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Review: Tamrac Velocity 8x Camera Bag

by Mitch Russo on 04/12/2012

Also known as Model 5768, the Velocity 8x is part of Tamrac’s Velocity Sling Series, which has become very popular for one particular reason—it can be worn like a backpack but yields its contents with one simple swing-motion. You’ve probably seen sling bags, in fact they’ve been around for a while, but the Tamrac Velocity 8x wins for accessibility and comfort. Here’s what it looks like and why I think it deserves your attention.

Cut-away view of the Tamrac Velocity 8x *

* image courtesy of Tamrac Corporation

Before I go into detail on why I think this is the best bag in its class, I should explain my obsession for camera bags. Women with shoe fetishes would find me fascinating. They understand the reason why bags are so important and it’s not to match my outfit. Well maybe sometimes…

Camera bags dictate two critical trip conditions: How I feel when I transport my gear and how much gear I am able to bring. All of my failed experiments with hard cases, unpadded crumple bags, camera bags with wheels, backpacks, and shoulder bags have only resulted in chiropractor expenses for me. However, this design has done the impossible.

Tech Specs

Material 600D PolyTek exterior
Type of Closure Zipper
Exterior Dimensions 12.25 x 6.0 x 13.5″ (31.1 x 15.2 x 34.3 cm)
Interior Dimensions 9.5 x 5.5 x 11.0″ (24.1 x 14.0 x 27.9 cm)
Tripod Holder None
Waist Belt Tuck-A-Way design
Carrying/Transport Options   Sling strap or top carry handle
Weight 2 lb (0.9 kg)

Specifications courtesy of B&H Photo’s web site.

Build

There is nothing I would like more than to design my own bag, but no one has enlisted me. So, like the rest of us, I have to choose one from the sea of manufactured products currently available. Build quality is critical to me; I am not abusive, but I do get into harsher elements and I won’t tolerate a bag that doesn’t hold up to some rough treatment.

Take a look at the construction, it's double and quadruple stitched for durability.

The zipper itself is double stitched to the body and looks to be welded at the seams for a reliable, high quality, long lasting build.

Everyone’s needs are different, but for me, I need my bag to offer protection in rain, to bounce around in the back of a van and not damage the gear inside, to provide access quickly and to be very comfortable for many hours at a time. Maybe you don’t need that level of protection. Even so, everyone wants a well made product that will last for years. If you have quality equipment and you need to transport it easily, you still need a camera bag. My belief is to get the best in class when possible.

Just by picking this product up in a store, you notice the care of how each seam is cut, the stitching is uniform and the material (called PolyTek) is smooth and supple. I’ve observed that materials like this are generally not found in sub-$100 camera bags unless they are made by Tamrac.

The handle is soft foam covered in a sweat-wicking web that keeps the handle from getting slippery. The side clips shown below are to double-secure the top flap which is sealed with a high tooth-count teflon zipper. This image above also shows the thickness of the padding, which is ample and protective of your gear, while remaining light and comfortable.

The bag shown in this posting is actually two years old has has traveled with me extensively. It weighs only two pounds empty. Compared to some of the other bags I’ve owned, it’s amazing how light it is yet offers so much protection. Also notice how “new” this bag looks after extensive use, I didn’t go out of my way to clean it. I can only think of Teflon and Bill Clinton having a similar quality.

This shows the thick shoulder strap quad-stitched to the padded upper saddle along with the bottom pocket storing the waist band, should you want that extra security. The only possible weakness would be the plastic/nylon clip that regulates the strap length. It looks durable and should not be a problem, but it is plastic, and not metal.

With a product of this quality, I wouldn’t hesitate taking it with me anywhere in the world for an extended trip or out for an afternoon to photograph the countryside.

Interior

Inside, there’s much more room than you would think. Looking at the cut-away image above, this bag seems bottomless in many cases. Notice how each compartment is designed for a specific use, and how the center compartment is designed for a DSLR and lens because the side walls flap down to support the body.

The interior side pockets are designed for lenses or a flash. There are “trap doors” at the bottom of each compartment with velcro holding that keep the padded flap in place. The center opening is where my 5D MkII and attached Canon 24-105 L slide in comfortably. Yet, there’s still room under the DSLR/Lens for a 50mm F1.4 lens.

The back is thick foam, encased in heavy water-repellant fabric which protects the contents and keeps the interior dry unless completely submerged in water.

The front pocket (shown below) is very spacious, holding a variety of travel items. The three center pockets under the flap (with red inserts) are designed for memory cards, and items about the size of an iPhone. I also use it for accessories, keys, access cards and wallet.

This is what it looks like filled with gear and ready to go. Everything I need to access quickly is in that fold down pocket, including CF cards, a variable ND filter, an interval timer and other handy items.

The contents of the Tamrac Velocity 8X shown before loading up, less the flashlight and the clip-on padded lens holder that slips on the side straps. A place for everything and everything in its place.

While traveling, I bring the following photo gear with me, but unpack some of it when I arrive at my hotel. Then, taking what I need for the day, repack my Tamrac Velocity 8x for lighter weight.

In Use

For those who do not venture outdoors or do not need to access equipment while standing, other camera bags may be more appropriate. Studio photographers who move from shoot to shoot may not care about this type of product. This bag seems best for those who travel with camera gear and photograph while standing and don’t want to bend over to access their equipment.  Being outdoors usually requires a higher degree of protection from the elements which the Velocity 8x provides.

Comfortable and easy to use, the Velocity swings back and out of the way quickly. The length of the padded body strap is adjustable with a tug, locking nicely and securely into the position you placed it. This shows how the Velocity 8x can be worn lower on the back, which for some is more comfortable.

There’s a pouch on the outside back of the bag which stores a waist harness. On a motorcycle, the waist harness easily secures the whole system to your body. It’s designed to rotate around your torso as you swing the bag under your arm to access it’s content.

See (above) how easily the bag can be accessed? The movement was one single swing around the body and the bag is upright and ready to open. The contents are stable, they won’t fall out, and the bag is accessible without putting it down. Every compartment can be reached with one movement, except the trap door under the DSLR, which requires removing the camera and a velcro pad.

Bags packed and ready for the next adventure, everything fits and is well protected. Weight is supported evenly on your back and one shoulder. If one shoulder gets stressed, swing the bag under the opposite arm and it will rest on your other shoulder so both share in carrying the weight. Using 2 accessory straps on the sides, I store my SureFire Tactical Hi-Power Flashlight in it’s custom holster, reviewed last month on ThePhoblographer, padded lens carrier and my lens hoods which are conveniently held by the top-compartment clips.

Conclusion

A closet full of camera bags leaves a legacy of a man unsatisfied by “standard offerings,” until the Tamrac Velocity 8x came along and saved me from a life of eternal searching. I am a satisfied customer and having spent a fraction of what I have on other bags. This simple, well conceived marvel of protection and organization has managed to keep me happy for the last several years. While not perfect in every respect, so far it comes closest to being the best photography equipment transport system I’ve found yet. It’s size, weight and versatility allow me to stuff it full then, upon arrival, strip it down to a working, efficient system.

Did Tamrac think of everything? Just about, with the only addition I would have appreciated would be to offer this as a waterproof version. While in Iceland this past January, with pounding, driving rains, the interior was damp after a day outside. Beyond, I would highly recommend the Velocity 8x to anyone spending weeks at a time traveling with expensive photo gear and wanting easy accessibility!

Let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you with different ideas on usage and packing.

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