I’ve had a Khumbu photography vest from the Vested Interest folks for about 4 years now. They have different vests for different types of photographer. The models include the Still, Magnum, Pro Video and the one I use, the Khumbu. For the wildlife photographer the Khumbu vest is a very useful accessory for trecking gear around. Every once in a while I see folks in the various Internet photography forums enquiring about them and thought it would be a useful item to review via this article and a short’ish video.
If you decide you want to order one, you’ll need to download a form from their web site, fill it out and send it to them. While their ordering system isn’t quite up to speed with many of today’s Internet ordering systems, their customer service is second to none. The vest I ordered arrived with one of the buckles on backwards which meant I could never tension one of the straps. I called them to inform them of the problem and was pleased that the person answering the phone was John Storrie, the owner of the company who’s main business is a parachute manufacturing company. When John heard about the problem he had me overnight the best back to him via FedEx and had it overnighted back to me the next day. Now that’s what I call service!
I mention in the video, and it bears repeating that there is no possible way to retain any semblance of “cool” when you’re wearing a vest like this. This is a serious piece of photography equipment and when you wear it, it looks like you’re wearing something suited for a war zone instead of a nature reserve. Fortunately, I’ve never been one to worry about stuff like that.
I’m a fairly big guy and was worried the standard sizes wouldn’t fit right so I opted to order a custom sized vest. It was quite daunting to have to complete the order form and include my measurements. In addition to the custom sizing, I ordered the vest with a padded waist belt. I was planning on hiking with a lot of gear and figured that since I was spending money on a premium vest that a few extra dollars for the extra padding for carrying all that weight would be money well spent. And I was right.
You’ll get a good look at the vest in the video review and see all the gear it can carry. I should mention that in most situations I probably wouldn’t hike with two pro bodies or with both my 100-400 and the 70-200. On the “typical” hike I’d probably bring along my 500mm, my 1.4x and 2.ox teleconverters and probably the 70-200 and the 24-70 along with a monopod, some water and and snack . Miscellaneous accessories will include battieries, filters and memory cards.
What makes the Khumbu vest a winner for me is that it really carries the weight well and in my opinion, it is much more comfortable and balanced to hike with than a backpack.
I run across various folks using all sort of vests for photography. Some folks like the fishing vests, others the photography vests from Canon, LL Rue or Domke. Those are all okay, and pretty good for holding an extra battery and maybe a lens, but they just aren’t in the same class as the Vested Interest products. For the wildlife photographer, I’ve never run across another vest better suited for the job.
5 WildShots out of 5
Take a look at the following video and let me know your thoughts. If you’ve got a vest that you love, please share it with us. If you’re having trouble viewing the video, try this link.