Blackforest Bags Review: Finally, a stylish camera bag
"What you wear is how you present yourself to the world" - Prada
Camera bags: they’re all kind of the same right? Black, boxy, polyester and, y’know, very clearly carrying a camera. With the exception of a couple of offerings from ONA and Billingham, most are on the unattractive end of the scale. This despite just how expensive they are. That’s why I was super excited to finally get my hands on a Vinson from Blackforest Bags a couple of months ago. So, here’s a quick review a few months and a couple of trips on.
Starting at £127 ($179) for the leather and canvas Vinson, Blackforest’s prices are significantly below their competition in the 'stylish camera bag' category, falling more in line with some of the standard offerings from Manfrotto. The company also offer free international shipping with FedEx, though it is worth bearing in mind that you will have to pay import duty upon its arrival (comes to about £30 here in the UK though worth checking it out at time of ordering).
Style and Functionality
With a bag like this, how it looks is as important as it’s functionality, and you’ll be glad to hear that this is an area that Blackforest hit the nail on the head: it’s stunning. In the last couple of months, I’ve used it on city-breaks and general shoots around town, as well as part of an outfit for work. Couple that with three thick internal dividers as well as a separate ipad/ laptop slot, a zip pocket, and two front pockets (not to mention the external pockets), and the Vinson has enough room to easily carry around a body and 2/3 lenses, ab ipad and a notebook, depending on size. While this probably makes it a little too small for those of you who need multiple camera’s and big telephoto lenses, it is more than capable of managing everything you’ll need for a city break for example.
Handmade in India, these bags are really good quality. Featuring a load-bearing handle and metal clasps, there is no fear that it is about to burst open when holding it by the handle – something cheaper bags regularly do. While the size of the gold studs on the bottom that are meant to keep the canvas off the floor make them more of an aesthetic feature than a completely functional one, it attests to the level of detail that went into designing the bags. This attention is clear on the flap, which features an inwards fold to keep light rain from making its way past the flap – although I wouldn’t take it out in a downpour. My only gripe would be the strap which, while fitting with the overall aesthetic of the bag, has a tendency to slide off my shoulder and in need of regularly readjusting when it isn’t worn cross-body.
In general, I’ve been really impressed by the Vinson. From its presentation when it arrived, in a cloth bag with a thank-you note, to how it looks, to the surprising amount that it fits, the Vinson is a great choice. Add to that its price and you can’t really go wrong with one. Could it be a little bigger? Sure. Could the strap be a little better? Yes, but no bag is perfect and there are trade-offs with every one that you pick up. That said, the upsides certainly make up for any drawback.
To be honest, the best compliment that I can give a bag of this type is that, when used for both camera gear and general use, it just looks like a stylish bag and not like its holding a camera. Oh, that and that it genuinely goes with any outfit.
What are your favorite camera-related accessories?
Check out their range here, as well as a little feature I did with them a little while ago!