Trio chest pouch now fits 3 positions, harness( chest) front and inside of pack a part of OMM Leanweight Link System all our packs to enhance accessibility and balance your load between back and front.
With the increasing use of poles, the hands are busy and a chest pouch helps keep a map and other items at the ready.
I bought the Trio 4l chest pouch as a multi-faceted experiment that might yield some benefits:-
The pouch has two pairs of adjustable cords attached (pictured right).
The top pair of cords have standard male snap-in connectors. The separate female connectors are supplied fastened to open velcro tabs, which thread through any suitable loop on the pack front straps. In the case of the OMM Villain pack they thread through the D-rings.
The only available loops in the correct orientation on my LiteSpeed pack are the 'Golite' reflective strips, which are thin material and not designed to withstand tension. There are more robust attachment points just above them formed by layers in the strap webbing, but the resulting loops are in the wrong orientation - perhaps I'll investigate those tiny mini-karabiners as a secure way to turn the loop around 90°, so to speak. The cords can be adjusted by a simple pull/slacken action to change the vertical position of the pouch on the chest area, and the pouch should be supported during the adjustment lest the velcro loops are strained too much.
The bottom pair of cords are elastic and terminated by plastic J-hooks. Once the pouch is attached and positioned by the top cords, these hook onto any convenient point on the side of the pack to keep it stable and stop it joggling around. On the LiteSpeed the only feasible points are the top corners of the side pockets, which seems to work ok. You can't see the hooking points when doing this and the hooks must be engaged by feel alone. Dedicated hooking loops would be nice. Once hooked the elastic cords can be adjusted for tension at the pouch end by pulling them through squeeze-action cordlocks.
It must be said that the Trio is not really designed to carry a single dense heavy object, especially a delicate work of optics and electronics - the camera is a Canon 350D with 17-40L lens attached. It fits nicely into the Trio on its side, although when the top zip is closed the pouch has an odd unwieldy shape.
Whereas the Lowepro case is thickly padded and has external accessory pockets making it excessively fat overall, the Trio inevitably feels thin and saggy by comparison, and a little stiffness in the sides would be welcome. Nevertheless I have no worries about its quality and robustness for supporting the camera. I will obviously have to be careful when squeezing through rocky gaps (or the many badly constructed kissing gates!). When attaching the pouch with the male ↔ female connectors, I need to cradle it with my forearm leaving both hands free to snap the connectors together.
One advantage of a thin pouch over a fat padded case when mounted on the front is that it minimises obstruction of your downward vision. This is a potentially serious problem I foresaw with front mounted bags:- imagine descending steep rocky ground when you can't see your feet properly. I attached the Trio and tried walking downstairs a few times, trying to imagine some of the steep descents we have made in the past, and it seemed ok, needing a small change in style and a bit more movement before commiting to a step. I'll report back on this after the first suitable hill test.
Another important question is water resistance: obviously it isn't waterproof, and with the zip on the top its shower resistance can't be great either. I'll need a dry-bag, one that can be folded or rolled and reside at the bottom of the pouch for quick access. If it really pours down I'll put the pouch inside the pack, just as I did with the Lowepro.
The Trio has a clear mapcase pocket at the rear but I probably won't use that, I'll continue using my trusty Ortlieb. Following reports of sweatiness caused by the mapcase plastic, the Trio now has a sheet of mesh that folds over it, the thick type of coarse mesh that feels like lace, which should help.
There is a mesh insert that is meant to keep a small water bottle upright, but they must be referring to one of those overspecified nalgene jobs because our standard Evian 500ml bottle won't quite fit in the Trio in the upright position. I'll be using the LiteSpeed side pocket for my water bottle as before anyway.
I used the Trio for the first time on the Lower Eskdale #3 trip (11 May 2009), a backpack that included typical hill climbs, pathless terrain and some brisk walking on the flat along easy tracks.
I noticed very quickly that with the Trio and camera in front supported by the pack front straps, walking felt considerably more natural and comfortable. The shift of load balance towards the front is small but dispropotionately noticeable, I felt better balanced. Once the elasticated bottom cords were hooked in place and adjusted for tension, the pouch didn't move at all and felt very secure.
I had complete freedom of movement with both arms, unlike the arrangement with the Lowepro where the case sat at the hip area constraining movement of one arm, and I felt less pressure on the base of my neck. On the level easy sections of the walk, including farm tracks and roads, I marched at a brisk pace and the ache at the base of the back of my neck that always niggled me before was greatly reduced. I expect that in warm weather the pouch contact area may feel a bit hot and sweaty despite the mesh, and will reduce the chest area exposed to the air for cooling down, but I'll see how that goes when (and if) it gets warm enough.
When opening the zip on the Trio, the weight of the camera makes the far side of the pouch sag outwards and a little more care is needed than with the stiff-sided Lowepro. Of course with a camera and lens like those I always take great care anyway, and the operation is just as easy as before with the pouch directly in front of me. I keep the spare battery and storage card in the pouch at the bottom, but anything bulkier would get in the way of retrieving the camera and putting it back easily. It is very useful for putting my shades away temporarily when walking through a gloomy forest.
This walk didn't have any steep rough rocky paths, but the pitched path at Stanley Force was steep and damp and provided a good test for the 'downward vision' aspect mentioned above. I was pleased to find that the Trio doesn't protrude far enough to be a problem, and as I expected it merely required a slightly different descent technique.
This is the best candidate I've seen yet for carrying the camera and I'll be using it from now on, but I'll continue looking out for other possible solutions. A waist pack mounted at the front is one option. Given our usage of the camera and approach to photography, one might ask why I'm carrying such a heavy thing in the first place...