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Vanguard Sedona 45 Backpack Review: Ultra Light… But Not On Features

As a photographer I'm always developing my craft and recently picked up a new telephoto lens (Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8) to add to the collection. Being quite beefy, it took up a fair amount of space in my current bag which could mean only one thing… time for a new bag! So I got my hands on a Vanguard Sedona 45 backpack and put it to the test.

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Who’s This For?

While this is a camera bag designed for the outdoors, you can still use it weather you’re hiking a mountain or just travelling down the road. The flexible internal format means it can be easily converted between "day pack" mode and "full gear backpack" mode. In fact it could be used for work or school by removing the padded Velcro inserts.

 

Feather Light

The first thing that struck me was how light the backpack was. At only 1.17kg (2.58lb) it barely added any weight on my shoulders. In fact, I let my camera assistant slash 6-year-old daughter try it out and she didn’t want to take it off! That’s a testimonial right there.

 

Surprisingly Strong

The lightweight Nylon fabric is stitched using a unique grid method that is used in parachutes. So if, in the unlikely event, the bag develops a tear, it will halt at the nearest stitch and prevent further damage. I found extra peace of mind knowing my gear wasn’t going to fall out. On top of that the heavy duty seams and rugged zips felt like I could throw a lot of weight into the bag without a sweat. 

 

Nuts and Bolts

The bag has been well thought out and executed with both obvious and subtle features.

Conveniently located loops are intended to hook up a caribena or additional gear. Or if you’re planning a long hike or camping, a small tent or sleeping bag could be held down by the small clipped straps at the top.

The wide shoulder straps are padded to evenly distribute the weight, plus a padded adjustment harness wraps around your waist to keep a heavy load stable on unstable terrain. The ergonomically padded back panel allows much-needed air circulation if, like me, you get sweaty on those long (or short) hikes. 

A compact tripod, monopod or walking stick can be fit in either the side pocket (when it’s not be used to hold a drink bottle), utilising a thin elastic hooked strap to keep it in place. Alternatively 2 adjustable straps can hold a larger tripod in the middle of the bag.

If the heavens open when you're away from shelter, disaster is dodged with the built-in rain cover that is compactly stored at the bottom of the bag.

The front pocket contains meshed elastic lining to keep memory cards, batteries and cables contained. And a small tablet could probably fit in there as well.

My daughter’s favourite feature was the orange emergency whistle integrated into the chest strap. I can see how that would be useful in a tight spot.

 

Oddities & Good Ideas

At first it seems a little backward to have the main zipped compartment at the rear of the bag. Usually it feels more natural to place the bag shoulder straps down and open it up. In the case of the Sedona it needs to be flipped with the shoulder straps upward. After getting used to this I realised it actually is a good idea, especially when out and about and the bag gets placed on the dirty, dusty or wet ground. By keeping the shoulder straps on the top means they are clean and dry. After all, that’s the part which stays in contact with your clothing and body.

If you’re wearing the waist belt, then removing the shoulder straps and swinging the bag around to the front gives fast access to your camera and lenses without completely taking off the bag. I couldn't quite get used to this, but I guess with practice it would feel more comfortable.

The top pocket looks like the photo below when you first get the bag. It can be used one of two ways - a small compartment for holding camera accessories, clothing, food or anything else you want. Or the padded bottom can be pulled out (don't worry, it's Velcro) and you have top access to the main rear camera storage compartment. This is ideal for the grab-and-go situation which I tend to find myself in most often.

 

In The Wild

I took the bag out for a roam around Melbourne, Australia with my wife and kids and it kept up the pace in every category. The only minor weakness was holding a long, slim plastic water bottle in the side pocket which occasionally slipped out when swaying the bag due to the lack of friction with the smooth elastic pocket sleeve. 

Keeping my hands free gave me plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful city scenes, but more importantly to look after the things that are most precious in life… my kiddies!

 

Final Word

The Vanguard Sedona 45 backpack fits the bill for photographers needing their core gear within easy reach wherever they go. It also suits outdoor enthusiasts, even if they don’t have a camera. I give it my thumbs up, but I’ve only got one more challenge to overcome… how can I pry it out of my daughter’s hands now that she’s claimed it as her own?

Price: from AUD$99.95

Where to buy: Teds Cameras (34 & 41 model), Camera House, Digi Direct.

Features

  • Colours: black, blue, or khaki/green
  • Available in 3 smaller sizes (34, 41, 43) and 1 larger size (51)
  • Daypack mode: space for one DSLR with lens attached, 1 - 2 extra lenses, a flash unit, memory cards, cables, battery and charger, tripod/monopod/walking stick, and tablet
  • Lightweight and durable design
  • Built-in rain cover
  • Integrated emergency whistle

Specs

  • Inside dimensions (L x W x H): 220 x 140 x 230mm (8 5/8 x 5 1/2 x 9 inches)
  • Outside Dimensions (L x W x H): 285 x 210 x 500mm (11 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 19 5/8 inches)
  • Weight: 1.17 kg (2.58lb)
  • Exterior Fabric: 210D Nylon + 900D x 900D Polyester
  • Interior Fabric: 150D Polyester + Velvet

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Anna on
OMG!! This looks like the camera bag I've been waiting for! I HATE my Lowepro bag because it's SO heavy by itself. I've had a difficult time finding a lighter one with a decent waist/chest strap! Question-what size laptop can you fit?
Posted by Kerwin on
Umm...
At first reading, I thought it was a regular backpack so I was intrigued. I'm looking for a multi-purpose backpack that will fit in the overhead bin of an airplane. So this won't work :-), but it seems well built and also well thought out.

Are you saying that basically you can take out all the sections and have a bag to just put some clothing or other stuff in it?

What are all the numbers? 45, 51, etc.? I mean, is that cubics?
Posted by Paula McInerney on
You could sell anything with your adorable daughter in the photo.
Posted by admin on
@Anna This is surprisingly sturdy considering the lightweight material, and straps are very comfortable. I've got a 13 inch Macbook air which just fits (without any kind of protective sleeve) if I take the velcro separator out from the top. It can slide in but also covers up the rear entry point. So it would be fine for "full gear backpack mode", but not for day to day use (not that I take my laptop around every day).
Posted by admin on
@Kerwin Yes, it can be used as a multi-purpose backpack if you remove the velcro inserts and it should fit in the overhead bin of a plane too. I was able to fit bigger bags in before. But this particular bag is quite rectangular so it's very efficient in terms of space. I'm not exactly sure of the model numbers, perhaps litre capacity? The larger the number, then the larger the bag. If the 45 is a little too big for your taste there's a couple smaller models. But I'm a fan of this particular one as it's a good all-rounder.
Posted by admin on
@Paula thank you, you're very kind! :-)
Posted by Stephan on
Hi, thanks for your detailed review, made me very interested in that that backpack.
Would the front pocket be big enough to put my surface tablet (~18x29cm) in?
Posted by brie on
Any chance this will hold a 150-500mm lens?
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