Finding the perfect photography backpack has almost become an obsession to me.. Over the years I have tried so many different types of bags from over the shoulder / Messenger style bags to numerous backpacks in varying shapes and sizes from Lowepro, F-Stop, Sirui, Peak Design, ThinkTank others. There is no single bag I have used that for me has suited every type of trip or photography related event that I have been part of. Sometimes I need a bigger bag that can carry multiple cameras, lenses, toolkits, tripods, filter kits and quit often food and drinks I may need for a day hikes. Other times a smaller bag that can carry a single camera and maybe a second lens and filters plus a smaller tripod (eg moving around the Sydney CBD for the events I regularly host there) suits me better.
I was recently sent one of the first samples of the new Xennec Backpack 15 which is currently a Kickstarter campaign to use, abuse and review. I had never heard of the Xennec brand before, but team behind Xennec have a combined 30+ years of experience in the camera bag design and manufacturing industry with brands such as ThinkTank and Sirui. I was fairly confident that if there were any build quality issues I would identify them extremely quickly with the way I treat my bags. I have used it exclusively now for 2 weeks during a series of workshops and other events I have been hosting carrying varying amounts of photography gear dependant on the event type.
Xennec Backpack 15 Design
The first thing I noticed upon delivery of the Xennec BackPack 15 was the small size of it. Weighing in at just 1.5kg with an internal capacity of 20L, I asked myself straight away whether I would be able to fit all of the camera gear into it that I needed for multi day workshop I was about to host. I was actually very surprised by just how much fitted into it. By adjusting the internal compartment structure I was able to fit a Canon 5DsR + 16-35mm f/2.8 II, Canon 5DMKIII + 24-70 f/2.8L II, Canon 70-300mm f/4L, a full set of NiSi Filters + holder, 15″ MacBook Pro, toolkit (Leatherman + allen keys + spare DSLR batteries + SD cards + remotes), rain cover and lens cloths. This covers the basic equipment that I generally carry inside my camera bag on any trip I take.
On the side of the backpack there are straps and a magnetic pouch for a smaller tripod. I personally use full size Sirui tripods and rarely ever use anything that would typically be considered a “travel” tripod. Throughout my time using this backpack so far I have been unable to use any of the provided straps to carry any of my tripods on the outside in the way that I do with my most regularly used camera bags. So this is something to consider for those who may be looking to purchase the Xennec BackPack 15. I have used one of the magnetic pouches to carry a water bottle.
The Xennec BackPack 15 comes in two different colours – charcoal and black. I have been using the black option and so far it has not shown any signs of wear and tear. The “Twiz-Lock” zippers are extremely sturdy, water resistant and very smooth to open and close. The main compartment is a rear panel that opens to fully reveal all of the camera equipment inside. On the inside of the rear panel there are two large pockets that I personally used to store batteries and SD cards.
As with most camera backpacks there is a waist belt to help provide more comfort when walking. In this case the waist belt is removable for those that prefer not to use it. A magnetic closure sternum strap also helps to keep the bag more secure when you are walking around. The padding on the outside of the back panel and on the shoulder straps have been quite comfortable the entire time I have been carrying the backpack and I have had no problems adjusting them to suit my own personal requirements.
What I like about the Xennec BackPack 15 Camera Bag
- Ample space for the average photography kit + laptop
- Overall build quality is extremely good
- I personally find it quite comfortable to carry
- The size is quite compact making it perfect for carrying around a crowded city or event
- The internal compartment can be adjusted to suit many different configurations
- The Twiz-Lock zips are very high quality
- The design is quite discreet and doesn’t scream “camera bag”
What I don’t like so much about the Xennec PackPack 15 Camera Bag
- I haven’t been able to carry a full sized tripod on the outside of the bag
- Removable waist strap is very likely to get misplaced over time
My final thoughts about the Xennec BackPack 15
As I mentioned above, I am still yet to find the “perfect” camera bag. I tend to use different bags depending on what I am doing. And the Xennec BackPack 15 will definitely fulfil the purpose of a walk around bag when I do not need to carry a full kit of equipment with me. The build quality is extremely impressive and I haven’t been able to fault it in any way. I like that I haven’t had extra attention drawn to me when carrying it through airports on the couple of flights I have taken with it (my main camera bag always gets weighed at airports these days).
As of writing this article the Kickstarter campaign has 21 days left to run with an aim of $50,000. In my experience not all Kickstarters get funded so this is something to be aware of. If you back the fully funded Kickstarter you will receive a Xennec BackPack 15 for a price of AU$217, which is a substantial discount over the expected retail price of AU$290 when they do hit the retail shelves. For a backpack of this quality this is good value, and in my opinion worth the money for those looking for a versatile backpack to carry the average sized photography kit.