The Viper by Andy Rouse is the ultimate rucksack for the photographer who thought they had everything. British made without compromise, the Viper allows unprecedented access to complete camera systems, thus allowing you to shoot without any delay. Using a unique tube based design the Viper allows you to store lenses such as a 500mm or 600mm lens upright with the camera and lens attached. This ... More
The Viper Rucksack by Andy Rouse
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The Viper by Andy Rouse is the ultimate rucksack for the photographer who thought they had everything. British made without compromise, the Viper allows unprecedented access to complete camera systems, thus allowing you to shoot without any delay. Using a unique tube based design the Viper allows you to store lenses such as a 500mm or 600mm lens upright with the camera and lens attached. This means that you can shoot without wasting time assembling kit or exposing it to the elements. Similar side pockets allow you to take an unprecedented number of systems with you, assembled and ready to shoot. Perfect for the working sports, newspaper or wildlife photographer, the Viper has truly been designed by a photographer for photographers.
The Viper - Further Details
Thickly padded and fully waterproof
Three strategically placed side pockets
Storm flap to protect the main compartment from horizontal rain and snow
Rigid waterproof base which allows the bag to stand up on its own
Waterproof kneeling mat
Two hidden zip pockets for keeping valuables safe
Adjustable harness and back pad
The Viper by Andy Rouse is made to survive tough conditions in the field. It is thickly padded throughout to protect the fragile gear inside, is fully waterproof and has extra retractable waterproof covers that cover the side pockets. Additionally it has a storm flap to protect the main compartment from horizontal rain and snow. A large storm cover for the whole rucksack is supplied and stored within its own handy pocket. Finally, the base of the Viper is made of a more rigid material, which allows it to stand up on its own, and is totally waterproof as well. In short it is made with no compromise to protect your valuable equipment from whatever nature may bring.
The Viper may be a big rucksack but it features attention to detail in the smallest areas too. For instance there are two hidden zip pockets inside two of the main flaps in which you can keep your keys and wallet safe and dry, without them jangling around.
A kneeling mat is also included which tucks neatly away into its own pocket on the outside (so it doesn’t wet any of your gear). Waterproof and washable, the mat is perfect for kneeling or sitting on wet or damp ground, or for keeping cameras dry on areas such as wet sand.
There are three accessory pockets strategically placed around the The Viper. One is for a water bottle and has a draining hole in the bottom. The second is on the front of the rucksack and is intended for a small rain jacket but can expand to carry a small hide or a monopod. The final pocket is on the side, is fully waterproof and able to take a small spare camera, a small wide-angle lens or even your sandwiches! In summary The Viper by Andy Rouse can pack all of your gear and more!
The only problem with making The Viper so flexible for carrying big lenses is that you are tempted to overload it! Andy says, "During testing I carried 600mm, 200-400mm and 70-200mm lenses, all with a Nikon D3 attached, plus anything else I could find to put in it. The reason for this was not to punish myself (although it might seem that way!) but to get the load bearing ability as good as it could be considering the vast weight that it is being asked to carry. One of the biggest tests was at the Snettisham Knot roost, which is a long and seemingly endless walk. I am pleased to say that the rucksack performed perfectly and I felt little of the huge weight behind me. The simple truth, which comes from many years experience in the field, is that no rucksack can take this load and not let you feel it. So I have worked hard during the testing to find the best combination for the harness and back pad to ensure that the rucksack is as comfortable as it can be. The straps are nice and thick, padded where they need to be, with an adjustable chest and waist belt too. There is a small back pad at the bottom of the rucksack, which has been deliberately made adjustable so that you can set the perfect carrying position for you. Some people like a rucksack that sits on their hips whilst others like me like theirs on their back, I have tried the make The Viper flexible enough to cater for everyone".
The Viper is made in the UK by a traditional British manufacturing firm and so you are supporting British industry with its purchase. All seams are double stitched and the harness is both stitched and internally studded to ensure a long life. The Viper is a quality product and an example of British manufacturing at its best.
The Viper designer, multi award-winning professional wildlife photographer Andy Rouse says, "Over the years I have used many rucksacks, all of which have been great in their own way but they have always been a compromise to my ability to shoot pictures quickly. The best rucksack that I ever used was actually my first rucksack, made by a small company called Heritage in the UK. Working with them I have re-designed that rucksack to cope with the tough demands of today’s photographer."
Gone are the days where I only take a big lens with me; these days I need several combinations to cope with every eventuality. Working in places like the Donna Nook seal colony has taught me that any rucksack I use needs to be tough, flexible, and be able to cope with wet conditions; having to assemble a camera, lens and hood in windy, wet and cold conditions is no fun at all. The Viper’s top loading philosophy allows me to carry lenses such as my 500mm already attached to the camera and the hood. In the larger side pocket I carry either a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4x, a 200-400mm lens or a 300mm f2.8 (with camera and hood attached) and in the smaller pocket I keep a 24-70mm, again loaded and ready to go. In this way I can quickly take advantage of any situation that develops and I don't waste time unzipping a backpack. The Viper is the only rucksack on the market that can carry this amount of kit and keep it accessible - perfect for the gear junkie like me!"
Q. Are there any limitations to the lenses that you can put inside the main compartment?
A. I have tested Canon and Nikon 500mm lenses and they work great with the hood and digital SLR attached. A 600mm lens is a different animal; the main problems are the length of the hood and the ridiculously over-sized lens foot. The Nikon 600mm lens works great provided that you split the hood and use a special foot. The hood is not an issue as the second half is only for pose anyway. The standard Nikon foot is very large but it does fit, albeit distorting the rucksack slightly. The solution is to use a Wimberley AP-452 for the AF-S II or the AP-652 for the older AF-S I; this is a low profile quick release foot that will replace the existing cumbersome one and make the lens much easier to pack and to use. I also think that it improves the centre of gravity and there are also two screw threads in the bottom for monopod shooters as well. Unfortunately the Canon 600mm does not have a removable foot but it will fit inside, the problem is that the hood is not a single section. This means that you would have to transport your Canon 600mm lens with the hood reversed.
Q. What is to stop the lens moving around inside the bag when I walk?
A. We thought of that and have put a small retaining ring that fits around the lens just below where it mounts to the camera. This holds the lens firmly in place. Some photographers find that the retaining ring gets in the way of them getting the lens out quickly so you have to make a choice what your priority is, your back or your ability to shoot quickly. If it is the latter then you can just snip the retaining ring off and use it only when you are transporting a lot of gear for some distance.
Q. You mention a donation to a conservation fund, what is that?
A. Together with Paramo I formed the Aspira Fund, which uses money from product sales to directly fund conservation projects worldwide. So far we have funded projects on tigers in India, an orphanage in Rwanda, Capercaillie breeding research in Scotland and a Little Owl PhD study in Wiltshire. The concept clearly works and together with Wex Photo Video we are making a donation from the sale of each rucksack either to a nominated conservation fund or the Aspira Fund. Announcements will be made on the Wex Photo Video website or Andy Rouse’s BLOG and Twitter. This is not a gimmick as this donation is coming from our joint profits, showing our commitment to conservation.
Q. Is it airline carry-on size?
A. No, but it was not designed to be. The very fact that you can use a 500mm / 600mm with camera and hood attached means that it is simply too large for the requirements of cabin baggage. So I decided early on to not be worried by the dimensions and design something that was useful for the photographer. I have taken this on trips abroad with me though, since it weights only 2.1 KG it has travelled in an empty soft bag; since The Viper is rigid I packed my tripod inside it and some other fragile items, knowing that they would be well protected. So although it is not airline carry-on size you can take it with you in the hold, as you will find its flexibility addictive!