Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Great value, but with one big flaw...
on 11 September 2018
Most photographers are obsessed with finding the "right bag". Over the years, I've had a number of bags: shoulder bags, backpacks and sling bags; each had their strengths and weaknesses and I write this to put my review into context. The idea behind buying the AmazonBasics Backpack was to find something smaller than my Lowepro Vertex 200 that could fit a full size DSLR with a couple of zoom lenses and a small prime or two, along with a lightweight waterproof jacket and photography associated bits and bobs. I was browsing Amazon, saw this very inexpensive bag and thought: "why pay more? I'll give it a try".
My first impression is that externally, the bag is actually better built than I had any right to expect at this price point. It is well padded and the zippers are of decent quality. The shoulder straps are comfortable and reasonably well padded, though I question the utility of the chest and waist straps for most people. The waist strap in particular is too high to be of much use and just gets in the way, but if you are of shorter stature (I'm over 6') it may be more useful. The bag has a good number of compartments and internal pockets, many of which can be secured with zippers or hook & loop fasteners. The camera equipment compartment is a good size (as can be seen in the photos) and will fit even a full frame DSLR body (without battery grip, but with an L-bracket) and a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. The compartment is slightly too shallow to fit the larger zooms or fast primes (e.g. Canon L-series glass) standing on their end (when looking at the open bag, like in my photos), but it will fit them laying down; it is large enough to fit the smaller prime lenses standing on their end. You can fit a lot more APS-C (or m4/3) mirrorless kit in the main compartment, as the attached photo shows with my Fujifilm kit. There are two see-through zipper pockets inside the camera compartment that I use to store batteries and memory cards. There are an additional two zippered pockets on the other side of the 'flap', one of which is large enough to carry a lightweight raincoat or an iPad.
So what is the big flaw? The internal padded subdivisions in the main camera/lens compartment are very similar to what you find inside most branded bags, with one key difference. In my Lowepro backpacks the base of the compartment is of woven fabric and the main "longitudinal" dividers have hook & loop fasteners on the bottom edge as well as on the ends (see the attached photo: the Amazon divider is black, the Lowepro is grey. Note the additional strip of hook & loop on the Lowepro). This means that when the Lowepro dividers are assembled in the bag, the resultant structure is far more rigid than in the Amazon bag. On the Amazon bag, the dividers are great when the compartments are full, but tend to collapse when you remove a camera or lens for use, or simply don't want to fill the bag up. Some of this is me pushing the bag beyond its target market by over stressing it with a heavy camera and lenses, but it was still a bit of an issue when using it with my Fujifilm X-mount mirrorless system (see photo). To be honest, the quality of the dividers is a touch sub-par as well, the foam inside is cut too small and is a bit bendy. This means that the divider will bend and ruck up under the weight of camera equipment.
In summary, this is a bag that gets it 90% right, but the 10% that's wrong is the most important part for a photography backpack. I really wish that Amazon had spent the extra on specifying better quality dividers, as it would have made a huge difference to the utility of the bag, even if it meant increasing the retail price. Because of this, I would only recommend this backpack if you truly cannot afford to spend the extra money on a branded bag.