Note: there is a gallery of images with notations at the bottom of this post!
My newest bag, the Vanquest SKITCH-12 messenger bag arrived yesterday. Out of the box, my first impression was that it compresses nice and flat. That's good because I plan to use this bag on trips as my "2nd bag" for day use while I carry the bulk of my camera gear in my Think Tank Retrospective 30 bag. The empty SKITCH-12 bag will, therefore, fit nicely in my checked bag and not take up much room. I bought my bag in the Wolf Gray color and am happy with that. The items I plan to attach to this bag are similar in color so they will look natural on this bag.
I first checked the various size setups this bag offers for changing its external height: short (11in/28cm), medium (13in/33cm), and tall (17in/43cm). The bag has an external width of 12.5 inches (32cm) and depth of 4.5 inches (11.4cm) in all configurations. Impressive. This added capacity flexibility could prove to very handy. When fully open, the interior compartment appears cavernous! However, even in its “short” configuration the SKITCH-12 main compartment is roomy (14L!). There are no dividers and only two side pockets in this compartment. The side pockets are tight but will allow for insertion of small items. Each pocket can be secured with hook and loop tabs. To use the SKITCH-12 to carry cameras and associated gear I will have to use an insert of some sort, though each interior side has wide strips of hook and loop so one could attach the typical camera bag dividers with edge hook and loop strips. Since I have an Ape Case (Cubeze Interior Case for Cameras [ACQB37] ), though, that's not a problem for me, as the Ape Case provides me with compartments for my camera(s) and lenses. This handy little insertion only costs around $14 and it makes the interior of this bag useful for photoographers. I put mine inside the SKITCH-12 and since it is only 7.5 inches (19cm) long, there is room at one end to put other things. I’m just starting to experiment with configuration possibilities to see how I want the Ape Case set up.
OK, other pockets. There are two larger, expandable pockets on the front side under the flap and in front of them is another compartment area, the back of which creates an about 5 inch (13cm) wide pocket that doesn’t expand very much but would be a good place for a smartphone or the like. On the front side of that is like an “admin” panel with two long but tight pockets and four slide pockets for pens and such. Behind the cluster of pockets I just described is a pass through compartment (openings on both ends with zipper closures) that I could see using for holding a collapsed monopod or very small tripod (my LolliPod tripod fits nicely). An interesting compartment is an area that forms the bottom of this bag. It has a zipper on front side and goes the whole width of the bag. I am experimenting with storing a small Tenba accessory bag containing cables and miscellaneous items in there or I may use it to house one or two of my small Eagle Creek accessory bags. Finally, there is a bag-width pocket on the back of the SKITCH-12 that is designed to hold a regular sized iPad or tablet. Some have said they could get their 13” MacBook Pro in this pocket, but I’m not seeing that, especially if you already have a fair amount of gear inside the bag. One last thing: there are no pockets on the ends of the bag like there are on so many bags I’ve looked at, especially the Tenba Cooper Slim 13. However, I knew that and because there are PALS ("Pouch Attachment Ladder System") loops on each end, I knew I could add a water bottle pouch and a little Vanquest admin attachment.
So, is this a good camera bag? Is it going to work for me as my everyday bag or second bag on trips? Not sure. My first impression is that I like the bag. I like its size and quality. Though there is padding on the bag, it is not padded to the degree a bag designed for cameras is. Adding an insert such as the Ape Case, though, takes care of that for the interior compartment. What makes the SKITCH-12 bag appealing to me mostly - when compared to the Cooper Slim 13 - is how flexible it is. I like the idea that I can use it 90% of the time in its “short” configuration, but if I need additional space, you can expand the bags size easily. The exterior pockets and compartments are not as roomy as I believe they are on bags such as the Cooper Slim 13. I have loaded the bag and plan to use it for the next week to see how it works for me. I have attached the small rollup water bottle pouch to one end of the bag and the small “admin” pouch to the other.