Billingham Eventer II is the latest camera bag from the UK-based manufacturer, Billingham. This bag is an update on a previous version that was probably the most expensive camera bag that Billingham produced at the time. The Billingham Eventer II now holds the mantle of being the most expensive camera bag produced by the company.
Billingham bags are more than just the price tag. Billingham has consistently produced the quality to back up its price point. It's for this reason that I and many other photographers continue to purchase and use their bags. Having said that, at more than double the price of their most popular bag the Hadley Pro, the Billingham Eventer MKII certainly sits in its own category.
The Billingham Eventer MKII is a minor update compared to the original version. There are several things that have been removed and several new additions.
The most obvious update on the new Eventer bag is the addition of a leather underside to the top handle. The leather underside makes it more comfortable to hold and use the bag in a briefcase fashion.
Previously, the top handle with its rough underside would become uncomfortable to hold after a period of time. This is especially an issue if you have a decent amount of weight to carry in the bag. With the addition of the leather underside, the top handle offers more comfort, therefore, allowing you to be able to hold the bag for longer periods of time.
Another obvious change on the top section of the Billingham Eventer MKII is that the line of webbing beneath the top handle has been removed. This doesn't make any functional changes and is entirely an aesthetic change. Personally, I liked the webbing section on the previous model as it provides a degree of rigidity to the top flap.
MKII on the right
The second major addition to the MKII is the luggage trolley strap on the back of the back. If you're traveling with a suitcase that has an extendable handle, you can attach the Billingham Eventer MKII to the handle via the trolley strap. The trolley strap seems to be a popular addition to many of the new Billingham bags. This obviously offers a better user experience.
Other changes include the addition of waterproof zips and deeper padding on the bottom of the insert. These two additions should offer better protection for whatever you carry in the Eventer MKII.
Despite the fact that the zips have been upgraded with the waterproof feature, the zipper pull could have stayed as it was in the original. The full brass zipper pull with the Billingham brand engraving adds a premium touch. The new zipper pull is probably easier to use and the ropes probably prevent your hands from slipping. However, one could make the argument that a practical approach isn't required for every little aspect, especially when it comes to luxury products.
Why I Can't Recommend This Bag
The Billingham Eventer series is my favorite from Billingham. This series of bags is the only one currently available from the company that features a bottom leather section. They're also large enough to manage a good amount of equipment including a reasonably sized laptop. Unfortunately, it's hard to recommend for several reasons.
Firstly, there are more cost-effective options available from Billingham. For instance, the Hadley One is an excellent alternative. It may not feature the series hook of having a leather section on the bottom, however, it's less expensive, can carry a reasonable amount of gear, and comes in a wider range of colors.
Even when you factor in the additional cost of having to buy the insert separately, it's still considerably less expensive in comparison, not to mention the fact that it weighs quite a bit less too. Remember it's your shoulder that's going to have to carry everything.
Secondly, the Hadley One is an easier to use and more practical bag. It features a detachable shoulder strap, independently accessible front pockets, and the main compartment is easier to access. The only downside to this bag is that it doesn't include the shoulder pad and full insert when you purchase it. Both the shoulder pad and full insert need to be purchased separately. However, even if you factor these costs in the Hadley One is still considerably less expensive.
Essentially, the only areas where the Eventer MKII is better are its slightly greater capacity and the iconic bottom leather section.
If You Can Afford It
The Billingham Eventer MKII is expensive. It's even more expensive than what the original Eventer was priced at when it was first released. As mentioned above, the Eventer MKII is currently the most expensive camera bag produced by Billingham. However, if you can afford it then it's also possibly the best bag they have produced so far.
It's a bag that has been produced with top-tier materials and demonstrates exceptional craftsmanship. Billingham uses top grain leather, which is a higher grade than what many manufacturers use. The benefit of top grain leather is that it can be produced with a consistent look and retains almost all of the benefits of full grain leather.
The overall design and larger capacity also play a major part in what makes this bag great. If you require a bag with a similar capacity then the only alternative from Billingham is the 207, and this bag just doesn't have the same wow factor as the Eventer MKII.
The Billingham Eventer MKII is a bag that truly stands out. The updates over the original make for a more practical and comfortable to use bag. If this is a bag that you can afford, then you'll certainly be pleased to have it.
What I Liked
- A beautifully crafted bag.
- High-quality materials.
- Highly durable and weather resistant.
- The improved top handle makes a big difference.
What I Didn't Like
- This bag is expensive.
- Difficult to recommend due to alternatives available from Billingham
- At 1.78KG, it's a heavy bag
- Does not include a detachable shoulder strap.
- Potentially too large