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Wandrd bags are loved by many photographers for their blend of versatile designs and durable materials. But, the company largely produces backpacks. With the new ROAM, Wandrd is taking a step outside its comfort zone. But is it a misstep? The Wandrd ROAM 6L is a sling bag that can also be worn like a messenger or as a belt.
The Wandrd Roam 6L is launching on Kickstarter through June 25. I tested a pre-production sample of the 6L version. Wandrd is already planning a few tweaks before the bag goes into production, so features of the bag may change.
- The 6L is a compact bag, a good size for a Micro Four Thirds or crop sensor body with 1-2 lenses.
- There’s a lot of pockets for such a small bag.
- The material is the same as the WANDRD Prvke II, which I love.
- I love the laptop bag on its own, but don’t love how it feels to wear the laptop case inside this bag.
- The strap is weird, and it’s difficult to find the perfect adjustment where it sits just right.
- The stabilizer strap only works if one side of the strap is shortened all the way. Otherwise, it runs across my torso rather than under my armpit.
- There’s a tripod spot that doubles as a water bottle holder.
What I Love About the WANDRD ROAM 6L Sling
I have some issues with the ROAM strap, but I have very few complaints about the actual bag part of this sling. Constructed from the same heavy-duty materials as the Wandrd PRVKE II, the Wandrd ROAM 6L bag feels like it could take a beating or a rainstorm.
The bag has grab straps on both sides and a top strap as well. That makes it easy to pull the bag towards you or just carry in your hand as you go. Dual straps flank the front: you could probably roll up a light jacket here.
At the bottom, a tripod sleeve cleverly unbuckles from its hiding spot, with elastic fasteners to tighten at each end. It’s a good solution for fitting a tripod on a tiny bag. Wandrd says they are changing this section of the bag in the final product to have a hook and loop closure. I’m a little nervous about putting a water bottle there, though: articularly a smaller bottle that wouldn’t be as snug in the sleeve.
Inside, I tucked the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with the 8-25mm f4 Pro lens attached. Using the sturdy dividers inside, I still had enough room for one more small lens. There’s another smaller pocket inside for stashing SD cards and smaller items.
On the exterior, there’s a good-sized front pocket, including a key leash. At the back, a pocket expands by unzipping the bottom, allowing you to tuck in WANDRD’s new laptop case.
The back panel is mesh and curves just enough to sit well on my back, making the bag part very comfortable.
What’s Not So Great About the WANDRD ROAM 6L Sling
While I loved the bag, I can’t say the same about the strap. Wandrd is making some changes, including a velcro sleeve, so I’m hoping that the final product will ship with a more comfortable strap that’s not quite as frustrating.
The strap adjusts on two sides of an integrated shoulder pad. Getting the shoulder pad to actually stay on the shoulder is a challenge. I had difficulty finding that sweet spot, with two parts to adjust to get the strap to sit right.
The stabilizer strap comes out from the middle of the bag. This made it difficult to get the stabilizer strap to sit under my armpit. Instead, it crossed halfway through my torso and didn’t do enough to actually stabilize the bag.
Editor-in-Chief Chris Gampat tested the 9L version and had similar frustrations with the strap. When he shared the bag with other photographers, they all said the same thing: the strap is difficult to get sitting correctly, with the pad on the shoulder.
But, after a dozen tries, I finally did find a sweet spot. If I shortened the top adjustment all the way, the shoulder pad sat in the right spot, the stabilizer strap rested comfortably under the armpit, and the bag didn’t move around much. While I did finally find a comfortable, stable way to adjust the strap, this made the bag sit higher and partially on one shoulder instead of mid-back. I also had to make the strap so small that, in two spots, the extra strap was hanging off and getting in my way.
Hopefully, that velcro sleeve Wandrd is planning on adding is designed to keep that extra strap length out of the way. But, I think I would have preferred a simpler strap, with one length adjustment and a shoulder pad that slides to wherever needed. This would be less frustrating, easier to find that sweet spot, and still versatile enough to wear the bag as a sling or a messenger.
The Wandrd ROAM Laptop Case
To be honest, I’m more excited about the laptop case than the ROAM itself. The case is a very minimalist design that could easily tuck into a backpack or messenger bag and the expanding pocket of the ROAM. I prefer this style of laptop case since I may be taking my camera gear and a laptop one day but only need my laptop and writing materials the next. I prefer to slip a slim case into another bag.
While minimal, it’s made from the same material as the ROAM and PRVKE, which is durable and water-resistant. It feels like it will keep my laptop well protected.
There’s really nothing outside of the small handle at the top and hook and loop closures at the top and side. There are no extra pockets, but as a bag designed to tuck in another bag, that doesn’t bother me. You’ll have to add a shoulder strap if you want to carry it outside of another bag.
The most innovative feature about the laptop bag is that it doubles as a stand that tilts the keyboard forward to provide comfort for your wrists. Flip the bag inside out, bend the back along the seam, then tuck the laptop edges into the little corner fabric pieces.
It may sometimes need a few tries to get the stand bent perfectly. But, it reminds me of the plastic stand that I use at my desk for more comfortable typing. Of course, the stand at my desk is too big to carry around, but with the case, it’s with me wherever I go.
While I love the laptop case, it’s a bit awkward wearing it inside the ROAM. It places the laptop directly on your back, and the larger 16-inch laptop corners aren’t exactly comfortable against your back.
I love the laptop bag, and I like the bag part of the ROAM, but I hate the strap. Bags should be simple. It shouldn’t take wearing the bag several times before finally finding a comfortable strap position. It’s not my favorite Wandrd bag; I love the PRVKE Lite for smaller gear. That said, once I did find that sweet spot, the ROAM delivered that balance between comfort and easy access.