Specs

belt pack and backpack belt pack backpack
Weight 5.3 lb / 2.5 kg 1.8 lb / 0.8 kg 3.5 lb / 1.6 kg
Volume 2287 cu in / 37.5 L 480 cu in / 7.87 L 1807 in in / 29.63 L

Reviews

This pack is specifically purposed for day hiking…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $389

Summary

This pack is specifically purposed for day hiking through the mountains with photographers in mind. It is very roomy and comfortable and built to last forever. With the addition of an optional top pocket plus judicious use of straps, it is possible to use it as an overnight pack.

The unique design of the Mindshift Rotation 180 Pro places it in a class by itself compared to all other photo day hiking packs.

Pros

  • Perfect for day hiking with photo gear
  • Plenty of extra (non-photo gear) room
  • Superb design and construction throughout
  • Fast camera deployment without removing the pack

Cons

  • Slightly heavier than conventional day pack
  • Water bladder compartment too small and tight

Basic Specs:

  • 2287 cubic inches + 200 cu in extra with optional removable top pocket.
  • 3.5 lbs + 3.5 oz extra with the top pocket.

Is the MindShift Rotation 180 Pro the best day-hiker? No. Dedicated day packs made by several other well-respected manufacturers are both better balanced and more comfortable.

Is the Mindshift Rotation 180 Pro the best photo pack out there? Absolutely yes. Over the years I've accumulated several different day and photo packs and reconfigured others using photo inserts. The Rotation 180 is in a class of its own.

What makes this the very best photo day-hiking pack ever invented is its clever design. The pack is supported by an excellent suspension system consisting of a well-padded hip belt and comfortable curved shoulder straps. The shoulder, waist belt and sternum straps are all quickly and easily adjustable for the torso of most users.

Unfortunately there's no dedicated torso adjustment mechanism (like on some Osprey and Lowe packs) for small, medium or large, but this is only a minor drawback. The back section is padded with foam and covered with a sweat-absorbing mesh. This isn't quite as comfortable as a full air-circulating mesh back, but it's adequate and does absorb sweat.

There are additionally all kinds of patch pockets on the pack for small item storage as well as plenty of straps. All the zipper pulls are extra wide easy-to-use loops. The pack comes with a special rain cover that still allows the quick access rotation fanny pack to operate. It’s tucked away in its own small dedicated external patch compartment. Many of the straps that come with the pack have a unique spring loaded gated nylon hook which makes them very easy to attach and remove.

Main (upper) compartment access is outstanding on this pack. You can get to the main upper compartment from the top or from the back (the padded back has a double zipper). This is important to me since the main compartment is where I store extra clothing, rain gear, food, etc. – as well as extra lenses.

This means that you have to remove the pack for upper compartment access, but that’s true for all conventional daypacks. The addition of an optional removable top pocket adds 200 cubic inches of extra volume plus a way to easily strap on a sleeping bag.

Photo gear or day hiking gear for the main compartment? This is up to the user. If you want to use it to haul around loads of extra lenses, flashes, etc., then get the Rotation 180 with the internal padded insert. Of course this then leaves you with little extra room for clothing, food, etc.

I opted to not get that padded insert and saved several ounces of extra weight and gained a heck of a lot of extra room. I still pack some extra photo gear in the main compartment keeping things protected in either light-weight padded bags or with my extra clothing. 

Water hauling: The left side of the pack has a compartment for a water bladder. There’s also a conventional pocket for a water bottle on the lower left. This means that your precious photo gear and clothing are kept separate from your water supply – an important consideration.

Unfortunately, the integrated bladder compartment is far too narrow and tight for most water bladders. I was able to wedge in a 3-liter full bladder, but it then caused a bulge into the lower compartment of the pack that made it difficult to fully operate the rotation of the internal fanny pack camera section.

The best solution I found was to limit the bladder size to 2-liters and suspend it above the rotation compartment. Of course, you can always opt to carry a conventional liter bottle for water.

A tripod can be securely mounted on the front or on the left side of the pack. I tried it out with a 2.5 lb. tripod strapped to the back for a combined pack weight of 20-lbs, and there was almost no back pull on the upper part of the shoulder straps. This is an indication of the good weight balance that the Rotation 180 provides.

Protection for photo gear: I generally don't like packs that have any photo gear on the bottom, since this is where you're sure to thump down the pack when you eventually take it off. However in the case of the Rotation 180, there’s so much bottom padding on both the pack itself combined with the padded internal fanny pack compartment that this almost becomes a moot point. I still would be careful not to drop the pack on its bottom, just to be safe.

Special access to a camera is accomplished by simply loosening the waist belt, lifting the magnetic hook and rotating the entire camera section around to your front. Then you unzip the camera section, remove the camera and shoot. There are plenty of videos of this procedure available, so I’ll just add that it actually works quite easily and rapidly.

You can remove this entire camera section and use it as a separate fanny pack if you want. The camera section is big enough for me to have used it to carry a full-frame body with a 300mm lens attached. A typical deployment of the camera – from packed away to shooting – can be done in under 10-seconds, which is really what sets the Rotation 180 completely above any of the other competing photo daypacks.

Now what I like best about this pack: The Rotation 180 allows me to safely and comfortably carry my camera and hiking gear all day long in the mountains and not have to remove my pack every time I want to take a photo.

This is a big deal, a very big deal. It encourages me to take more shots since I don't have to take the pack off and dig around for the camera. It also gives me the confidence of knowing that I can get to my camera in a few seconds if that special money shot opportunity suddenly materializes.

Finally, a photo pack that's not a PITA and will allow you to hike all day comfortably carrying all your photo equipment plus essential hiking gear.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review of this new-to-me backpack company, Robohiker. I'd love to see some pictures of your pack in use.


4 years ago

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