Review: Manfrotto Backpack 30

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We’ve just recently covered some of Manfrotto’s new bag line. Over the last few weeks I had the chance to test Manfrotto’s new Backpack 30. Now, Manfrotto set out to reinvigorate its bag line with a much-needed new look and design. I must say I really warmed up to the charms of the design of what it has to offer.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Matthew D’Alessio

Pros and Cons

Pros

– Great build quality and materials

– Minimalist looks that mixes with some style

– Great back padding

– Core Protection System is nice

– Reinforced front shell

Cons

– Wish the Core Protection System were around the entire inside of the bag

Gear Used

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This is what we crammed into here:

Panasonic GH3, Switronix Powerbase 70 battery, Switronix Torch LED light, Panasonic DMW-BLF19 batteries (2), Switronix DSLR Powertap regulator cable for GH2/GH3, Camtrol 3’’ LCD shade, Delkin SD card case, 2 sony style batteries for Torch LED, 3 Step up rings of various sizes, Lens Loop, 77mm ND and Circular Polarizer, Panasonic GH3 DC Coupler, standard Manfrotto tripod plate, a lens pen, Fotodiox Leica R to M43 adapter, Tascam DR-40 with extended battery, SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 12mm T1.6 V1, Leica R 24mm f2.8, Leica R 35mm f2, Leica R 50mm f2, RODE NTG-1 and a Macbook Pro Retina 13inch.

Ergonomics

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Manfrotto’s Backpack 30 is pretty simple in design. But what they really set out to do was focus on trying to make the bag more functional and in a way less attention grabbing. Of course not that this is a bad thing. The simple look is actual pretty slick.

Like with the other bags and backpacks in this new line, a reinforced front shell adds some nice front protection in case of impact.

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Starting from the top you’ll notice that the actual shape of the design of this bag is more of a clamshell look. I took notice right away that the two zippers are actually bent in a fashion that makes it easier to move the zippers around when opening the bag.

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Right underneath the main part of the bag is a well-hidden compartment to put a 15-inch computer. The nice thing about this compartment is it’s well padded by the back part where you place on top of your back. A cool feature about this compartment is besides being somewhat hidden from plain sight is the two buckles that are used to raise the bag higher on your shoulder pads could be used as sort of a theft deterrent from that compartment from being open since it stops the zipper from moving any farther up the bag.

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Now heading down from the top I mentioned the back padding. It’s really comfortable and I had no problems wearing this bag on my back for long periods of time.

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Even the straps had the same treatment with very nice padding.

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You can then click the provided top and bottom straps for extra security and fit.

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The bottom is has a nice set of shoes to rest on the ground.

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Hidden under a slot on the bottom you will find a holder for your tripod if wanted to attach it to the back. I did try to use it but found it rather tedious to set up. You might have luck carrying a much smaller and lighter tripod then my setup with a bigger video head.

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On the back of the unit towards the top you will notice two clamps that hold main lid in place. They also act is sort of a stop measure from moving the zippers all the way down the rest of the bag. If you configured the bag to allow a camera with a lens at the top, this would allow for quick access.

There are two loops hidden under a flap on each side of the top shell of the bag, which can be used to assist with attaching the tripod. You could also configure it to hold many different things.  (More on that in a bit).

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On the right side of the bag is a big loop with a simple picture indicating this can be an alternative mounting point for a tripod as well.

A thin pocket is on the bottom side. It was deep enough for small things like papers, a small moleskin perhaps or other non-valuables.

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You have a similar pocket on the left side as well including a smaller pocket built in on top of it.

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Included with the backpack came 3 extra straps with the tension adjusting snap clamps.

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It was super easy to adjust the tension by lifting the switch found on the back of the snap clamp and pulling the tightness to the desired level. Time Saver!

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I mentioned that I found a nice use for the mounting points found on the bag. Using the extra snap clamps I mounted my light shoulder rig to the bag.

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This is just one example of how it can be used.

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Once we go inside the bag you notice the bright red core-like structure in the middle.

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The padding with was rigid yet soft. It was perfect to for lenses or protecting your expensive body. All of the dividers were movable into any sort of fashion you like.

I only wish the core padding was along the outsides of the bag as well.

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Along the inside of the shell were 3 compartments that could hold small things like batteries, cables or step up rings. The bright zipper tags make easy work to locate the zippers.

Build Quality

This does not feel like a cheap bag. It felt rigid for the most part. I think the designers were looking more towards ease of use on this one. Perfect example that kind of tells me this is the labels on the bag indicating what the areas on the bag are for. (Tripod symbol, laptop symbol) Also, the adjustable snap clamps come to mind.

Ease of Use

With the few weeks I used the bag, I configured it for my uses. I like to work with a smaller setup to limit unnecessary weight. It was pretty simple to open and close and the extra snap clamps along the bag added some security.

Someone who works with a small to medium setup might like this bag. Perhaps a DSLR video maker with a couple of lenses and a light audio setup like myself, or a photographer who wants canopy access to the bag in order to be ready for some quick shooting.

Conclusions

In the end I feel Manfrotto is trying to rethink their bag and backpack products. The visual language makes using it more intuitive. I just wish the brightly colored core were around the whole bag. Not that the bag was not solid on the sides, but rather I found the core to add a little more piece of mind to your gear.

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