MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L.

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

Get deeper into the backcountry with the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L from Think Tank Photo. 45 liters of internal volume provides ample room for a combination of photo/personal gear and dedicated laptop/tablet. External attachment points accommodate adventure equipment such as a static rope, set of axes, snowboard/skis, and of course, a tripod. Weather-resistant zippers and materials protect your gear when trekking in extreme environments. And like the other BackLight backpacks, rear-panel access adds security when traveling since your camera gear is protected behind your back. Built “Mountain Tuff” for protection against the elements, the BackLight Elite 45L features YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and waterproof/tearproof sailcloth, robust lumbar padding, and a quick-dry back panel for increased ventilation.

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L camera backpack being enjoyed in it’s natural habitat, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Photo © Richard Bernabe

Key Features

  • Storm-resistant construction with YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and
    waterproof/tearproof Sailcloth
  • Superior Fit: Robust lumbar padding, hip-hugging waist belt, quick-dry back
    panel, and foam ridges for increased ventilation
  • Back and top panel access to all of your camera gear, allowing you to work out
    of your bag without getting your harness dirty or wet
  • Meets most international and U.S. carry-on requirements
  • Hydration reservoir ready
  • Removable camera compartment with emergency shoulder straps to avoid gate check
  • Removable waist belt for ease when traveling


  • Exterior Dimensions: 12.99 x 23.5 x 7.99″ / 33 x 59.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Exterior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyurethane, Tarpaulin
  • Water Resistance: Rain Cover, Water-Resistant Material
  • Interior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyester, Polyethylene
  • Maximum Volume: 11.89 gal / 45 L
  • Weight: 3.97 lb / 1.8 kg (Empty)
  • Camera Compartment Dimensions: 11.4 x 19.3 x 6.8″ / 29.0 x 49.0 x 17.3 cm
  • Laptop Compartment Screen Size: 17.0″
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

My Personal Observations

MindShift Gear gave me one of these backpacks prior to a recent trip to Argentina and Chile while leading my Epic Patagonia Photography Workshop and Tour, just to try it out and give it a good working over. My conclusion after two weeks of hard use was that it could possibly be the ultimate photo backpack, particularly for outdoor, nature, landscape, and wildlife photographers. I love the modular design (the internal camera compartments can be removed or switched out with larger or smaller versions), the snug, comfortable fit for long walks or hikes, and the rear entry design which is consistent with all backpacks in MindShift Backlight series.

The pack also fits in the overhead compartment of most commercial airlines, which is super important to a travel photographer like myself. This is quite the engineering and design feat considering this is a 45 liter pack! And if it happens to not fit and the crew is demanding that you check your camera gear as a regular piece of luggage, you can simply pull the camera compartment out of the pack and slide it under the seat in front of you before handing them the empty frame and shell. 

But overall, I was impressed with the attention Mindshift gave to all the small details: the waterproof zippers are but one example. I have owned and used literally dozens of photo backpacks over the past 15 years and I can honestly say that the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack is the best I’ve ever worked with and will be my primary photo backpack for years to come.

Get Yours Here

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack goes on sale today (April 30, 2019) and can be ordered here:

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (MindShift Gear)

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (Amazon)

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.