A little bit ago, we were sent a Booq Python Blur camera bag to try out and it has been a very good experience but also a bit of a mixed bag (bad pun!). On the one hand, I love it for its design and craftsmanship, but at the same time, I'm slightly disappointed in the usability of it in some minor ways.
One of the keys to camera bag reviews (at least to me) is everyone has a wide variety of requirements – everyone has their own desires/needs for what they need their bag to do – so you should take any review with a grain of salt. In my case, I like a backpack that i can shove a bunch of gear into and travel with out of town – being able to place the bag under the seat on an airplane is a must. Plus, it has to have space for a laptop. The Kata bag I've been using for years has fit those requirements pretty well. But, I was always frustrated with traveling with several lenses and bigger items in the Kata. They just didn't seem to want to fit the layout for me.
My bag history
For the past 3 years, I've been using both a Think Tank as well as a Kata and for the most part, when I travel I'm using the Kata backpack because it holds a ton of stuff and has a bunch of places to put things. So I'm used to having a backpack for my camera gear.
The Booq Python Blur has much better places to hold lenses and I love that! They're easy to access since they're on the sides and the pockets are comfortable and soft. I don't have fear that the lenses will get damaged even tho they're not on the inside of the bag.
However, if you do put lenses in the side pockets, then the space is pretty well filled up and tho there are extra pockets in there, you can't put much in them unless the items are thin and flexible to mold around the lenses.
The biggest disadvantage of the Booq bag to me (and it isn't something that can't be overcome) is it's biggest space. Don't get me wrong, it is great to have such a large area to cram a bunch of things, but at the same time, it's disadvantage is that it is a big space. There aren't any separators to organize and segregate/protect gear. I'd love to see some Velcro dividers that I could use to make areas to hold groups of things together.
I borrowed the two small mesh bags that came with my Kata bag to use in the Booq – and that helped a great deal for my needs. I am able to gather things that work together and put them in the small bags so I know where they are when I go digging (like one bag for iPad cords, chargers etc. – and one bag for all the other cords and chargers we have to travel with these days). It would be great if the Booq had some of these to begin with.
I've made two long distance trips with the Booq Python now and I'm a lot more comfortable with it. There are things that are still slight annoyances, but over all, it works really well for trips.
I was able to have the camera available quickly because it was right there in the top of the bag. I was also able to carry with me 3 different lenses, a speedlight, a goPro and gear, and a ton of other camera gear. Not to mention a bunch of personal things as well as my macbook pro and an iPad and a bunch of papers. I can guarantee I would have had a lot of trouble getting all that gear in my Kata bag. I was very pleased with the bag during both trips. Except for the airplane that is. Those of you traveling in first class like Philip Bloom wouldn't have any trouble, but those of us traveling in coach, well, it is ok, but a slightly smaller bag would be more ideal.
Also cool is their free Terralinq lost bag registration!
The Benefits of Terralinq
If you ever lose your booq® bag with its valuable cargo, Terralinq may help reunite you with your lost bag once it has been located and reported to Terralinq. To make this possible, each booq bag with Terralinq carries a unique item number on a metal label. Registering links a product's unique number with an identity – yours. Should a registered bag be reported as lost & found, Terralinq will attempt to contact you with a bag's location and the finder's contact information.
My video demo
Pros and Cons!
- Large and has tons of pockets
- Quick access to the camera in the top compartment
- Love the free lost bag registration!
- Sturdy and strong, but not too heavy
- Very comfortable to wear for long periods – even when very full
- Handled my 15″ macbook pro as well as my iPad in the back pocket
- The hip pads/buckles don't get in the way like others I've tried
- Sometimes won't fit under airline seats or in overhead compartments (depends on plane of course)
- The large compartment area needs some small bags or dividers
- If you put lenses in the side compartments, then the additional pockets in that side won't hold anything unless those items bend a lot and are very thin (papers maybe)
- The adjustable chest strap did pull off for me
Overall, this has become my daily camera bag – it has enough features to beat out my older bags, but there's also a few things that I've done on my own to improve my experience with it. At $229 list, it is also a bit more expensive than some others, but you can also find other backpack style bags that are more expensive (and they can go up to the $400 range). My father always said “you get what you pay for son” and I think this is a good price for this very usable and high quality bag.
Blogger's Disclaimer: My thanks to Booq for the bag. I'm not an affiliate with Booq – but if you buy thru amazon, we do get a little cash to feed our family!
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(cover photo credit: snap from the folks at Booq Python Blur)