Over my past 15 years as a pro photographer I’ve had innumerable backpacks, bags and carrying accessories for my camera gear. It seemed I was always making some kind of compromise, and I could never find exactly the right bag for my style and needs—until now.

Delivered today was my new Vanguard Alta Rise 48 – and I now have my perfect camera bag.

My move to minimalism

A few years ago, when I decided to switch to Sony mirrorless camera systems, my main objective was cutting down the weight, size and general clumsiness of the kit I’d been lugging around.

(At one point, with my Canon DSLR setup, I had a backpack that weighed over 35 pounds when filled with camera bodies, lenses and accessories! I’d had enough of this.)

So I started looking for a camera system that would give me the image quality (and resolution) that I needed but smaller, lighter … and, in the end, cheaper. Sony met those requirements, and I’ve been an ambassador ever since.

It turned out the harder part was finding the right luggage to haul the new kit around in. I’ve used and endorsed products from ThinkTank, LowePro, Manfrotto, Tamrac and many others. And although the quality of most of the products from these brands is reliably excellent, the design and usability is another matter altogether.

Now it’s personal

One of the most individual decisions we make as photographers is how we carry our gear. Depending on how and where you shoot, and what gear you use, there are seemingly infinite choices and configurations when it comes to bags.

After switching to Sony mirrorless I thought I’d also had enough of backpacks, so I started looking at shoulder bags. I shopped around for months and eventually found the excellent Vanguard Up-Rise II 28. It fit all my camera gear perfectly, was intelligently designed and the build quality superb.

But I found very quickly that a shoulder bag was not right for me. Having the weight on one side of my body, however much lighter it was, turned out to be uncomfortable. So I was back to looking for backpacks.

Seeking camouflage

In the meantime, I became very comfortable just using a ‘regular’ backpack, not designed for cameras. Thieves have a finely tuned radar for photo bags; typical backpacks are certainly stolen as well, but not nearly as attractive to thieves. So for a long time, I really tried to get by without a true camera bag at all. But with a regular backpack, protection for the gear is minimal and the storage spaces aren’t ideal. So I found a regular backpack wasn’t filling the need, either.

Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpackThe current crop

In mid-2017 I started looking for a new camera backpack. As fast and impressively as cameras have been evolving, so have bags.

I’ve loved my Vanguard shoulder bag so from the outset I hoped to find another Vanguard bag. Still, wanting to perform the appropriate due-diligence, I researched all the latest from ThinkTank, LowePro, Manfrotto, Tamrac and others.

At The Photography Show 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham, UK all the bag makers were showing their latest and best products. And I looked at them all.

In the end I chose the Vanguard Alta Rise 48 and I am well chuffed (as we say here in England).

Today the bag arrived, I put in all my gear and tried it on. It’s every bit as good as I thought it was when I saw it at the Photography Show and I’m looking forward to getting out and shooting with it!

If you’re considering buying another bag, of any style, you must see what Vanguard is doing. Their products are incredibly well designed, the build quality is superb and the prices represent very good value.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on camera bags, please leave your comments below.

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