One of my favourite Backpacks
Boreas Lost Coast 45L & 60L
Although it's doesn't seem to be a small backpack actually it is perfect for day, weekend or even some multi-day hikes. Packing down small but it can take an amazing amount of gear when necessary and still carries well. I have to admit that prior to commencing my search for a Daypack (between 35L & 50L) to accompany my main pack (a Gregory Baltoro 85L, now a Lowe-Alpine Cerro Torre 65+20L) I had never heard of Boreas – and yet I found I could order them here too, I'm currently residing in China (probably because they are made here – as most packs are) and mine arrived within 2 days of ordering.
Boreas are a very young Californian company that specialises in clever and innovative touches to their packs as well as having some of the best colour-ways I’ve ever seen ! At least to my eyes. The 45L coming in a Black/Grey/Blue model or a two tone Red, a Blue & Yellow or a Green/Yellow/Grey version. They also have, my favourite, a lovely Trukhee Green. The Lost Coast comes in 30L, 45L and 60L capacities. Note that as I bought this bag back in 2019 is has now been superceded but you might still get lucky finding it somewhere - or buy their latest models.
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As a keen photographer I had some key criteria for my Daypack :-
* Between 35L and 50L (45L+10L also good)
* Must have panel access (full U zip, J zip or side zip) – more on this below !
* Must be able to strap a tripod to the pack – preferably down the middle to maintain
* Must be able to be used as an Airline Carry-On. So not taller than 22” / 56 cms when
compressed (in case the airline staff want to measure it). Width / Depth not really an issue
unless you are over-stuffing it !
* Must have Hiking Pole holders and preferably more tool securing points/loops.
* Must have ample pockets, including hip belt pockets and preferably a large centre stuff
or zip pocket (so this rules out most mountaineering packs).
* Carry weight should exceed 14kgs / 31 Ibs, photographic gear can be heavy.
* Must have some form of airflow / breathing suspension, as my back
sweats plenty when hiking.
* Must be able to carry a 3L Hydration Pack
* Must have a substantial length Hip Belt to ensure a good fit around my ample waist** (max. on this belt is around 45-46" maximum.
Some brands are inexplicably stingy in this regard, thereby excluding people of a certain size. The Osprey Atmos 50L (large) for example, was a tight fit, Gregory are the same. **I've lost a lot of weight the past 2 years so it fits even better now
* Can’t weigh more than ca. 1.5 kgs / 3.3 Ibs !
The Lost Coast 45L meets all of this criteria bar the panel access point (I would however point people towards buying the 60L as it is virtually the same size but with an extended neck). I was able to look past this because of the very large, elasticated pocket on the back (as you wear it) and due to its protective rain-flap at the top (another nice touch) or if preferred the very large Top Lid pocket - having maybe even easier access.
The pack lid showing 4 loops to attach items to the top of the pack, the large zipper pulls making it easy to grab with gloves on – or for those of us stricken with innate clumsiness (raises hand)!
And note in particular the 3 straps that when loosened, will enable you to detach the top lid, either for a weight saving, to keep your valuables with you perhaps, or just to reduce the size for an airline carry-on (though it should be fine without the need to do this). Click here to go back to the quick menu links for this post.
Suspension The Lost Coast has an excellent suspension system, not as well padded, or heavy or difficult to stow, as those on some Ospreys and Gregorys (including my Baltoro 85L) but more than sufficient for a pack of this size and carrying capacity.
Hip Belt Pockets
2 x Hip Belt pockets with same excellent zipper pulls as used elsewhere on the pack.
The pockets are wired to help maintain their shape and are amongst the most spacious on any pack I’ve seen.
Note also the belt Tension Looseners, also in the form of ring pulls, which immediately dramatically loosen the belt, as and when required.
The top of the main compartment also has a zipper that when opened shows the pocket contains the Frame Sheet, which can be removed to condense the bag, lighten the weight or to just use the bag for lighter tasks that don’t require such a powerful suspension system. It can now literally fold in half.
A brilliant bag that I’m so glad I ordered at the last moment, after having bought and returned the extremely well –built and substantial Osprey Atmos 50L, and also put a deposit down with a local retailer (which was returned without any issue) on the just as excellent and light-weight Lowe Alpine Sky 38L. The Lost Coast however, for my purposes, beats them both hands down.
For photography I can easily fit my large Nikon DSLR D800e & Wide Angle lens the Tamron 15-30/2.8 into either the large stretchy front pocket or the larger pocket in the top lid. A padded camera/lens container (another camera and e.g. 4-5 lenses) goes into the pack (with tons of space for anything else from an overnight tent/sleeping bag etc. to just spare clothing), anywhere in the pack is fine, though you might want to pack it properly (low, centre and close to your spine) for serious trekking.
The tripod can be attached by virtue of small carabiners and any sort of stretchy, or fixed length, cord, to the daisy chains on both sides. Or use the hiking pole loops and the compression straps or even the 4 loops on the top lid.
In Use : Abu Dhabi & Iceland
Note also used on a trip to Nepal, in the Himalayas to 6,000m, then on trips to Myanmar, Bhutan, Malaysia and China: I picked up the 60L Lost Coast (and got a free 55L Buttermilk bag!) before I went to Nepal. It was, as per the 45L in Iceland, brilliant with nary a worry or anything that let me down. It isn't that much larger than the 45L though so I'd always buy the 60L. On the bed before packing I actually got them mixed up ! Boreas make great bags I've gotta say.
I used it almost daily for a month (all flights / 4 days in Abu Dhabi + 3 weeks in Iceland) as a carry-on / city tourist tote bag / hiking backpack (for up to ca. 15kms a day). I have a larger bag for longer hikes / heavier loads but this one is still easily capable for overnighters/weekends too and I never needed to use the Gregory 85L
All zips are strong and sturdy - the ring pulls on the zips make opening closing them a cinch, no fiddling around looking for the standard zip pull.
The two pockets on the outside of the hood are incredibly useful (I regularly used one for a D800E + Tamron 15-30 in a soft polyurethane protective camera case). Interior pocket in the hood used for money/passport etc.
I wish the hood was easier (read quicker) to detach, though I didn't have a single issue in boarding / storing on any plane. In fact in most it didn't even need to be stored sideways.
The materials used repelled dirt and water very well, even without a cover (which was supposed to be included but mine didn't have). The cavernous front centre pocket was great and I could also store the camera combination mentioned above in here.
The very large side-pockets were excellent (the very stretchy material used in the centre and side pockets is brilliant).
I didn't ever feel sweaty or uncomfortable carrying the bag - the adjustment pulls and belt work very well. The two 'quick release' pulls on the belt are great ! Just pull both sides and the belt immediately loosens to it's maximum making unclipping so easy.
The very large two belt pockets carry tons of bits and pieces, energy bars (I think I can get 4-5 in one pocket), GPS, phone etc. etc.
Love the 'quick release' pull on the main compartment too.
I used the hiking pole straps on both sides of the bag to attach my Manfrotto tripod. This worked very well and enabled quick attach and release. The hiking poles were always in my hands when the tripod was on the bag. I could have used the daisy chains too but it wasn't necessary.
I did find some of the clips a bit small for large hands and sometimes a bit fiddly to undo. Note to Boreas - please enlarge !
Due to the superb exterior carrying options I didn't miss having a C or U zip in the slightest (my biggest worry before the trip - though my Gregory has these and I could have used that one if necessary).
Typically on the day hikes (I hike alone) I would carry (when not in use the cameras/lens/filters were stored in a foam ICU and kept in the main compartment - except the combinations in use stored in an outside pocket as described) :
Nikon D800E / Tamron 15-30 / Zeiss 100 / Sony A7 / 55f1.8 / 28f2 / Manfrotto tripod / Sirui ballhead / Benro square filter system with ca. 4-6 square filters / 2L water / snacks / torch / trowel / emergency 1st aid kit and bivvy / Garmin / RAB -30C down jacket / gaiters / Toggs waterproof trousers / Gerber knife / Leatherman / metal compass / Steripen / spare batteries / Salomon Rain jacket and Croc wading sandals / microfibre towel and ...... hand carry a 300/2.8 with TC (I'm a birder too) !
Overall an A+ for this bag - Highly Recommended. I would have no hesitation buying more Boreas bags for sure.
Boreas Lost Coast 45L (Large)
As weighed at home : 1.245 kgs / 2.74 Ibs
Removable Top Lid.
210D ripstop nylon body with UTS impregnated silicone coating and a tough 420D nylon bottom.
Lifetime guarantee from Boreas.
Q&A from my forum post on Fred Miranda ;
Q1. Is this a backpack that can take cameras rather than one made for cameras? I am thinking of the individual internal pockets.
A1. It is a hiking backpack. Therefore most pockets tend to be on the outside and the inside is usually just one large space (plus often a hydration pocket).
My view on the likes of F-Stop etc. (after inspecting them thoroughly here in Shanghai) is that if I'm out hiking or camping then I'd want a proper backpack with features built for hiking and carrying loads. It's easy to buy cheap ($10 - $30 depending on size, waterproofing etc.) Chinese lens/camera protectors, similar to the F-Stops inserts, in a variety of sizes and just choose the one you require for that particular day/weekend. They are very cheap and work perfectly.
That is what I currently do (if not shooting an event etc. in which case I use a dedicated camera bag). My 'system' isn't for everyone but you can get a fantastic backpack (whether Boreas, Osprey, Lowe-Alpine Cerro Torre, Gregory, Jack Wolfskin Highland Trail etc. etc.) which is going to be kinder to your back and make hiking far easier (and just add those inserts for your camera gear) for massive savings compared to the inflated prices dedicated camera bags cost. Your back is way more important than having a specially designed camera pack.
There is easy storage & access to camera & lenses and it's very easy to strap on a tripod (and much much more) where required.
Q2. I'm really struggling with finding packs that have reasonable exterior access options. I liked a friend's F-Stop Loka but the hip belts and breath-ability were distinctly Not Great. Unfortunately, the rest of the accessibility on the pack was terrific, including lots of storage pockets for organization.
Having done quite a lot of hiking with my Osprey pack and photo gear, I'm really tired of going through the dance of pulling apart everything in the big compartment just because I need another lens. It's that or carry the gear in a sub-optimal location in the pack (near the outside/top). I think this is exacerbated by the fact that I often want to shoot in a "documentary" way - capturing what I see along the way rather than setting up.
I quite liked my F-Stop Guru for more casual day-hikes. Nice compartmentalization, you can get at the camera gear separately from hiking gear... but it's almost as if they deliberately designed it to insulate your back as much as possible.
A2. When I'm expecting to take shots whilst hiking I had two options of where to stow the D800E/15-30 (my most used lens by far on the trip to Iceland), either in one of the hood top pockets or in the very expansive front pocket. Both meant easy, quick, access - just swing the bag off and access the pocket where the camera was stowed. Note that anyone using cameras that are slightly smaller & lighter (I now use Sony ML cameras so these are a perfect example), compared to the huge 1kg Tamron 15-30 on the Nikon D800e, would have absolutely zero issue with utilising the same pockets. Q3. What do you use to protect your gear when it's in the outside pockets? A3. They are usually in one of those cheap spongy Chinese polyurethane lens or camera covers - but when I'm shooting every few minutes then I don't even bother with that. Neither the top pocket nor front pocket come in contact with the ground the way I lay the bag down and both are out of the way and *shouldn't* come into contact with anything .... unless I fall over backwards ... during normal use!
It worked just fine all over those countries I mentioned above - so the Lost Coast 60L and storing the camera / lenses in use in those two pockets works great.
Q4. I don't much like packs with a whole lot of elastic on them. Also packs that bow out the back to "cool" the owner change the CG. To this day the best load bearing packs do not sport this "feature". A4. The proof is in the eating. I've carried up to 28 kgs in the 60L and it carried very well indeed - even climbing 90 degree verticals in it. Personally I *love* large stretchy pockets - so useful when I don't have to burrow into the bag to find something I need.