Review – Vanguard Alta Rise 35 camera backpack – We have used Lowepro bags for years, in fact, Paul has used a Lowepro Mini Trekker for close to 20 years or so and it was a fantastic bag however it was time for a change. You’d think with all the variations on camera bags that there would be the perfect bag out there but alas it took us well over a year to finally settle on the bag that would cover all his needs (over 30 years in the industry has also made him very particular).
Now there are a few factors that a bag must have for us to even consider. Keep in mind that we are professional Travel Photographers and your needs may differ from ours.
- Quality – Naturally, a good quality bag will last a long time so this is always at the top of our list. There is nothing worse than having a bag that can only last a few years.
- Weight – as Travel Photographers this is very important. As some airlines only allow 7kg as carry-on luggage it is important to be able to get all the gear you want into the bag. We do not want to be in a situation where we want to take a lens but can’t due to weight restrictions. Many bags we liked were well over 2kgs alone and some were close to 3kgs which would only allow 4-5 kgs for your gear and accessories. The reviewed bag is just over 1.5kgs
- Practicality – a bag has to be practical and naturally fit all our lenses in an organised manner. We’re sure that this a requirement for anyone buying a camera bag.
- Laptop Size – must accommodate a 14″ laptop. The reviewed bag not only carries a 14” laptop but also fits a tablet as well.
- Pockets – an abundance of pockets for accessories as well as space for chargers/cords for carrying onboard a flight. We always carry at least one charger and cord onboard and pack the remainder in check-in luggage. That way, if the check-in bag goes missing, we can still charge our camera batteries.
- Rain Cover – a must-have in our line of work and not negotiable.
- Waist Belt – carrying 7-8kgs on your back all day (we can walk up to 20kms a day) can be taxing on your shoulder and neck muscles so a waist belt is a must for spreading this weight. We found some great bags that suited all of our needs but didn’t have a waist belt – a deal breaker for Paul.
- Accessibility – the Lowepro Mini Trekker only had one access point and Paul wanted side access to the new bag which would access without taking the bag off.
- Comfort – Naturally the bag had to be super comfortable
- Price – Paul’s a tight-ass and wanted all of the above without spending a fortune
Up until we decided on the reviewed bag the Manfrotto Pro-Light 3N1-26 & 36 Camera Backpack bag with the cross-over shoulder straps were at the very top of his list, however, these tended to ride up and try to strangle him (see picture below)
Then we came across the Vanguard ALTA RISE 45 which seemed to fit all his criteria. The bag fits a Pro DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 24-70mm f/2.8), a flash, accessories and it carries a tripod. The unique +6 expansion system will allow you to add 6cm storage width with one simple zipper motion, offering storage for laptop or tablet, while still keeping gear protected. Here are some of the features of the bag –
- +6 – expand or contract with one simple zipper
- Quick-action – side access in split seconds
- ‘Magic’ pocket – full length, padded internal pocket with easy and discreet external access
- Safe storage – concealed pocket on the back panel to secure travel document and wallet
- Comfortable carrying – ergonomic Air System back and harness
- Always protected – well-padded all round
- No fumbling – bright coloured interior makes finding things easy
- Well organized – dedicated pockets for all essentials
- Stay steady – optimal balance tripod carrying system. If not using the side tripod holder this acts as a great pocket for carrying a water bottle
- ALTA LINK – Alta Action Tripod Bag (Not Included) connection for ultimate Vanguard ALTA EXPERIENCE
- Keep dry – total coverage rain cover
The Vanguard ALTA RISE 45 backpack with the +6 revolution offers you the possibility to supersize or downsize, with one easy zipper motion, while still keeping gear protected. Designed for intuitive use, you will find that the quick-action, side flap opening allows you grab-and-shoot in split seconds when releasing one shoulder strap and swinging the backpack around.
In both size modes, the ALTA RISE 45 ensures padded protection. Ideally the capacity is designed to hold a Pro DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 24-70mm f/2.8) a flash and accessories in the large dedicated camera compartment, and when the +6 width is expanded you can utilize the full length padded compartment to store personal essentials, or carry along a laptop or tablet less than 9.7″. Strategically placed internal and external pockets, arrange all other essentials, such as memory cards, cables, batteries, charger, smartphone and water bottle, exactly where one needs them; either secured in a zippered compartment, or on hand at any given moment in a slip-in pocket. While a concealed rear pocket will secure valuables such as wallet and travel documents close to your body where no prying hands can reach. Additional storage is made possible with the connection to side-strap loop. Enhancing performance, you will discover our second-to-none quality, materials, and bag construction, our signature total coverage rain cover and our optimal balance tripod carrying system.
The ALTA RISE 45 carries comfortably and it features ergonomic Air System breathable back and harness as well as a sturdy top handle, which makes grab-and-run possible at any given moment and allows you to hang the bag from any hook.
The gear Paul carries in the bag is as follows (keep in mind that there are two of us and we swap and share some lenses) –
- 1 x Sony A7r body
- 1 x Sony FE 24-70 f4 Zeiss lens (attached to the body)
- 1 x Sony FE 16-35 f4 Zeiss lens or Laowa 15mm f2 Zero-Distortion lens
- 1 x Sony FE 70-200 f4 Zeiss lens
- 1 x Samyang 12mm f2.8 fisheye lens
- 1 x Minolta MD 50mm f1.7 lens with an adapter or Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro lens
- 1 x NiSi 100mm filter system (which includes the holder, ND filters, and ND Grads)
- 1 x WD 2TB Wireless External Hard Drive (back-ups)
- The usual stuff such as blower brush, cleaning cloths, spare batteries, bubble level etc
- 1 x HP 14″ laptop or Apple Ipad
The Vanguard Alta Rise 45 carries all the above comfortably and if he is not carrying the 70-200 or filters there is room for a wet-weather jacket as well.
Negatives (there’s always gotta be some). These are not deal-breakers but minor things.
- The side access to access the camera could have been just a little larger and sometimes the zipper struggles to open around the corner sections.
- The top handle is fantastic on the top of the bag but it is a bit big to hang on the bottom of the tripods centre column for extra stability. Another small loop would have been handy.
All-in-all the Positives far outweigh the Negatives of this bag and Paul is looking forward to many years of comfortable shooting with this attached to his bag. If you are looking for a great camera backpack for travelling or for general use for that matter then look no further. If you are looking for something a little larger then try the Alta Rise 48.
This bag is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
First outing with the Vanguard Alta Rise 45. Paul contemplating a composition on Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia. Just need some clouds :-). Taken with the Sony A7ii and Laowa 15mm f2 Zero-Distortion lens.
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