I originally learned about this bag and got the idea from John Barbiaux over at photolisticlife.com. You can see his article here. He’s got a wonderful blog and is very responsive to questions. I recommend giving him a read and a subscribe.
It started when I was Googling for a camera backpack to use on an upcoming trip to Maui. I didn’t need a full photography gear backpack as I already have one for that purpose. What I needed was a bag to hold a camera with a few lenses, an iPad, and extra stuff. John’s review pointed me to the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-Volume backpack and a camera bag insert. The price of the backpack is normally $99, but Amazon had one for $57 which I snagged! My guess is that it was an ugly color that just wasn’t selling. One day later, the backpack is now selling for $69. I can deal with an ugly color if it saves me some bucks. The insert I found is made by Koolertron, it matched the orange of the backpack, fit the dimensions of the inside of the bag, and had good reviews too.
Initial impressions of the backpack before my trip…
- If you can get it on sale, it’s quite reasonable.
- Made well.
- iPad sleeve (advertised for a laptop, but not in my experience).
- Compact yet spacious.
- Inner pockets for cords, knickknacks, etc.
- Draw string to close the main compartment.
- Convenient front pocket.
- Magnetic seal – It’s unique and provides for easy access, but… see cons.
- The should pads feel short when wearing the pack. Granted it’s a small backpack, but I would have liked the padded part to be longer.
- A mid chest/waist harness belt would have been welcome.
- Weather resistance? It doesn’t say one way or another anywhere online. Guess we’ll see.
- The flaps are held down by magnets. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out that the flaps could open and stuff could easily fall out of your bag. Time will tell.
- An exterior water bottle holder would be nice.
- No clear spot for a luggage tag.
Initial impressions of the Koolertron insert:
- Fits a small camera like a Fuji X or Leica M with a small lens attached and two more small lenses in the bag.
- Four velcro dividers are included (2 full width and 2 half width and height).
- Closes with a draw string.
- Seems like it was made for the Herschel Supply Co. Little America Mid-Volume Backpack.
- Material sticks to my dry and chapped hands. It’s terribly annoying.
- Nothing else really, it’s a padded camera bag insert.
Now some pre Maui photos:
Maui – Traveling
I decided to change my camera gear kit prior to leaving. I am now taking the Fuji X-T2 with grip and 16-55mm f/2.8 attached, the 23mm f/2 (in a separate lens pouch), two lens filters (polarizing and graduated neutral density), and a Rode VideoMicro.
Carrying the backpack through the airport was no problem. It’s not too heavy, and the easy access to the front pocket was welcome. I used that front pocket quite often to access my ID and boarding pass. Unfortunately, the TSA now requires you to pull your camera out separately, so I had to repack my bag with the camera on top (it made the bag top heavy and the bag would not stand up well because of that. Once inline for screening, it didn’t take long to pull the camera insert out of the backpack (since it was on top) and put it on the conveyor belt. Fortunately, they didn’t make me unpack the insert. It is the TSA after all, so your mileage will most certainly vary day to day.
On the plane, the backpack fit nicely under the seat in front of me. All was well until a person one row in front of me spilled their ginger ale. The bottom and back of the backpack got hit by it. Fortunately, the gear inside was and dry. Unfortunately, there is now a stain on my backpack – sure glad I bought the less expensive ugly one.
Maui – Biking down Haleakala
For this ride, I packed the X-T2 (grip attached), 16-55mm, snacks, and rain pants. It wasn’t that uncomfortable and was indeed quite useable going down the mountain. No complaints at all. We stopped for breakfast along the way, and it wasn’t cumbersome or awkward at all to bring into the restaurant. Later in the day, I set the backpack down in a dusty/dirty area. The dirt must have had iron in it (quite red), because the dirt stuck to the magnetic part. It was so stuck in there, I couldn’t close the bag all the way. After blowing the dirt out and rinsing it with the water bottle, I was able to get it working again. This was the only problem I had with the bag the entire time.
Maui – “Road to Hana” and “Maui Pineapple Tours”
The backpack did great. Due to it’s relatively small size, it wasn’t a problem to get on board or stow on the floor or next to you on the seat. Easy access to get in or out. Also, my gear was protected against the occasional bump, kick, etc. that happens in those situations – even though I was trying to be as careful as possible.
The backpack and insert did just fine. In fact, I think this might become my go to camera bag going forward for family outings like The Washington State Fair, Hempfest, or other all day festivals and events.
Do I recommend it? Yes, especially for the price I paid. Would I have paid $99 for it? Sure, it doesn’t seem unreasonable compared to other camera bags I’ve purchased. Although, if you can get an ugly color for less, definitely do that.
Here are my affiliate links to this backpack and insert on Amazon. If you purchase them using this link, it helps me earn money to pay for this blog and further my photography habit: