When I received this bag I have to admit I had never heard of K&F Concept as a company before. A quick examination of the bag and I could see that this large travel backpack style bag wasn't something cheap you would pick up at Walmart.
The photography market is saturated with camera gear bags and I love it. I’m a big believer in the right bag for the right job. I hate trying to squeeze everything into a bag that just doesn't have enough room, or carrying an uncomfortable bag all day because it met some of my needs, but just wasn't designed for long days outdoors. Camera bags, pouches, and organizational containers are where I take exception to the rule, “don't buy what you won't use regularly on assignment.” Some bags may be expensive but I’d rather be comfortable and know my gear is protected and safe, than try and make everything work with just one or two bags.
K&F Concept’s large camera Explorer Backpack bag at first resembles a lot of bags on the market by some of the bigger brands. It has a lot of the same features and accessories you would expect to find. At only $109.99 (on sale at the time of writing) it is surprisingly much better made than you would expect for this price range.
The bag is reasonably compact for its volume while being able to hold quite a lot of gear. For comparison, although different in design the bag is about the same size as my F-stop Kenti bag, but can hold more than twice the gear. I didn't have the opportunity to fly with this bag, however, because of its similar size to my Kenti bag, I’d say you could use it as a carry-on bag that should fit under a seat. That being said it is a good size bag and it would take up most of that space. It's made of nylon material which feels like it should resist tearing and the manufacturer claims include a waterproof lining. Though if you're like me I never take waterproof on face value, so it is nice it also comes with a removable rain cover.
There are two separate zippered compartments: the main compartment which holds the camera gear and a smaller laptop compartment that is slim but roomy, capable of holding a laptop as well as a tablet. I easily fit my Surface Pro 4 in the laptop sleeve with plenty of room to spare. I would say you could even get a 15” MacBook to fit even though the listed specs say any 13” laptop. There is a tripod carrying system with a hidden holder that tucks away when not in use. There is also a tie down strap on the side that could be used to hold a smaller tripod, walking sticks, or monopod. Elasticized drink pockets on either side and a few gear loops for clipping in a carabineer.
Another nice added feature is the main compartments zippers interlock in a way that allows for locking when traveling. Since the backpack is capable of carrying so much it can get kind of heavy. Along both the back panel and straps there is a breathable mesh padding that does a decent job of cushioning. I wore the bag hiking for over an hour fully loaded with no complaints. The waist strap and chest buckle are in the style of a hiking pack which helps take some of the weight of your shoulders while keeping the pack from sliding around. Both worked as expected and were adjustable enough to fit a man or women. The waist strap I found is also removable if you find it too bulky or in the way.
The best aspect of this bag is how well it maintains its relative size while allowing for so much empty space and pockets for gear. I find a lot of bags include useless pockets that just can't be used once the gear is added into the main compartment. However, this just isn't the case here. Both the main compartment lid and the laptop compartment can be completely full without diminishing what can be put into the main compartment. This for me is the true test of a bags quality in engineering. I have bought plenty of quality expensive bags that looked amazing just to find out I couldn't get half of what I needed to in them.
The main compartment is one large open space filled with a large assortment of velcro dividers.The inside lid has three clear zippered pockets with plenty of room for assorted accessories. I was able to easily pack two Canon 7D Mark ii’s, and four to six lenses or Speedlights, including my 70-200 f2.8 depending on what was called for. If using a Sony camera system or one of the popular micro 4/3rds setups, you could probably carry even more lenses then you would ever need.
I also took this bag with me for my recent review of the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini. I managed to carry everything I needed for the entire review in this one bag. My one complaint with the interior of the main compartment is the velcro placement for dividers. This seems to be a problem with a lot of bags, where the manufacturer decides for you where the dividers can be placed. I’d much rather see a single or double strip of velcro go along the entire inside perimeter rather than a few spaced out places. This would offer much more customization for very little cost.
What I Liked
- Well designed for its size and price
- A real laptop compartment (not an afterthought)
- Waist strap and chest buckle
What I Didn't Like
- Dividers could be a little more rigid
- More velcro for customization of the main compartment
- More color options. Black is fine for travel but in the woods, I prefer bright colors
Overall I was surprised with the quality of the bag. I had never heard of K&F Concept, and for the price didn't expect very much. If you're just starting out or looking for a second bag that is more comfortable on your back for long days, then I would recommend this one. The amount of room it has in the main compartment strikes me as a good fit for a video kit bag. If you are the type of photographer who carries a separate kit for video and needs a backpack I could see this being an affordable fit. There are obviously really well long lasting and durable bags out there from the big names for two and three times the price. This bag does an excellent job of filling in that gap for someone who just needs a quality yet affordable bag.