Why do we photographers put ourselves through this agony? I'm talking about the fact that we load our camera bags up with well in excess of 10kg and insist upon carrying it around with us, wherever we go, almost certainly to use only a small fraction of what it contains.
Well I recently decided my back would no longer allow me to do this indefinitely. So what were the solutions I came up with? There were several available and I will now explore a few in a little more detail.
Firstly, on a couple of occasions when I would normally have taken my full kit, I decided to take just my camera with a 24 – 105mm lens attached. Sure it can be limiting what you can end up shooting, but sometimes having to work harder to get that shot, can mean you work in a different way, which stretches you when you have been limited by your kit choice. It also means you will probably end up taking images you would otherwise have missed. So quite a useful exercise to do from time to time in may ways I found.
There are other ways of being kind to your back! Some have found that many of the sling systems such as Black Rapid and Sun Sniper are useful ways of being able to spend time out on location with your cameras, lens attached, being held in a harness around you whilst not in use. This system does have it's drawbacks as you will have no weather protection should things turn bad. However, for no rain days it's a good solution and makes light work of an entire day out. Smaller items of kit (like spare batteries and memory cards) can easily be fitted into coat pockets.
For now I have opted for a 'safe' half-way house. As a fan of Tamrac bags which have served me well over the years in some testing scenarios, I purchased a wheeled camera bag. This allowed me all the versatility of my original case choice, but allows this to be pulled along the ground (even over rougher terrain) to take the strain out of permanently having this on my back. However, when this simply cannot be done, it still has shoulder straps which allow you to go back to old ways and wear it as a conventional camera bag.
For now this works well for me. I am watching, however, very closely, the development of bridge type cameras, especially the Panasonic Lumix range, which are far more portable but without the bulk (or indeed cost) of full DSLR equipment. I haven't yet been brave enough to go down this road, but I can see fewer and fewer reasons not to keep seriously considering this as an option, as technology continues to make the huge jumps which we are seeing in the world of photographic kit just now.