Like most of the photographer, the search for a perfect camera bag is a continues journey, and seems it is a never-ending story. I started with the National Geography shoulder bag (holding my Canon 350D), then, an N.G. backpack. I upgraded new cameras as well as tried Manfrotto and others brands backpack. They were just not perfect. Either good looking but lack of function, or very functional but bad look.
I usually take the backpack for one-day-hiking with my shooting gears. For the past year, I use an Elecom backpack to hold my 5DMK4 and DJI Spark. the backpack works without big problem, yet it can bearly hold a thick jacket and a water bottle. The material is also not very durable (and it is OK due to its cheap price). Last week, I bought a Mavic 2 Pro and it is time to get a new backpack, too :)
My first target was Peak Design lastest Travel Line 45L, which I trust their quality and design so much. The problem for me is it seems quite large for my usage and the look is good for city-travel but not hiking, and most of all, the price is really high (which is OK if all the function fulfills my needs). I search many blogs and youtube and found a newly Kickstarter campaign from Shimoda. Many bloggers said it is the best camera bag they ever tried, and the bags seem to fill my hiking-photographer usage. I ordered online and got it so quickly. Not yet tried a real field test, but I am excited to share my first impression of the bag.
The look of the bag is my cup of tea, I really like the color combination and style. It is not too sporty nor too city-walker. The size a little bit bigger and heavier than my expectation, but also much more solid than I thought.
The bag is using the core-unit system, which means you could change the arrangement inside. Many detail photos are already posted by others online. I am going to say something not too many talking about: the Adjustable-Shoulder-Straps, which is one of the major selling points of this bag. A big concern about the bag before I bought is the durability of the adjustable parts, especially the shoulder straps. All the weight of the bags depends on this part, which is really a hell if it breaks in the middle of hiking or travel. The adjustable area are some thick fabric straps (green circle), and I really doubt about them, they look week and really could not support the weight of the whole bag. In fact, I found this is not the case. The fabric straps are much solid than I expected, on the other hand, the major supporting point of the shoulder straps are the top side of the back (red circle), and they are connecting to the aluminum inner-frame of the bag. This could definitely be able to hold heavy things.
Side-access is another reason I wanted this bag. I always walk and shoot while hiking, and easily pick up a camera is a big MUST. From the photos, I found in other posts, the side-access is just covered by the outer layer of the bag with a zipper. I was worried about it does not provide enough padding for the equipment inside. The real thing is, there is a thin padding within the outer cover, better, but I still add my own padding of the core unit for the camera.
It is also not too convenient to pick the camera out from side-access based on the default setting showing on Shimoda channel. The opening area of the zipper is just not aligned with the core unit. I try to place something under the core units, make they raise a bit, and I could pick the camera out much easier.
I just tried to place my Canon 5DMK4 with lens attached, a small Manfrotto mini tripod in the camera unit. Placing my Mavic2Pro in another unit, with 2 batteries and remote. I have to add some of my own paddings to secure the Mavic2Pro, which also made it difficult to take it out. I decided to use the small bag from the Mavic2Pro fly-more-kit, instead.
Overall, the bag feels well-built, designed with detail-mind, but seems not 100% fulfill my needs, while it sure could fulfill many other photographers depending on their usage and habits. This is the first impression of Shimoda Explore 40L, and I will write a follow-up review after some real field usage. Please come back and check later.
If you interested in the equipment I used, please check the links below:
- Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip ----- https://amzn.to/2P1H5oR
- Shimoda Explore 40 Starter Kit ----- https://amzn.to/2OWJp0b
- Canon 5D Mark IV ----- https://amzn.to/2wiA64k
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro ----- https://amzn.to/2OXGZOU
- Shimoda Explore 40L backpack ----- https://amzn.to/2SxOAGl
- GoPro Max -----https://amzn.to/39xvaXM
- Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod -----https://amzn.to/37wVRKH