Calling Clik Elite’s products ‘camera bags’ is a bit of an understatement. So, consider the keyword in the title to be ‘adventure’ instead.
I ran into the guys from Clik Elite at PMA 2010, and they were kind enough to give me a rundown of their product line. As they showed me some of the features of the camera bags, I spent most of my time commentating with words like ‘cool’ and ‘oh, wow’.
Clik Elite bags are designed first and foremost for active photographers. If you just need to tote cameras and lenses from your typical point ‘A’ to your typical point ‘B’, then the Clik Elite gear is going to be way overkill for you. However, if point ‘A’ happens to be at the top of a snow-covered mountain, you have skis on your feet, and you intend to reach point ‘B’ at the bottom of the mountain via those skis, then you’ll probably dig these bags.
All of the Clik Elite bags are made of tough materials and have durable zippers. My initial impressions of these bags are that they are definitely high quality.
So, let’s talk about some of the main bags in the Clik Elite line.
Clik Elite Chestpack Series
The Chestpack series lets you keep your camera in front of you by strapping to you chest. These bags can be used alone, or in conjunction with Clik Elite backpacks. The bags also double as a shoulder/sling bag.
The Small Chestpack is designed for use with large point and shoot, rangefinder and small video cameras. When you open the bag’s zipper, you find an internal cradle that will keep the camera from falling out, along with an internal memory card organizer. There is also an external pocket for small accessories and batteries.
As the name implies the SLR Chestpacks are designed to carry a DSLR with a lens attached. These bags look a lot like the Lowepro Toploader series; however, the 4-point chest harness system sets them apart. The Medium-size SLR Chestpack can carry a standard DSLR, while the Large-size SLR Chestpack can carry a pro-DSLR or standard DSLR with battery grip attached. Both models will carry the camera with up to a 5.5″ lens attached. The top flap on the SLR Chestpack contains an external compartment for memory cards, batteries and other accessories.
Telephoto SLR Chestpack
Again, the name of Telephoto SLR Chestpack tells you what it does. This bag is basically the same as the SLR Chestpack; however, it’s designed to hold up to a pro-DSLR body with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached. It also adds a side pocket for lens caps or more accessories.
Clik Elite Outdoor Sports Series
The Outdoor Sports series lets you carry more gear than the basic camera lens combo found in the Chestpack series. Ranging from the small waistpack design to larger backpacks for multiple lenses and non-photo gear, the Outdoor Sports series covers most of the bases.
The Trekker Waistpack can be worn on the waist or converted to a shoulder bag. It will hold a standard DSLR with a kit lens attached, as well as another lens or flash. The Trekker Waistpack has movable dividers to arrange as you see fit for toting gear. As with the other Clik Elite bags, the main compartment opens away from you so that you can get easy access to your gear while you are wearing the bag. It also has plenty of accessory compartment and pouches. Another nice touch is the grab handle at the top so you can pick it up without fumbling with the strap while you are carrying to your car or whatever.
The Escape is a multipurpose backpack that is clearly an outdoors pack. While it can hold a pro-DSLR, along with several lenses, accessories and personal gear, the Escape also offers a hydration compartment that fits a 100 oz. bladder for serious trekkers, mountain bikers, and so on. Additionally, it has a tuck-away tripod attachment if you need to bring one along.
The Escape features built-in ChestPorts, which are used to attach the Chestpacks described above. As a result, this bag can become two-in-one, and handle some serious gear. The bag opens with one large compartment; however, the top can be flipped up to reveal just the camera, which can be removed from the bag without opening up the rest of it. The Escape has several outer and inner pockets and pouches for stowing photo accessories and other gear.
The Compact Sport is geared to the light-carry DSLR crowd. It has enough room for a DSLR with attached lens, and maybe an extra lens or flash. The camera compartment is a side-entry compartment, and is separate from the personal gear compartment, so you can toss in bike tools or other outdoor gear without worry of damaging your camera. The Compact Sport also has a tripod attachment, several external pockets and pouches, and a compartment for a 100 oz. bladder. Like the Escape, you can attach a Chestpack with the built-in Chestport.
This looks like a Camelbak made for mountain biking photographers. I usually wear a Camelbak M.U.L.E. when I ride. I like it for the 100 oz. bladder and the extra storage space for tubes, tools and Clif bars. Occasionally, I’ll take along an old point and shoot camera; however, I hate mix anything nice in there because of the lack of protection. The Clik Elite Compact Sport may be my next camera bag.
The Pro-Body Sport is a lot like the Compact Sport, but bigger. It will hold a pro-DSLR with lens attached in a similar side-entry camera compartment. It also includes a larger top compartment for other gear. Like the Compact Sport, it has a compartment for a 100 oz. bladder, tripod attachment, and built-in Chestport for attaching a Chestpack.
The Nature bag is more of an ordinary (relatively speaking) backpack with compartment on the bottom for your camera gear, which will fit a pro-DSLR, along with a a few lenses or flashes. It unzips normally, with no side entry like the sport versions above. However, the Nature backpack also has a compartment for a 70 oz. bladder if you’re taking a hike on a hot day. Additionally, the top compartment is generous in size for more outdoor gear, jackets, etc.
The Nature has an external media pouch for quick access to memory cards, hard drives and batteries. Like the other backpacks, there is also the built-in Chestport for attaching Chestpacks. Additionally, there are a number of external pockets and pouches for water bottles, sunglasses and more gear.
The Clik Elite Hiker is a pretty large backpack design for extended hikes where you need to tote in a lot more than just a camera and a couple of other items. The Hiker has an internal aluminum frame for supporting heavy loads. The top non-camera compartment has a 1400 cubic inch capacity, as well as a hydration sleeve for a 70 oz. bladder.
The camera compartment is situated in a similar manner as the Nature backpack and will accommodate a pro-DSLR and a few lenses or flashes. There is an external camera accessory pouch for memory cards, hard drives and batteries. Additionally, there are a number of external pouches for other gear and strap points for a tent, sleeping bag or tripod.
Clik Elite Pro Series
The Pro series is streamlined backpack series designed to only hold photo gear (unlike the Outdoor Sport series above).
BodyLink Telephoto Pack
The BodyLink Telephoto Pack is a compact bag designed to carry a single lens and flash. You can see it worn by one of the guys at the Clik Elite booth in the photos at the top of this post. It will carry up to a pro-DSLR with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens attached. What makes the BodyLink Telephoto Pack unique is that it is designed to be worn as a backpack or as a chestpack, and the inclusion of the BodyLink frame. This telescoping frame features a tripod mount for attaching a ball head.
When wearing the BodyLink Telephoto Pack on your chest, you can mount a camera on the ball head and let your body act as your stabilizer. When using a video camera, this can act as a steady-cam as you pan your body. You can also adjust the angle of the frame and point the camera back at you for a SnorriCam effect.
The Pro Express is one of the more ‘standard’ backpacks in the Clik Elite’s line. It offers the ruggedness that is apparent on all the other bags; however, the storage area holds the gaggle of gear we are accustomed to in camera backpacks. With several dividers, you can mix and match the arrangement of your lenses, flashes and other gear, along with the ability to carry a pro-DSLR.
The Pro Express also has the built-in ChestPorts for attaching ChestPacks to the front while the Pro Express is on your back. A number of accessory pouchs, pockets, a tripod strap and a laptop compartment round out the key features on the Pro Express.
The Pro Elite is essentially a larger version of the Pro Express backpack. It can hold a whole lot of gear, including a pro-DSLR, multiple lenses and flashes, a large tripod, laptop computer and a ton of other accessories and gadgets. As with the other backpacks, the Pro Elite features the ChestPorts for attaching ChestPacks to it.
Clik Elite ClickStand Series
The ClikStand series consists of backpacks that have a built-in stand/frame that works like a tripod in terms of stabilizing your camera. The frame will prop the backpacks up thanks to a tip-out back panel. The legs will fold out to help stabilize the bag on uneven ground, and thanks to the weight of the bag and the gear within it, you get an anchored tripod in effect. The top bar of the ClikStand frame extends to nearly double the height of the backpack itself. There is a mount for a ballhead, flashes, etc. on the top bar for mounting whatever you need on location.
On of the guys from Clik Elite was telling me that he had used the ClikStand while the pack was on his back to shoot overhead video, which got me to thinking about all the creative possibilities that a backpack could afford you. The ClikStand makes for a potentially powerful mobile harness at a fraction of the cost of dedicated video rigs. Sure, it’s sort of a homegrown approach, but there’s a lot of creativity built in there.
The Nature+ClikStand is the Nature backpack with a ClikStand built into it. As a result, it’s the smallest of the three ClikStand models.
The Hiker+ClikStand is the Hiker version of the ClikStand series. The medium size ClikStand backpack with the 70 oz. bladder compartment and all other features found in the normal Hiker backpack.
And, if you haven’t figured out the naming scheme by now, the Pro Elite+ClikStand is the Pro Elite backpack with the ClikStand attached to it. The Pro Elite holds more camera gear than any other Clik Elite bag.
Clik Elite Explorer Series
The Explorer series is made up of smaller sling bags, shoulder bags and backpacks. These are geared toward more casual carry than the active carry design of the other Clik Elite series.
The Traveler is a shoulder bag that just big enough to carry a standard DSLR with lens attached, along with another lens or two, or a flash mixed in there. It has a several exterior pockets for carrying a cell phone, compact camera, memory cards and accessories. The top flap use a magnetic closure instead of noisy velcro. It also has a grab handle on the top for quick carry, instead of fumbling with the long strap.
The JetPack is a small backpack that can also be worn as a sling. The main compartment houses a place for a standard DSLR and lens, provides room for an extra lens and flash, has an integrated laptop sleeve, and has enough room left over for a change of clothes. The JetPack has both external and internal accessory pouches and pockets, as well as a tripod strap.
The Impulse Sling is worn across the back and, thanks the sling design, can slide around your body to provide immediate access to the camera compartment via a side-entry flap. The camera compartment will hold a pro-DSLR with lens attached. The Impulse Sling also includes a pouch for tripod legs and a tripod strap, along with additional exterior pockets and pouches. In addition to the camera compartment, there is a top compartment for carrying other items or gear.
Clik Elite makes a number of accessory items that don’t fit into any specific bag series above. There are accessory pouches for memory cards, batteries etc. They’ve got lens pouches for small, medium and large lenses. There’s a filter organizer for 4 filters up to 77mm in size. Clik Elite also makes a wrist strap for DSLRs. Finally, a bag called the Camera Capsule (for pro-size and standard DSLRs) that can hold a DSLR and a couple of lenses. Finally, the Adrenaline Harness is a standalone hydration pack that holds a 100 oz. bladder, and features attachments for the ChestPack series.
There are plenty of cool features among the different Clik Elite bags; however, the ClikStand, BodyLink and Chestpack features were really the things to set these bags apart. For outdoor types, the Clik Elite bags deliver some unique features that you won’t find anywhere else.