Is This the Only Camera Bag You'll Ever Need? Fstoppers Reviews the Wotancraft Pilot Backpack

Is This the Only Camera Bag You'll Ever Need? Fstoppers Reviews the Wotancraft Pilot Backpack

The search for the best camera bag is an ongoing saga, but have we finally found the bag to rule all bags with this customizable, modular camera backpack from Wotancraft?

It's difficult to find the right camera bag to suit your needs. Some are too big and bulky, while others aren't big enough to carry all your kit. The requirements for each shoot might be different as well. If you're a travel photographer, you'll likely want to go light and compact, whereas if you're shooting wildlife or perhaps even capturing video, you might need to carry all of your gear. If only there was a way to add and subtract to the bag in a modular way to customize a bag specifically to your needs. Well, that's what Wotancraft aims to do with their Pilot Travel Backpack.

Wotan pilot camera backpack

The 20L Wotancraft Pilot travel camera backpack

Introduction

If you want the capacity of a larger camera backpack, but sometimes like to travel light, then you may not need to own more than one bag. Wotancraft, the camera bag manufacturer working out of Taipei City, has developed a modular camera bag that's designed to meet the needs of most photographers.

Good aesthetics to the bag

Even at first glance, this bag looks well put together with a strong visual style.

Ringing up at $329, their approach to bag-making is to create something that's long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. The backpack both looks good and swallows up kit with ease, despite only being 20 liters in capacity. If you need some extra space, there are also some accessory bags that fit onto multiple clipping points on the bag, which make it modular and customizable and also increases the maximum capacity to 36 liters, but it definitely doesn't feel bulky.

Filter pouch in bag

Extra accessory bags can be used to store photography gear, such as lens filters.

These accessory bags can also be used in their own right as smaller camera bags and have the same stylish aesthetics and good quality materials as the main bag itself.

Accessory bag as main bag for lighter travel

Use the extra storage as a bag in its own right for lighter trips.

Build Quality

The backpack itself is relatively light, made from Teflon and PU, the military-grade CORDURA fabric repels water and is apparently "anti-tear." The arm straps feel strong and are well cushioned for prolonged carrying, which shouldn't put too much strain on the shoulders. There are also ample pockets and zippers of various sizes, which continually surprised me as I explored this bag.

Good quality plastic clips on bag

The clips are made from strong plastic, which feel high quality and snap together strongly.

There are so many options for storage that if there's a hole or a gap to be filled, Wotancraft have filled it. It did seem rather overwhelming when first inspecting the bag, as I kept discovering new pockets of storage throughout, but the designers have done a great job to pack in as much as possible without detriment to the beautiful vintage military style.

Leather zips and seams

There are flashes of quality all over this bag, like these leather zippers and good quality seams.

The biggest selling point of the Pilot Travel camera backpack is probably its visual styling. The worn effect of the bag makes it look instantly at home with your camera kit and really blends in with those that dress to impress. It has a wild quality about it that looks tough and rugged. It comes in khaki brown or charcoal black, both of which look understated and could easily pass for a regular backpack, which is a breath of fresh air from the standard conspicuous bags that stand out like a sore thumb.

Unique plastic bag clips

Unique clips for the modular accessory pouches make it easy to take them off the main bag.

Features

Packed to the rim, the 20L Pilot supposedly fits a 15" laptop, two full frame DSLRs, and up to five lenses. And while there's ample space for a bag this small, users would probably get more bang for their buck if shooting mirrorless because of the smaller form factor. Pair that with a tablet instead of a laptop, and you'll be traveling very light indeed.

Small pouch on bag

There's storage all over the bag with plenty of space for all your photography kit.

Being marketed as a modular backpack, there are also accessory pouches which you can affix to the bag itself, or use in their own right as smaller camera bags. Simply use the supplied shoulder strap to carry one of the pouches, sling a camera in, and away you go. This is a really clever move because it's not often I want to carry all of my gear, but occasionally, I need to. So, having the option of expanding my carrying capacity without having to mess with two or more different bags is both a time- and space-saver.

Accessory bag sling on shoulder

An accessory bag used as a smaller sling carry bag.

The Good and the Bad

Each clip and zipper feel really well made. The plastic feels of high quality in the hand, and the waterproof zipper seams are outstanding and wouldn't be out of place in a camping shop in terms of waterproofing style. While the Pilot is extremely well made, there are a few quirky design choices that seemed to stump me.

Strange design choices on the zip

Great build quality but some strange design choices as seen here in the zip placement under the clips.

First off, when opening the front of the bag you're met with a zipper that is obscured by the fastening clip that lays over the top of it. It's not the end of the world to open this section, but it can be a little fiddly. I imagine that those who are rushing to get kit out because they're chasing the light or those with gloves on in colder or wetter climates may struggle to get this open. To my mind, it would be better to have kept the zipper line on the inside of these clips to avoid this problem, and you wouldn't have to make the storage space any smaller either.

Zip length on bag

The zipper fully open shows that it could easily stop before the clips that run over the top and still give ample room to slot kit into.

That said, I do love the modular performance of this bag. All over, there are extra straps on which to mount the accessory pouches or even your own kit. I immediately started customizing the setup to suit me by putting an LED light on the main leather zips and even wedging a carabiner clip to the loop at the bottom of the bag against which I would attach a bottle, map, or even the dog lead should I need to tether my pet pooch temporarily while keeping my hands free to shoot.

Tassle for carabiner on backpack

The Pilot backpack is littered with great storage ideas. Here, I used a tassle to hold my carabiner clip.

I did take a little issue with the attachment of the accessory pouches too, but only in that the clips that hold them onto the bag were a little tricky to reach and would be more difficult if it were packed full of gear. I decided to flip around the clips on the left side of the pouches to make it easier to release them without jamming my fingers in the gap.

The side-access to this bag is tremendous. I can confidently swing the bag around onto my hip and take out my camera without ever placing it on the ground, which means it never gets dirty when out in the field. It has access from both sides so I can reach in for another lens or even tuck in a pair of shoes or a spare top if I'm going on a hike.

Side access panel on bag

Easily access kit from the side-access panels without having to set the bag down on the ground.

Tripod storage is great for those that have one small enough to tuck tidily away in the side pocket, and this is what I've traditionally done with bigger camera bags in the past. However, it feels as if the modular aspect should come into play a little more here, with an extra clip and band to hold the tripod onto the front of the bag to keep the center of gravity and the bag balanced and not lopsided.
Tripod pouch on bag

The tripod storage on the side is great for smaller travel tripods, but a little awkward for anything bigger.

A smaller, lighter travel tripod would be fine, though. You could always pop a water bottle in there instead and just handhold the tripod if you get stuck.
Tripod connection on front of backpack

I'd prefer to have an extra connection point on the front of the bag to carry the weight of the tripod in the center.

Summary

The Pilot backpack looks amazing, feels comfortable when worn, and swallows up a huge load of kit without bursting at the seams. It's not the kind of backpack you'd take to climates where inclement weather is the norm, because it's just not waterproof enough. But for fair weather photographers or those that are lucky enough to have drier weather most of the year (or perhaps just shooting indoors more often than not), it's a sturdy, compact bag that will keep up with you no matter what you need.

What I Liked

  • Styling
  • Modular customization
  • Huge storage potential

 What Could Be Improved

  • Awkwardly placed zips and clips
  • Not waterproof

Final Closing Thoughts

Overall, the Wotancraft Pilot backpack is a superb camera bag that's both well made and incredibly beautiful. While I've picked up on a few minor things that I'd personally like to see tweaked, I'd happily recommend this bag as a go-to for those that want something a bit more stylish. It's water repellent, but not waterproof, so I'd say you probably don't want to take it out all day in heavy rain.

But its flaps and zip seams should be more than capable enough to keep the dirt and dust out, as well as a light shower. At $329 and with free international shipping (not including import tax or VAT), it's a brilliant option that contends with some of the major camera bag manufacturers and, in my opinion, is much prettier than most others out there.

Whether you're someone who's interested in fashion and looking good or just want a simply styled camera bag with a timeless quality, the Wotancraft Pilot backpack might be for you. Buy it direct from Wotancraft here.

Some images used with permission from Wotancraft.

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24 Comments

Jacques Cornell's picture

No. Next silly question?

Rick Rizza's picture

I run down the comment just to find the obvious answer, which is no. Hahahaha

Alexander Petrenko's picture

I will be scrutinized by security every time I come to a client if I have a bag like that.

John Ricard's picture

I wonder if there is any way to refer to a camera bag other than "the only camera bag you'll ever need"?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Don't cherry-pick the title. Read the entire sentence, "Is This the Only Camera Bag You'll Ever Need?"

That should answer your question. ;)

Jim L's picture

I have to join the majority and further suggest public flogging every time statements like "the only camera bag you'll ever need", "one bag to rule them all" are offered as inducements to consider a product.

With or without a question mark, these are hackneyed statements that serve no one but lazy editors. It would be interesting to do a count of how many times a year these phrases are used on this site. Then add in their sister phrases used to describe other sponsored products, e.g., game changer, last "whatever" you'll ever need. Any AI program could create an equally effective review simply by randomly stringing together a bucket of words from the previous year.

Travis Alex's picture

For that price, I personally prefer the Black Ember backpacks. Much more modern, sleek, and fully waterproof/weather sealed. This backup looks like a clunky mess.

Michael Dougherty's picture

Went to Black Ember backpacks website and while beautiful, I have no clue what the bag configuration is inside. Maybe it's there, I just couldn't find it. To me, the configuration inside is the most important information.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

From what I can see in their website, their backpacks are not really for photographers...mainly because you can't really carry any camera gear. They are just glorified laptop, phone, and water bottle carriers.

Most of their backpacks are this style:

https://i.imgur.com/thSM9Wf.jpg

.
.
They have camera bags but not at the same level the one in the article.

https://i.imgur.com/0hKgJN1.jpg

Ivan Lantsov's picture

Not waterproof

NISHTIK

Graham Taylor's picture

Hipster photographer bag of the year 2021.

Matt Limb's picture

No such thing as the only bag you ever need .... and I would not need it if it's not waterproof

John Ohle's picture

No been waterproof means the bag is useless for a lot of photographers. I hate the idea of arriving at a shoot and my cameras/flashguns have shorted out! Over the years I have lost two cameras to downpours!

However, the bag does look good.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Do you usually come to clients through rivers and forests? ;)

Matt Limb's picture

Very often yes .... or travel to remote locations

John Ohle's picture

I go the extra mile for my clients!

dean wilson's picture

Obviously meant to carry your "camera" to your local coffee shop so you can pull out you huge 15" laptop and surf the Internet for snapshots you posted on "InstaPinTwitFace" incase someone wants to stroke your ego.

barry cash's picture

Wotencraft makes very high quality bags I’ve owned several...gave them away because both were lacking crucial design convinces.

The picture of the backpack with gear is packed wrong you should always try to put the heavier gear towards the top that will reduce the load on your lower back.

Did I miss the waist belts, the internal frame or the adjustable harnesses. The biggest issue like most backpacks is the depth 9” is a minimum for me I like to pick my lenses standing not laying the you can get much more equipment in more comfortably and gain access easier.

Looks like Filson style which is a good thing that old timeless look, but far from the last backpack you’ll ever need...suggest you look at the Atlas Pack i https://atlaspacks.com/ t’s closer to the LAST, but still needs some tweaks IMHO.

Best camera bag I ever owned and still do Barber Shop https://www.barbershopbags.com/. They don’t get better.

Pitter Brayan's picture

Hipster photographer bag of the year 2021.

Frank Diaz's picture

Can the manufacture use your photos? If we visit the website, the photos there have an off-putting green tint... or using some hipster filter to match that guy's beard.

Simon Pollock's picture

Waterproof? Like, underwater with fish waterproof, or 'waterproof' like an iPhone, until you read the fine print waterproof? (And add another no, it ain't haha)

dean wilson's picture

Waterproof in "as long as it doesn't get wet." HOWEVER, if it does...just stick the backpack into a plastic bag of white rice overnight. Or if you are in a hurry microwave on High for 35 minutes.