Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review - Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Backpack

I usually use a roller bag to get my gear to location, but there are many locations here on Maui where it is not always feasible to do that.  For many years I had been using a traditional shoulder bag when I couldn't use my rolling camera case, but since that bag has finally started to give out, I started looking into camera backpacks.

The Gura Gear line of backpacks is advertised as being one of the lightest camera backpacks on the market.  It is constructed of the same sailcloth material that is used on racing boats.

I decided to go with the Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Backpack.

It came packaged in a dust cover - a nice presentation, and I'm thinking that I could use the dust cover when I need to get down on the ground with my camera.

It has two main handles on the outside of the bag,

 plus a slim one on the bottom to help you get it into the overhead bin of an airplane.

There are M.O.L.L.E. attachments, a pocket, and a tripod strap on both sides of the bag.

The zipper pulls are color coded - the black ones open the outer pockets, the blue ones open the main compartment.

The two main outer pockets run the length of the bag and have various internal pockets for organizing things.

It also comes with a rain cover in a separate external pocket.

One of the main reasons why I chose this bag was because it was designed to open butterfly style, which keeps the flaps out of the mud/sand/dirt when the bag is on the ground.

The previous version of this bag, the Kiboko, only opened in this butterfly style.  With the Bataflae, there is a new feature that lets you open the entire backpack in the traditional manner which makes it easier to load the bag or work out of in an indoor environment. To do this you open the buckle on the top of the bag and unzip the blue zippers to the bottom of the bag. You then open the flap to get full access to the interior.

 The inside of the lid has velcro that runs the length of the bag - this attaches to the center divider when the bag is closed and allows it to open butterfly style.

The main divider that splits the compartment into two sections is removable, but if you want to maintain the sturdiness of the backpack it is probably not a good idea to take it out.

It also comes with a few extra dividers, but not as much of a variety as you get from other manufacturers.

You will notice that the velcro does not cover the entire surface of the dividers.   On the larger dividers, the velcro only covers the center portion.

The same is true for the interior of the bag - the velcro does not cover the corners.

On the floor of the bag, only the center portion is covered.

I'm guessing this was done to save weight, but this may limit some configurations you might want to do.  Personally I prefer to be able to put the dividers in any way I want, so I'm not too fond of this design choice.

The backpack straps are stored in a compartment in the back of the bag.

The backpack is very well padded and comfortable to wear. It will take you a minute or two to set up the straps after pulling them out of their compartment as there are several buckles that need to be connected first.

The upper part of the shoulder strap connects here

The bottom of the shoulder straps and the waist best buckles connect here.

The buckles that connect the bottom of the shoulder straps to the bag are of the 3-point variety instead of the usual 2.  So you have to press both sides of the buckle as well as the center button in order to get it to release.

That bit of extra security means that you cannot accidentally unhook the buckle and wind up having your backpack and your gear come crashing down.

Whenever you have an adjustable strap on a camera bag, there is always the problem of what to do with the excess length.  Gura Gear has come up with a really elegant solution to this.

There is a small velcro strap sewn into the end of the straps - you can simply roll up the excess strap and then velcro it together so that it doesn't keep flapping around.

A very smart idea which I wish more camera bag manufacturers would adopt.

Overall I like this backpack.  Because of the limited velcro on the dividers, I'll have to play around with the dividers to come up with a configuration that works for me. I'll be using this backpack for the next couple of beach weddings and see how it works out.