As photographers, we’re always looking for the perfect bag, vest, pockets, sling, whatEVER we can get our hands on to cart around the piles of gear we (think we) need to do our jobs. The gear has to be accessible (no point carrying a lens if it takes 20 minutes to get it out), secure (no good dropping your 50 f/1.2 when you lean over the guardrail at the pier), and comfortable (no fun nursing a sore back half-way through your day).
Everyone has their own preferences of course — shoulder bags, backpacks, wheeled cases, soft or hard, vests, belt systems — or more specifically, everyone has specific systems for special purposes. And just the other week, I found a new one. A system, not a purpose.
I was in a “workwear” clothing store, one of those places where the denim jeans are as thick as English toast (and just about as stiff), and every shirt comes in just two colors — khaki or blue — when mine eyes fell upon a set of Carhartt “no-strap knee pads”, designed to slip into a special pocket on special jeans to pad your special knees while on them, but stay out of the way when you’re not. I probably stared at the display for 5 minutes before the hamster in my head started turning the wheels and I realized — these could be great shooting pants!
It turns out Carhartt doesn’t make a pair of pants with loads of photo-friendly pockets and these magical knee-pad slots, however a little help from the nice man at The Workingman’s Emporium (at North First & Devine in San Jose) uncovered something called Tiger Trend Clothing. And now I present, photo-pants nirvana.
First off, the kneepads. How many times do you drop to your knees to get a shot, or kneel down to wait for a shot? These built-in pads are just fantastic. 1/2-inch of gel padding under each knee is heaven no matter how long you’re down there.
And the pockets are great. But there aren’t just the standard side, back, and knee pockets (which are all really well designed on their own), and the tool-hooks for clipping things to, but there are also two additional “pouch” pockets, designed for tools, that snap-on into position on your front, then slip through your belt for security. These are deep enough to hold a pretty long lens (I kept a 70-200 f/4.0 in one), and have their own external pockets as well — one of which I swear was designed to hold lens caps.
The position of these pockets sounds like they would get in the way — but they don’t. In the photo above, you see them sticking out to the side as I’m crouched over. They just naturally moved that way, and I don’t remember even one time that day feeling like they were in my way. To be fair, if I was going to start running at full-tilt with a long lens sticking out of a pocket, I’d want to grab it as I ran, but at no point in this first day of use did I feel like any gear was ever in danger of falling out or getting in my way.
On top of all this, these pants are made to take a beating. The material is thick, feels like it’ll last forever, and according to their website, the “knee area and cuffs are reinforced with Oxford Nylon to prolong garment life”. So these should last.
The Tiger Trend website pictures don’t do the pants justice. Check them out, and if you’re in the San Jose area, stop in to The Workingman’s Emporium at N. First and Devine and try a pair on.