More and more photographers are starting to adopt a minimalist approach to their photography gear. What this means is that users want and need smaller bags that accommodate their gear. Having a small camera body and a couple lenses is almost useless if you have to let them rattle around in larger traditional camera bags. Fashioned after WWII army backpacks, the Wotancraft Scout shoulder bag has the looks and size to fill this need, but does it have the functionality to stand out in the growing market?
At its core, the Scout is a camera bag designed for minimal equipment. If you are a user that needs room for multiple DSLR bodies, lenses, flashes, and accessories, then this isn't the bag for you. At the most, I can fit a Nikon D750 sized body with a medium-sized prime lens inside with room for one other lens. In the spot for the lens, I can fit a Nikon 70-200 f/2.8, but it’s a very tight fit. Something along the lines of a Nikon 85mm f/1.4 would be a lot more comfortable. Trade out the DSLR for a mirrorless kit though, and you start to see what this bag is more ideal for. I can comfortably fit my Fuji X-Pro2 with 16mm f/1.4 lens, Fuji X-T2 with 23mm f/2 lens, and my Fuji X-70. The spot with the X-70 could also fit most any mirrorless lens.
Aside from the removable insert, you will also find a zippered pocket and laptop sleeve inside the bag. The Wotancraft website says the laptop sleeve is designed for an iPad, but I was able to fit my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 without too much of a struggle.
When dealing with the removable insert, most companies have this feature so that you can use the bag as a normal bag when you don't need to carry your camera gear. Wotancraft designed an entirely new insert that you can use to replace the provided insert with. This aftermarket insert is made from hovercraft-grade material and is fully waterproof. This is a pretty cool accessory for those shooters that find themselves in unpredictable weather and need to be able to protect their gear.
The entire contents of the bag are contained by a zippered flap. The cool thing about the zipper, though, is that the teeth are designed to curl toward the outside of the bag. This protects your gear from scratches when placing items into and removing them from the bag.
Aside from the main compartment of the bag, there are three external pockets. The pocket on the back is more of a narrow sleeve that can really only hold small, thin items like a notebook, passport, or travel documents. The good thing about this pocket is that the strip of leather across the back actually has a small flap that can be pulled over the opening. This allows any of the contents to be protected from rain and any water running down from the top of the bag.
The pockets on the the front of the bag are capable of holding larger accessories such as batteries, cables, hard drives, etc. I was able to fit my Fuji X-70, but it was a tight squeeze. These two pockets are held closed by snap-style buttons that are good and secure. Even with a pocket packed full, I never had one of them pop open on me. The entire outside of the bag is also made of a durable waxed canvas with some leather accents. The leather is used in locations where strength and durability are a factor — things like strap attachment points as well as the bottom of the bag to protect against wet soil. What I liked about the use of the waxed canvas is the way that it wore during use. You can see some circles on the front pockets from the lens hood of my X-70 as well as some miscellaneous marks acquired from normal use.
To finish things off, there is a large flap that goes over the top compartment and covers the two front pockets. This is really the only thing about the bag that I didn't really like. I enjoy the aesthetics of the bag with the flap and appreciate the added security and weather protection it offers, but it made getting into the bag a little cumbersome with having to open the flap and then open the zippered flap.
The most cumbersome part of this flap lies within the fastening system. It is held closed with a pair of leather straps that have a notch cut out in them that then hooks onto a metal stud. While this really adds to the aesthetics of the bag, it also takes away from the functionality and ease of use. In situations where I am constantly shooting, I just leave the flap open, and it’s not really an issue. But when I am traveling around and just taking the occasional image, it becomes a bit annoying to keep fastening and unfastening the main flap.
What I liked
- The overall look
- Removable insert with available waterproof insert (sold separately)
- Perfect size for a minimalist setup and mirrorless systems
What I didn't like
- The large flap and how it’s fastened
- I wish the flap was removable
Overall, this bag is a great option for any minimalist kit or as a everyday commuter bag when you need to carry a few things and a camera. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to fit my Surface Pro 4 even though it’s only rated for an iPad. If you are looking for a smaller bag that has a different look than most any bag on the market, then definitely check out Wotancraft.