It's rare to find a camera bag that ticks all the boxes when it comes to function, durability, comfort, and price. If I'm looking to only carry a camera and a couple lenses plus some accessories, the HEX Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag is my go-to choice.
For a camera bag, the $99.95 Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag is relatively smaller and I think that is one of its strengths. I don't agree with companies making much larger shoulder bags that accommodate camera gear like a clown car. However, shoulder bags do have a speed advantage and for that I think they still have good purpose for photographers and small-setup videographers.
With its removable dividers, the interior of this bag can be setup however preferred. It has a volume of 6.2 liters and measures 12 inches by 8 inches by 5 inches on the outside. This space, along with moving the dividers around, can accommodate about a couple loose lenses plus a mid-size DSLR or mirrorless camera with a third lens attached (depending on the size of the lenses, of course).
For small small lenses, the Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag comes with two "HEX Blox" which are very lightweight padded filler cubes that can be used as a platform to bring gear up closer to the top opening. These risers are almost weightless but do provide that platform and more protection if used.
The interior of the bag also features three separate mesh pockets for added organization for things like portable external hard drives, memory cards, and cords. On the interior side of the top flap opening, there are another two mesh pockets with zippered access for more small accessories. The zipper here has a protective cover when closed so that it can't scratch camera gear.
On the black tarpaulin exterior of the Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag, there are two more mesh pockets on each side, three zippered pockets on the front, and a phone or small tablet zippered sleeve on the backside. For a small bag, I was impressed with how many options there were to organize things, and to even include a sleeve for larger mobile devices.
The bottom of this bag has another nice feature built in which are two Velcro attachment points for a GorillaPod-sized tripod. Even if not used for a small tripod, the straps act as bumpers to help separate the flat bottom of the bag from touching the ground.
What I Liked
I'm sure designing a small camera bag brings a number of challenges as to what can be included without being overdone. With the Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag I'm in awe of the placement of everything while maintaining a stylishly small, travel-ready shape. There are slip pockets everywhere and zippered storage for more important items. I love being organized and this bag feeds that obsession.
Something else I like about the Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag are the materials. All the exterior zippers have pulls on them and use full covers to block water from getting in through the teeth. The bottom is made from a rougher, tougher material and the rest is weather resistant tarpaulin. Both the zippered sleeve on the front left pocket and the larger tablet sleeve on the back are lined with a smooth fabric with a little extra padding that will not scratch screens. The flat shoulder pad on the carrying strap has enough padding to be comfortable for the size of loads this bag is capable of without being too bulky.
To me, this bag is the perfect size for shoulder carrying a camera and a lens or two, before the amount of gear would warrant use of a backpack instead.
While any price for any product ever would be nice if it were dropped 20 percent instead, at $99.95 I think the pricing is reasonable. It has a great build with many smart design considerations, and there's nowhere I felt that HEX skimped on a detail to save some bucks.
What I Didn't Like
To be honest, writing a review for a product I think is fantastic is difficult because it will appear that I have some bias to the reader. However, while looking through my most critical lenses, there isn't much to complain about with the HEX Raven shoulder bag.
There are two things that come to mind, and one of them I write in probably half of my bag reviews and the other is probably reaching. First, it's those padded dividers again. I want to assure camera bag companies that their removable dividers do not need to be so thickly padded. Maybe it sounds good for marketing, but realistically after a point thick dividers just take up more space without returning any more advantage than less thick ones. This is especially true with a bag like this where there probably isn't going to be any heavy gear carried as it wouldn't fit or I wouldn't want to carry it over one shoulder all day. Off the top of my head, Lowepro, Tenba, and Think Tank (MindShift Gear) have it perfected; copy them.
Secondly, and this is me reaching, is that it wouldn't hurt to have the shoulder strap be removable. Sometimes I just need a safe gear storage option when I'm traveling in a vehicle and never intend to carry the bag with me from where I park. The bag also has a hand carrying strap so it wouldn't be totally unreasonable to use only that for short carries. Can I not do those things with the shoulder strap still attached? Of course I can, but I wouldn't mind the option to take it off.
The HEX Raven DSLR Mirrorless Bag is available now for $99.95. Is it worth the Benjamin Franklin to pick one up? I know it can be scary to think of the things left behind that are normally taken "just in case," so I would say yes if you know your style and prefer to travel light with only minimal support equipment. Think smarter about what you actually use and this bag will be an excellent companion.