MindShift Gear’s UltraLight Dual 36L Photography Daypack Overview
The MindShift UltraLight Dual 36L is a well designed photography daypack giving much attention to detail. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and versatile. It is made to be an adventure day pack which, in my experience on a couple short photography hikes, it handles quite well. The camera compartment can be accessed without fully taking off the pack. The zippers are smooth and the clips snappy. Even with thin gloves or chilled fingers, the pack is fully functional. The top lid serves as a lash point for bulky items such a jacket.
The UltraLight Dual 36L features a removable camera compartment (rainfly included for day pack and camera compartment), hydration bladder/ laptop sleeve, tripod mounting system, and more than enough space for a long day trip.
When the camera compartment is removed (which can be used separately as a shoulder bag), you can drop a trap door lining to form a single compartment. This essentially transforms the pack into a 36L pack with enough space for a 1-2 night backpacking trip.
In our opinion this pack is well worth the ~$200 price tag because of its versatility and build quality. I can see myself using this bag for many different applications both photographic and casual. Many pros and, dare I say, virtually no cons.
In this review I’ve challenged the utility of the UltraLight Dual 36L by using it on day hikes, plane travel, and street photography. For a full list of features take a look at MindShift Gear’s Website (http://www.mindshiftgear.com/products/ultralight-dual-36l). Here are some of features worth discussing.
Rating Scale (1-Terrible 2-Subpar 3-OK 4-Good 5-Excellent)
- This pack can hold a lot (about 1 full frame DSLR, 3 standard zoom lenses, and hiking gear). It’s big enough to handle most applications for enthusiasts and professionals and small enough to still use when not full.
- The most versatile pack that I have seen and it fulfills its expectations thoroughly. It can be used as a photography daypack, overnighter backpack, or a shoulder bag. Rain or shine.
- I see this bag holding up for years even in consistent use in thick brush and occasional abrasion with hard rough rocks.
- It’s basically 3 bags in 1. You will find many uses for it. I highly recommend it.
- The padding on the shoulders, hips, and back is thin but still feels substantial. Compression straps minimizes bulk and keeps the load secure. My main concern was that it did not expel back perspiration very well.
Removable camera compartment
The Ultralight Dual 36L features a removable camera compartment large enough for a full frame DSLR, 2-3 lenses, and a few small accessories. I comfortably carry a Nikon D810, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, and a point and shoot with some accessories. It can be removed and used separately as a shoulder bag or in conjunction with the main pack by attaching to the waist belt.
This feature is adequate for a day shooting and exploring a city although the aesthetic is not ideal for street photography. The ergonomics are surprisingly comfortable. I think this is one of the most valuable features of this bag because of how convenient a shoulder bag is in both photographic and casual applications.
The benefit of using the beltpack is twofold: 1.) Camera compartment is readily accessible and 2.) Overall carrying capacity is increased. Setting up the beltpack did not feel smooth but there might be a slight learning curve. I found hiking with the beltpack also required the shoulder strap to keep the camera compartment secure. This feature felt a bit clumsy as it obstructs one of the arms from a natural resting position and I felt there were too many straps around my body.
I like having a lot of pockets and my first impression of this bag is that it does not have enough. However, after using this bag for two weeks I found that there are just the right amount to be effectively organized.
- 3 external pockets:
- Large zippered pocket in the top lid
- Elastic side pocket for a bottle
- Small hip pocket
- 2 internal pockets:
- Mid-sized pocket in main compartment
- Small mesh zippered pocket in camera compartment
Tripod mounting system
Works better than expected. The tripod mounts to the middle of the pack which provides balance. The clips have locking mechanisms on them that prevent them from loosening while moving. The straps can be tucked away when not in use.
Hydration bladder/ laptop sleeve
I did not feel comfortable putting my laptop in the sleeve when the pack was full. I felt that the pressure from the weight of the pack on my back could damage my 13” MacBook Pro.
- Extremely versatile
- Laptop sleeve questionable
- Aesthetic not suitable for street photography
- Beltpack concept needs refining