I love photo bags and I’ve used a ton. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses but I keep coming back to one in particular. The Incase DSLR Pro Pack definitely has shorcomings but overall, I’ve put it to the test over the past six months and traveled with it all over the world.
Take a look through the slideshow photos in the Gallery and check out my review below.
In general, I don’t buy into the whole camera tech nerd bag aesthetics. I like plain, sleek bags with no exterior frills or gaudy logos. Up to this point, I’ve avoided some of the bigger, more expensive packs for this stealthy beauty. The design of the Incase DSLR Pro Pack is so simple that it’s almost underwhelming when you first pick it up. But set it down on its bottom and utilize the easy-access top zipper and you begin to understand how simplicity is in this pack’s favor.
Then sit it on its front and open the back padding to expose the modular storage system. My general approach to traveling with photo gear has changed over the years. I went from bringing all my bodies and lenses with me each time I traveled, only to leave half of it untouched and a burdon. My general rule is simple here: if I think I need to carry more gear than what’s shown in this bag, I’ll never use it all.
I can fit my 5DMKii, 50mm L, 24-70mm L, 70-200mm L, with my Hasselblad and a 35mm rangefinder with enough room for film and film backs. At that point, the pack weighs a ton and is still incredibly comfortable. The hardware has exceeded my expectations. The zippers are solid and I’ve had this thing stuffed to the brim. Best of all, the bag’s body profile has yet to be compromised: it still has the same shape as it did when I got it over six months ago.
Which brings up my next point, the flaw(s). If you carry light / flash stands and tripods, this bag is not for you. I have a Manfrotto tripod that fits under the two side straps, only after a lot of finagling. The quick-release tripod hardware gets caught under them and it’s a hassle each time I have to strap it on. Open-release straps would handle this problem and I’ve considered putting them on myself. Oh and if you carry flash stands, you’re doing it by hand because there’s no where for them to go.
Another small issue I’ve had is with the outside pocket. Now, Incase does not claim this bag is water proof, or even water resistant (see below *) but I’ve ridden plenty in the rain with it and had no leakage. The giant pocket on the back did fill with water from time to time, until I cut a hole in the bottom for drainage. Ideally, a simple, stash sleeve in this area could be used for an extra light stand attachment (as used by many DSLR bag makers) but that’s missing the point with this bag. What’s the point of this bag then?
As the name implies, the “Pro Pack” is not really pro at all. It’s more of a weekend getaway pack. Sure it has all the necessary compartments, pockets and straps but the real estate is precious and like I said, you need to plan on what you’ll be using. On any given trip, I carry my 13″ Macbook Pro (it will fit a 15″ Macbook Pro), cables, chargers, cards and camera gear in it with zero issues. Riding with it is a cinch too. The chest strap keeps the bag from swaying too much and the back padding is perfect.
The bottom line is: I wouldn’t have used the Incase DSLR Pro Pack this whole time if I didn’t like it. It’s not like there aren’t other options out there. In fact, I could see another model above the Pro Pack in Incase’s Camera Bag line, with the aforementioned improvements and maybe even a little more cargo space. All I know is if they indeed make another bag, I’m in for another six months.