There are camera bags that look pretty, but have poor quality. Then there are rugged camera bags that are more functional, but they cost a fortune. I recently discovered this sort of nirvana in the form of Langly bags, where the construction and style meet in harmony.
Langly was kind enough to send over a copy of their ‘Decoy’ camera bag for review, and I have been using it as my daily driver for the last couple of weeks. I have discovered some things that I really like and enjoy about the bag and its features, but also a few things I wish were thought out a little better…
The Langly ‘Decoy’ Reviewed
The purpose of the Langly Decoy is the same as any bag geared towards photographers; that is to carry your gear comfortably and reliably. The Decoy features a large main chamber with standard ‘camera bag dividers’ to store all of your lenses and a camera body. The chamber can be accessed via a side door, or opened from the back via a door under the back pads.
I found that I was able to fit all of the gear I needed for my day trips in the bag easily, with room to spare. That said, the performance of how the gear is carried, left me a little frustrated.
The camera bag dividers in the main chamber only feature Velcro on two sides and are not quite tall enough to go from top to bottom. So if you are using smaller lenses, like I do, shooting a combination of mirrorless and vintage glass, you will run into several problems caused by the dividers.
- Since the dividers do not fill the space from top to bottom, when you stand up and move, smaller lenses can move and come out of the sections you place them in.
- There is no Velcro on the bottom of the dividers, so there is nothing preventing your lenses from coming out the bottom of their sections and mixing around in the chamber.
I had to be really careful when opening my side door when I would want to grab my camera, because more times than not, one or two lenses would have moved out of the chamber I placed them in and would be sitting on or next to my camera. I almost had one fall out of my bag and onto the ground once or twice because of this.
I noticed that this can be mitigated if you place the lenses vertically, rather than horizontally. But it can still happen in either orientation. That said, this frustration was mostly limited to smaller lenses (like the FE55mm F/1.8, and 28-75mm kit lens). Big lenses, like DSLR lenses, generally stayed where I put them.
A simple DIY fix for this would be to go to your local crafts store and buy some Velcro and add it to the bottom of your dividers. But I would really like to see Langly update their divider design, making them a little deeper and add Velcro to the bottom side on at least a few of the larger dividers.
Other than this issue with smaller lenses, the bag performed as I would expect, and for that reason I was happy to give the Decoy a 4 out of 5 stars in performance. (Though if I had to nitpick, it is more like a 3.5)
The Decoy has all of the features that you would expect in a camera bag: side access for quickly accessing your camera; back access to prevent thieving; plenty of places to stash accessories, batteries, maps, snacks, etc; All of the standard things one could want in a basic camera bag are there.
But I really found myself missing a tablet/laptop pocket of some kind. You could probably fit a small tablet in the top compartment, but if you want to bring a laptop with you, then this is not the bag for you. I also found myself wishing the bag supported larger front pockets. I was able to squeeze some water bottles in there, but it was a tight fit.
Overall, the Decoy does what you would expect from a basic camera bag, but that is about it. For that reason, a give it a solid 3 out of 5 stars.
I have a bit of a love and hate thing going on with this bag. I absolutely love the style and general overall design of the bag, but there are a few things that I get hung up on, none more obvious that the top compartment – more specifically, the flap that covers it.
The Decoy is touted as a rugged bag, made from military grade canvas, that will keep your gear protected and dry. This is all true, except for anything you place in that top compartment. The top flap does not completely cover the openings of the compartment, and therefore, I can see things getting rather wet if you happen to get caught out in heavy rain.
In light rain, I am sure you would be fine, for a short time, but this just seems like a big oversight to me. Langly gives you these leather straps to button down the edges of the top compartment, but even when you do that, the top flap still does not quite cover the openings. It would not be fair to mention this, without also noting that you can ‘stuff’ these edges under the top flap, but if you have the top compartment full, this will be difficult, and they will likely not stay under the flap.
The only other thing about the design that really got to me was that the back door does not open all the way. It is limited to about a 90 degree opening. This can make loading your gear into the bag a bit of a pain because you are always having to hold the door open.
That said, despite these two oversights in the design, I feel like otherwise, the Decoy is designed wonderfully. Things are in logical locations, and there are plenty of places to put your gear. So I give it 4 out of 5 stars (though, again, probably more of a 3.5).
There is nothing negative to say about the quality of the Langly Decoy. The bag is made from the highest quality materials and feels like the sort of bag that I could pass along to grandchildren 50 years from now after a lifetime of use.
If you are looking for a high-quality bag that can take a beating and still protect your gear, then this will be a great option for you. Full 5 out of 5 stars from me for quality.
Are there cheaper ‘day bags’ out there? Yes. Are there less expensive ‘day bags’ that do more? Yes. That said, I feel like the Langly Decoy is right in that good place where you are paying for a high quality product that does what you need it to do, nothing more, and nothing less.
$225 is a lot of money for a bag for most people. If you are spending that much on a bag, there are things you expect, and the Langly Decoy delivers on almost all fronts. You could certainly buy worse bags for this kind of money, but you can also find better bags for not much – if at all – more. For that reason, I give the Decoy a solid 3 out of 5 on value.
Overall, the Langly ‘Decoy’ is a great all around bag. The quality of its construction gives you the confidence to take this bag out on your day trips, and the piece of mind knowing that your gear is protected. If you are into bags with that sort of vintage style and feel, you will love the Decoy and its Canvas/Leather combination.
The Langly Decoy earns a solid 3.5 stars out of 5 and we highly recommend it. If you are interested in grabbing one of these bags for yourself, you can head on over to the Langly website to place your order today.