Award-winning photographer James Roddie has been trying out a new camera pack from Chrome…
One of of the first things that strikes you about this backpack is the number of different pockets and attachments found throughout. The main compartment is spacious – there is ample room for at least two camera bodies and several smaller lenses, or even a single body with a mid-range telephoto such as a 300mm f2.8, alongside perhaps three small lenses. Removable, fabric dividers are included to help you organise your gear in the main compartment. Ideally the bag would include two or three more of these dividers as there does not feel to be quite enough, especially for days when you’re carrying multiple smaller lenses of flashguns. The main compartment is accessed via a zip from the back of the bag. This is likely to divide opinion amongst users – you need to take the backpack off in order to access the main compartment, which is certainly not the speediest of operations if you’re rushed to get a shot. That having been said, having the access ‘door’ facing into your back is very effective at keeping the rain away from the zip, and stops anyone from surreptitiously opening the bag if you’re stood in a crowd etc.
The bag also features multiple other small pockets, ideal for storing a variety of accessories. A relatively large, weather-sealed top pocket is a really handy feature. This is ideal for a ‘quick-access’ pocket for a camera body for example. Alternatively, the waterproof lining makes it a good choice for somewhere to store a bottle of water or any liquids, away from all the expensive gear in the main compartment. A 13 inch laptop pocket is also included.
There are a profusion of fabric attachment points on the bag, suitable for attaching any gear via karabiner. Two D-rings on the top of the shoulder straps come in handy for attaching a lightweight camera via karabiner, if you anticipate needing to access your camera particularly quickly. Two large, velcro straps on the front of the bag are useful for attaching a variety of larger items to the bag, but they would work considerably better if they opened wider.
By far my main criticism concerns the tripod pocket and strap on the side of the bag. The bottom pocket simply is not large enough to accommodate the feet/head of even a moderately sized tripod. It needs to be twice the size. A larger tripod can be stored using the velcro straps on the front, but if the main compartment is full, the tripod will push the contents into your back. This could be definitely be something that dissuades professionals who require larger tripods. On the plus side, the side tripod pocket/strap is ideal for attaching a trekking pole or ice axe to the bag.
This is a very comfortable bag to use, even when fully loaded. The shoulder straps are well-padded with a well-placed chest-strap. The waist strap is also comfortable, and completely detachable from the bag via their velcro fittings. This is a really useful feature, especially for those who aren’t walking long distances with the bag, and speed of use is the main priority. Overall the backpack felt comfortable and well-balanced whilst being used for a full day of walking and shooting, and is equally comfortable worn on a bike.
Durability and weather-proofing
This feels like a pack built to last. The fabric is thick and tough throughout and you’d be hard-pressed to tear anything, giving it a big advantage for outdoor photographers. The zips are all high-quality, and the zip on the top pocket is waterproof. A fair amount of rain and weather can be thrown at this bag before anything gets in. However, it certainly does not stand up against a full day of heavy rain in the hills for example. The bag does not come supplied with a waterproof cover, which could be a downside for some outdoors photographers. If using this bag for mountain photography for example, you’d be advised to store camera gear in dry-bags inside the backpack.
Verdict: Comfortable, durable and spacious camera pack. Could use better tripod attachments.
Best for: Aimed at urban photographers but works well for general outdoors photographers, especially those who shoot all day with plenty of walking.
Review and photographs by James Roddie