MindShift Rotation180° Backpack Review

Introduction

The Rotation180° Professional 38L backpack from MindShift Gear

  • Have you ever missed what would have been an awesome shot because you weren't quick enough in pulling out your gear?  Well with the ability to access your photo gear in an instant from the belt pack without having to take the pack off, the Rotation180° will put you in a great position to access your gear at a moment's notice.  But that's not all…  photographers will love the three options for holding a tripod from the traditional side pocket to the tripod sling on the back of the pack to the tripod suspension system.  And with the tripod suspension system providing easy access to your tripod without removing the pack, it goes hand-in-hand with the rotating belt pack for super-easy access to your gear.
  • Most backpacks I've tried are pretty straight-forward.  They're either comfortable or not and they're generally best as either a daypack or for backpacking.  The Rotation180° is very comfortable and works best (in my opinion) for backpacking but it goes way beyond that.  In-fact, this pack is a real treat!  It has so many truly innovative features that it would be hard not to make this one of my all-time favorite packs.

The Pro Bundled Accessories Kit which includes the Photo Insert, Top Pocket, Attachment Straps, and Tripod Suspension Kit

  • I tested the Rotation180° with the Pro Bundled Accessories Kit which includes the Photo Insert, Top Pocket, Attachment Straps, and Tripod Suspension Kit.  I tried all of them (and liked them a lot) but I did not take the Photo Insert with me while backpacking so I'd have room for non-photography items in that space.
  • To test this pack, I took it out on two backpacking trips into Ice Lake Basin near Silverton, Colorado to a gorgeous spot at Island Lake.  It's super pretty and it requires a pretty grueling hike to get there which makes it a great place to test out the pack for utility and comfort.
  • I'll be honest in saying that I did not buy this backpack.  I had the opportunity to review it for MindShift Gear and I was happy to do so.  That said, I'm including my honest opinions on it without restraint.  If there are areas where it did poorly , I won't be afraid to say so.

Product Information

Tent camping at Island Lake near Silverton, Colorado with the Rotation180° Professional 38L from MindShift Gear

Getting Started

  • I don't do a lot of backpacking but when I do, I want my pack to be really comfortable.  I also want it to be well organized and of course, built tough so it will last a really long time.  It's also nice when a backpack makes the items I want to access really easy to get to - and this is an area where the Rotation180° really excels.
  • MindShift Gear makes this backpack and it's clear that they put a lot of thought into the features.  Because of this, I had a feeling it would work well for my overnight backpacking trips and was happy to give it a try.
  • First Impressions
    • Built To Last
    • Incre dibly Innovative Features
    • Super-Easy To Access Photo Gear
  • Ratings & Scores
    • 1-10 with a 10 being excellent

Review

Photo Gear

Mike's Sony A7RII with 2 lenses and a second body packed in the belt pack 

Mike carries his tripod with the super easy to access Tripod Suspension Kit

  • Does It Hold & Protect Photo Gear? - Score 10
    • The Rotation180° did a fantastic job of holding all the photo gear I needed.  To be honest, I found the belt-pack carried plenty of photo gear for most purposes.  With the ability to carry a camera body, battery grip, 2 lenses, and accessories in the belt pack, I found that it most often worked great for my needs.  Of course, I could load up with more gear using the additional Photo Insert, but I didn't find that I wanted to carry that much heavy camera gear when backpacking.  That said, it was nice to have the option to carry and protect even more in those cases where it was needed.
  • Is It Easy To Get Photo Gear In & Out? - Score 10
    • The belt pack really is very easy to use and it makes access to your photo gear really easy when you don't even have to remove your pack to get to it.  For a lot of people, this is a really important feature.  For me at night, I'll admit that it doesn't make a huge difference as I'm not in situations where my lighting changes very quickly.  But when I'm out at sunrise or sunset, this is when it really counts.  Used in combination with the tripod suspension kit, I've never seen such an easy to access setup!  You can pull out your gear as you're getting to your location and you'll be ready as soon as you get there.

Non-Photography Items

With a tripod on the Tripod Suspension Kit, Mike easily strapped his tent and sleeping bag onto the pack's removable sling 

  • Does It Hold Non-Photography Items? - Score 9
    • The Rotation180° isn't just for photo gear…  it does a great job of holding all the other items I need for my hiking comfort as well.  With the plethora of pockets, it was easy to stay organized with it too.  Most importantly, I really liked the Attachment Straps as it allowed me to strap on most anything I couldn't fit inside - from a tent to a sleeping bag and anything in between.
    • In my two separate hikes up to Island Lake, I actually tried configuring my tripod, sleeping bag, and tent in two different ways.  On my first trip, I attached the tripod with the sling on the back and then strapped my sleeping bag and tent vertically onto the the back of the tripod & pack.  On my second trip, I made use of the tripod suspension kit to carry the tripod and then attached my sleeping bag and tent horizontally with the tripod sling.  This second approach seemed to be a more balanced approach and it gave me easy access to my tripod as well.  The choice in the end may well be a matter of personal preference.  I just know it was really nice to have the option to choose from different configurations.
    • The only reason I gave a score of a 9 here instead of a 10 is because at 38 liters, it's not quite as big as some people might like for multiple nights.  It's more than big enough for me, but it's not quite the "2 story condominium" size that I know some people like.

Back panel access made it easy to reach non-photography items in the pack's top compartment

  • Is It Easy To Get Non-Photography Items In & Out? - Score 10
    • As photography is my priority, I honestly didn't put a lot of priority on getting to my non-photo gear as easily.  That said, I had no problem getting to most anything I needed.  I was especially pleased with the back panel that gave easy access to the top compartment.  This is where I typically stored warm clothes and my sleeping pad.

Build

Mike Berenson on his way to Island Lake with ultra blue Ice Lake behind him

  • Is It Comfortable? - Score 10
    • This is where I was glad to have taken the Rotation180° on a real hike (or should I say a couple of hikes) in a good location that was a good test for how comfortable it was.  The hike into upper Ice Lake Basin is roughly 2,200 vertical feet with the last pitch up to Island Lake adding another estimated 500 or so to the total.  With that, any issues will be likely to appear in the form of discomfort or pain on the way up or down.
    • In comparing the Rotation180° to other packs, I'd say this was among the most comfortable I've ever worn.  It was easy to put the weight on my hips instead of my chest and to avoid any pressure points.  As a result, I found it to be surprisingly comfortable - considering the weight I was carrying.

The Rotation180° shows of some quality worksmanship

  • Is It Built To Last? - Score 10
    • The Rotation180° feels very well made and isn't overly heavy.  This makes for a great balance that works great out in the field.  I didn't find a single problem or area where construction didn't feel well made.  One look at it up close makes this clear and a little experience with it just confirms it as having some excellent quality workmanship.

 

Summary

Overall Score - 9.8

Comments

Mike takes in the sights near a stream crossing in lower Ice Lake Basin

  • I can't say enough good things about the Rotation180°.  It has some great innovative features and is extremely well made.  Coming from MindShift Gear (a division of Think Tank), I can't say I'm surprised at the workmanship behind the Rotation180°.  I am really impressed with how many innovative features it has though and this really makes a difference.  In my view, this approach brings the Rotation180° to the top of the heap!
  • One of my favorite features was the different ways I could carry a tripod.  In-fact, the sling on the back of the pack was my favorite until I tried out the tripod suspension kit.  I still really like the sling but the super easy access to the tripod with the suspension kit is tough to beat.  Either way, it's great to have so many good options.
  • At one point, I was near a stream crossing in lower Ice Lake Basin when I thought this would be a good place to wait and see if I could find someone to help take a few pictures.  Sure enough, someone was soon happy help.  I thought it was really interesting to see once he learned a little about the pack, that he became truly interested.  He asked all about the features, where it was made, and then finished up with where he could buy one.  The point is that the features (and especially the easy access to the gear through the belt pack) are truly impressive.

Recommendations

The Rotation180° handles some quick morning photography after an overnight at Island Lake near Silverton, Colorado.

  • As a backpack for overnight backpacking, I can honestly say this is the best one I've ever used.  It's comfortable and very well made.  It does very well with strapping on extra gear and best of all, it makes access to my photo gear extremely convenient.
  • If you're in the market for a great overnight backpack and especially one that gives good access to your photo gear, I can highly recommend the Rotation180°.  It was one of the factors that helped me to take on Ice Lake Basin with ease and have the nerve to do it twice.  In my view, the only options that would have been better would have been a Llama or a helicopter!  :-)