Two (or three) bags to get you there
By Curtis Joe Walker
Crumpler’s $170 8 Million Dollar Home is a handy, versatile shoulder bag for photographers on the go. With a bevy of inserts included, the bag can handle anything from two pro DSLRs with long lenses, or a DSLR, laptop and accessories. As tested, a DSLR body with lens, two medium-sized lenses, three hotshoe flashes, 15-inch laptop and miscellaneous accessories fit in perfectly.
The interior is all Velcro compatible, so the guts can be customized as desired. As with most Crumpler bags, there will be leftover inserts once the inside is customized. The bright green interior helps make loose items stand out. A mesh pocket in the top flap is great for batteries and small items, while a pair of pockets on the front of the bag provide a total of three slim compartments for organizing gear and paperwork.
On each side of the bag are a pair of loops through which you can slip tripod legs. That can be easier said than done, depending on the size of the legs and the material they’re covered with. Rubberized legs are particularly tough to deal with. In any case, the loops hold securely enough, but require two hands to insert and remove the tripod in most cases.
A waist strap helps keep the bag secure, though the shoulder strap isn’t back-packable like the Brazillion Dollar Home. Taller than it is wide, the bag seems made for public transit. The Crumpler $8mil is capable of holding just enough gear to cramp your shoulder after a day of hauling it around, but it’s certainly not going to break any backs. The shoulder pad distributes weight evenly. A comfy handle on top provides additional carry options in tight quarters. Its low key design doesn’t scream camera or computer to passers-by.
One downside is the lack of zippers to totally isolate the interior from dust and dirt, which shouldn’t be a problem except in the harshest environments due to the flaps that web the gap between the top and sides when closed. The top flap secures in place with a pair of large Velcro landing areas and a pair of quick-release buckles. The Velcro can be canceled with the built-in silencer flaps. This is handy when ripping open Velcro would be distracting or cumbersome.
Wedding, location and event photographers who need to have a laptop with them will love this bag. It’s just about the right size for traveling, as it’s got enough room for the necessities with a little bit to spare for a few luxuries.
Crumpler’s $495 Cork and Fork is a roller bag and backpack combo. The roller bag fits the backpack perfectly and as a kit, the two work together very well. When used with the backpack inserted, the system allows for transport of camera gear, laptop and a change of clothes with the convenience of a roller bag. Broken into two separate pieces, the backpack is comfortable and the suitcase is spacious enough for longer trips.
The interior of the backpack is totally customizable and comes with a pair of snakelike inserts to help add extra padding where needed while creating great nests for short and medium-length lenses. They can be completely removed to accommodate long lenses. It comes with more inserts than it is possible to use, ensuring a perfect fit for many combinations of equipment. Rather than having Velcro attached, small double-sided ovals provide custom mount points. Quick release mount loops on the outside of the bag allow for two tripods/lightstands to be carried easily, though they won’t fit into the suitcase when attached this way. The main flap of the bag has a padded laptop pocket and a built-in raincover that protects the bag from inclement weather.
The suitcase portion of the bag holds up very well on its own. It has compartments for toiletries, loose items and laundry. A set of four buckles on the main flap of the bag protect the zipper from coming open in transit, and a further flap on the inside keeps things orderly if it didn’t get zipped in the first place. From a security standpoint, it should deter quick hands, while still keeping things easy at the security checkpoints.
Slider knobs on the back of the bag facilitate loading into overhead bins on airplanes. The single-rail handle is very sturdy and rigid, even better than many dual rail systems. Its rollerblade-style wheels aren’t replaceable, but they shouldn’t ever need service. Comfy handles on the side and top allow for easy carry when rolling isn’t practical.
It’s a great combination for short trips, but can always break into two components for longer trips. When not in use, the two store as a single unit, taking up little room. Plus, on those trips where unexpected treasures turn up, there’s plenty of room to bring them home.