Brevite got their start on Kickstarter a year or two back with their original backpack, which mimicked the look of that classic ‘Jansport’ school book bag. I used it regularly as my day trip bag for everything from business meetings to photoshoots; I loved its versatility and its overall build. (My one complaint was the plastic looking faux leather used.)
So when I got word that I was going to be getting a chance to checkout one of the companies new additions to their line, the Rolltop, I was excited to see what it had to offer. I have had this bag now for well over a month, and have used it for everything from day trips to local wildlife refuges to cross country air travel.
Today it is finally time to share my thoughts on the Brevite Rolltop, so lets get into it.
In terms of the ergonomics of this bag, the Brevite Rolltop is really designed for someone who is planning to have this bag on their back a lot. The bag sits well on the shoulders, the padding is comfortable on the back and allows plenty of room for breathing so it minimizes back sweat. It also has a very sturdy handle at the top of the bag to make moving and manipulating the bag easier when its not on your back.
This bag also has some waist straps which are especially nice when the bag is full and you plan on wearing it for a while. It does an excellent job of taking a lot of the weight off your shoulders and moving it to your hips, which as many of you should know, is the best way to make packing a lot of gear in more bearable.
You also get some tripod straps at the bottom of the bag (I suppose you could also carry other things there too, like light stands, or a sleeping pad – it would be too small for a full sleeping bag). This is something that is always nice when you plan to hike out somewhere to shoot, but something I also find incredibly annoying when you are just out and about with the bag, because you have these straps just hanging there (on most bags). In this case, the Brevite does well keeping the straps under control when they aren’t being used – but I still wish these bag companies would make these straps removable so you can take them off when not needed.
One thing I have noticed with this bag, and it could be because I have an early version of it, is that a lot of the measurements are small or really tight fitting in regards to what the compartment of the bag is meant to hold. For example, the draw string drink pocket on the left side of the unit is really tight with the drawstring all the way out (to the point where I wonder why anyone would ever need to tighten it down). Virtually every water bottle or drink carrier that I have placed in there has been incredibly snug… almost too snug.
As well, inside the front flap door, not a single pen or pencil that I own fit into the pen/pencil slots because they stuck out of the top of the compartment so I was unable to zip it completely closed. Similarly, the battery holders in that same compartment were also really snug with just my Fujifilm batteries, so I don’t know how anyone with a DSLR battery is going to be able to make use of them.
Overall, I feel like the ergonomics of this bag are well done and well thought out. With a few tweaks to the measurements, so that things fit a little better in some places, I think that it would be nearly a perfect bag in terms of the ergonomics.
I am a big fan of the build quality of this bag (again, measurements in a few spots aside). The materials are incredible sturdy and I trust them to keep my gear safe in even the harshest of conditions. The move with the Rolltop, to ditch the large panel of faux leather from the original Brevite bag, was a great choice by the designers in my opinion. Now you have some faux leather accents (but better faux leather if you ask me, it doesn’t look quite so fake) that adorn the bag with the Brevite logo and branding on zipper tags and such.
The YKK zippers are great, with the one exception being the zippers around the camera compartment (you know, the ones you are most likely to use often), which seem to be a little more difficult to open than I would like. It’s not hard or difficult at all, but I would like to be able to do it with one hand, and a lot of the time it is just easier to put the bag down and use two hands – which could be very annoying to some.
I would put this bag, in terms of build quality, right up there with any of the many bags that I have used over the years. Suffice it to say, build quality is not an issue with this bag.
Ease of Use
This is where things start to get subjective, if you ask me. In certain situations I felt like the rolltop was incredibly easy to use, and was great at staying out of my way. But then there were other times where some things were catching or annoying to a point that I noticed them and it took away from my experience shooting whatever I was shooting.
For example, The iPad pocket you saw in an image just above. You need to put your Ipad (or whatever you decide to put in there) in before you fill up your main compartment with items. If you don’t you are left trying to jam the iPad in there and its annoying. Similarly, when you are using the easy access camera door opening on the right side of the camera, even my relatively small Fujifilm X-Pro2 takes some finesse to get out of the bag.
However, most of those annoyances were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, and I found myself really enjoying the Brevite Rolltop for most of my outings with it. I would love to use it as my day bag in many ways, but it is just a little too big to carry around all the time – especially when my kit consists of an X-Pro2, two compact, fast primes (23mm and 35mm), and an ipad mini4 or 14-in chromebook. The bag is just overkill for the majority of my day-use needs.
So coming to the end of the review now, I suppose it is time to speak to my overall opinion of the Brevite Rolltop and summarize my experience with it into some overall conclusions. I will start by saying that I really like the Rolltop, I really want to love it, but I only like it at this point. I feel like there are just too many little things wrong with it that take enough away from the bag that I can’t say I love it.
It mostly comes down to what feels like lazy engineering-with the pen, bottle, and other bits of the bag designed to hold certain items just being too small or barely large enough to hold standard sized items-or the camera being just a little too annoying to pull out of the easy access door. The bag has a ton of potential, and I greatly enjoy using it, and should Brevite address these minor issues I feel like they have a real winner on their hands. But as is, I feel like its just an OK bag. Some bits will annoy you, but overall the experience is a good one.
In terms of pricing, it’s not exactly a cheap bag either. If you plan on getting one with the protective camera insert (which you SHOULD unless you already only a Brevite bag and have an insert) the bag will run you $185. Without the insert you can pick this up for $140. I feel like for the price of the bag, those small annoyances that I mentioned above really should have been ironed out before it even got to market.
Anyway, for those interested, you can pick up the Brevite Rolltop over on the Brevite website, here.