Rotation180º Professional in
BELLA COOLA, British Columbia
St Elias Range USA
Mt Logan, Canada
THE SKI MOUNTAINEER !
LINK ALERT ! FIELD REVIEW "MINDSHIFT" ROTATION 180 PRO
This spring and early summer I had some ski expeditions lined up on the coast of British Columbia and as far away as the Mt St Elias Range in the USA.
These places are remote and difficult to reach. My goals were to acquire images and video in an incredible place that would require keeping up with elite athletes in motion and not be a liability to the situation.
One of my primary concerns with shooting this project was having a method to deploy my gear, shoot and stow without slowing down the nature of movement in a dangerous location. I attempted to modify some camera bags with little success. Eventually I recalled a review by Dan Carr on some MindShift products. I sourced out the review and the concept appeared to be a breakthrough in camera bag designs.
Many of the reviews I saw on line with the packs were very positive and detailed. I'm not going get into what can go in what pocket or different configurations of the accessories. Dan Carr did a fantastic job of a complete review and I will back up his findings.
My focus for this review will be on deployment in locations that are typically challenging and how the bag carries essentials for ski mountaineering or adventure sport in particular. My intention is to shed some light for the effectiveness of the Rotation Program outside of a studio review.
MindShift was founded by the creators of "ThinkTank" who are known for progressive camera bags and accessories. There are 2 flagship packs among other other accessories by Mindshift, the 22 litre R180 Panorama and it's big brother the 37.5 litre Rotation180º Professional.
A week before my departure for Bella Coola I anxiously waited for the Rotation 180 Pro to arrive.
If it did not live up to my hopeful expectations I would have to resort to my other system of taking a pack on and pack off, which is not super efficient with skis attached.
Soon enough I was unwrapping the pack with the Deluxe Configuration. This included extras's such as padded insert for extra lenses or camera body, top pocket, Tripod kit and extra attachment straps.
Immediately I was impressed by the build quality of the pack. Some have mentioned that it is a heavy bag but I believe there is a good balance of weight, comfort and durability in the design.
Many of the accessories on the bag are removable so it's simple to trim the fat and pair it down to only those that you need for a particular shoot.
At 6'2 in height my 1st concern was the length was on the short side but when I loaded the bag it felt right at home with the weight properly anchored across my back and distributed on my hips and shoulder straps.
The highlight of the rotation series is you never have to take the pack off to access the integrated camera waist pack. The magnetic quick release buckle allows the belt pack to slide out of it's stowed position for quick deployment of gear and accessories. Then the belt pack essentially becomes a great workstation for switching lenses and accessories.
For all my shoots I travelled with the padded insert in place but when it was "Go Time" it was removed and the technical mountain gear went in.
This mountain safety equipment is equally important as the camera gear. If the avalanche shovel, probes, Crampons, climbing skins, 30 meter rope, Ice axes, 1st aid kit, fluids, food, thermos and Insulating layer did not fit in I was back to square one.
One by one I slowly layered all these items in the pack. I was a bit pessimistic as I have other bags with larger capacity claims where I struggle to get all these in place.
I'm not a fan of hydration bladders with so many sharp tools around. It would spell disaster if my hydration kit was punctured or leaked so I prefer a 1 litre bottle. The empty hydration pocket proved to be an ideal place to stowe my shovel handle and Avalanche probe.
Soon enough the bag was filled but not stuffed.
All of the items listed above were in place and the waist pack contained a Canon 5D Mark 3, with a 16-35 and a 24-105 with a Zacuto Eyepeice attached. In addition I had 3 spare batteries, some chamois for drying, filters, lens cloths.
For Videographers I did occasionally use a Sony FS 700. The waist pack fit the body nicely however don't expect to have a lens attached, not a big deal unless you are on a run and gun shoot.
Each of my trips I have used the pack it has been tested it in some of the most difficult conditions and environment you can find anywhere on the planet. I climbed numerous mountains with skis attached to the bag with tripod and was truly surprised by how well it performed from day 1. I was committed to the system in Bella Coola as I had no alternative and immediately I knew this would be my go to bag for most shooting circumstances. It was the 1st trip where I could shoot the action and keep pace with the athletes without asking them to wait for me while I dealt with my equipment.
In the St Elias Range we towed heavy T-boggans with enough gear for 3 weeks of mountain travel and the Rotation 180 pro was loaded on my back for the long traverse. During this time no deficiencies in the pack were found.
A minor plus that I really like about the bag is it stands up on it's own when placed on the ground. Small detail but less exposure to the environment.
Now a review would not be valid unless I could provide some constructive criticism in the pack design.
Despite how robust the material is I found it did have a tendency for some breakdown and minor tearing in the material where my skis were attached. The avalanche shovel in it's compartment provides a rigid interface for the skis to slowly wear holes down in the fabric and if I'm correct in how I attached my skis that area could use some reinforced material in this area or caution when attaching skis. Most users will not be in a position to have this issue but it's worth noting.
In summary I highly recommend this bag for many reasons. The180 degree rotation is the most unique feature that sets it in a league of it’s own. The other features are well thought out and the bag should be at the top of your list if you are in the market for a new camera bag.
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