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I had been using the Nikon shoulder bag for while now but the growing camera kit and aching shoulders were prompting me to look for alternatives. Since I intended to travel soon for some wildlife photography, my ideal bag would have to be a backpack.

Let’s start with the kit that I intended to fit in the bag:

  • Nikon D90 body
  • 18-105 Kit Lens
  • 70-300 VR Telezoom
  • SB-700 Flash
  • Tripod
  • Other accessories like UV/CPL Filters, cleaning kit, batteries, chargers, memory cards
  • Maybe an extra camera body or lens in the future

A lot of online research of various bags from brands like Kata, CaseLogic etc led me to ultimately select the Vanguard SkyBorne 45 which fitted the bill perfectly.  And here’s why…

blog_DSC0368Looks :

The SkyBorne is definitely a very good looking bag without attracting too much attention, which is certainly helpful in new places where everyone is a stranger.  The outside of the bag is steel grey and the inside is Vanguard’s signature Orange which helps you locate your camera gear easily especially the little items.

Build Quality :

The build quality is excellent with a Polyester ripstop exterior and Nylon and Velvet interiors. This provides excellent weather resistance on the outside and well padded insides for adequate protection of your delicate camera gear. A rain cover is also provided for additional protection from the elements. The zippers are of high quality and guide along smoothly.

Weight and Dimensions :

The SkyBorne 45 tips the scale at 2.3Kgs (4.96lbs) and is quite light compared to some other bags. It’s also supposedly allowed as carry-on baggage in airplanes but I’ve not tested this yet.

Update : The bag fits perfectly in the overhead compartment. The airlines / security had no issues with the bag.

Lower Rear (Camera) compartment:

The bag has a rear access system which adds to security as you would necessarily need to take the bag off your shoulders to access the rear-lower camera compartment which is well padded from all sides.

blog_DSC0362

My Nikon D90 with attached 70-300mm Nikkor Telezoom with the Lens Hood on, fitted into this section easily. It also took in my Nikkor 18-105mm and SB-700 Speedlight easily. There was some spare left near the camera body which is handy if you add a battery unit or have a full frame camera. With a little adjustment, I should be able to fit another camera body in this compartment.

blog_DSC0367Quick Side Access System :

This compartment can be accessed from the side too which helps pull out the camera without setting the bag down. A small magnetic lock prevents the zipper from opening.

The side flap also has slots for memory cards and batteries which is quite handy. The flap also has a zipper compartment (seen in the picture) which can be accessed from both sides i.e. without opening the flap.

Top Rear compartment:

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The top compartment is again rear-access and cannot be opened while the bag is on one’s shoulders. This is a massive compartment to hold batteries, chargers and other stuff like lunch boxes etc which you may need throughout the day.

Front compartment:

blog_DSC0373

This is primarily for a laptop and Vanguard provides a nicely padded sleeve which fits in this compartment perfectly. Since this sleeve is built to take in a 12” laptop, I couldn’t fit my 13” MacBook in it. But if you have either a 12” laptop or a tablet, it would fit perfectly. In fact, the sleeve comes with a separate strap and you can carry it separately. I managed to fit my laptop directly in the front compartment as it is well-padded and should keep my MacBook safe.

A separate zipper increases the capacity of this compartment, if you intend to chuck out the laptop and carry other stuff in here.

Tripod:

A tripod can be attached externally to the centre of the bag which is very useful as the weight is centrally balanced and not on one side like some other bags.

Harness:blog_DSC0365

The air-infused harness has been ergonomically designed and the shoulder straps are well padded and adjustable. There’s a well padded waist strap system which is removable. The AIR SYSTEM is designed to let air circulate so that you sweat less when you are carrying the bag for long periods. I am yet to test this. There’s also a sternum strap which prevent the shoulder straps from slipping and provide additional stability.

Safety / Security: The Skyborne employs multiple buckles to ensure that the compartments cannot be unzipped without opening these buckles. The loose ends of the straps can be tucked away so that they do not get entangled as you go about your shoot. The base of the bag has rubber feet with air pockets to cushion the bag when you keep the bag upright.

I bought the bag a few months back from www.imaginext.co.in who are the authorised distributors of Vanguard products in India.

The Vanguard SkyBorne 45 is an excellent bag which is very comfortable to carry around and value for money. This one does mange to tick all the right boxes.

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