HEX is a creative brand, and photographers are creative people. Just like we as photographers want our shots to be our own, we want our camera bags to have a unique look. That's just what HEX did through design, aesthetics, and protective elements - they designed HEX camera bags for the modern photographer. We reviewed the HEX DSLR Sling and DSLR Backpack; here's what we thought.
The HEX DSLR Sling and Backpack are made of premium waxed coated canvas which come in two colors, black and camo. The bags have a really unique look, and because they are wax coated, they are also water repellent. The zippers do not seem to have a wax coating though, so running to hail a cab during a light rain would be fine, but traveling in South East Asia during a monsoon might not be recommended. One nice little fashion touch they added, all of the outside zipper pulls are leather. Plus, there are many pockets specifically designed for laptops, iPads, phones, and lens caps. So let's take a closer look!
The DSLR Backpack
The larger option of the two bags, the DSLR Backpack, has a front flap and lined microfiber zippered pocket, which can fit any standard tablet. Under the flap there is a small pocket perfect for business cards. The large zippered pocket underneath has a front compartment with an organizer (think school backpack) for things like memory cards, pens, a Fstoppers Flash Disc, sketchbooks, or whatever else you might need on your shoots. The front compartment is deep, and also has a separate pocket lined with microfiber for a 17in laptop (which feels like a nice snuggly blanket to keep your laptop safe and warm, seriously if they made a blanket out of that material I would buy it). Also, if you're a spill prone person like myself, it might be good to keep an extra change of clothes in that front pocket. Seriously, it's huge.
There are two more side pockets, the larger is lined with microfiber, and would fit ND filters or lens caps, and the smaller is great for memory cards (but it is not lined). On the other side are two adjustable straps for a travel tripod. At the top of the bag near the handle is a pocket for quick access to your camera.
The back of the bag is where you access your camera gear. It has removable and configurable partitions so you can set up according to your gear, and it is very spacious. I know it's cliché, but this bag can really fit a lot of gear! I packed two Nikon D750s, three lenses, a Nikon SB910 Speedlight, and much more into the bag, and it was still comfortable to carry. The zippered flap that covers the gear has two mesh zipper pouches, and one velcro pouch perfect for thin harddrives and batteries.
The shoulder straps are adjustable, and both the straps and back have a EVA foam core and mesh for breathability. Because of the shape and size, this particular bag feels a little too big for me personally (I'm 5'3, not short... travel sized!), but I think that most normal sized humans would find it quite comfortable. After time, I think the straps would also form better to your shoulders. There is also a buckle to go across your chest for extra support. We all know those 70-200mm lenses ain't light!
The DSLR Sling
The DSLR Sling is a bag that you can take with you on quick shoots. It has a quick release buckle on the over-the-shoulder strap for easy access to your gear. Like the Backpack, it has EVA foam core and mesh, and this bag was a little bit more comfortable for me to carry. It also would be the bag I would choose over the two, just for the simplicity of gear I usually travel with.
Under the front flap is a much smaller pocket with an organizer. There is also a place for business cards as well. While there isn't nearly as much room for things in the front pocket as the backpack, it is big enough to fit Haribo gummies, so it's just the right size in my opinion! There is also a seperate zippered pocket on the front, padded and lined in faux fur for tablets or phones.
Personally I think it's a little easier to access gear quickly with the Sling. You can fit a pretty good amount of gear, and they also provide you with these cushy blocks called "HEX Blox modular configurable storage spacers," if your camera has a smaller lens for extra safety and support. There is also a pocket that could fit a 13in laptop, or an iPad.
Overall my thoughts are, if you're height challenged like me, go with the Sling. It feels more comfortable and fits my style of shooting more. I took these bags on some shoots in the park, and the Sling was super quick and easy to access my camera; I didn't even have to take it off my back! The side pocket affords you to keep moving and grab your camera for those spur of the moment shots. When I was changing lenses, sitting on the bench it was really easy to just unbuckle the bag, and strap it right back on.
If you have a lot of gear you have to travel with (or you're a normal sized human), go with the Backpack. You can fit a substantial amount of gear in the backpack, and it also feels a little more "secure" (meaning, this would be the bag I would travel with). Because you have to take the backpack off to access the storage compartment, you won't have to worry about people trying to unzip your bag and steal something. I would be really upset if someone stole my Haribos... The backpack would also be more comfortable for those who hike to get their shots, and still want to look fashionable doing so.
Compared to other bags, you really won't find a better deal. The prices are really great for these quality bags staying competitive at $199.95 for the Backpack and $149.95 for the Sling. I really love the look and feel of these bags, and would recommend them for the fashionable photographer. We all know that it usually comes down to picking a bag that is stylish, or a bag that is functional, but with the HEX DSLR Camera bags, it's the best of both worlds! You can watch these videos to see the HEX DSLR Backpack and HEX DSLR Sling in action. Happy Shooting!