Camera Bag Review: Billingham Rucksack 35 (Just the Essentials)

Reviewing the Billingham Rucksack 35 helped bring me back to basics; sometimes that’s all we need.

I’ve been using the Billingham Rucksack 35 for a number of months now, and it has made me carefully consider what gear I bring on different occasions. This bag isn’t all that huge, but it’s designed in such a way that it can be accommodating. You can stuff many of your daily essentials in the Billingham Rucksack 35, and using the divider compartment, you can store a fair bit of camera gear in here. If everything is separated and there is no lens on your camera body (or a small one), you can stuff a camera, a lens, and a flash in here. But if a lens is attached, then you’re probably getting your camera with said lens and another lens inside. For those who deem themselves to be natural light photographers with all the fury that is their Instagram feed, this is enough. And to that end, this could be your next rucksack.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Layers of protection
  • Good looks
  • Comfortable
  • Balance in the design
  • Weather proof

Cons

  • Removable divider system when needed
  • The smallest little hook strap
  • I wish the adjustment straps tucked into themselves instead of flailing about

Gear Used

We tested the Billingham Rucksack 35 with the Nikon z7, the 35mm f1.8, 24-70mm f4, an iPad Air 2, books, keys, a trusty backup shirt, and Sony headphones.

Tech Specs

Specs for the Billingham Rucksack 35 are taken from their website.

External Dimensions
W310mm (12¼”) x D200mm (7⅞”) x H380mm (15″)

 

Internal Dimensions
Inside padded insert: W230mm (9″) x D75mm (3″) x H240mm (9½”)
In main compartment with padded insert removed: W260mm (10¼”) x D180mm (7⅛”) x H380mm (15″)

 

Capacity
Inside padded insert: 5.6 litres (0.20 feet³)
In main compartment with padded insert removed: 7 litres (0.25 feet³)
In front pocket: Additional 1.8 litres (0.06 feet³) in front pocket.

 

Weight
1.17kg (2.58lbs)

 

External Front Pocket internal dimensions
W200mm (7⅞”) x D60mm (2⅜”) x H170mm (6¾”)

 

Shoulder Strap Measurements
Length: can be adjusted between 480mm (18⅞”) to 980mm (38⅝”) approx.

Ergonomics

The Billingham Rucksack 35 is a small backpack. I wouldn’t at all call it a mini; it’s simply designed to not hold a lot of gear. Instead, think of it as the least expandable and most elegant Jansport you’ve ever seen. However, this is leaps and bounds higher grade than Jansports. Billingham bags are made by a family in England, mostly by hand. There are two compartments: the front pocket and the main pocket.

Here’s what the front pocket is like when it’s open and the flap is back. You can fit full sized headphones, a book and much more in there. That’s probably going to be the pocket that you use the most.

Open up the Billingham Rucksack 35 and you’ll find the camera divider section, a pocket for a tablet or books, and a bit of storage space on top. You can fit very little in the overhead space, but do remember that the entire camera section is removable.

Open up the camera section and you’ll get a small area with three removable dividers. I stuff a Nikon Z7 with the 35mm f1.8 and a 24-70mm f4 in there. That’s pretty much all you’ve got room for.

The backpack straps are curved and well padded for extra comfort. There are straps here that are also way too long for my liking.

At the top of the Billingham Rucksack 35 is the world’s smallest loop hook. Why? I’m not sure. I guess that’s for putting it on a coat hook or for secure placement at a bar.

Build Quality

Billingham is really well known for their shoulder and messenger bags, but the Billingham Rucksack 35 is no exception. It’s rugged but elegant in its design and overall build. It’s simple and you can depend on the fact that it’s going to be super durable. I took it through inclement weather and even onto a number of shoots. It held up to a whole lot of rain and some tussle on the subways. I kept thinking about the design and why Billingham would create a bag like this and as I used it, it started to click.

The pouch on the outside is meant to really grab your attention. Luckily, it has two layers of protection. If you want to access the zippers, you need to really tuck your fingers under the flap to do so. The build is ingenious.

Ease of Use

The Billingham Rucksack 35 is designed different from many other backpacks and rucksacks. You’ll really need to think about how you set the bag up. Some of your essentials are best put in the front pocket while your camera gear is best reserved for the major interior. You’ll need to think a tad old school when it comes to storing your camera gear–or at least use mirrorless cameras. You’re not going to fit a whole lot of camera gear in there, but that’s fine. It’s not designed for that. It’s designed to be more of an every day bag and I appreciate that.

Conclusions

I really do like the Billingham Rucksack 35. It’s designed to help you carry just the right amount of gear while also helping you balance out the other essentials that you’ll want to bring with you. It’s great for a day trip around city areas. I wouldn’t bring it out to the countryside and I’d only bring the most minimal amount of gear possible. Leica cameras and other mirrorless gear makes lots of sense here.

Overall, I can’t find a major fault with the Billingham Rucksack 35 except for the adjustment straps. But even so, they help make the Billingham Rucksack 35 very comfortable.

It earns five out of five stars in our eyes. And for $399 you’ve got a bag that’s most likely going to last your lifetime.