Sooner or later every photographer reaches the point where a camera backpack turns from a simple storage bag into a veritable adventure companion. When that moment comes we often don’t realize that what we have at hand is not suitable for our actual needs, and so we begin our endless quest for the perfect backpack, searching through hundreds of products available on the market.
As with a tripod or a camera, also the choice for a camera backpack has to be based on specific features according to the type of photography we are into. Weather protection, ergonomics and capacity are without any doubt at the root of the search for any camera backpack for landscape photographers.
For this reason, this time we put to the test the newcomer of the Rollei family: the Traveler Canyon camera backpack series.
The Rollei Traveler Backpack Canyon Series
We’ve already got to know Rollei for the quality of their tripods, thus we have high expectations for this new series of camera backpacks.
The Traveler Backpack Canyon family is composed of four versions with different sizes:
- S: capacity 10 litres and dimensions 26 x 15 x 24 cm (10.2 x 5.9 x 9.5 inches)
- M: capacity 25 litres and dimensions 45 x 30 x 20 cm (17.7 x 11.8 x 7.9 inches)
- L: capacity 35 litres and dimensions 46 x 30 x 21 cm (18.1 x 11.8 x 8.3 inches)
- XL: capacity 50 litres and dimensions 54 x 35 x 28 cm (21.3 x 13.8 x 11.1 inches)
Each of these backpacks is available in three colors:
They are all very vivid colors, different from the traditional anonymous black backpack. Personally I really appreciate this choice, for both safety reasons (certainly it’s an advantage to be visible at a distance, especially during solo trips) and aesthetic reasons (a photo with a human element wearing a vivid color, standing out in the landscape, is always impressive).
The only apparent downside is that of visual perception: a colored backpack always seems bigger than it actually is, and therefore at an airport it will catch the attention of the devilish field personnel who is always on the hunt for backpacks to stow. However this is definitely a groundless fear, as one of the strengths of this backpack series is that it’s designed with special attention to those who often travel by plane.
Indeed if we refer to the maximum size of the most restrictive low cost company, which is equal to 55 x 40 x 25 cm (21.7 x 15.8 x 9.8 inches), we can see that the S, M and L backpacks will go through checks without any problem. The XL backpack is theoretically exceeding the maximum size by a few centimeters, but as we are talking about backpacks and not hard cases, we can compress it a bit and make it pass through checks without problems.
That’s surely quite an important detail! But now let’s better understand how this backpack is built.
Manufacturing Features of Rollei Traveler Canyon Backpacks
The design of Rollei Traveler Canyon backpacks is definitely different from usual.
The first thing we notice when we look at the backpack is the unusual absence of zips or openings on the exposed side; in fact we find a sort of protective colored cover attached to the rest of the backpack with clips. If at first this choice seems debatable, we’ll see later that it does not only represent a stylistic choice, which you would like or not, but it has an actual practical functionality.
Once we detach the clips and we uncover the actual openings of the backpack, the cover stays attached thanks to some seams in the upper part. In the upper part, we have zip fasteners to access the section for accessories and clothes; in the lower part we find the access to the section dedicated to the actual photography equipment.
When we open the section dedicated to photography equipment, we find a surprise that I really enjoy: the presence of a removable internal unit where we can place the camera, lenses and accessories.
To me this is absolutely a selling point for two fundamental reasons: the first one is that once we are on field we can decide to extract the internal unit in order to work in a more convenient way; the second is that in case of emergency when we are at the airport, we can have our backpack checked-in and take just the internal unit with us, which holds the most precious content.
One of the potential downsides is due to the fact that having to open the internal unit every time we need to access the equipment is surely inconvenient. But this is a false problem, as it is possible to insert the internal unit with the cover folded on itself, so as to allow us to access the camera and lenses as soon as we open the main zip of the backpack.
In landscape photography, it is certainly crucial to carry a tripod, and Rollei has taken care of this aspect as well.
Instead of providing the usual fasteners on the back or on one side, they have put loops on the bottom side. Surely this improves ergonomics and makes it easier to carry, as it lowers the center of gravity of the backpack. In case you are wondering, the answer is no: the tripod will never hit your legs. I’ve also tried to carry it while riding a bike: no contact with the saddle or the bike!
When we inspect the side that is in contact with our back, we observe that Rollei has really taken care of ergonomics. In fact there is a tubular aluminum structure allowing a perfect weight distribution. By properly adjusting the shoulder straps and using the cross straps, you can really relieve the perceived stress on your body.
I have tried the “M” backpack, fully loaded, during a mountain trip of about two hours: really no pain or troubles. Looking inside the backpacks we see that all of them also include a laptop compartment (tablet compartment for the “S” version) and that the upper compartment is completely weatherproof: that’s perfect for photography equipment but also for clothes that need to stay dry. The only downside is that in this way, the clothes compartment is not communicating with that of the internal unit, thus even if we decide to give up space for clothes and accessories, it won’t be possible to replace the internal unit with a larger one.
On the sides, there are little compartments and meshes for small objects like a water bottle or an umbrella.
On Rollei’s website there is also a well-made video about the potentials of the various versions. Here you can see the video related to the “M” size backpack.
Rollei Traveler Canyon Backpacks in Action
As always, before writing a review I’ve spent a few months on field with these backpacks. I have focused on two backpacks of the collection, the ones that I would use the most, because of their sizes: the “M” size backpack, perfect for daily trips, and the “L” backpack, great for multiple day trips.
The battlefield has been really diverse. As I couldn’t opt for my beloved marine environment because of the summer season, which is rich in tourists but not in clouds, I’ve chosen the beautiful Dolomites and Milan. Two completely different sceneries with same needs in common: protecting the equipment during transport, convenience and ease of use.
In both environments, the backpacks have been up to the tasks: no pain after long walks, weather protection is great, and I could easily take out the equipment anytime. Surely, as you spend more time with these backpacks you can appreciate their build quality and details: all zips are weatherproof, every seam is perfectly made, and wear (with regard to abrasion also) is not a problem.
I’ve not been able to make it so much dirty that it would need a washing, but considering the materials used and since it is possible to remove the internal unit, the process should be really simple and painless.
Rollei Traveler Canyon backpacks undoubtedly represent a courageous move in a market that is already saturated. But when you have a winning idea, you don’t have to be afraid of bringing it forward, and Rollei has followed this way: quality products made with attention to details, designed by photographers for photographers.
The total weather protection and its ergonomics really make it a suitable choice for landscape photographers. The choice of adopting the removable internal unit is surely right and in line with an ever-growing demand by photographers for this type of backpacks.
The fact that the internal unit is not expandable does not actually limit the configuration possibilities, and the weatherproof section is really a winning solution for people like me who spend a lot of time under severe weather conditions, where having dry spare clothes makes a difference.
If you are searching for a professional solution at a reasonable price, surely Rollei Traveler Canyon is a choice to keep in mind!