A Confusing Backpack: Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack Review

As far as camera bags go, the Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack probably needs to go back to the drawing board.

Every now and again, I’ll get frustrated with camera bags and I’ll go on a shopping spree in search of yet another bag that I think will be perfect. So, I bought the Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack and was mostly disappointed by it and their lack of understanding of a photographers’ needs. This bag is mostly designed for those of us who use and shoot with mirrorless cameras: and that’s most of us. But, while in theory this is a fantastic camera bag, in practice there are enough little issues with it to annoy me.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • I set it up to hold Fujifilm gear
  • The area inside of the roll-top can hold a lot of gear
  • Laptop storage area is well padded
  • This is best for a DSLR with a small lens
  • Pretty comfortable
  • Very high-quality materials

Cons

  • The dividers have odd shapes
  • The dividers aren’t all that great
  • The interior roll-top pocket access area doesn’t have a lot of separation potential. It’s best for lights, cables, and clothing.
  • A Fujifilm XH1 with a grip and a small lens has trouble getting in and out
  • Needs waist straps
  • The pockets located under the main flap are odd
  • Why no external pockets for quick access to little things?
  • This would be a dope bag in canvas and leather, or just leather
  • The interior zippered pocket goes all the way down to the bottom. Why?

Gear Used

I stuffed two Fujifilm X series cameras and five lenses into this thing. Albeit, not gracefully. And all of it doesn’t have adequate protection, but it’s close.

Tech Specs

Taken from the Adorama page

Ergonomics

The Thule Covert looks and feels like a serious camera bag. But the design behind it sometimes had me scratching my head. In fact, it did quite often. Here is the front exterior. There are two areas here: the roll-top section and the lower three exterior pockets. There is also a side pocket that’s expandable.

By undoing this top flap you get access to fully using the three pockets. It’s excessive for sure.

Once you get in, these three pockets can hold a lot of gear. They’re very good for a photographer’s separation needs. However, they didn’t need another layer.

Here are the straps. The Thule Covert is very comfortable for photographers. There is also a strap that goes across the chest but none that go across the waist.

With the Thule Covert unrolled, it lets you make room for more stuff like clothing while traveling. It’s very useful.

In this top pocket, there is a massive area for separating all sorts of gear. It could have used more pockets inside here, but it works well enough. Then, there is another zipper behind this that goes all the way down the back of the bag to the bottom. It’s weird.

Here’s the back flap for your laptop. If you get the new 16 inch Macbook Pro, it can fit.

And here’s the weirdest part: the interior bottom section for a camera. A Fujifilm XH1 is stuffed in there with a lens attached and a lens on top. Two other lenses are in the little pocket on the bottom of the bag. Seriously, this makes zero sense and I’m not sure who thought of it.

Build Quality

The Thule Covert is a bag mostly designed for the adventurer and less so for a photographer who lives in a city. To that end, a travel photographer is bound to be turned onto the Thule Covert. For the most part, a photographer will appreciate the build quality, but there are enough little issues with this bag to be an annoyance. I’m writing this post after a month of using an ONA bag and months are using Billingham bags that I’ve overpacked and hurt my back by using. The Thule Covert is incredibly comfortable. When it’s worn, it’s going to feel like a relief on your back. It’s not the Tenba and WANDRD options that offer lumbar support, but it’s still nice for the upper and midsection. Where the Thule Covert could have improved is with a waist strap. This would have honestly made the Thule Covert the most comfortable backpack on the market, but that nod is still being given to the WANDRD PRVKE pack 31.

Then there is one thing that is really, really annoying. The pocketed area between the upper roll-top and the camera cube below has no hard separation. While the self-contained pocket works well enough, there is another zipper that just lets you put your hand all the way down to the bottom. Why? It’s useless.

Besides this, there is a deep wish for more external pockets that don’t have two layers of protection. I want to be able to access a lens filter easily, or chapstick, my passport, etc. Providing that everything is zipped up and ready to go through, this bag will shrug off rain like no other that I’ve seen before. It should be commended for that. I’d also like places to add even more straps. Sometimes while out on trips, I like to bring my own blanket. It’s tough to pack that and a thermos with the Thule Covert.

Ease of Use

In theory, the Thule Covert is pretty simple to use. When you stuff your laptop in the back (there is a self-contained section), it’s quick enough and easy to pull it out. Then you can get started working and go about your day. But in practice, I found that it ultimately just gets in the way of things. If you want to access the three pockets protected by the front flap, you need to unnecessarily go through two layers of protection. Why? Granted, these pockets can all hold a lot of stuff. But they don’t need two layers of protection. It just slows us down as we’re working.

The most annoying part of the Thule Covert is the camera cube section. It’s so incredibly small. If you want to maximize space then you need to disconnect a lens from your camera and shove it in there. But even so, there isn’t a lot of room for lenses to be placed comfortably and safely. You’ll need to stack lenses. And ultimately, it’s going to be more of a pain in the ass than anything. The Thule Covert also has a useless top interior zipper that lets you put your arm all the way down into the camera bag. Separation and a built-in cube with a larger door would have been so much better.

In fact, I’d recommend that the Thule Covert not be used with a system where you have a ton of gear. If you’re a minimalist then this works fine. But unlike what they’ve said, it’s not really great for a DSLR.

The good news: it’s going to pretty much guarantee that you bring less camera gear and therefore your back will be in better shape. The bad news: it can’t be your everyday work bag as a photographer.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Very comfortable
  • Not a bad price
  • Well built

Dislikes

  • Pockets are annoying
  • What the hell is this camera cube?

The Thule Covert does some things better than any camera manufacturer. For example, it’s very comfortable and well built. It does this at the sacrifice of fashion, but you can’t really complain here. But, what’s bound to frustrate photographers the most is a mix between the odd camera cube on the bottom and the two layers to get into some of the pockets. For the photographer with a minimal kit who is going on a trip, the Thule Covert could work. For the working pro though, stick to Tenba and WANDRD.

The Thule Covert gets three out of five stars. Want one? Check out Adorama for the latest prices.