Review: Vanguard Heralder 38 Camera Bag

Vanguard isn’t as well known in the photo industry as the likes of Think Tank, ONA, Domke, Lowepro and others; but the tripod manufacturer does indeed make camera bags as well. Around Photo Plus of last year, they showcased their new Heralder camera bag: a case targeted at the urban warrior type of photographer (and a perfect candidate for most of The Phoblographer’s staff.) The Heralder 38 camera bag is at the top of their food chain, but is it good enough for you?

Tech Specs

Specs borrowed from the B&H Photo Video listing of the product

Material Exterior Fabric: Polyester 1000*1000D
Interior Fabric: Polyester 150D/Velvet
Type of Closure Zipper
Front buckle
Exterior Dimensions 18.5 x 10.6 x 13.75″ (47.0 x 26.9 x 34.9 cm)
Interior Dimensions 15.0 x 6.25 x 11.0″ (38.1 x 15.9 x 27.9 cm)
Tripod Holder Built-in tripod sling
Carrying/Transport Options Adjustable, removable shoulder strap
Top carry handle
Removable rain cover
Weight 4.0 lb (1.8 kg)
  • For 1-2 DSLRs,5-6 Lenses (up to 300 f/4)
  • Padded,15″ Laptop Compartment
  • Messenger-Style Design
  • Quick Top Zippered Access
  • Built-in Tripod Sling
  • Detachable Inner Pouch
  • Padded Anti-Slip Removable Strap
  • Removable Rain Cover
  • Numerous Accessory Pockets
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Ergonomics

When presented with this bag, I knew I saw something special here to put my old backpack for carrying my gear to pasture. I decided to approach it from a video DSLR user’s needs in storing items like boom mics, digital audio recorders and other things that might specific to a video user’s needs.

Let’s start with the exterior. In handsome black polyester, this bag has a slight texture for looks and nice bright orange accents to compliment the single black motif.

The design of this bag feels very solid. It looks like it can take the abuse and punishment of hauling your gear in the field. Some outside storage is found on the side, while on the back this bag has a hidden rain cover for when the harsh elements might be a factor. The bottom has a rugged waterproof bottom. Also, a nice touch is this bag could also be mounted to a small cart’s handle by undoing the velcro release on the back. A relief for those days when you might be taking more gear than your back might be able to handle.

There is also a well-hidden tripod holder as well found under the front of the bag. Remove the velcro and a sling with a rubberized grip can than be snapped into the latches found on the sides of the front of the bag. I think this is a great idea, but unless you carry a smaller, lighter photo tripod you might run into problems. A larger video tripod might not fit well in the sling.

To complete the carrying features of this bag, you have a well-cushioned shoulder strap and a handle found on the top.

Opening the bag it can be done in one of two ways. First, you can make quick access to the top of the bag by undoing the zipper. The magnetic flap keeps the zipper from moving when you don’t want it to, a nice safety feature.

The other way of opening the bag is to unbuckle the clip in the front and unzip the zipper from the sides, which will bring the bag lid up in the nice position that’s out of your way.

On the inside, you are treated to orange with grey accents. Some people may not like the orange interior. But, I see a great use to this. If you are like me and you have tons and tons of black cables or other small dark colored peripherals, screws, small gears for a follow focus for example or USB cables—finding them will be a lot easier as it will clash against the orange. After a while I found the color to grow on me.

This bag with the right configuration can hold quite a bit of your bigger zooms with its very deep pockets. There are literally so many places to put things throughout my usage I was surprised where to find what seemed like endless nooks. Besides having 8 slots which are removable (in my current configuration) to place my lenses, and two camera bodies, you have storage in the front which reaches to the bottom of the bag, A small pocket with a zipper that you could use for small things like step up rings, loose change or business cards. You have space between the grey divider and outer interior layer to place other things as well.

Towards the rear of the bag, you have a slot for a 15’’ laptop, which when removed doubles as a laptop sleeve.  Behind the sleeve/divider is more room to store things. A unique thing I noticed is the hidden pocket found in the back of the bag. This could be a place to store valuables like for example a passport. A small accessory pouch was included.

When you make your way upwards to the inner lid, you have two small pockets to store your SD or CF cards.

You could also remove the grey divider entirely. Which in turn can make this bag more useable than just as a camera bag. This makes the bag multi-purpose.

In Use

Over the few weeks I’ve had the Heralder 38, it’s served me well in getting me to my shoots around the city. I was able to wear the bag on my shoulder through some of the crowded subway rides or with other bags on my back without a problem. It’s a solid all-purpose carrier.

What I like about it is I could nearly put almost all of my kit in the bag. In my use, that’s the most important thing to me when you are carrying so many different items to a shoot.

During my use I had the following gear in my bag:

Canon T2i x2
Canon 50mm f1.4
Nikon 35mm f2
Helios 54mm f2
Helios 85mm f1.5
Canon kit lens 18-55mm
Zoom H4n
Rode NTG-1
6 feet of XLR Cable
Canon Batteries (T2i) x3 w/charger
2 ND filters and one Circular Polarizer
DFocus focus pulling system
Lens gears for DFocus
Various cables and a card reader
Small case with SD Cards

Conclusion

So, would I recommend this bag to a friend? Absolutely. For my setup dealing with video, this bag took almost all of my gear. It’s low maintenance and will surely take the abuse of every day use just fine.  You have the versatility to configure the bag, as you need it. Plus, you can extend it’s use beyond being a camera bag.

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