Like many photographers I have spent years experimenting with kit bags. Like most of us, I suspect, I started off with one of those dinky little camera bags that just about fit the camera and nothing else. You know, the sort of thing you see tourists using, with a long strap draped over their shoulder. And actually, those little bags are fine when you have one entry level DSLR and one kit lens. However the moment you start accessorising and building up your kit by adding lenses, filters, tripods and all the other accoutrements a modern photographer needs – you begin your search for the perfect bag.
I’ve never suffered too badly from gear-acquisition-syndrome and so my typical load-out for a trip out into the national park would be one camera with the 10-22mm on it, one spare battery, one 50mm prime, one 70-250 zoom and one tripod. That really isn’t much kit and I found I could fit it in a shoulder pack with ease. Initially I repurposed an old Levis shoulder bag, but it didn’t afford much protection for the kit, so I fairly quickly invested in a LowePro Passport Sling III. That bag proved to be the perfect fit for me, my kit and for the way I shoot. I pretty much wore it out.
However my gear situation changed quite drastically two years ago when I got my first drone – a Phantom 4. Now the Phantom 4 is a superb bit of kit and I greatly enjoyed owning it – however it was a bastard to carry, particularly alongside all my existing kit. I couldn’t bring myself to buy one of those special Phantom backpacks because I’d still have to accommodate all my other camera equipment and tripods. In addition to all that, I started getting into travel videos and my kit grew again with the acquisition of a couple of GoPro cameras. So for the two years that I owned that Phantom 4 I pretty much carried it everywhere by its painful hard plastic handle. During that period I hiked that drone case and all my other kit through most of the national parks here in South Coast NSW Australia as I was photographing all 107 beaches in the region for the local tourism authority.
The situation was proving problematic. I bought a camera backpack from my local Ocean and Earth factory outlet. The pack had one of those side access zippers and plenty of room inside for all my main camera equipment, but the only comfortable way I could carry my Phantom 4 was by strapping it to the back of the pack. That’s fine when it’s not rainy, or you’re on a windy beach, but not a longterm solution. Also I forgot how far it extended behind me a couple of times and got the drone caught on branches. Believe me I was ready for a change and when DJI announced the Mavic 2 Pro, I knew it was time.
The small ‘travel’ form-factor of the Mavics was perfect for my requirements and I bought one a few weeks after they were released. I loved it from the get-go and particularly enjoyed how I could carry it around so easily. In fact when I first got it in I put it in my the tiny LowePro bag I bought for my Canon 550D all those years ago. What I wanted to do though, was unify everything in one bag.
I looked at all the big name bags, particularly the LowePro Sling range, but the price and design of those bags didn’t really do it for me. And then, as part of the pre-Xmas sales, I found the Neewer Professional Camera Case Backpack on Amazon. It was on special offer for $41AUD including delivery. I checked the reviews, looked at the internal structure and decided that it was the bag for me. And to cut to the chase, I found it was the ideal pack for me too. Here’s how I arranged it.
So there’s the main layout I went for, which incorporates everything I need when I go out and take landscape photos or shoot my travel videos. My Canon 7DII is at the top with its 10-22mm lens on, the Mavic’s below it and around the edge are my lenses, batteries, filters, action cameras and accessories. I can set it down anywhere and be up and running in seconds. I love it.
In the pocket on the back of the main cover I discovered that the little collapsible drones landing helipad fits perfectly (if a little snugly) in place. Since I regularly launch my drone from the beach or grass, it’s a great way of protecting it during take-off and landing. I also store the all-weather cover in there.
And on the front there’s a good sized pocket which I use for various miscellanous charging cables, my little bluetooth headphones and also some straps. There’s a small pocket on the left-side in which I store spare SD cards and also the little filter removal tool for the front of the Mavic so that I can quickly and efficently switch to an ND filter if I want to. I also strap my MeFoto Roadtrip carbon fibre tripod to the left side.
Since I got the case I’ve added a few tweaks to my Mavic 2 Pro to make it easier to handle and set-up. I bought the covers for the controller which means I can leave the control sticks in all the time. I also added the protective rubber straps for the propellers to make it easier and safer to put the Mavic in the pack and take it out.
I’ve been using this set-up for about a month now and absolutely love everything about it. The pack is comfortable to wear and fits me well, even though I’m not the smallest of guys across the shoulders. The backpack is well stitched together, feels and behaves in a sturdy manner and the interior velcro fittings are rugged too. It’s been a long time coming, but I finally feel like I have the kit I need to complement the kind of photographer I am. If you have similar requirements and use both DSLR and drone, then I can definitely recommend Neewer backpacks – you should definitely check them out before punting your money on a big-name product from someone like LowePro.