We don’t normally want to cuddle with the inside of our camera bags, but we’re positive that if our lenses and mirrorless cameras had feelings, then they sure would like to. That’s sort of the idea for Holdfast Gear’s new Explorer pouch. The pouch features waxed canvas, pockets, leather accents, and a furry inside. When we first looked at it, we thought of it as an UGG for your camera.
However, it’s far more impressive than that.
Pros and Cons
– Comfortable and a very nice size: not too big and not too small
– Lots of pockets
– Sufficient padding
– We have to get used to the idea of giving our lenses something to cuddle up with.
For this review, we used the Explorer pouch with the Holdfast Photo Belt, the Money Maker strap system, the Canon 5D Mk II, Sigma 35mm f1.4, Sigma 50mm f1.4 Version 1, and the Sony A7 with 35mm f2.8.
Specs taken from the Holdfast Gear listing of the product
This weather-proof bag is crafted from wax canvas, trimmed in leather, and insulated with plush sheep skin. Specifically designed to be carried on the MoneyMaker camera strap, giving you supreme balance and versatility all at your fingertips.
Additional function comes with the four outer pockets: a snap-shut pocket for wallet and other small items; a large front pocket for camera accessories; a side pocket ideal for a flash or water bottles; and a zipper pocket on top for memory cards and other flat items.
The Explorer is designed for maximum versatility. Pair it with the MoneyMaker or the PhotoBelt. Or connect your own shoulder stapes to the included d-rings.
The Holdfast Gear Explorer Lens Pouch looks like half camera bag, half pouch, and all glorified bag. The version that we have is waxed canvas with leather trimmings. If you’re a user of Holdfast’s other products, it matches fashionably with those accordingly. But even if you aren’t looking for the most fashionable of accessories, then the Explorer lens pouch has other features that other companies should be thinking about.
For starters, he company’s logo is emblazoned on the top of the bag with a leather piece. In addition to the canvas, there is a zipper up top that lets you slip things in and out. This small pouch can hold SD/CF cards, lens caps, straps, filters, and even small papers like receipts you may accrue while on the job–which should obviously then be written off for tax reasons.
To open the bag, you’ll need to work with the flap on the front that keeps the two main pieces together and shut. You can do this by either using the quick snap button insertion technique or you can choose to actually work with the latch and belt. The latter is the more secure but slower way–and we believe that nearly everyone springing for this bag will go for the quick release method instead.
When you open the pouch up, you’ll see lots of faux fur. At first, this perplexed us a lot. Then as we continued to think about it, we realized the comfort that faux fur gives folks that wear UGGs. And to be honest, this bag will give that extra padding and protecting to your camera or lens. With that said, we don’t think that anyone would want to risk their lenses.
To use or attach the bag, you can either choose to use the company’s Money Maker strap system, the Photo Belt (which will go into the slots that you see on the bag) or attach your own shoulder strap into the half rings. The user can choose to make it into a mini-backpack or event a small messenger bag depending on the situation.
Despite the Explorer pouch’s interesting design, it has an incredibly solid build. In fact, we have absolutely no problem saying that this camera bag is the most solidly made pouch/messenger fusion that we’ve seen and handled. The buttons, zippers, and latches all snap together perfectly to ensure protection. However, the only thing that could have made this bag even better is the use of magnets to keep everything shut.
Oh yeah, and the sides have pockets that you can use for your phone, a notebook or other accessories!
In our tests, this has been the absolute best bag with the most protection for mirrorless cameras and lenses while traveling around NYC. The bag was subjected to bumps in the subway, a four foot drop, and the crazy rain that NYC has been having as a result of Hurricane Arthur. At no time were we let down by its reliability providing that the top covered the contents fully.
Ease of Use
What’s great about the Holdfast Gear Explorer lens pouch is that it is as simple as can be. In all honesty, it’s a souped up lens pouch. Users of all experience levels will have no issues using the bag though we strongly do recommend that you always keep the top latch closed as it otherwise can pop back pretty easily.
Fortunately, the bag comes with a divider that can be used to section items off in their designated areas.
– Super comfortable and quick access
– Forces you to keep your gear kit to a minimum
– Doesn’t really look like a camera bag
– We’re still getting used to the idea of lugging around the equivalent of an UGG for our cameras and lenses. But man, do they deserve it.
Holdfast Gear has spent a while working on the Explorer bag, which we admit to seeing months ago under NDA. And to be honest, despite the fact that one may think that it’s a super hipsterish bag, more open-minded photographers will believe that it actually makes quite a bit of sense. In fact, we have no problem calling it pure genius.
We award the Holdfast Gear Explorer Pouch 4 out of 5 stars. Overall though, we still can’t get used to the idea of giving our lenses a softer and more snuggly bed than what most humans have.
Recommended Cameras and Accessories
Sony A7: Sony’s flagship mirrorless full frame camera is small enough to fit into this pouch with a lens attached. To be honest though, we’d want to tote around our A7 without any sort of bag. Despite the fact that the camera and Sony’s lenses have weather sealing incorporated, we think that it can’t hurt to add even more protection via this Holdfast bag.
Fujifilm XE-2: Fujifilm’s XE-2 is a camera that matches Holdfast’s fashionably good looks and keeps the size and weight down too while they’re at it. It’s a beautiful piece that will also enjoy the swaddling that you’re paying for via this bag’s interior.
Sigma Prime Lenses: Much of Sigma’s most popular glass is short and chubby–perfect for the Holdfast Explorer bag. Long zooms don’t fair so well unless you move up to the larger bag.
Keep this in mind DSLR shooters!
Olympus OMD EM-10: The OMD EM-10 is the smallest of the OMD lineup of cameras and we think that the customers that go after that camera will be happy with this Explorer bag because it works with the EM-10’s looks so well.