Gura Gear Uinta Backpack

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Gura Gear Uinta Backpack

A few years back, I tested out a Gura Gear Battaflae 26L backpack and at the time I didn’t find it any better than the ThinkTANK backpack I was using at the time so I returned it.  Recently, Gura Gear released a new pack called the Uinta that was a departure from their normal designs.  Honestly, it was a lot like the F- Stop packs with interchangeable gear modules you can insert inside.

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Now with my recent test of the F-Stop Tilopa BC, you might think I’d be nuts to try out a similar pack in my quest for the best backpack for my gear…and I kind of felt nuts when I called Gura Gear!  Something in my head kept telling me the Uinta just might work though, so I gave it a shot.  I was thinking that if I could set it up the way I was thinking in my head, it might be perfect for my annual landscape photography trips to the Smokies and Cuyahoga Valley.

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I’m glad I did.

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The Uinta, (while appearing smaller and sleeker than the F-Stop pack that gave me such a hard time fitting gear into), just seemed to swallow up all my gear. The cool design of the lower section opening to the small module and the upper section opening to the medium module worked out great.  I was able to put my Fuji X-T1 and Fuji 14mm, 18-55mm, 60mm Macro, and 55-200mm lenses into the small module.  In the medium module I got the Nikon D4 and Nikon 16-35mm and 24-70mm lenses, Tamron 90mm Macro lens, and the Fuji’s Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens.  I didn’t need to get the Nikon 70-200mm lens in because I’m not planning on taking that lens for the main use for this pack – landscape photography.  With some adjustment, I can get it in there though if I decide later on down the road to carry that lens.

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Well, so far so good. After putting in batteries, filters, diffuser, cable releases, Leatherman tool, headlamp, Giottos rocket blower, etc. I then had to see how the pack fit me…something the F-Stop Tilopa simply didn’t do…something the MindShift Rotation 18o kind of did though not super comfortably…and something the Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 and Flipside Sports did really well.  I’m very pleased to report that the Uinta fit and seems as comfortable as a pack with that much gear can be!  The ergonomic design of the shoulder straps is the best I’ve ever seen on a camera backpack.  They are really light weight, but really strong and also are probably the most “breathable” straps I’ve ever seen on a backpack – as is the back panel of the pack.  The waist belt is great as well – plenty of room for adjustment, and has great attachment “strips” on both sides…you can attach an item like a Molle attachment point, or in a way that allows you to slide it back and forth the whole length of the strip – a really nice touch.   I got the THS attachment with the pack, but unless I decide to put a water bladder in it, I probably won’t use it because I normally don’t like to carry my tripod that way – I use a pretty big FLM carbon fiber tripod and it’s easier to just carry it than have it attached to a pack.

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Since adding a second Fuji X-T1 body, I have been transitioning to using the Fuji X kit for just about all my shooting with the exception of wildlife photography or anything I would feel the speed and superior autofocus of the Nikon kit would work better for.  I’ve started using the Uinta to carry my complete Fuji X kit.  The small module on the bottom carries an X-T1 with a lens (usually either the 18-55 or 10-24) and holds all the batteries and a small tool kit.  The medium module in the top holds the second X-T1, usually with the 55-200 lens attached though every now and then it will have the 60 Macro on.  All the other X-system lenses are in this module as well, with a rocket blower and filters.  The outside pockets hold various items like a BlackRapid Metro strap, water bottle, etc.  The Uinta might be looked at as overkill for a kit the size of the Fuji kit, but it is very comfortable for that use, and nothing needs to be “crammed in”.

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 The pack has replaced the Pro Trekker 400 as my main pack…as much as I like the Pro Trekker, the fact that the Pro Trekker opens  on the front rather than the back  makes it less than ideal for me.  I like the packs that open on the back – it’s safer and keeps you cleaner since the side you place on the ground doesn’t go back against your body when you put the pack back on!  Plus, the Uinta is much lighter in weight than the PT 400 – empty it weighs about the same as the Uinta does with the Fuji kit in the small  module!  All in all, I am really happy with the Uinta…now if only Gura Gear made it available in other colors besides black like their other packs. I’d love to see a red version eventually as well!

 

me & Uinta

Me scrambling up some rocks looking for a shooting angle wearing the Uinta.

 

UPDATE 5/1/2104

I just returned from a 7-day trip through the Great Smoky Mountains where I used the Uinta pack exclusively to haul around my  X-system and couldn’t have been happier with it.  It was very comfortable, held everything I needed, and was great to work out of.  I carried the following gear:

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– two Fuji X-T1 bodies with L-Brackets, Fuji 10-24mm lens, Fuji 18-55mm lens, Fuji 55-200mm lens, Fuji 60mm Macro lens, Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens, seven spare batteries, remote control, BlackRapid Metro strap, B+W polarizing filters for all three Fuji zooms, 72mm Vari-ND filter and step rings for the 18-55 & 55-200 lenses, headlamp, small pouch with tripod wrenches, 2 water bottles (in side mesh pockets), 10 extra SD cards in a ThinkTANK SD Pocket Rocket, several microfiber cloths, FLM Carbon Fiber Tripod with ballhead, and a 20″ round diffuser (the kind you twist in a figure-8 to fold up).

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The Uinta took a beating – I was constantly putting it on and taking it off, laying it on the ground or on rocks I was climbing on.  The materials it is made of are great for field use – the pack looks as good now as it did when I got it.  The shoulder straps and waist straps are super comfortable.  The zippers opened and closed easily everytime.  Though I didn’t use the THS attachment to carry my tripod, I did leave it attached to the pack because it’s tough, strong material is nice when laying the pack down on the ground or rocks when putting gear in and out.  You can also slip a jacket in between the THS and the pack and cinch it down to carry it.  I even ran into Tony Sweet while I was out shooting one day & he was carrying his Uinta too – I made sure to thank him for bringing the pack to my attention.

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