Today's post is from professional photographer Peter West Carey. You can follow all his amazing adventures over on his website, The Carey Adventures, where you can subscribe to his popular 31+ Days To Better Photography series designed to unravel the mysteries of photography so you can take better pictures.
The Booq Python Pack
is not like the other packs I have tested from LowePro, Brenthaven or f-stop. This pack is of a thicker material,
stronger build, and has a general 'bulletproof' feel to it. In exchange for
that solid feel, this bag is also heavier than the others.
But is it better?
Fits: DSLR, 4 lenses, tripod, iPad, 13"-15" Mac
Exterior: 11.50 × 18.00 × 10.00 in (292 × 457 × 254 mm)
Interior: 14.40 × 10.80 × 1.00 in (366 × 274 × 25 mm)
Weight: 5.95 lbs (2.70 kg)
Materials: 1680D ballistic nylon exterior, jersey lining
One thing that impressed me about the Booq Python Pack from
the start is the padding for both back and hips. Many packs skimp on the hips
as an afterthought. “Oh yeah!” they seem to say, “You'll probably want to
secure that to your waist so it doesn't bounce around!” Many LowePro packs have
a simple piece of webbing to secure the lower section. The Python has 3/4”
padding at both points where the belt curves around hips or waist.
Padding on the back of the pack is also 3/4” thick and
comfortable, which is good because the laptop sleeve locates the hard plastic
of your laptop closest to your back. About that laptop sleeve (really, we'll
get to the camera part soon!), it is a slot along the top and the interior is
felt lined with more padding front and back. While this seems nice, it makes
laptops hard to remove. It's a tight fit and with the zipper only moving along
the top of the pack and an inch down the side, maneuvering room is small.
Rubber feat of a laptop often grab onto the felt inside the sleeve. As the
stats state, it can fit a 15” laptop.
Just in front of the laptop sleeve, accessed from the right
side of the pack, is a tablet pocket. This seems redundant but I guess if you
have both a laptop and a tablet, it will help? But with a laptop and tablet
inside, the back of the bag quickly becomes bulky and less comfortable. I would
suggest only carrying one at a time.
Oh! And the secret compartment! It was so well hidden, I had
to read the instructions to find it. It is accessed by pushing in on the lumbar
support area of the back of the bag and is another sleeve in front of the
tablet sleeve. Pretty handy place to store a few extra bucks. Sure, if the bag
is stolen, a dedicated thief would have time to find it, but casual pickpockets
won't be able to access it while it is on your back. And if the bag does go
missing, there is a TerraLinq.com tag on the bag to hopefully reunite the two
Now then, the camera compartment. This thing is modular to
an extreme. It is meant to be accessed from the left side and can hold a
camera, lenses, and flash with ease. The compartments are hardsided and have
lids, so storing multiple smaller lenses is a breeze (although some will be
under others). A camera with lens attached can be stored pointing down or on
its side for fast retrieval. By my count, I can fit a normal DSLR with lens
attached and then five other lenses or two taller lenses, two flashes, and the
camera with lens. There are a lot of possibilities inside with two flexible
dividers to help protect gear.
Zippered pockets abound on this pack. Inside the main compartment is one, outside on that panel is another with slots to hold your
memory cards and a removable pouch for batteries and small items. Inside the
top lid is another and along the right side is an “organizer” compartment to
hold filters, pens, a small notebook and paperwork. Note, however, that when
this pocket is filled and the pocket on the outside of it is holding the
supplied rain cover (yay for rain covers!), it is nearly impossible to close.
In other words, it's a nice bit of organization but the hardsidedness of the
interior space means it can't be filled to capacity.
Up top is an open space under the top lid for another camera
or snacks and a water bottle. In all its stylishness (and it IS a sexy bag) the
Python lacks water bottle holders. It has clips on the back for a tripod but
for the life of me I couldn't figure out an easy way to make them work. Sexy,
yes. Practical, well, maybe I'm just doing something wrong.
Lastly the bottom of the bag is solid to the point that I
drug it along rocks just to see if I could damage it. While the bag is heavy,
features like the extra thick, rubberized padding on the bottom will make this
bag last beyond simple nylon bags. That goes for the carry handle at the top as
well. It has a rigid bar inside and ballistic stitching, not some wimpy piece
of webbing add on to hang the bag from a hook in a locker.
In Real Life
How does the bag feel on the trail and through the airport?
When I tested this bag I would not say it's a dream. I won't lie, it's a little
above average in the fit and feel department. Because of its semi-rigid
construction the bag doesn't flex with me as much as I would like (and believe
me, I don't flex that much).
But the padding on the shoulder straps, the hips, and the
adjustable sternum strap make this bag an all day comfort, even if it is
heavier. Oh, and there are two pockets on the shoulder straps for small items,
like memory card or a very small phone. No, not a phone, maybe an iPod
The rain cover works well although more than half the time
in weather like we get in Seattle it won't be needed. That's because the
ballistic nylon does a very good job of shedding water. It can handle drizzle
like nobody's business. Have I mentioned this bag is not light? Part of that is
due to the ballistic nylon and the amount of fabric on the inside to keep gear
safe. Although I wish the top-accessed laptop sleeve had a more weatherproof
zipper like the f-stop Guru goes.
Side access means this bag stays off the ground more as I
can swing the bag around from my back to grab my camera. The rigid bottom helps
the bag stand on its own, further keeping the shoulder straps from dropping
into the dirt. Bags with front access to camera gear always bother me this way
because getting the camera out often means laying the shoulder straps into the
dirt on a trail and then putting those same straps back on my shoulders. Side
access cures that. For the most part.
If you are looking for style and willing to give up a bit of
functionality while carry more on your back, the Booq Python Pack is for you.
It's sexy and solidly built, but has some short comings when it comes to
carrying items down a trail. You would be hard pressed to fit the 10 essentials in with all your camera gear.
But for around town, trudging coffee shop to coffee shop in
the drizzly rain? This bag has it in spades.
The Booq Python Pack
retails for $250 and is available now.