Just under a year ago, I received a call from my friend Dewitt Jones telling me I needed to check out this cool new camera bag he was using. “It was made for you!” he exclaimed. The bag Dewitt was referring to was the new MindShift rotation 180 Professional and anything that Dewitt takes the trouble to give me a call about, I take seriously.
I have been kicking the tires on my new rotation 180 pro for the last week and am thoroughly impressed. I would venture to say it is the greatest leap forward in camera bag technology since the Domke F2.
Here is why…
What makes this bag unique
The rotation 180 pro is designed as a low profile pack, large enough to carry any gear I need in the field. The weight distribution of my camera gear is as good as any internal frame pack I have used backpacking, and the pack’s low profile makes it excel on steep and dicey terrain by keeping the weight of the pack close to my back and my center of balance. Besides its excellent weight distribution, three innovations set this bag apart from all others:
1. The rotation hip pack
The hip pack is designed to tuck into the backpack when I am trekking, climbing or biking – yet with a flick of my right hand, I can release a magnetic latch and swing the hip pack around to the front of my body without having to remove the backpack. The hip pack is sized to fit 1 pro DSLR body – like a Nikon D4 – and 3-4 pro mid range lenses, OR 1 pro DSLR body with a telephoto lens like the 70-200mm f2.8 or 80-400mm f4-5.6 attached. As a bonus, the waist strap on the hip pack is designed to accommodate an additional lens bag or my Peak Design CapturePro Clip.
2. The rear gear flap on the main bag
If I need quick access to more gear than what will fit in the hip pack, the rotation 180 pro’s design makes it possible to take the shoulder straps off and rotate the entire pack around to the front of my body with the hip belt still attached and supporting the pack’s weight. The bag then leans forward and an ingenious rear panel allows access to all the gear I have inside the upper compartment of the bag – without having to put the bag on the ground.
If I wish to use the upper compartment of the pack for food, clothing or climbing gear – the camera insert slides out easily leaving room for other types of gear. The pack also sports a side zip pocket for a hydration bag like the osprey 2-quart bladder.
3. The tripod suspension kit – pure genius!
In my opinion, the above two features are game changers – but the tripod suspension kit is pure genius. Until this point in my life, I had four choices for carrying my tripod in the field. I could a) throw it over my shoulder, b) carry it in a dedicated tripod bag slung over my back like a ninja sword, c) strap it to the bottom/top/side of whatever pack I am using, or d) make my wife/assistant/personal slave carry it. While the rotation 180 ships with attachment straps to strap the tripod onto the rear of the pack, the tripod suspension kit gives me an extremely comfortable way to carry the tripod while it is in the ‘deployed’ position. If I am moving a short to medium distance between shot setups – the suspension kit will carry the weight of the deployed tripod at my side during the walk. It accomplishes this thanks to two long straps attached to the front of the pack’s shoulder straps that clip to an attachment point near the tripod’s head. The kit comes with a piece of webbing I was supposed to wrap around the tripod head as the attachment point – but I opted to tie some 4mm Perlon cord from REI between two of my tripod legs to give the straps a more permanent attachment point (see photo below).
Next time I am shooting an adventure assignment, this pack will be carrying my gear. Its quick access to my camera via the rotating belt pack and smartly designed rear access panel and tripod suspension kit are so awesome that I am sad this design wasn’t released ten years ago.
For a visual on the pack in action, here is a quick overview from MindShift:
Here is a short video overview of the ingenious Tripod Suspension Kit: