Review: Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 (A Content Creator’s Dream Bag)

A Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 will look and feel fantastic strapped around you.

Bags like the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 and others have just become better for photographers over the years. Though I’m still partial to a backpack instead of a messenger, this update feels just a bit special. Arguably, the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is for photographers. But in use, one could say that it’s for content creators and journalists. Messenger bags over the years have evolved a lot, and the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 shows evidence of that. The internals were updated to give photographers who shoot with mirrorless systems a bit more organization. Further, you can shove a laptop in this bag along with pretty much every tool you’d possibly need. If you’re the type to go for hot shoe flashes, there’s room for that. But if you tote along a Profoto B10 the way I do, you’ll have a bit more trouble. We’ve taken the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 with us on planes, on trips, on commutes, to meetings, and everywhere. We’re very impressed. However, this is more of a bag for a content creator than a photographer.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Weather sealed
  • Beautiful
  • Leather and canvas
  • Expandable pockets
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Can pack a whole lot of gear, laptop, cords, and more.
  • Very well built

Cons

  • Nothing really to be honest

Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Technical Specifications

External dimensions (W x D x H) W430 x D140 x H280mm (Height excluding handle: 240mm)
Internal dimensions (W x D x H)(inside removable padded insert) W340 x D80 x H210mmPadded insert is flexible so ‘D’ measurement can expand to 100mm at the bottom of the bag and (up to) 160mm at the top.
Capacity 6 liters
Weight 1.2kg (including removable shoulder sling)
Pockets 3
Front dump pockets x 2 (W x D x H) 130-170mm x 40-60mm x 200mm, 1-1.25 litres capacity
Rear zipped pocket (W x H) 320mm x 180mm
Detachable, adjustable shoulder sling Length – can be adjusted between 94cm and 164cm approx.
Width – 38mm; Weight – 0.16kg

 

Ergonomics

The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is a bag that looks pretty compact. And in truth, it’s really not excessively large. But it’s capable of carrying a lot of stuff. It also doesn’t necessarily look like a camera bag. Instead, it just looks like a beautiful bag.

We’ll start our tour of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 with the leather straps. These allow you to get into the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020. There’s a buckle and top metal knobs. To accommodate more gear, just adjust the buckle.

Undo the top flap, and you’ll be treated to these pockets. They’re quite large and can carry a whole ton of stuff for when you travel.

Oh yeah, these pockets are expandable. There are buttons on each that let them hold more gear or make the entire bag’s profile smaller. These are great!

Get to the inside, and you’ll see the removable divider system. There is a top flap that contains all the gear inside of the rest of the divider case. In the case is padding that can be adjusted and moved all around.

The back of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 has a zipper for stuff like cables, documents, and other smaller profile things. I’ve stuffed Macbook Pro cables in here.

Before we forget, you can put your laptop inside the main compartment of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 too! A 13-inch laptop slides into the back just fine.

Last, there is the top handle that lets you carry the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 like a briefcase. It’s sturdy and can be really convenient when your chest/shoulders need a break.

Build Quality

We took the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 through rain, airports, subways, cabs, and several different environments. It survived everything, and it kept our gear safe. I’m most satisfied that it kept my laptop secure and the various camera systems that I was testing safe too. Part of this is due to how you have to open up the bag. This is not a bag for quick access use. Instead, it’s a bag for work. You’ll expect yourself to be working with a single lens or two for a while. Then you’ll sit down somewhere to edit and beam the images off into the web. While doing that you may feel the need to pop some Advil, which the bag can hold with ease. Plus, you’ll need power, and the cords can be stored easily in this bag. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of room for flash modifiers except for tiny ones. Even so, this is probably a bag for a Sony, Nikon, or Fujifilm mirrorless camera shooter. When I shoved the Panasonic S1R into here with two lenses, it took up the entire interior.

Something well worth noting is that the internal divider has a top flap. Even when the bag is overpacked, the top flap and the top of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 still protect the gear inside. You won’t need to worry about bumps at all.

Ease of Use

Throughout my daily use of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020, I found it to be a straightforward bag to use. One of my favorite features is the organization that it provides for photographers while remaining compact. Content creators, journalists, and photographers can appreciate the two front pouches which can expand or contract. With the right pad, the shoulder strap is also super comfortable. Organization of your gear inside is simple enough to do, and the organizers lend themselves well to the photographer who stacks lenses. I do this all the time, especially with small primes. To that end, the dividers have dividers in them. It’s not all perfect, though. One of the annoyances is undoing the straps at times. There are two ways: via the buckle or the top metal knob. My preferred method is the knob. At times, it can be a bit too tight. However, getting into the bag is still not a major hassle.

So what makes this bag better than others? Well, that’s a great question. To be honest, not a lot. It’s just different. Tenba and Portage Supply create messenger bags with quick access. However, those bags aren’t designed to be the workhorse that this one is. The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is designed for long term work and for the shooter that doesn’t need quick access. It can also hold more gear than the other two can.

Further, the extra dividers and way that the front pockets work mean that the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 lets a photographer manage all their belongings better. So overall, I think the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is for a shooter that needs to carry more gear. However, it’s still not going to outdo a reliable backpack.

Conclusions

I really like the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020. In fact, I have to call this bag the best messenger bag that I’ve ever tested. It’s comfortable, lets you carry a ton of gear, is expandable, weather-sealed, and stylish. I’ll surely bring it on future trips and even to meetings. It’s great for both work and play. While on a weekend escape, I’ve stuffed this bag with a Leica, two primes, essentials and left the rest of the room inside for stuff that I’ve bought along the way. While traveling, it’s held hard drives, my laptop, lenses, microphones, cables, pills, beard oil, keys, etc. My only issue is that if you’re a photographer that works with a monolight, you’ll be out of luck. Only if you’re using a Leica M, Fujifilm X series, or Sony FE camera system with prime lenses will you be able to shove something the size of a Profoto B10 in there.

So how can the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 be made better? Honestly, if this bag were a backpack and were just given backpack straps so that it rode up high on my back, it would absolutely perfect. It would work like a rucksack and allow for even more versatility. But as it is, I can’t complain much about the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020.

We award the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 our Editor’s Choice standard and five out of five stars.