoming aware of Ernst Haas. The publicly available repertoire of the man’s photography is immense. His philosophies of remaining independent and never adhering to a dedicated style are self evident.
A quote from the Ernst Haas Estate website affirms to me, now 25 years on, that my personal belief and instinct were correct all along;
“Still, I don’t want to declare there are no highways of fruitful directions. In learning there are. Follow them, use them and forget them. Don’t park. Highways will get you there, but I tell you, don’t ever try to arrive. Arrival is the death of inspiration. Beware of direct inspiration. It leads too quickly to repititions of what inspired you. Beware of too much taste as it leads to sterility. Refine your senses through the great masters of music, painting, and poetry. In short, try indirect inspirations, and everything will come by itself.”
Be aware of forward inspiration, but reverse-engineer everything, think backwards and look for the defining characteristics and recurring foundations in everything. Everything else is just dressing.
“…the act of thinking thoroughly through a scene and preempting a moment to capture it, comes with experience. The experience shows when is the right moment to take the shot. Because the shot is a legacy of that decision…”