Fstoppers Reviews the HoldFast Roamographer Camera Bag

Fstoppers Reviews the HoldFast Roamographer Camera Bag

HoldFast is known throughout the photography community for their amazing and well-made dual camera straps. What most people don't realize is that they also have a camera bag. The Roamographer bag has the same attention to detail as their straps and is also constructed out of the same great-looking leather. It's designed to look like a vintage doctor's bag and provides both style and function.

Outside the Bag

The main thing that drew me to this bag was the all-leather build. Made from American bison leather, it has a worn, vintage texture that I find visually pleasing in a leather product. Most of the time, it takes a long time for leather products to get that worn-in look, so I appreciate that this bag comes out of the box like that, even though it’s brand new leather. In fact, upon first opening the bag, the leather is stiff and a little rigid, like you expect new leather to feel.

Aside from the all-leather construction, the standout feature of this bag is that it opens like a vintage doctor's bag. The all -etal hinge allows the bag to remain open when you need access to the inside, but is concealed by the leather so you don't have to worry about the metal damaging your gear.

When you need the bag closed, there is a small leather tab that hooks onto a metal stud. In order to hold the bag closed more securely, there are also two leather straps that can buckle it. There are also loops on both sides of the bag, which make it possible to secure the straps with the bag open and closed so they are not flapping around.

The leather straps that buckle the bag closed can also be used to fasten a tripod to the bottom of it. The problem here is that with a tripod fastened to the bottom, you can't actually set the bag down without it tipping over. This is fine for when you are traveling, but not very practical if you are walking around shooting and need to get things in and out of the bag with it on the ground.

The shoulder strap connects to the bag with a lobster claw style clasp, and both ends of the strap connect to a single side of the bag. What this does is allow you to carry it around while open, allowing access to the inside contents without needing to set it down. This shoulder strap also has a soft, padded area that makes the bag comfortable to carry around.

Inside the Bag

The part of the bag that holds all of your camera equipment is fully padded with customizable inserts. This allows you to adjust the size of each compartment so that your gear fits more securely. As you can see, this compartment can hold a decent amount of gear and I could even consolidate some lenses onto the camera bodies to make a bit more room. The only problem I had with this compartment is that there were not enough inserts to lay out the bag the way I wanted, so I had to steal some inserts from another bag. It wasn't a big deal, but it’s always better to have more inserts than not enough. This also left me with one insert that stands out like a sore thumb because it doesn't match all of the other inserts.

The entire compartment that holds your equipment is also fully removable and has a red flap that can close over the top of the enclosure. This red flap is actually the most frustrating part of the bag for me. When I open the hinge of the main leather bag, I don't want to also have to open this red flap of the inner compartment to access my gear. So, what I end up having to do is stuff the red flap down in-between the red insert and leather bag. The problem is that the red insert has pockets all around the outside, so when I stuff the flap down on one side, I’m essentially blocking all the pockets on that side of the insert. This red flap also has the only zippered pocket in the entire bag and I like to use this pocket to hold some smaller items that could easily be lost. This zippered pocket is the only reason I have not committed to just cutting the flap off, which I’ll probably end up doing anyway so that I can have easier access to the pockets on that side of the compartment.

What I love about this removable camera compartment, though, is that I can easily remove the entire insert while leaving all my gear packed away. This means I can now use this good-looking leather bag as an overnight bag when I don't need any of my camera gear. Once the insert is removed, the bag is lined with a nice-looking cloth that also has two small pockets on one side. I would have liked to see pockets on both sides of the inside, as well as some bigger pockets that could close with a zipper or even some sort of Velcro flap. As it is, not much can fit in these two small pockets and whatever does fit stands a decent chance of coming out as the bag is tossed around.  

What I Liked

  • Doctor's bag styled hinge
  • Great-looking leather
  • Removable and customizable insert
  • Comes in small and large sizes for mirrorless or DSLR use
  • HoldFast is known for their great customer service

What I Didn't Like

  • With a tripod fastened to the bag, you can't set the bag down easily.
  • That dang red flap
  • No zippered or closable pockets, aside from the flap
  • Pockets in the leather part of the bag are small and cannot be closed.

Conclusion

Although there are some cons, the good things about this bag vastly outweigh them. It is now my full-time camera bag and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It holds everything I need, doubles as an overnight bag, and looks fantastic while doing it.

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24 Comments

Ben W's picture

what's the weight of this all leather bag?

Steven Jones's picture

It looks substantial but only weighs in empty with the removable lined in it at about 3lbs

Prefers Film's picture

I like the red. That is all. Looks heavy, not flexible enough to fit my gear, and the security-to-convenience balance seems skewed. Probably over-priced as well.

But you like it, and I have about 9 bags, so clearly, there is no one "perfect" bag.

Joel Chan's picture

i love the bag i have one myself :D

Deleted Account's picture

I think I'm still sold on the Tenba line over this. I have their large messenger bag and it holds a ton of stuff, extra zippable pockets, and also has the removable insert. Big enough to hold a D800 with 4 lenses, filters, a 15" Macbook Pro, an iPad mini, a Wacom tablet, sketch pad, tin of 6 graphite sketching pencils, basic sketching tools, and all my power cables. Break your arm lifting it all, but the bag can contain it.

Timothy Linn's picture

Seems odd to review a bag without mentioning the cost—especially when the cost is $625. Maybe I just missed it. I does look nice and I like the red interior but I can't see spending that kind of money on a bag that doesn't levitate, no matter how beautiful.

Matt Rennells's picture

I'll bet a Leica setup fits perfectly in here -- and probably who the bag is marketed towards. Because wouldn't you buy a $625 bag to hold your $7000 black and white camera?

Sean Molin's picture

It's a bit on the large size for most everyday Leica shooters.

Matt Rennells's picture

I was more referring to the fact that this is a very expensive premium product -- similar to the current Leica cameras. That's no diss to Leica or this bag, this is almost a status piece, kind of like the Hassy rebadged Sony's.

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

$600,- for a decent photo bag really isn't that much. and if you travel a lot its definitely worth investing. Years ago I paid that much for a Tamrac Cyber Express, which I still own and it was well worth its money but it doesn't look anywhere nearly as stylish as this Holdfast.

Jayson Carey's picture

a "decent" photo bag for 600? what the ever living shit? Pelican, crumpler, ThinkTank, Fstop all make FANTASTIC bags, and even their most expensive, largest bags barely crack half of that. I honestly have no clue what bag you could be talking about that this competes against, price wise.

This is a run bag at most. Yes it's nicely put together, but it's just a bag. However, what else would you expect out of a company that sells a $200 strap?

Lyndsay Radnedge's picture

I'm curious how the bag holds up in the rain...

Sean Molin's picture

Most good leather bags are fine in the rain. To assist, they can be treated with a good quality cleaner/conditioner on a regular basis. But if they get wet, they just need to be allowed to dry completely. They'll keep your gear plenty dry, too.

Matthew Swaggart's picture

Hey Brian, I'm sorry to hear that but it's very rare that I would not email someone after 6 weeks-I typically respond to emails in less than an hour and many can attest to that. I do have very high order volume pretty much year round so yes that does create challenges! I'm happy to make it up to you though shoot me an email.

Brian Dowling's picture

Cool looking products, but I had a horrible customer experience along with a few other friends when trying to order the dual straps about 18 months ago. ThinkTank bags might not be pretty, but love their customer support and you don't have to wait six weeks without emails to receive their product after placing an order.

Jason Vinson's picture

The owner replied to your comment above.

Matthew Swaggart's picture

Hey Brian, I'm sorry to hear that but it's very rare that I would not email someone after 6 weeks-I typically respond to emails in less than an hour and many can attest to that. I do have very high order volume pretty much year round so yes that does create challenges! I'm happy to make it up to you though shoot me an email.

Gypsy Frank's picture

I know that the founders of Fstoppers are incredibly busy people so of course they can't look over every article before it's published, but there has to be SOME Editor in place to handle reading and approving an article. If there is an Editor, shame on him or her for approving this. This is NOT a review. Taking a couple of pictures of the bag with your cameras inside (if these are even your pictures) is not reviewing the bag. THERE'S ABSOLUTE ZERO REAL WORLD USE OF THE BAG LISTED IN THE ARTICLE. Having a bag for 30 minutes does not constitute a review. Have you used it for at least 30 days on real photography jobs? How much did it weigh on your shoulder after lugging it around for a full day, a few days? Was it really secure in holding your gear or did the clasps and buckles get loose quickly? How did it hold up in inclement weather: Did it keep your gear dry in rain & snow? Did the insert cover really prove to be impractical in real world use or are you just a vain nitwit? I mean c'mon! This is all common sense stuff that is gone over in other reviews of products. If I were a maker of photographic goods and equipment I would SERIOUSLY reconsider sending anything to the Fstoppers office for review if this is the kind of writing that you're going to allow to be published. Yuck. Huge credibility hit in my eyes going forward concerning any future articles.

Jason Vinson's picture

The talk about the red flap came from real world use (I actually liked the red flap when i first got the bag). The talk about being able to remove the insert from the bag so that it could be used for an overnight bag came from real world use. The talk about not having enough parts for the insert to be setup the way I wanted came from real world use. The talk about the pocket sizes, locations, and ability to close came from real world use. I never saw any issues with anything becoming loose or wearing in an inappropriate way, which is why I didn't mention that. I used this bag for every photo shoot I had for about 4 months. As for the weight of the bag, its not feather light, but it's also not heavy enough to the point of mentioning.

Jason Lorette's picture

This bag is bloody beautiful...but wow the price tag. With exchange and shipping up here to Canuckland it would be almost $1000. I can't justify that for a bag (a road case maybe)...probably not ever.

barry cash's picture

Just to let you all know I saw and felt the bag in Hong Kong and its the most beautiful bag you can image, I almost bought it on site until I picked it up WOW! its not the lightest bag! I tried to convince myself to purchase the bag, its not that heavy, the construction is unreal, I love the color, I love the red inside, wow its heavy, I love the shoulder strap with the sheepskin pad, I love the simple inside construction WOW its heavy, whats it going to weigh when I load in my Hasselblad?.....Has to pass, even thought about going back the next day to see it again.

barry cash's picture

Oh ya the black one is nicer

Steven Jones's picture

Ok...If you want crazy good quality and a way to organize all of your gear from the perspective of a pro then this is your bag. I have owned the large version of this bag for over a year and have taken it all over the world with me...Great for looks and function. The wool lined shoulder strap is pretty amazing as well.

Andrew Clark's picture

I've only just received this bag, but already am in love with it. It really is everything as described. It's truly a beautiful work of art. I only have one complaint: There are not enough of the separators in the red camera insert to do the job. And really there should be hook & loop/velcro strips all the way around the inside of the insert as well as on both sides of the separators. I've had to add separators from other camera bag inserts to make it work. It's not perfect, but it works. Other than that, I would say this bag is a perfect work of art. And for me that means form and function.