Case Logic Gear Review
Case Logic: “Life, Simplified.”
As traveling photographers, we has have an eye out for the perfect camera bag. We need to get our gear from one place to another. Moreover we want to be able to find what we need when we get there. I recently spent some time doing a Case Logic gear review. This is the Case Logic SLR Camera & Laptop Backpack. As a Lake Tahoe wedding photographer, I am accustomed to walking, hiking and sometimes running with a big backpack. Occasionally, it weights in at 35+ pounds. The variety of gear needed to photograph a wedding demands a large volume pack that can handle the weight.
But for travel, mountain sports, landscape and other outdoor photography, smaller and more compact is often better. As soon as I pulled this lightweight backpack out of the box, I knew it had potential. With some well-designed organizational features and the ability to carry a photographer’s essentials, this pack looked promising. It even boasts a laptop sleeve in the back panel, advertised to fit my 17″ MacBook Pro laptop. Let’s take a closer look!
Basic Design Info:
- Dimensions: 17″ x 12.5″ x 8″
- Weight: 2 lbs, 11 oz
- Mid-sized pack that accommodates 1-2 SLR camera bodies, 2-3 zoom or prime lenses and 1-2 flashes
- Black nylon exterior with a rigid water-resistant EVA base: Fends of the elements and keeps the pack standing upright
- Bright orange interior with foam blocks that can be moved around to customize your storage space
- Neoprene hammock system suspends one body/lens combo
- 2 Velcro side straps to secure a tripod, monopod or rain jacket
- Side, front and inner pockets with see-through sleeves for simple organization of batteries, memory cards and other small accessories
Initial Impressions of the Case Logic SLR Camera/Laptop Backpack:
First things first. This camera bag is light. As I know from previous experience with Case Logic products, light weight doesn’t equal poor quality. I already use the Case Logic 17″ Laptop Backpack for client-meetings. In addition I use it as an airline carry-on bag. Occasionally I use it for coffee shop telecommuting. It has stood up to planes, trains and automobiles. Literally. First, the SLR Camera backpack stands out with a durable black nylon exterior. Second, it has heavy duty exterior zippers featuring orange-highlighted pull tabs and an innovative EVA base. Because of the water-resistant EVA base, there is protection against water, snow and dirt. It also helps the bag stand upright whenever you set it down.
Surprisingly, Case Logic opted for a bright orange fabric inside the bag. Camera accessories are almost always black. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve fumbled around in the dark depths of a camera bag’s corners for a black lens pen, lens cap or memory card, I’d already have my own line of camera bags on the market. A variety of lightweight orange dividers can be configured however you please. Due to this feature you have many options for organizing your gear.
A second look at the outside of the pack reveals a side pocket with mesh sleeves for cards and cords. A zippered front pocket is great for a smart phone, keys, wallet and pens. The opposite side sports a couple of straps that are secured with velcro. I tried out these straps on a tripod, a monopod and a fleece jacket.
I photographed the Case Logic DSLR Camera/Laptop backpack in the studio when it first arrived. First I checked out the design. Then I tried out its features. Over the next month or so, I frequently loaded it up with a couple camera bodies, a few lenses and a standard collection of accessories. Then I took it out for some field testing. Read on for the results!
BELOW: The left side of the backpack features a tall zippered panel. This hides a couple of mesh pockets. These pockets are ideal for memory cards, business cards and other small items. You can also stuff a warm hat or beanie in here. Although a little difficult to see in the left image, there is a tight black loop on the outside of this panel. It’s right next to the vertical orange stripe. I’m really not sure what this is intended for. I couldn’t think of anything to put there.
LEFT Below: The Case Logic SLR Camera/Laptop Backpack in its stock configuration. Flipping back the main lid reveals a bright orange interior. There are numerous dividers and two zippered pockets. The egg-crate style black foam at the top of the lid is actually memory foam. It protects the screen on the back of your digital camera.
RIGHT Below: Close-up view of the patent-pending SLR-Suspension System. Slide your camera/lens combo into this neoprene hammock. In particular, it adds protection when you’re on the go.
LEFT Below: Detail of the large-gauge main compartment zipper. This also shows one of the two “keeper tabs” on the main zipper. When fastened shut, these tabs prevent you from opening up the main zipper all the way. You can even remove your camera without exposing the rest of the gear in the pack. It took me a while to figure this one out on my own.
RIGHT Below: Close-up of the color scheme, zipper pulls and front exterior pocket.
LEFT Below: Close-up view of the zippered front compartment and internal pockets.
RIGHT Below: When the “keeper tabs” are secured, this is as far as you can open the main zippered compartment. You are able to grab just your camera. Meanwhile all the other contents remain securely inside.
LEFT Below: This view shows the two side straps on the right side of the backpack and the laptop compartment zipper.
RIGHT Below: Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod attached using the two sides traps.
LEFT Below: Single Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash placed vertically in the backpack. This shows the height of the backpack. As an illustration, you can’t place a full-sized flash unit vertically in this bag. I found that by rearranging the divider blocks, I could lay 1 or 2 flash units down. They have to be stacked on top of one another. I was reluctant to do this however, as I like to separate gear in my camera bag. This is in order to protect them. Laying down just one flash results in leftover, unused space. An easy solution would be to place a rectangle of bubble wrap between the two flashes.
RIGHT Below: Three Canon L-series lenses, with lens hoods. From left to right, the lenses are: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens, Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM and Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM. As you can see, the overall width of the backpack doesn’t quite accommodate Canon L-series glass in this configuration. I had trouble closing the main zipper at this point. Smaller Canon EF lenses or Canon EF-S lenses would probably stand vertically like this just fine. You can also see that the unused cavities below the three lenses are very difficult to access.
LEFT Below: This view shows a 17″ MacBook Pro Laptop in the laptop compartment. I was able to close the zipper to this compartment. But just barely. The backpack sports an abundance of padding in every other respect, except here. There really isn’t any padding where the zipper squeezes around the corners of a 17″ laptop. I tested my 15″ MacBook laptop in the laptop compartment. A 15″ laptop fits easily. There is even room to spare.
RIGHT Below: Rigid EVA backpack base protects the pack and provides a stable platform for the pack to stand on. Pretty burly. Obviously very durable.
Conclusions and Feedback for the Case Logic SLR Camera/Laptop Backpack:
For its size and weight, this pack is pretty versatile. I wouldn’t use it to photograph a wedding, but that’s okay. For those jobs, I’m happier taking a bigger bag. I’d rather not stress about squeezing every last piece of gear into a smaller pack. Most camera backpacks have similar features. It’s kind of hard to re-invent the wheel on this. But Case Logic has come up with some pretty cool features that definitely grabbed my attention.
5 Features I really like:
- Size, Weight and Build: This pack is noticeably smaller than the Tamrac CyberPack 8 and Think Tank Airport Addicted 2.0 backpacks that I use for wedding photography. But it makes for a great mid-sized option for hiking, climbing and travel. The pack is sturdy. It certainly seems built to last. It comes with a 25 year warranty.
- The Orange Interior: As I mentioned above, I hate digging around for dark accessories in a dark environment.
- Plethora of pockets: For all the little essentials, this pack has you covered. I prefer mesh or see-through vinyl pockets because I often forget where I put things. This bag has them.
- EVA base: It doesn’t really matter how you load this bag. When you set it down, it stays there. No tipping, flopping or rolling.
- Mesh material on the back panel and shoulder straps. This material wicks sweat and moisture really well when you’re hiking around. Moreover it dries quickly when you set the pack down.
5 Features I would change:
- Sternum Strap: I hiked with this pack for up to an hour on trails around Lake Tahoe. Sternum straps always seem to help keep a pack secure. In addition I find your shoulders get less fatigued as well.
- Side straps: As you can see from the photo above, this smaller pack is already slightly overwhelmed by even a compact tripod. The velcro that secures the tripod to the side of the pack grips well. But not enough to give me the peace of mind I need when I’m scrambling. Especially considering this is sometimes near water, and sometimes next to big cliffs. A revised attachment system to replace the velcro closure would make sure the tripod doesn’t fall off or get knocked loose.
- Laptop Compartment: If the pack’s overall size were even 1/2 an inch taller, a 17″ MacBook Pro laptop would fit comfortably. There would even be room to add some protective padding to protect the edges of the computer. As it is, zipping a 17″ MacBook Pro laptop into the compartment is bit of a squeeze job, with no edge protection.
- Foam dividers: Considering the limited real estate in this pack, I think these foam blocks could be less blocky. Trim them down by 50% and you’ll still get generous padding with more room inside the bag.
- Awkward space at the bottom of the backpack. Owing to the EVA base, the main compartment zipper can’t unzip fully. Because of this, accessing the space at the bottom of the pack is difficult. I’m not sure what the solution to this might be.
Here are a couple photos of the pack in action around Lake Tahoe. Many thanks to Case Logic for providing this pack for testing!
Chris Werner is an adventure lifestyle photographer in Lake Tahoe. His recent travels have taken him to the streets of Holland, the plains of the Serengeti and the paradise island of Zanzibar.