You know when you get something for Christmas or a birthday that you wanted but really didn’t expect or even know about? That’s kind of how I felt when Matt from HoldFast contacted me and asked if I wanted to check out their newest addition to the HoldFast family. Of course I did! After playing around with the new bag for a few weeks, I present to you the brand new Sightseer Backpack!
What’s that you say? A backpack?
I didn’t really know what to expect either. When they contacted us, I assumed it would be pretty stellar, based on the other HoldFast products we have from them. But, when the box opened, and the fresh black Bison leather and waxed canvas smell came wafting out, I felt like I had just opened a luxurious bottle of vintage whiskey, not a backpack for photographers.
There is no doubt when you put your hands on a product like this, that no detail went untouched in the thought and design process. The finest ingredients, prepared by a master chef is what makes dinner at a fine restaurant unforgettable. Likewise, with these products, the touch of those intent on using the highest quality materials and sticking unapologetically to the demand that products be completely American made, HoldFast certainly has released a gem into their lineup.
Let’s start with construction. The main body of the backpack is made with a waxed canvas with the main compartment zipper being waterproof with the intent of making the entire bag virtually waterproof (at the very least, giving it supreme protection from the elements).
The padded straps make the pack quite comfortable even with significant weight. They’ve also added in a slider on the right side strap that holds a mirrorless or DSLR quite easily. Much like the Money Maker, there are D rings toward the top of the backpack straps to hold another body if needed.
The interior compartment has the same plush padding and southwestern pattern fabric as the other Sightseer components and has the typical re-arrangeable, velcro padded dividers. An extra “pillow” is provided for each of the different compartments to put as a bounce protector, or to stack separate components on top of each other.
The compartment is accessed through the waterproof zipper behind the backpack straps. There is a separate 15″ laptop sleeve that is accessible from the zippers with only having to slightly unzip each side versus undoing the entire pack. The top of the bag sports a “soft zipper” pouch area that is perfect for an overnight set of clothes, extra gear, or on-the-go travel pieces you’ll want quick access too (soft zipper isn’t a trademark or maybe even a “real” name, it’s just something I have noticed on the HoldFast zippers. They are literally smooth vs. the typical zipper that grabs at skin and clothing as you pass by it). That area is a little larger than a typical toiletry bag and is separated out from the camera area by a fabric divider.
If you are an outdoors fan and like to take a light jacket, an umbrella (or softbox), a bedroll or a larger tripod with you, fear not. The belt-style straps on the bottom of the bag will accommodate fairly large items (had them opened up about halfway and was easily able to put in a 60″ umbrella style softbox). The velcro-backed loop attachment points (similar to a military style bag) makes it easy to attach in your favorite Sightseer lens carry bags, cell phone holde, or card wallet and also works very well to slide the legs of your compact tripod to attach it to the side.
Having used this bag for a little over 2 weeks to carry my complete gear bag which included two full-size DSLR bodies (one with battery grip), a 100L, a 135 f2, a 50mm 1.2, a 24-70 f2.8, four triggers and one controller, three flashes, 6 extra batteries, a box of 10 AA batteries, 2 flash feet, a 13″ MacBook Pro Retina, and a Pelican 6 CF card holder, I didn’t want to send it back! It’s easy to carry, CRAZY good looking, comfortable to have on even when shooting, expandable and functional for a vast array of shoots/adventures and kept me from having to lug a roller bag on every trip out of the office.
These new backpacks are going to put something on the market that, up to this point, I haven’t seen. They carry a lot of similar functionality that you find in other bags, with some unique and perfect additions. However, fashion-conscious style and a rugged “Made in America” quality hasn’t always been as easy to find. Now, I’m not saying American craftsmanship trumps the rest of the world at all. Using the finest components and knowing your purchase is encouraging a long tradition of artisans and those dedicated to true functional artwork is a beautiful thing. That’s what the “Made in America” badge used to mean, and what putting it on a product like this proudly is reinstating – quality you can count on and assembled by hand with care.
The style is also top notch. If you could find a camera bag that was made BY a photographer in Nordstroms or Burberry, this would fit right in (along with a little “hipster” swagger). The price tag will be similar to the very popular regular-sized Roamographer bag, and if you are heading to Vegas next week for WPPI, be sure to stop by booth 1101 to say hey to Matt (and possibly myself because I’ll be hanging around there drooling on and smelling all the leather haha!).
Along with the backpack, I wanted to also mention the recent release of the new Skinny MoneyMaker strap! Since we just wrote the MoneyMaker review a few weeks back, I’ll leave you with this little promo video for the Skinny as a bonus. For all the women who have talked about the “clunkiness” of the original MoneyMaker on their smaller frames, or for those of you wanting to wear your system under a coat or with your smaller mirrorless system, this is for you!
I can’t wait to see this backpack (in the green canvas to match my other accessories, of course!) in my hand and on a plane in just a few short weeks.