In 2015, Chris Burkard set out to do something almost unthinkable: photographing surfers under the northern lights in the Arctic. Chris is a prolific and pioneering American outdoor photographer best known for his landscapes and surfing photography. This attempt to capture surfers in some of the harshest conditions on earth, in near-total darkness, was hugely ambitious and would result in the 2016 film Surfing Under An Arctic Sky. The combined challenges of working with athletes, water, extreme cold, variable weather, and low light, while simultaneously capturing a moving subject and the dramatic setting, required rapid fire on-site experimentation. This experience inspired the design of Chris’s signature camera bag system – the Mountainsmith T.A.N. Series.
The core concept of the T.A.N. system is summed up in the acronym itself: Tough As Nails. Whatever the weather, the T.A.N. Series is made to stand up to the challenges of outdoor photography in any setting. The system is made up of a 40 liter pack, a 10 liter shoulder bag, and three modular “Kit Cubes” for storing camera gear. The pack and shoulder bag can be used together, and Kit Cubes can be used interchangeably between them. It’s a comprehensive system for everything you need as a photographer in the backcountry, made to be efficient, highly versatile, and totally bombproof. Here’s the nitty gritty on each piece.
TANUCK 40 Liter Backpack
The pack is the backbone of the T.A.N. Series, which was intentionally modeled after a haul bag used to transport gear on El Capitan. At 40 liters, you have enough room to store one large and one medium Kit Cube, with some extra space for outdoor gear. Every part of the pack is reinforced, including a PVC lip on the bottom that allows it to stand freely. The head of the pack is detachable and can be reattached across your chest to keep your camera at the ready. It features a cinching waterproof outer pocket for storing wet gear or a tripod and two large side pockets, one mesh and one waterproof. The outer surface is covered in MOLLE, allowing gear to be clipped onto it easily. It also has a clip to attach a rope. And if 40 liters doesn’t quite cut it, the top opening features a tall collar, increasing the total volume substantially.
Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack
Designed with legendary photographer Chris Burkard, the Tanuck 40 is the most universal, durable camera bag on the market. Nicknamed the T.A.N. “Tough As Nails”, this certifiably tough and versatile rucksack is a reliable solution for every adventure. Compatible with the Tanack 10 and Kit Cube series.
Kit Cubes (Small, Medium, and Large)
The key feature of the T.A.N. Series is the incredible amount of customization possible. This works because of the interior camera bags, or Kit Cubes, which are interchangeable with the TANUCK pack and TANACK shoulder bag. The Cubes are padded for storing camera bodies and lenses, with rigid, waterproof walls. The top closure of the pack uses a pull tab, which, when tightened, turns the top of the Cube into a rigid surface as well. Each top closure has an integrated collar, allowing for storage of gear taller than the Cube itself. The Kit Cubes also have a shoulder strap and can be carried alone.
TANACK 10 Liter Shoulder Bag
Designed to integrate with the TANUCK 40 Liter backpack, the 10 Liter shoulder bag features a built-in rain cover, mesh side pockets, and a removable waist belt which can be swapped onto the backpack. It’s large enough for one medium kit cube or a small kit cube with some extra room. Having the option to wear it over the shoulder or as a lumbar pack adds more versatility for use in variable conditions.
Mountainsmith T.A.N. Series
Overall, the Mountainsmith T.A.N. Series is a standout in camera storage equipment thanks to its durability, versatility, and brilliance in design. Simple features such as the ability to stand the TANUCK 40 upright, the interchangeable hip belt of the TANACK 10, and the modular approach to individual camera bags are elegantly innovative. The cohesive whole of the T.A.N. Series makes it an unparalleled product for photographers gearing up to tackle ambitious outdoor adventures. Whether you’re hanging from a rope shooting climbers, working with surfers above the Arctic Circle, or just out for a day hike photographing landscapes, you should be focused on the subject, not worrying about your gear. The T.A.N. Series reliably removes that worry from the equation, allowing you to work quicker and more confidently, whatever the scenario.
Watch Chris Burkard provide a walkthrough of the T.A.N Series with Mountainsmith bag and system with an explanation of how all the components in the line work together!