The interior of Petrol's PC301 Deca Campack
Petrol, a name long associated with quality camera protection, has released its tenth anniversary Black Deca series of equipment bags. One of these, the PC301 Deca Campack, is carried like a backpack and holds a complement of video cameras and their accessories, a laptop, and a tripod—all in a weather resistant bag that is carryon-friendly with airlines.
The seven-pound PC301 Campack measures in at 22-inches long, 14-inches wide, and 11-inches deep. It sports a bright orange compartmentalized polyester interior that can accommodate just about anything up to 17-inches long in the way of a professional camcorder-size Mini-DV, AVCHD, or HD unit. The cushioned polypropylene foam interior has internal dividers that can be positioned to support the camera, wireless mics, headphones, or anything else you might need to access immediately. You know your equipment is safe from minor shocks just by feeling the padding on the sides.
The exterior has a zippered side pocket, pouch, and straps for housing extra tapes, P2 cards, hard drives, or anything else that might be deemed necessary on your shoot. A 15-inch laptop computer will also find a home in a neoprene pouch, and a tripod can be strapped on the side of the pack. The padded waist belt area also has two zippered pouches for credit card-sized materials.
Petrol boasts a "seven-layer protection system," which keeps the bag's interior at a comfortable temperature and protects your valuable contents from the elements. The ballistic nylon exterior is water repellent, well padded, and available in a scratch-hiding black.
A great test for any piece of equipment is surviving several weeks of use with TV and film department students. The PC301 was an immediate hit, as it was large enough to carry their needed equipment on shoots without the extra bulk and weight of our normal "suitcase" style hard case. The straps are adjustable and easily fit both the large male and the more petite female frames comfortably. As students have an innate knack for carrying backpacks, this one fitted in well, (other than its size and the bright orange interior). It looked much like the packs used to carry the students' livelihoods.
With a tripod mounted on the outside and camera and laptop inside, the Petrol bag is much bulker than an ordinary backpack, but still comfortable due to the extra padding on the straps and back. The exterior is durable enough to withstand scrapes from walls, floors, car trunks, or otherwise just generally getting banged around, without the sort of scars that a hard-sided case does under such conditions.
The PC301 is also superior for weather extremes as it is insulated better than a hard case with just a foam interior. You can shoot immediately after moving from a warm equipment cage to an outdoor location without having to wait for the camera to warm up (something that a hard case also doesn't provide). The weight of the equipment is also distributed across one's back, rather than having the load balanced in a bag or case handle.
I believe that the Petrol PC301 will be a very useable addition to anyone's camera transporting system. Its soft sides wear easier than hard-sided cases, the weight is evenly distributed, and the adjustable straps fit any sized frame. Your camera equipment is your largest investment; shouldn't the carrying case be just as important for protection? The only better protection for your equipment would be from someone called "Knuckles," but you'd have to buy him a seat on the plane.
Chuck Gloman is Chair of the TV/Film Department as well as an associate professor at DeSales University. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.