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.

shimoda backpack explore 40l

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.

1. Outlook

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.

2. Structure

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.

shimoda backpack explore 40l
shimoda backpack explore 40l

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.

shimoda backpack explore 40l
shimoda backpack explore 40l

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.

3. Usage

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:

- Shimoda Action X30 Backpack -----

- Shimoda Action Explore 40 Backpack -----

- Peak Design Tripod -----

- Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip -----

- Canon 5D Mark IV -----

- DJI Mavic 2 Pro -----

- GoPro Max -----

- Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod -----