In short, no. But it gets pretty close. Like many of you, I have struggled to find the perfect camera bag. Mainly because such a thing does not exist. As a travel photographer, I need a bag that will get me through airline check-ins, carry a decent amount of equipment, will be comfortable to wear for long periods and be relatively discrete.
My bags of choice have been the Lowepro Urban Reporter 250, and the Kata 207HB. The Lowepro is a decent, over the shoulder bag that carries much more than its size suggests. However, I just cannot get on with over the shoulder bags.
The Kata is an excellent bag but just too big. Both in terms of carrying around all day and for some airline cabin baggage sizes.
On my recent stock photography shoot around Europe, I took the Kata with me. Flying out with British Airways and travelling Europe by train, I knew this would not be an issue. However, I became increasingly concerned about the cabin restrictions of the budget airline I was due to fly home with. The Kata is about 1cm too tall and 3cm too deep.
With this in mind, I took to the streets of Lisbon in search of an affordable, spacious backpack that would get me onto the plane with all my gear.
Without much prior research I stumbled across the Case Logic SLRC-206 and today I am going to give you my initial impressions of it.
The Case Logic At First Glance.
The Case Logic really does not stand out in the crowd, visually. When looking at the shelves of backpacks in the camera store it did not jump out at me among the Manfrotto and Think Tanks. It's relatively small, with conservative exterior design and no flashy touches.
I saw it because of the name Case Logic. Now I am going to be honest with you, to me, the name Case Logic had meant cheap, average quality compact camera bags and camera accessories.
In my mind, they had never represented the quality end of the photographic market.
The Exterior In Detail
When I picked the SLRC-206 up however, my mind was confused. Although it felt very light, it also felt very sturdy. The exterior is made of very tough nylon, the zippers are solid and smooth and there was a large padded pocket in the rear for a laptop.
There are two solid Velcro straps on one side for attaching a tripod. On the other side is a large pocket with two interior net pockets. Similarly on the front is a large pocket with several smaller internal pockets. Ideal for batteries, filters and memory cards.
The rear laptop pocket is cavernous compared to the modest dimensions of the bag. It swallows my 12” Macbook and an iPad completely. Case Logic claim that you can get up to a 17” laptop inside. I can see no reason to dispute that.
The backpack straps are strong, sturdy and well padded. In use, I found them to be very comfortable although being broad shouldered, I would like to have seen a cross strap such as the one I have on my Kata. This would pull the two should straps together better.
The lightness of the bag is striking and belies its strength. This is often overlooked but the heavier the bag the less you can carry before hitting airline weight restrictions.
The Interior In Detail
If Tardis-like is not an adjective, it should be. The diminutive exterior dimensions give no clue as the amount of equipment the Case Logic’s interior can hold. As I look at my bag, I can currently see in it:
- Fuji X-T2 with 55-200mm lens attached.
- Fuji 18-55mm lens
- Fuji 14mm lens
- Atomos Shinobi Field Monitor
- A full set of Hitech-Formatt filters with two filter holders
- Two large 77mm filters in cases
- Two dual battery chargers
- Two external hard drives
- A 2m HDMI cable
- Small Rig magic arm
- Small tripod ball head.
There is space inside for even more. Separating all that gear are six very well padded and thick dividers that provide excellent protection. The centrepiece and most innovative part for me though is the Case Logic hammock. This is a rubber sheet with a hole in it that allows the camera to sit at the top of the bag with the lens point through the rubber sheet. The big advantages are not only that it keeps the camera separately protected but more importantly, you can remove the camera and attached lens without having to open the bag completely. You can just unzip a small part of the top to get shooting quickly.
One criticism of the interior is that the bottom sections are very difficult to access. This is because on the base there is a water-resistant EVA base. This restricts how far the zips can pull down to the bottom of the bag and hence the poor access.
The EVA base itself is a great idea, giving protection to the bag when it’s standing in mud or puddles, but its implementation does cause issues with access.
In Day To Day Use
Although I have only had the Case Logic a week, it has been extremely comfortable to wear and despite the amount of kit I am carrying, it feels light. I have been able to walk further and work for longer using the Case Logic compared to the Kata, which tended to feel heavy and unwieldy.
The Perfect Travel Backpack?
No, but its very close. For a necessity purchase, I have been very pleasantly surprised by this bag. There are a few minor niggles such as the interior access but for 85 Euros, given its toughness and capacity, the Case Logic is a bit of a bargain. It will certainly be my go-to travel backpack for the next few years…at least until someone does eventually release the perfect backpack.
If you've been here on Light Stalking for a while, you'll know that I have an interesting relationship with camera bags – here are some more of my articles on camera bags over the years:
- Fact: Spending $200 On A Camera Bag Will Actually Save You Money!
- 6 (Very) Annoying Things About Camera Bags
- Camera Bags: How To Choose The Bag That's Right For You
Have you found your perfect camera bag? Tell us in comments below