This year Manfrotto came out with a new line of Pro bags. This line includes backpacks, holsters, roller bags and shoulder bags. I personally use Manfrottos tripods and tripod heads and I am very satisfied with those products, so when I needed another backpack I’ve decided to go with their Manfrotto Pro Backpack 20 unit. Now that I have had some time to fully test it and use it on numerous shoots I can give my full and honest opinion about it.
There are three bags in Manfortto’s Pro Backpack line; they are simply numbered 20, 30 and 50. I’ve chosen for myself the smallest one, because I often go out shooting with just one body and several lenses, so there is typically no need for a huge bag. Because I also plan on traveling with this bag and it being so small, I can rest assured that I will be able to use it as a carry-on, even on the smallest regional planes. If I do end up needing more gear for a bigger shoot, I usually just pack more bags with the equipment for my assistants to carry. The difference between my bag (Pro Backpack 20) and the next level up (30) is just its width (8.1in vs. 10.2in). This basically means that if you have one of the larger bodies such as 1d or D4 series or have a “permanently” attached battery grip, you’ll have to use Pro Backpack 30 to fit everything comfortably, otherwise Pro Backpack 20 fill fit just about any camera body without attachments. And the biggest pack in the line (50) just offers another row for lens slots on top of 30. Regardless of which size you go with, they all essentially share the same design and features.
Design is actually the main reason I chose Manfrotto Pro Backpack 20. It just looks stylish and elegant, yet simple in its form. You can easily tell it was designed by Italians. It’s practical and modest in its entire construction, but that accent red color gives it just enough character to make it look sexy. And yet with all that design thought put into it, it doesn’t scream “I have super expensive gear inside of me,” so you can say it’s a bit humble. You can see that they’ve put a lot of thought into detail, as well as, toughness and practicality.
Speaking of toughness, for its small size Pro Backpack 20 is surprisingly strong. Its front panel features “exo-tough multi-layered construction” which basically feels almost like a plastic covered with fabric. I know it’s not actually plastic but it does feel hard enough to protect the gear from substantial impact. Inside the bag you’ll see red padding going through the middle; it is actually thicker than any standard camera bag padding and feels like it would give the gear some added protection when dropped vertically or on a side.
Manfrotto Pro Backpack 20 has a separate section for a 13” laptop which is located right next to your back, providing your laptop with more protection and shifting the center weight closer to your body. The back side and straps are well padded with foam and breathable mesh. Overall the material feels tough enough for most applications I use it for, such as casual travel, city shooting and occasional beach or park. This bag also has a thin waist strap to provide additional tightness on those long walks. But since I’ve never used them and they always seem to drag behind me, I’ve cut them off completely. The zippers seem reliable, but unfortunately the zipper pulls don’t interconnect, so there is no chance of locking the main compartment.
Inside the bag you’ll find a small pocket for things like memory cards or pens, a large pocket for a tablet and a medium pocket for things like lens filters and stuff. There are also two large pockets outside, one on each size. I guess technically it’s actually three pockets, if you count another smaller pocket on one of the side pockets. There is also a handle on top. It’s positioned closer to the back side, which helps with balance when the bag is lifted.
Overall build seems solid and tight. It is somewhat water resistant. I have had it in a light rain and everything survived just fine. However, for those heavy rain moments, the Pro Backpack comes with its own rain cover, which is just a tarp cover with elastic string that goes over the bag. This backpack also has four rubber feet on the bottom which allows it to easily stand in a vertical position and even gives it a minor protection from dust and mud.
So is it practical? The answer is: mostly yes. The front of the bag features two quick-release buckles, when they are fastened you can only open the top part of the bag. This allows for a quick access you your camera without the danger of other gear falling out. So you can just place the bag vertically on the ground and quickly take out your camera, plus you can also put frequently needed accessories on each side of the camera (such as flash) to have them in easy accessible. If you want full access to your gear, just put the backpack on the ground, unlock the two quick-release buckles and open the entire backpack. The paddings are attached to the backpack with Velcro so you can position them in any way you like.
The shoulder straps have d-rings on each side so you can attach carabiner clips or other accessories to them when traveling. The shoulder straps also have quick-release buckles on the top that attach to the main backpack body, this actually adds more comfort when carrying the backpack, but it also means that you need to unclip them when gaining access to the laptop compartment. Another useful detail on this backpack is a strap over the back of the bag which is designed to go over a handle on a rolling travel case for convenient transportation.
Manfrotto Pro Backpack 20 can also carry up to two tripods. There is a flap that reveals itself when you pull on a little strap on the bottom, you can put two legs of your tripod into this pocket and secure it with the supplied fastening belts to the front of the bag. The front of the bag has four loops cleverly hidden inside the flaps which can be used for the fastening belts. Another, perhaps smaller tripod, can be placed inside a side pocket and fastened with another belt through an attached strap. The rain cover, which I discussed earlier, is actually designed to cover the bag including both tripods. However, since the bag is relatively small, I wouldn’t suggest to even try to place a video tripod anywhere on the backpack. Also, since the flap for a tripod legs is hanging below the actual body of the bag, it sometimes feels awkward trying to place the backpack vertically on the floor with the tripod attached.
While I have mentioned two large pockets on either side of the backpack, they are not as useful as one would hope since the rain cover typically takes up one of the pockets; while the other is usually half full with the strapping belts.
Finally, since we are talking practical, I don’t find the two inside pockets sufficient for all the little adapters, triggers, filters, cards and batteries that I usually carry with me.
Overall I find Manfrotto Pro Backpack 20 a very nice little backpack. Camera bags are a very personal items, everyone has their own preferences. While this backpack doesn’t have as many security features, it is very practical in the field and it provides good overall protection for my gear. Finally, it just looks sexy, simple yet elegant.
|Model number:||MB MP-BP-20BB|
|Weight:||3.7 lb / 1.7 kg|
|Exterior Dimensions:||12.2(W) x 8.1(D) x 17.1(H)” / 31.0 (W)x 20.5(D) x 43.5(H) cm|
|Capacity:||DSLR with attached 70-200mm F2.8, 3 extra lenses, 2 flashes, 13” laptop, tablet and accessories.|
|Tripod Holder:||Front and side attachment options|
|Carrying options:||Shoulder harness, top grip handle, trolley strap|