Mindshift Backlight 26L – A review

The Backlight 26L in it’s natural environment.


I’ve gotten to the point where I have outgrown the janky free Canon backpack that came with the camera kit I got a few years ago. I wanted something rugged, and easy to access for long hikes and sudden appearances of forest friends.  When I started asking around for a replacement, the name that kept popping up was ThinkTank.
But, as I looked into it, I found that they were made far more for photographers that are in a bit more of a controlled environment, or a place where they can get their needed gear out, and stow the bag away. I needed a bag that was going to get snagged on brambles, get splashed by waterfalls, and be scorched by the sun.
So, imagine my excitement when, after scrolling to the bottom of the ThinkTank website, I find that they have an entire line of outdoorsy bags under the moniker of Mindshift.

Half Dome from Sentinel Dome

I reached out to their team, told them what I was looking for in a bag, and was floored by their warm reception and was offered a Backlight 26L to check out.
Immediately, we took to putting it through its paces. We took it to the mountains, to Disneyland, to the Grand Canyon, and to our latest excursion to Yosemite National Park.
Seriously, it’s phenomenal. The pack is currently holding:
MeFoto Backpacker tripod
A Canon 5DMiii
Canon 24-70mm f2.8
Canon 70-200mm f1.8
Canon 50mm f1.4
Rokinon 12mm f2.8
Canon Speedflash 580ex
Three spare batteries
A “camera condom” (rain sleeve)
Two USB battery packs (for phones)
A TriggerTrap cable
Spare AAA/AA batteries
A multi-tool
Extra Peak Design cuff
Included rain jacket
Peter Storm rain jacket (for me, not the backpack)
Charger cables
A squeaky duck toy I use to shoot both kids’ birthdays and animals
Random pieces from my double-camera harness, allen wrenches, and lord know what else.

2+ miles into the Wapama Falls Trail

So, the Backlight has some fantastic features that lead me to rave about it.
Hip/sternum straps
This was the major feature I wanted. In hiking with my janky little Canon bag, the chest strap was great, but it’s small size and lack of hip straps left me sore as could be. The Mindshift bag had both a larger capacity for gear and a padded hip strap, allowing for my 5 mile hike to Wapoma Falls in Hetch Hetchy to finish with no real aches and pains other than those related to the FIVE FREAKING MILE HIKE I JUST UNDERTOOK IN 90+ DEGREE WEATHER.
Tripod straps
The straps/weird pocket for the tripod were fantastic. We took the Backlight to Hetch Hetchy, Glacier Point, and up Sentinel Dome, and each place I was able to set up my kit to take a low f-stop, low ISO shot that tried to take in all the grandeur I possibly could, and because of the Backlight, I was able to carry everything and still keep my hands free. RAD.
The weird access from the back-thing
Hands down my favorite feature is the ability to access ALL of my gear without taking the Backlight off. With just the hipstraps on, you can spin the thing around and get into everything. We had a deer come near us in Yosemite Valley, and it took me less than a minute to get into my pack and switch lenses to my 70-200. While on the trail to Lower Yosemite Falls, we found that you can use a tree as a body and access the gear AND not have to carry it. How cool is that? (Spoiler: VERY COOL).

Cal found my squeaky duck


Overall, this pack is absolutely perfect for an entry-mid-level photographer who wants to take a fair amount of gear with them onto a hiking/backpacking trip. I have nothing to take away from this pack, so it most certainly gets a 10/10.

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