I have an interesting story. As most of you know, usually my reviews are via video. Mountainsmith was kind enough to send us the Borealis AT Backpack for review as always, we took the bag into the field for analysis. Everything went great, the bag was awesome and as we start journey home, the empty bag was lost somewhere between the mountains and home LOL. I was mortified about what to do, and I was questioning the validity of how this review would go, so I made an arrangement with the administration at Mountainsmith to give the best written review possible.
Now, Mountainsmith is no stranger to camera gear OR the outdoors. That said, the quality and performance of the 2 combined into a bag to carry the very gear into the best and worst conditions was unmatched. The company is known for making camera bags for a long time now and make no shortcuts in the quality of their many products.
In my experience, there are generally two types of photographers that backpack. There are those that go backpacking and like to take some photos along the way. Essentials are essential and the photographers try to carry only the most important items along. Then there are the second group of photographers. These are the people who go out to take photos and backpacking is just the way to get those shots.
For hiking and backpacking, the Borealis AT will appeal to both groups equally. The details and makeup of the bag make it very evident that it is first and foremost a camera bag. The entire bottom half of the bag is dedicated to camera equipment. This will comfortably hold a standard size SLR, 3 lenses, a flash, and a couple small accessories. The hip belt has filter and memory card slots so you can easily access any accessories you need, and there is a very nice tripod holder on the outside of the pack.
At the same time, the usual hiking touches are included. The side pockets will hold a pair of hiking poles nicely and there’s also a rain cover included for rainy. There is also a fleece lined sunglass pocket on the side for those bright and sunny days. There is no shortage of padding on the comfortable shoulder straps and the center tether is fully adjustable for maximum security and stabilization. Also, there is a laptop sleeve built into the bag, and will also hold a camelback with the hose routed through the shoulder strap.
This bag isn’t for everyone however. Due to the placement of the camera section in the bag, you must take it off to access any of your equipment. If this doesn’t fit your shooting style, it may be a problem. You can also pair this bag with a holster style bag and then be able to bring along quite a few more lenses and a tripod. At just under $200.00, the Borealis AT isn’t cheap. It’s roughly the same price as a full size backpack. However, this is a well constructed bag that I would trust to keep my camera equipment safe. In my mind, spending an extra $50 on a backpack that will protect a $1000 lens in a fall is money well spent.