I have been using this new bag since the beginning of this trip. I wanted to give it a complete workout in many conditions before I commented on it, but I can’t wait any longer because I love this bag! It rocks! I never thought I would be excited about a camera bag, but I am.
For the last 12 years or so, I have been using a Lowepro Photo Trekker Classic. I have no complaints with the company – in fact when my zippers wore out after 5 years of constant use, they offered to replace them at a very reasonable cost. Then to my surprise, they sent me a brand new bag for the same price, now that is service!
The company is great, but I have been frustrated with the bag for awhile now, particularly by the very poor harness system that I think has contributed to my shoulder problems. When Andy Biggs announced the formation of Gura Gear and the creation of the Kiboko Bag, I was very interested. You see Andy is a world class photographer who frequently leads tours to Africa – I knew he would understand the needs of the traveling photographer. So now that I have flown and hiked with the bag, here is what I love about it:
• It is much, much lighter then my old bag, by a number of pounds! This is huge. I was actually considering picking up a Canon 5D II because of the weight savings it offered, but here I actually freed up far more weight. I’m still amazed every time I grab the thing as to how much lighter it is.
• The harness system is much more comfortable. the shoulder straps have better support, and the belt actually transfers much of the weight to your hips like a backpack should.
• It is larger and can carry more gear including a 600. I have never had a bag that a 600 would actually fit in, this is going to be a big plus.
• Despite its extra capacity, it is still domestic airline carry-on legal.
• The straps and belt system tuck away into their own pocket and out of sight. This drove me nuts with my old bag – I would board a plane and put the thing in the overhead and constantly had to deal with dangling strap and buckles. Seemed like those things were always catching on things.
• It has two heavy duty handles, one on top, and another perfectly placed on one side – these make it a breeze for loading into an airplane overhead compartment, or into the back of a vehicle, because you are now able to hold the thing securely with both hands.
• It comes with its own rain coat. This will come in handy back home during the summer on the Alaska coast.
• The buckles don’t squeak. This drove me crazy with the Lowepro, and from on-line searches, I’m not the only one. I never did find a solution short of holding my hands on the offending buckles. This thing doesn’t make any unnecessary noise.
• It has a tripod holder. Before, I was stuck carrying my tripod in my hand with my old bag, this is another big plus!
• It also has a side water bottle holder. I used to put a water bottle on its side in my old bag, and unfortunately it would occasionally leak. Now it sits outside the bag, in an upright position.
• The inside is completly customizable, and it comes with more dividers then I will ever need.
I must say, there is a bit of a transition phase to having a new bag – with my old one, I could have been blindfolded and still find what I was looking for – that is one reason I never wanted to change. Once I get a system in place, and use it longer, the same will be true for the Kiboko Bag. This brings me to the one thing that my jury is still out on for me, and that is the butter fly opening. Basically, you open one side or the other, there are two flaps with the hinge for each flap running down the middle. As I’m still learning where I placed things, I find myself having to open one side, then the other. I think given time, this won’t be an issue.