The Tamrac 5749 Velocity 9 Pro Photo Sling Pack is well designed and sturdy. The dividers stay in place as long as they are resting solidly on another object. A second row of Velcro strip would be an improvement.
The cut out diagram only indicates how the bag can be packed. The pictures of the actual product clearly show the whole front does not unzip. There is a mesh pocket over a zipped pocket area with dividers for storing and organizing smaller items. The main compartment is accessed from the top only. On the inside of the main compartment's cover flap is another zippered pocket for items like batteries and CF cards.
The bag itself only weighs about 2 lbs that is not a whole lot for a bag. Putting any collection of heavy objects in any bag will make it weigh more. I learned the hard way to pack the equipment I need, and leave what I don't at home/in the hotel.
If you choose not to use the waist strap, of course all the weight will rest on one shoulder. The bag was made to include the use of the waist strap with the quick release buckle! The weight of the bag will not distribute as intended otherwise.
I don't think a backpack will make my equipment any lighter. Distribution of weight is on the waist and one shoulder for the sling, and on two shoulders for a similar size backpack. If I only use one shoulder strap of the backpack like many people do, then all the weight would only be on one shoulder. Neither is better than the other in this respect, just different.
For travel I found the sling to be handy. I've been able to swing it around and get what I need out of it fairly easily. This is not always a natural feeling task though and requires some thought in how to pack the bag. I tend to pack the big lenses first and smaller ones on top in the main compartment. While I will change lenses, I have the lens I think I'm going to use the most already on my Canon 20D ready to shoot and stored in the center like the diagram shows. The pocket inside the main compartment's cover flap is the most awkward area to access and holds the smaller items I don't need to get at that often. The outside pockets are the easiest areas to access. I have never needed to loosen the shoulder straps to get what I need out of the bag. I'm tall and slender, so maybe a person's body type makes a difference in how well the sling function works.
The sling is especially beneficial for mass transit situations and crowds. While visiting cities like Rome, or Paris I prefer to use mass transit instead of renting a vehicle or hiring cabs. Crowded buses at rush hour in some European cities or even here in the States are known to be prime pick pocket territory. I can swing the bag around to my front and it is in clear site. I can even sit with it on my front comfortably.
PROS: Sling feature handy in mass transit situations Well designed and sturdy
CONS: Could use a second row of Velcro strip Not all areas comfortably accessible while wearing sling bag
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I enjoy photography, culinary arts, video games, and a wide assortment of music
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From the Manufacturer The Velocity 9 - Pro Sling Pack is a larger version of our popular Photo Sling Pack. It can be carried comfortably like a backpack, but can be swung around to the front to provide quick access to a pro-sized 35mm or digital SLR like a Nikon F5 and D1 or Canon's EOS 1V and 1D with a 200 millimeter zoom lens attached. A well-padded sling strap comfortably distributes the weight, but need not be removed to quickly access photo equipment. Outside, a large mesh pocket is ideal for carrying an energy bar or water bottle, while organizer pockets inside keep a mobile phone, PDA, or photo accessories within reach. A windowpane-mesh pocket inside the lid stores filters. Compatible with Tamrac's modular accessory system components to customize this pack with Tamrac accessories.
Carries like a comfortable backpack
Swings around to the front for easy access to equipment
Pro Sling Pack
A Speed flap top provides instant access. B Carry a pro SLR with a zoom lens attached ready for action. C Modular accessory system attachment slots. D Adjustable, foam-padded sling strap. G Windowpane-mesh pocket in top for filters and accessories F Easy squeeze quick- release buckles assure security E Adjustable, foam-padded internal dividers provide a custom fit for equipment