No matter how many camera bags a photographer may own, it seems you never have one that’s quite the right size. In my case, I have a very large roller-bag for when I want to take almost all my kit with me when travelling, a large backpack for when a roller-bag isn’t practical and a very compact backpack that just carries one camera, one flashgun and a couple of extra lenses.
That worked reasonably well until I got a MacBook Air 11. That was so light that it made sense to carry it with me so that I could transfer and review photos while out & about, but my compact bag had no laptop slot. So when Mobile Fun invited me to take a look at its range, I decided to try a bag that was small enough to work as a daypack, but had room for a MacBook and a second camera. The Crumpler JackPack Full Photo Backpack seemed to fit the bill …
Externally, the bag has the smart, stylish appearance you expect from Crumpler. I also found it pretty much the perfect depth, just accommodating my D3 – a large camera – without any wasted space.
The build quality also feels good, with plenty of attention to detail. For example. the recessed zip helping to keep rain from seeping through into the inside of the bag. I did, though, find that the depth of this recess made the zip just the tiniest bit awkward to fully close – but that’s a minor quibble.
There are backpacks with neat straps, and backpacks that are comfortable to carry: it’s tough to get both. The JackPack aims for comfort, which means you are faced with a rather untidy mass of straps at the back.
But you forgive that as soon as you put it on. Being able to fasten the pack both around your waist and chest makes it very comfortable and secure, even when clambering around on rocks. The main straps are also nicely padded, making the bag feel lighter than it is.
Inside, there’s plenty of room for kit. In the main photo at the top of the review, I have in it a Nikon D3 (large professional DSLR), a Nikon D90 (more compact DSLR), both with lenses fitted, two additional lenses, two SB-800 flashguns (I shoot a lot of off-camera flash) and a few miscellaneous bits & pieces: lightmeter, radio trigger and spare batteries. That still leaves room to spare for an extra lens or two.
It has the standard moveable velcro dividers, enabling you to design the layout of the interior to suit your kit, simply removing any you don’t need (I left them all in for the photos to show you what you get).
I suspect pretty much every photographer has at some time or other picked up a backpack without zipping it up. I was lucky when I did it, nothing was damaged, but it’s a heart-stopping moment. So I greatly prefer bags that have zipped mesh covers, which this one does.
You can see there’s also a zipped mesh sleeve on the inside of the cover, handy for things like spare memory cards.
Despite the relatively compact size, the rear padded laptop slot has room for anything up to the MacBook Pro 15 – I couldn’t quite get my MBP 17 into it. My MacBook Air 11 slipped in with ease, even inside the BookBook case.
This photo gives a good indication of the size against the MacBook Air 11:
As you’d expect with Crumpler, the bag isn’t cheap, at £100 (around $165). However, that’s not an outrageous price for a decent camera and laptop backpack, and this one is more than decent.
It looks attractive, feels extremely well made and is comfortable to carry when fully loaded with kit. The laptop slot is lined with soft felt and is very well padded. I’m a little OCD about my MacBooks, so I tend to take them everywhere in BookBook cases, even inside other bags, but that’s really overkill here.
Mine came from the British company Mobile Fun, but they do ship to the U.S. also for a very reasonable £3.50 (around $5.80). You can see the company’s full range of camera bags here.