Field Test: Billingham Rucksack 25

A big thank you to BIllingham Bags for sending the Billingham Rucksack 25. For anyone who's interested in photography, I can guarantee the majority of you will have heard of Billingham Bags, but the Rucksack range isn't something everyone knows about... but you really should!  

There are not many photographers I meet that don't already rock a Billingham Camera Bag on their shoulder or plan to invest in one. That's the big thing when it comes to Billingham Bags, investment is the keyword, a camera bag should be a major part of your kit list, for me it's up there as one of my priorities. Without stating the obvious too much, every photographer, in any genre, needs a camera bag that holds all your gear, adds protection and ultimately gives you peace of mind that your equipment is safe.  Billingham have been offering these components since 1973, so we can probably be sure they know a thing or two about camera bags & rucksacks. I myself have been rocking a Billingham bag for the last 8/9 years, I bought a second hand bag whilst I was finishing my photography degree in Derby, the thing is over 30 years old and still looks the part and keeps my kit safe! 

Don't be tricked into thinking because these awesome camera bags can literally last a lifetime that the guys over at Billingham have sat on that formula and not been working hard on new products. It's clear to see from the crazy amount of innovative bags and rucksacks they are producing currently, that Billingham is still a leading force in the camera bag industry. They've expanded that core British product into a vast range of bags and accessories that are easily recognisable and respected across the world with creatives and photographers. 

Each bag they produce has over 100 individual components, from the brass buckles and fittings, the genuine leather trims and edging, the soft-weave fabric and waterproof canvas. There's certainly no other camera bag to rival a Billingham on the combination of safety, manufacturing, heritage and style that is still all handmade in the United Kingdom.  But that's enough of me, let's drop the Rucksack 25 Review! 

Billingham Rucksack 25

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I could probably let the photographs do the talking on this blog post, but I will try and add some context for you all. The Rucksack 25 is designed to carry a digital SLR camera with 2 to 3 medium lenses and accessories. It's the bigger brother in the Billingham Rucksack Series, with its little sibling the Rucksack 35 also popular with photographers. For me, the Rucksack 25 is the perfect addition to my camera carrying needs, and certainly mega useful whilst I'm on the move. I've recently been using the 25 whilst travelling across the USA and Europe with work, it provided that need to access gear quickly but still with that added safety and protection we all expect. The rucksack was originally made for their 25th Anniversary and now back due to popular demand.. I can certainly see why

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In the main compartment, the bag features closed cell foam padding on all sides - 2.5cm thick in places - to protect from bumps and impacts. Additionally, inside the main compartment are removable, repositionable padded foam dividers to create places to store spare lenses, light meters etc. Of course, all this foam padding leaves the camera and lenses incredibly protected.

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Unlike some bags out there the protection doesn't stop with just the padding - the three-layer Stormblock fabric, including a layer of butyl rubber, is impermeable to water. Further, the double zips that grant access to both the main compartment and front pocket are protected by rain guards -  the rain guard on the main compartment is adjustable with a drawstring so it can be closed tight over the zip or pulled back to allow ease of access. The outer protection is finished off with four brass feet on the top grain leather bottom corners to minimise wear.

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Each photographer will have a certain way they pack up their kit, the extra pockets aside from the main camera compartment allow you ample storage and the ability to keep gear separate if you require. Extra storage is provided by a slim document pocket inside the main compartment that's ideal for a map or the tourist leaflets we all get and by the generously sized front pocket - perfect for carrying a newspaper or a raincoat. If that isn't enough AVEA pockets can be attached to strong leather patches on the side.... so the 25 gives me all that extra storage I need. 

Finally, ergonomically designed shoulder pads and a central backing both made of padded spacer fabric promote breathability and make it easier to carry the bag for long periods.

All in all, this will be the perfect medium sized backpack for a great many photographers - use it and you'll see why so many requested they start making it again!

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    Some final thoughts from me and I think it's only fitting that I state the Rucksack 25 has many appeals for many photographers. As I've mentioned many times before in my blog posts, purchasing a Billingham Bag is an investment, and with so many ranges now available via Billingham, you will certainly find one that suits your needs. The Rucksack 25 is perfect for those photographers who find themselves travelling a lot with one Camera setup + lenses. Be it for commuting to work, long weekends away with the camera, a hike or quick photography jobs (pre-wedding shoots, commercial headshots, etc). Another hidden gem of the Rucksack 25, it can be taken on aeroplanes as hand luggage, for any destination wedding photographer like me, having your kit by your side - or in this case in the overhead compartments - is a must when travelling.

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    Just like photography, camera bags aren’t a one size fits all type of product. The one you choose needs to adapt to your needs and make you more efficient as a photographer. So when it comes to different shoots, spontaneous point and shoot expeditions, or weddings with the need for extra lenses and accessories, you’ll want a camera bag that can be customised for these various scenarios. The 25 comes with removable padded inserts allowing you to transform your bag into a casual one at any given moment, so no matter if it's a small mirrorless body or a large dSLR, your kit will remain protected at all times.

    As with all Billingham bags and accessories you're guaranteed British craftsmanship that boasts quality and durability. For something that looks so beautiful, you think they may be disadvantaged when it comes to the safety of your gear, but everything about these camera bags is sublime. The attention to detail when it comes to the appearance and that unique heritage appeal means the bag will never look out of place and adds a huge advantage over some of the other camera bag companies. The soft-weave fabric which protects the 25 from weather conditions is a must for me, living in the UK means I'm having to deal with bad weather conditions so I want a bag that I can place down knowing it will protect my equipment from the elements. The Stormproof lining and materials ensure whatever job and weather faces you, the gear will be protected and I can guarantee the Rucksack 25 will still look just as good even after the elements.

    Photographers should be well aware that quality costs money, therefore the price shouldn't come as a surprise. It seems like an obvious statement to make but if you're spending £3000+ on photography gear then a few hundred on a piece of kit that houses it all safety is surely a no-brainer! A Billingham is a camera bag that's going to last decades and will certainly outlive your cameras, you're buying into craftsmanship that has been built to last. Like I mentioned earlier a quality camera bag is an investment, not a purchase. Throw Billingham Bags into an eBay search and you'll see how much these camera bags are valued even when they're second hand. 

    To see more from Billingham visit: www.billingham.co.uk