A new DSLR System acquisition invariably sees us purchase a new bag to house it in. What can I say? – we have a real weakness for photo bags and need little in the way of a reason to go and purchase a new one. Excuses flow easily in terms of justification but when it comes down to being honest, new bags are exciting!
Ethan has recently changed systems to Pentax, notably the K5, 16-50 DA* f2.8 zoom and 100 f2.8 macro lenses. True, it could have fitted nicely into one of our existing bags but the call for a new one was just too strong – it borders on the sacrilegious to store a new system in an old bag.
Having used Tamrac products in the past, we have always been happy with the design and durability of their kit so they were shortlisted along with Kata for further inspection. Kata bags are superbly built and we had chance to handle some of the range at last year’s Focus on Imaging show. But some of the new styles from Tamrac were what really turned out heads. The decision was made to go with the Aero Speedpack 75 as it offered plenty of storage space with room for growth, without being over large. Its dimensions also meant that it could be used as airline carry-on luggage with no problems.
The Speedpack follows a tried and tested formula that we are more than happy with; the lower section consists of a large compartment with adjustable inserts that easily holds the camera body and lenses with room to spare. As there is plenty of left over space, filters and cleaning equipment are also stored here, along with a beanbag. The entire area can be accessed by a heavy duty semi-circular zip which is protected from the elements by a narrow fabric overhand. The inside of the zipped flap has a couple of pockets, although we have yet to find a use for them. On the outside is a small elasticated pocket useful for storing gloves or a hat.
One of the deciding factors in choosing this model was the inclusion of a quick access flap on the bag’s side. This means that the camera can removed simply but slinging the bag over a shoulder instead of having to put it down and rummage about. Many of the latest backpacks have this feature, and it works well on the svelte 75. The quick access flap is well protected by a waterproof zip, whilst the inside provides three small pockets to store batteries and memory cards in. On the opposite side of the quick access flap is a further elasticated pocket that looks designed for a bottle of water or small thermos flask. Underneath are the lugs where tripod straps can be attached, although they are not included with the bag.
Moving up to the top section, it is large enough to store a light jacket and food, but is not designed for laptops – the larger 85 model is, however (up to 17”). The upper section contains an elasticated pocket that is useful for stashing travel documents and/or other small items in. The zip is heavy duty and similar to the one used on the main camera compartment.
Bags of this type only work if the strap system is well padded and fully adjustable. We are pleased to say that the Aero 75 scores highly here as even when fully loaded, it can be worn comfortably for an entire day. The straps widen out exactly where needed, i.e. where the shoulders make contact, and can be easily adjusted to suit the wearer. A waist belt also helps but rides a little high with a pack of this size. If you find yourself running out of storage space, Tamrac’s SAS (Strap Accessory System) items can be added to the waist or shoulder straps. These include pockets for filters, batteries and memory cards.
Like other Tamrac bags, the Aero 75 is well put together and manufactured from a tough burnt orange and black water and stain resistant nylon fabric. As this bag is new to us we have yet to see how well it holds up to daily use, but based on previous experience we have no concerns. One slight niggle is that no rain cover is provided which I think should be standard with this style of bag. It does appear to be pretty water repellent as it is but I like to have the added security of a rain cover for those instances when the weather turns really bad. As they are available from many outdoor shops in the area we can easily pick one up if it is thought necessary.