If you need someone to test out the durability of a camera bag, Andy Mann can give it an unparalleled beat down. As a renowned National Geographic contributing photographer and former Climbing Magazine senior photographer, he's made a career out of putting his equipment through the ringer in off-the-grid places. So naturally, when the bag makers at Mountainsmith decided to expand their lineup to include more rugged camera bags, they consulted Mann to ensure that their new offerings would stand up to the most trying of conditions. And considering Mann has spent the better part of the last eight years making his own modifications to their bags as a Mountainsmith ambassador, he had a bit of a head start on the design process.
"Since I've been a Mountainsmith ambassador, [I've been] torturing these camera packs every way imaginable," Mann tells GrindTV. "In 2012 we sat down and developed a new line of bags, built directly from my experiences, unruly imaginations, and ideas I'd scratched down on beverage napkins over the years."
Out of the collaborative soup came four new camera packs emblazoned with Mann's signature—the Parallax, the Borealis, the Descent, and the Spectrum—each built with serious protection for technical photo gear, including proper load dispersion, internal organizational grids, and water-resistant high-tenacity fabrics. Of course, the design process wasn't complete without a legendary beating from Boulder, Colorado-native Mann, who tested each back in his home state for some added quality control. Watch the video to see the process:
To celebrate the launch of his signature bag series, we asked Mann to share the story behind one of his favorite photos.
Equipment: Nikon D800, 16-35mm f4
Where: Moab, Utah
Who: Mario Richard
The story: "It was one of those magic days when you set out to work with an athlete with one particular shot in mind. I had been in Moab, Utah, with good friends Steph Davis, Mario Richard, and Keith Ladzinski working on a film project on a very hectic schedule. We decided to stay an extra day in Moab to decompress, hike up, and shoot a sunset base jump photo. Mario had an exit point in mind that would eat up the setting sun called The Tombstone. We timed the jump with the light as Mario made a beautiful exit, tucking into a back-flip, and landing safely back at his car. I began the long hike out under the stars. This image is a very special one for me—we all lost Mario over the summer to a BASE jumping accident in Italy. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest jumpers in history, and this particular image seems to capture his love of flight and ‘that moment’ for which he lived for."
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