Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pack Review | Contejour 40 by Clik Elite

I have wanted to write a quick review on this pack for sometime now and I think the last 5 months of winter kiting abuse is enough time to get the feel for it. Let me start by saying that I have nothing to do with Clik Elite besides tracking them down and having this pack shipped right from their base in the US.I hadn't heard of this company until I stopped in at The Camera Store and was introduced to some of the smaller product line. I quickly looked them up on the net and found a pack that was not offered in Canada (at the time).

I received the pack at the beginning of December and was immediately impressed with the durable and smart construction. Clik promotes their gear as designed for adventure photographers and it is quite apparent that this is not a weekend pack or commuter bag (unless that's your thing). I won't go into a lot of detail here as you can get good info from their site but the few important things to note about construction were the placement of cinch straps and buckles. From the first time I put this pack on I felt like I had been wearing it for months. This is smart, no pack should need to be broken in if you can put the shoulder and hip straps in the right place. Another confident feature is the buckles. When I was shown a smaller product at THS in Calgary, the sales guy bent the crap out of one of the buckles and it just sprung back into place. These buckles are very ply able in the cold and the best part; every time I grab them to clik them together with thick gloves on, they snap into place easily. In fact all straps and releases are very manageable with gloves on and simple to use.

The Camera block inside fits a pro body with 70-200 mounted on it, room for another zoom and a wide. There is also a little ditty bag for loose stuff and one of the features that sold me; a full length zippered opening at the back pad. This is were a good sports pack should open up. It is super secure and if you don't want to open from the back pad there is a side zipper to access your camera quickly while the bag swings from your shoulder. All parts of the bag that bear weight or touch your body are compressed foam, extremely comfortable, and the zippered door will hold a mid sized blatter for hydration. There is a top accessed rear compartment with pockets for batteries or CF cards, and a few other things.

About a week after I got the pack I took it into the side country at Sunshine Village and managed to stuff a 10m traction kite (picture above) into the full length compartment behind the camera block. Anytime I had the pack on it sat low and comfortable and even with the aluminum stay in the center, it never bothered the back of my helmet at all. I was impressed with how much I could get into it even though I prefer to go light. But it IS a camera pack so I always have a minimum to bring. Right now I have a pro body with 24-70, 70-200, 10-22, 1.4 ext, full filter kit, cards, notebook, releases, and gloves in the pack at all times. it is now my grab and go pack for going into the back country, shooting commercial work, or just taking a back road to do some landscapes. I could go on but like I said, check out Clik Elite's site (see the links), everything about the pack is amazing. Maybe the only change I would make is changing the shape of the center compartment so it is deeper and splitting it with a zippered divider.

Like most photographers I have dozens of bags, and none of them are perfect. The Contejour is the closest thing to the perfect bag and if your into adventure lifestyle photography, this is the perfect bag for you. If you have any questions about the bag itself, send me an email and I will try to answer it.

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