Bags. Man, it really is a disease with photographers! Just when I think I have things figured out, something doesn’t work the way I had hoped with the bag or bags I have. Or, one of the prominent bag manufacturers comes out with a bag line that seemingly has all the perfect features. I recently went through the analysis of two bag lines to determine which bag I thought would be right for my desire to have a bag that would carry all, or very close to all, of the gear I typically want to take with me on a trip. This so I could carry it with me on the plane. I was considering the Tenba Cooper Slim 13 or the Think Tank Retrospective bags. I decided that the Cooper Slim 13 was too small, but might later be a great second bag to use as an “everyday” bag when at home or as the bag I take with me sightseeing when on a trip. So, I bought the Think Tank Retrospective 30 and am happy with it as a comfortable, flexible, large camera bag that holds pretty much everything I take with me when traveling.
On our trip to Seattle using the Retrospective 30 and my old Lowepro Passport Sling, which I had packed in my checked bag, this worked out well. On occasion, however, the Sling needed to be a bit bigger, so I ended up carrying the Retrospective 30 as a day bag, though not fully loaded. This, too, worked out okay, but it is a big bag. My thoughts returned to the Cooper Slim 13, it's sleek design with collapsible end pockets that can be used to hold a water bottle or a lens, and the praise it gets from other photographers I respect, such as Mike Boeing and Bob Panick.
Since the Cooper Slim 13 is not an inexpensive bag, especially as a second bag, I have really held back on ordering it. Each time I get the itch, I read about it and then look at alternatives. As luck would have it - and a testimonial that ad e-mails do, in fact, work - I received an e-mail from Vanquest, a tactical gear manufacturer from which I purchased my V-Slinger bag just when I had my most recent 'second bag' itch last week. Vanquest just came out with an update to their Envoy Messenger Bag line, the Envoy-3. I took a look at the specs and watched some videos.
It looked like a nice alternative to the Cooper Slim 13 and sells for $100 less. But then I compared its size to my Retrospective 30 and discovered it was about the same size if not just a tad bigger. Well, that wouldn't make sense. On the YouTube page with the videos I watched there was a link to another Vanquest bag, the SKITCH-12 Messenger Bag.
The SKITCH-12 Messenger Bag is smaller. In fact, it's somewhat smaller than the Cooper Slim 13. However, it is a unique bag because it can be set up in a short, medium, tall, and open top configuration. In all configurations the bag is 12.5" wide (32cm) and 4.5" deep (11.4cm). It doesn't have collapsible end pockets but because it is a tactical gear bag, it does have MOLLEs on which I can attach my roll up pouches that can hold a water bottle or a lens.
Another feature with this bag is the top zipper for access to the interior compartment without having to pull up the flap. It's not designed to be a camera bag and though it supposedly is well padded, it doesn't have compartments for camera gear.
Because, however, it has hook and loop on the bottom and sides of the main compartment, I should be able to use some dividers I have from my VSlinger and other bags. If that doesn't work as I hope, I figure I can use one of my Ape Case inserts. I like, too, that the SKITCH-12 is reconfigurable to different heights to increase internal storage capacity even though I see myself using it predominantly in its smallest configuration. In the short configuration its 11" high (14 L) or 28cm. The medium size is 13" high (16 L) or 33cm and the tall configuration is 17" high (23 L) or 43cm.
The bag's bottom zippered compartment looks to be a useful feature as well. I see using that for storing two of my little Eagle Creek bags with batteries, chargers, cables, and the like. So, yes, the videos I watched sold me on this bag instead of the Cooper Slim 13 and I ordered one. Once I have it, I'll immediately put it to the test and write about what I think.
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