Gear bags – my arch nemesis. I can never find the right bag to carry my photography kit around with me, and I feel I’ve tried a million bags so far and nothing ever is quite right. I’ll be honest, the majority of bags I have used in the past have been LowePro bags, great bits of kit assuming you can find the right fit for your gear. This new bag from Vanguard certainly helps fill a void in my gear bag conundrums. For most of my photoshoots I take a fair amount of flash kit, both small flashes like speedlites as well as studio Elinchrom lights – so I’m always taking around 2-5 bags of kit to the smaller shoots. My standard bag that I use more than any other is the Lowepro Vertex, which has a decent laptop pocket to take my 13″ Macbook Pro that I always take on location. The Vanguard Skyborne 51 certainly is a much bigger bag than it seems, loads of space, 2 main compartments with ample space for most kit. I won’t go overboard listing every specific about the bag – you can find that online.
Main compartment: You can easily fit a decent sized DSLR in there with a couple of lenses and enough kit for day to day use, although it has foam dividers, once you get your main camera in there you’re pretty limited to other arrangements, but that is pretty standard across similar camera bags. Pretty deep though, which is a great advantage for carrying multiple lenses or flash units.
Second compartment is a bit odd, a great open size, but the lack of any dividers rather limits what you can put inside, but I guess it’s designed more for putting day to day stuff in, like a raincoat, bottle of water etc or food inside, as the backpack is definitely designed for walking around with, rather than just moving kit around. The bag is very comfortable to wear, and I definitely recommended it for people who have just one camera body and a couple of lenses, with a load of accessories & a laptop (It comes with a decent sized laptop carry case which is excellent) – but who will actually will be moving around with it their back.
Overall I think it’s a great bag, very padded and feels pretty rugged – I think this bag is perfect for someone who is outdoors a lot, and perhaps doesn’t just want to carry around ONLY camera equipment, but also day to day based clothing / food / drink / hiking equipment in a very comfortable and protected back pack. The bag feels well made and will keep up with my pretty tough usage of bags, I’ll definitely be adding this bag to my collection, and will probably become part of my primary setup going forward. For worldwide travel it could be a great bag to use, it’s on the bigger side – but will still fit in overhead baggage lockers on most planes, but double check your airline as it’s always changing. The bag has a great heavy duty Tripod strap system on the back which is very useful. It’s great to see all access is from the back (your body side) so that nothing will be able to be stolen, or fall out as you’re walking around – a great touch.