Whenever I talk about a new bag that I have seen or reviewed, one of the many things I hear on a regular basis is that “it looks too much like a camera bag!” It seems many photographers these days prefer to carry their gear incognito, in hopes (by my guess) to prevent theft by hiding the fact that they are carrying thousands of dollars of gear.
Brevite, started on Kickstarter, and after funding their project, are now about ready to start shipping the bag out to non-Kickstarter orders in January of 2016. I was able to get a bag early about a week and a half ago for review, and today I will be sharing my thoughts on it after using this bag as my primary bag (not just camera bag) over the last 1.5 weeks.
[RELATED POST:Brevite Kickstarter]
As I mentioned in my intro, I have used this bag as my primary daily driver to and from work, as well as a camera bag for shoots, for a little over a week. In that time, I have had no issues with the performance of this bag whatsoever. The bag functions exactly as I would expect it to, and was honestly a joy to use on a daily basis.
If I was being picky, the zippers were slightly harder to open than other bags that I have used at first, but they eased up though over the course of the week. Again, if I had to be ‘nit picky’, that is probably the one thing that stood out to me in the performance category of this bag.
I could not be happier about the features available in this bag. Not only is the camera insert removable, allowing you to use the Brevite like a standard Jansport school backpack, but the bag also contains a Laptop pocket/sleeve, soft fabric-lined change/phone pocket, and a rain cover.
Put simply, at no time over the week I used this bag did I long for another bag for feature X or feature Y. The Brevite simply and completely met all of my needs, and that is not something that I can say for all of the bags that I have reviewed recently. So it was refreshing.
I honestly both love and hate the Brevite design. On one hand, I love that it looks just like any other standard backpack, allowing you to walk around with your expensive gear without drawing too much attention. I like where the pockets are placed, etc.
I did, however, come across some design choices that I did have to question – but that ultimately were not deal breakers for me. First, the camera pouch is designed to be a tight fit (Brevite told me as much when I asked), but I am wondering if most photographers will find it too tight of a fit. I was able to fit my lenses and a7R II with no issue. Due to the tight design, getting the camera easily in and out of the pouch was not as easy or fluid as I am used to.
Brevite’s response to this was to say that they designed it to be tight so that your gear is not moving around while you are walking around with your bag. In regards to the ease of getting the camera in and out of the pouch through the side door, they say this was on purpose, to prevent the camera from falling out if the pouch was opened accidentally or without the photographer being ready to grab the camera. I can see that argument, and I like the reasoning.
But where it gives me pause is the fact that I had these issues with a Sony a7R II, how much more trouble is someone with a larger Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D810 going to have getting their camera in and out than I am. Ultimately, I am able to get the camera out without a ton of hassle now, but it is still something that I notice each time that I do. Personally, it’s something I can live with, I would rather this than my camera hitting the cement – but those of you with larger cameras may have a different experience.
The other design choice that I was not super fond of was the decision to sew the tripod straps into the bottom of the bag. Many bags that I have used feature tripod straps on the bottom of the bag, it is a great feature, but I prefer bags where I can remove those straps when I don’t need them. It takes away from the look of the bag when you have random straps hanging down because you aren’t carrying a tripod that day. Again, not a huge issue, just something that I would have preferred to be done differently.
As I said above, overall I like the design. I know I focused here on a few issues I had, but I do want to make it clear that my overall response to the design of this bag is a positive one.
I have been very happy with the quality of the Brevite. The zippers, while a little tight at first, are of high quality. The fabric and lining choices are great as well. The only thing that gives me pause about the quality is the choice to use the synthetic leather. It looks fake. The color is fine, and it even feels good, but the glossy/shiny look that it has puts me off.
It has grown on me a little over the last week, and what I mean by that is that it doesn’t jump out at me quite as much as when I first got it. But for Brevite 2.0, I would definitely hope for some real leather, or at least a matte finish so it isn’t all shiny and glossy. Again, though, this is a personal preference thing; you may like the look of the synthetic leather. To each their own.
At $155 for the base bag, or $175 if you want the rain cover, the Brevite is an interesting proposition. It does not look like a premium bag, as I noted above it looks like a Jansport school backpack, but that is also part of its charm. That said, it is packed full of features and can be used for much more than just a camera bag.
I have enjoyed using it a lot over this past 1.5 weeks, and I would gladly continue using it as my daily driver. Most bags that I use require me to compromise in some way; either I hardly have any room for my non-camera stuff, or I don’t have enough room for all of my camera stuff. Support for my 15′ Macbook is also usually lacking, but not with the Brevite; it met every one of my requirements with no issues.
Having said that, though, I do feel the price is a maybe a little high. If the leather were real leather, then I would be confident it’s a great deal, but as is, it’s a little pricy.
Does the slightly higher price tag mean that I wouldn’t buy one? Not at all, I absolutely love this bag. As I have said, I am very happy with the Brevite, and am happy to recommend it to all of you who are looking for a bag with these sort of features and functionality.
This is the perfect bag for you ‘incognito’ gear carriers out there. As I mentioned above, the team at Brevite is gearing up to start filling non-Kickstarter orders in January 2016. If you are interested in picking one up for yourself, you can pre-order now over on the Brevite website.