Since I got my first DSLR, getting a perfect camera backpack is a never-ending story. Maybe there's no perfect in this world., but at least fulfill all my requirements? My first requirement is Side Access. I am always taking my cameras to hike and quick access with my gears is essential for me. After more than a decade of trying different backpacks from different brands, there's a backpack that gets so close to my target. It is the Shimoda Explore 40L.

It is soooo close, but in the end, it does still not get all my requirements. This year, Shimoda release a new series: Action X, which is focusing on more active photographers. While my Explore 40L is as good as new, it seems a waste of money to buy a similar one. After researching days about the differences between the two, the purchase was done anyway :)

For the previous months, after about 10 rounds of solo hiking, with the new X30, I am confident to say that, I don't regret buying this new bag at all. Comparing with the Explore 40L, this is a camera bag even closer to the perfect!

Tripod On

The best mobile pocket

Very comfortable shoulder straps

First, let's talk about the look. The new dark green or the old Night Blue? That's the matter of taste, I love them both. The dimension, on the other hand, is different. X30 is thinner. Most of my usage is just a one-day-trip and I am seldom using all the capacity of the 40L. Extra dimension and capacity are negative for me, especially taking it for miles of walking. (The Explore series release a 30L version last year). So, the thinner approach matches my needs more than the previous one. Beside the number, 40L vs 30L, the real capacity is actually very similar,. The rolling top of 30L is able to expand or compress as needed, and this is excellent! 

The material is similar to the old version. Waterproof and durable as the old one, but feel a little bit smoother. Guessing this will help cleaning The bag easier. All the details and craftsmanship are top-notch. Not feeling cheap at all, and it really makes you trust putting all your expensive gears in it.

How about the function? It is generally similar to Explore 40L with some minor difference, while these differences are the reason I took out my wallet. Both of the backpacks serve a great comfort on your body. It is comfortable to take on your back even in full capacity (but you will still feel tired after miles of walking, right?). The adjustable shoulder strap and the metal frame of the bag could distribute all the weight so nicely. You will feel balance while walking in difficult terrain. Both Explore 40L and X30 are the most comfortable camera backpack I have ever used.

The reasons for the purchase are upgrades of some small parts. Fist of all is the pocket on the shoulder left shoulder strap. It is clearly for your mobile phone. My old Explore 40L has the pocket, too, and it is for the sadly for old smartphones, Smartphones are getting bigger and bigger, better or worse, my iPhone XR with a case, is not able to fit in the pocket of the Explore 40L, while Shimoda has enlarged the pocket in X30. My iPhone XR is very happy sitting in the new pocket. Do not underestimate this small detail, once you could take your phone so easily on the should strap, you will just wish all backpack has the same pocket! 

Side Access with 5Dmk4

Pack with old core units of Explore 40L

The side access is also getting a different approach than the Explore 40L. It is now a flipping door but not a single zipper anymore. The new approach lets the user able to get the camera more easily. The core unit is also different. I was using 2 rectangle core units in my Explore 40L, and the newly X30 is a single square core unit. The new core is shorter than the old one, and this causes a problem for me. I am using 5Dmk4 be my main camera, and it could not pass through the side access of the new core unit due to the height. The camera could be taken out in the back of the backpack, but this is not what I needed. X30 is clearly designed for the new Mirrorless cameras. X50 and X70 in the same Action series should not have this problem while their core units are higher. Luckily I have the old core units of Explore 40L. I set up 2 rectangle core units in X30, as same as my Explore 40L does, and the problem solved. Now I could easily get my 5Dmk4 in the side access.

Shimoda Explore 40L was my best company in the last 2 years of my hiking adventure. It is an excellent camera backpack, and it still is. You could get one if you think it matches ch your needs and you will not regret it (and it seems got discounts nowadays!) I guess X30 will be my best company for the following years. It will surely pass through more mountains with me than any other backpacks I ever had.!

If you interested in the equipment I used, please check the links below:

- Shimoda Action X30 Backpack -----

- Shimoda Explore 40 Backpack -----

- Peak Design Tripod -----

- Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip -----

- Canon 5D Mark IV -----

- Fujifilm X100V -----

- DJI Mavic 2 Pro -----

- GoPro Max -----

- Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod -----