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Gear & Apps

Brevitē Roamer Review | Does The Execution Match The Hype?

By Justin Heyes on December 9th 2017

Back in 2015 three brothers from Boston set out on Kickstarter to create an everyday bag for photographers and their daily life. What came out of that venture was the OG Brevitē, a backpack that was different in its minimalism and ease of use without compromising on design.

Their project filled a niche for what they believe was missing from the camera bag market; a niche that would become crowded quickly. Soon ‘everyday’ bags landed on the pages of Kickstarter from the likes of VINTA, Peak Design and WANDRD, and the Brevitē was no longer special and unique – its shine had dulled.

The company continued to diversify, offering a more diversified line, eventually landing back on on the pages of Kickstarter with their new Hadley Series. The new line sought to meet the more demanding needs of their customer base while offering a more modern design.

The Heart of Hadley

At its core, the Hadley Series features a modular insert. The redesigned insert can be carried as its own standalone bag or be inserted Pacific Rim-Style, ‘syncing’ magnetically with each of the three shells.

The insert features weather-sealed zippers, optional magnetic-buckle camera strap, and two access points (security and quick loading).

The side access point allows the insert to be used easily with the Roamer shell and the top loading allows the insert to be used in the ‘standalone mode’.  The insert, the only part of the bag that actually holds any camera gear, has limited ways that can be configured – each less protective than a T-shirt may be.

The ‘quick loading’ function compromises the structure of the insert, allowing the user to trust it to protect their expensive gear like a sieve would hold water.

Design & Build Quality

Camera bag designs, in general, are trite, and to address the elephant in the room, the Roamer bares a striking resemblance to the WANDRD PRVKE 21, but that is where the similarities stop. If the PRVKE 21 is an ‘extension of self’, the Roamer is more like a lower back tattoo – something that may seem like an expression of individuality, but often a regrettable purchase.

The largest in the series, the Roamer features a capacity of 17 liters with the ability to expand to 20 liters via is drawstring top, an exterior weather-resistant nylon shell with weather sealed YKK zippers, and amagnetic Fidlock closure on the top flap.

The top flap and ‘secret compartment’ are useful for holding non-essential items like keys or a wallet, but only one pocket can ideally be used at a time. Flexible material on the sides and for the drawstring section feels like the drawstring bags of the early 2000s.

Granted, my harshness on the design can be taken with a grain of salt as I was sent a prototype to review, however, it’s not like it’ll be a totally new bag. Here are some things that are missing and will make it to the final production:

  • Missing front panel organizer – the production pack will feature a layered organization section on the interior of the front panel
  • Missing YKK zippers (current zippers will be upgraded to the higher quality YKKs)
  • Missing a Fidlock snap system that will keep the insert locked into place while inside the bag (
  • The Insert underwent will have two access points, the top reach-in that and a square garage door access on the front for quick access to the entire interior; that garage door will sit under the gray outer flap (mesh pocket on interior of flap for organization).

Performance

Twenty liters is likely enough for any adventure photographer, but there are drawbacks to the volume. The lack of padding on the shoulder straps make anything more than a day’s worth of clothes and a small kit (in my case a Nikon D500, Tamron 10-24mm, and Sigma 18-35mm) dig into shoulders after a few hours of use.

A top handle on a backpack should be conducive to the user to allow them to hold the bag at their side, the Roamer, however, has no padding with only a single-stitch folder piece of nylon. The lack of padding does make it easy to use the Roamer as a wight for a tripod, but most would agree that padding would be more beneficial.

Conclusion

Camera bag manufacturers are evolving their product lines to specialize for specific photographers. ONA has the trendy, Kelly Moore and Black Forest have the fashion-forward, and Tenba and Think Tank and the utilitarian market; whereas Brevitē tries compete to be the ‘everyday carry’ segment. The company might have been the first to fill a niche, but others have come along and done a much better job at a lower MRSP.  In my opinion, the Hadley Series will fall in the Kickstarter archives filed under ‘Much Hype, Terrible Execution’, right next to the OUYA.

[REWIND: WANDRD PRVKE 21 Review | Not Just A Bag – Another Limb & Extension of Self]

About

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

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