Who would have thought that a conservation photographer’s strongest shield would be a roll of toilet paper? And yet, says MindShift Gear’s co-founder, renowned conservation photographer Daniel Beltrá, he never ventures into the wilds of the Amazon without it. Operating at the extremes of outdoor photography, Beltrá has exposed environmental degradation at the Earth’s hot spots for decades, often at his own peril. What he’s learned, though, is that should he be caught trying to capture an image—especially by someone with a gun—he can whip out his roll of toilet paper and plead that he simply got lost in the woods.
For most of us who love shooting outdoors, we will never be confronted by men with guns. Yet, like Beltrá, we are passionate about what we do. That same sense of conviction that Beltrá brings to his photography, he and the co-founders of Think Tank Photo brought to their new outdoor photography brand MindShift Gear.
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MindShift supplemented its backpack series with the most comfortable "Big Glass" backpacks on the market, the FirstLight series. The largest of these, the FirstLight 40L, will hold up to a 600mm f/4 lens detached. It was created in response to complaints MindShift’s designers had heard over the years from wildlife and landscape photographers about how much pain they endured in trying to carry their biggest lenses deep into the wilds.
The FirstLights were recently supplemented by the UltraLight series. The largest of these super lightweight outdoor photography backpacks holds up to 24-70mm f/2.8 attached to body with 70-200 f/2.8 detached. But it’s about their weight…or lack of it. The UltraLight™ Sprint 16L weighs in at a remarkable 1.9 lbs (!)
For those of you who shoot using filters, MindShift the deepest, most innovative filter holders on the market. It also has the Contact Sheet, a ground sheet where you can lay out your gear without it getting wet, the House of Cards for carrying 6 CF and 3 SD cards, the Tripod Suspension Kit for hands-free carrying of your tripod, the lightly padded UltraLight Camera Covers Lightly for protecting your camera from debris and scratches, and the rich and deep GP Series for managing all of your GoPro® cameras, attachments and accessories.
It was during a conversation with Daniel Belta, who is also a MindShift co-founder, that Doug and Daniel realized the power of rotation as the solution for those recording and exploring the outdoors who need to gain quick access to their gear throughout their treks. Fueled by the belief that creating outdoor gear for people like Daniel, whose lives and livelihoods often rest on the ability to gain quick access to their gear, they launched MindShift. MindShift is centered around a conservation ethic and committed to ground-breaking innovation and using only the very best materials.
Joining them early on was the fourth co-founder, Brian Erwin. Brian was an environmental advocate for several years, where he was on the team that helped combat acid rain, protect the California Desert, respond to the Exxon Valdez disaster, and build recognition of the threat of Global Warming. He has been with Think Tank Photo since before its founding.
MindShift now has the deepest, most innovative, and best made outdoor photography bags and accessories available. About them Outside Magazine concluded: MindShift "should be the bag of choice for true adventurers." These include their rotation180° backpack series, which have been named winners of the prestigious OutDoor Industry Award 2014 and the Red Dot Award for design excellence. The patented rotation180° technology allows photographers to access their gear quickly by simply rotating the lower part of the backpack—a standalone beltpack—to the front without first having to take off their backpack. With outdoor photography, where moments of visual brilliance can be fleeting, the ability to access essential gear quickly is essential.
For the founders of MindShift, there is no separating their history from their values. They are bound by a deep and abiding love and concern for the natural world. While their founders and team come from diverse backgrounds (design, conservation advocacy, and outdoor exploration), they are united by a common trait, which is respect for those who live outside of their comfort zones.
Co-founder and CEO, Doug Murdoch, first expressed this trait in his desire to scale big walls throughout the western United States. He and MindShift co-founder Mike Sturm led the design team at Lowepro, an outdoor camera bag company, and then co-founded Think Tank Photo, the premier camera bag design firm for those who capture images in extreme conditions. At Think Tank Mike developed the first rotating backpack, the rotation360°. It was named Professional Photographer’s "Hot One Award" as the industry's best new camera bag for professional application.
At MindShift, they can’t – and don’t – separate who they are from the planet that gives us all life. They vowed to create highly innovative, durable gear that serves those who have an urgent need to raise awareness to the threats to our environment and who explore and enjoy the out-of-doors. They’ve created a company that serves those, like us, who thrive on living outside their comfort zones and who venture deep into the woods armed only with a camera, conviction, and a roll of toilet paper.