(update: link to “My Big Small Bag” added; a peak into my personal packing preference & mini review)
“Show me the sketch” asked the lady to the boy.
He handed her the sketch and she replied: “Sure, we can make this”
“Really?” asked the boy.
“Why not?” she continued. “We have suppliers and they surely can make custom bags like this.”
“But this isnt really simple, it’s feature-packed, are you sure they can do it?”
The mother took the drawing from her 8 year old son, and he never heard from her again about it.
Yupe. The bag was never produced, and the drawing was never seen again.
I have been a big fan of bags since I was little, and I never was happy with the bags that I purchased throughout the years. Albeit, school bags, camera bags, traveling bags, only until I was old enough to buy my own bag and actually traveled a bit that I was able to get myself some proper bags.
My first camera bag was a small, green army colored box with plastic fittings that costed next to nothing. When it grew too small, I went out and purchased my first serious camera bag, the $120 Lowepro Orion AW that was popular at that time, and despite some broken zipper handle, the bag stands its reputation, I still have it in storage, and it was a good bag.
When I begin working pros, carrying my PowerBook for location shoot became a burdain, so I bought myself a multi-purpose backpack, a khaki colored Crumpler knock-off that was not nearly as usable as intended that I ended up using it not as a camera bag, but a daily backpack. So I purchased another Crumpler knock-off messenger bag, in which the price has proven its unusefulness, it was dying too fast.
An iPad, a couple of years later, I finally decided to get the real thing, I wasn’t really sure what to get as yet, only to learn that what I need as a bag relevant to my current setup was close to nothing, at least that’s what I found in the beginning:
- Lightweight, thin & comfortable to wear and to carry my daily carry stuff.
- Long lasting & looks good.
- Capable of intaking an iPad plus a small pocket camera and/or basic DSLR kit.
Intriqued by the lost bag sketch that never saw the daylight, I began sketching my new ‘dream bag’ design. Think of ShootSac + Crumpler, instead of a detailed rendering of the bag, I came out with a size & material requirement, some friends recommended a few suppliers that are known to be custom bag makers for photographers & users (local), I was excited, and what comes next was a surprise.
I couldn’t remember what was the size/material I decided with and I lost the sketch, none of it was relevant when I rediscovered Billingham again, after a friend showed me his L2 setup. After doing a little research, I shortlisted the following models:
None of it met my size requirement, but both was a good justification, just when I decided on the Hadley, I saw something else on the shop, the new Billingham f/Stop Range bag, it was love at first sight, I dropped my jaw when I learned that it has the same or not perfect size — even better. So I quickly check if my Apple encased iPad fits perfectly, and the bag’s inner compartment was perfect in both width & height to fit the iPad.
Featuring Billingham’s composite lightweight material FibreNyte cloth, minimalistic design & legendary quality, the bag didn’t come cheap, I had to set aside $285 for this beast.
It took me a good few years to understand a thing or two about a good bag, and as the title suggested, big bag really bugs; materials and finishing is everything a bag can offer, my advise is never to settle with less, but quality & build. (Great look doesn’t hurt too).
Why I chose this bag:
- Lightweight, great design & craftsmanship.
- Dedicated iPad friendly space at the rear of the main compartment.
- Just enough additional compartment at the front & back of the bag.
- Bottom & Top are protected with a padded flaps.
- An iPad, basic DSLR kit & a few accessories will fit perfectly in this thing, it’s made for the iPad & digital shooters like me.
What I don’t like about this bag:
- The long quick release strap that is a departure from the old design (it’s a love & hate thing, that I happend to dislike).
- Its price tag.