There’s nothing like traveling with several thousand dollars worth of expensive photo gear to kick up the ‘ol stress levels: Will I be able to pack all my stuff, and will it ll be easily accessible? Will any of it break? Are colleagues or clients going to laugh at me because it doesn’t look pro enough? If it does look pro, will it make a tempting target for thieves? Can it fit into the overhead bin or under my seat on a plane? And what the heck am I going to do with my laptop?
So it’s always a welcome relief when a bag answers those questions soothingly, in a way that sets the mind at ease — which, except for one or two of those questions, Crumpler’s $172, ruggedly adventurous 8 Million Dollar photo/laptop bag does.
C’mon folks, digital photography has been around for a while now — so why don’t more bags come with slots for laptops? Even though the 8 Million maxes out at the 13-inch MBP, it means a photographer can haul a digital darkroom around for post-processing without having to tote a separate bag.
The bag comes with a ton of almost endlessly configurable dividers that attach to the interior of the bag with Velcro; the dividers are padded and attach with a ferocious tenacity.
The main compartment is super-roomy. It swallowed my moderately sized Canon 7D and 24-105L lens effortlessly, with room below the lens for a small prime lens under a divider I installed, then went on to devour a tall 580EX speedlite (with attached diffuser), a medium-sized wide-angle, a small macro lens, extra batteries and a charger and of course my 13-inch MBP and its power adapter. I didn’t have one to test, but the bag looks like it could easily handle a large-ish zoom, like say a 70-200, and possibly even a pro body.
A velcro kangaroo pouch (Crumpler is, after all, Australian) on the bag’s front is just roomy enough for some manuals and a small grey card. Small velcro-sealed pockets within the pouch handle smaller accoutrements; a good place for filters.
When stashed in the bag, I completely let go of worrying about my gear’s integrity. The 8 Mil is one solid beefcake bag — it’s rugged, water-resistant (there’re also wing flaps that fold under the lid to keep weather out) 900-Denier shell should shrug off abuse and look good doing it, and the interior walls, dividers and bottom are all padded well enough to make the bag feel solid enough that wandering around in rough terrain — or bumping around New York City — doesn’t cause concern. All the seams seem over-engineered, as does the shoulder strap.
The 8 Mil doesn’t look like a typical camera bag, which shouldn’t make it too tempting of a target for thieves; but it’s also both stylish and good-looking enough to look right at home at a pro photoshoot (apart from a bit of a wild fling with color accents — appreciated or not, depending on taste — but is small enough to be easily overlooked if the latter).
Clever features like flaps to cover the velcro pads that keep the lid closed (to silence that sometimes annoying sound of ripping velcro), lots of attachment points on the sides and a large, zippered catch-all on the lid round-out the bag’s attractive qualities.
My MBP was pretty difficult to dislodge from the pocket with everything else packed in, which made removing it in cramped situations (like say, on a plane) frustrating. Luckily, the camera gear never suffered from this.
It’s big. This is hardly the fault of the bag (you want to carry around all that crap, right?), but the bag’s on the outer edges of comfort without backpack straps for long hauls.
There aren’t any small, easily accessible pockets for keeping really small bits like memory cards and batteries.
A good-looking, rugged, adaptable bag that’s a little rough around edges but makes a great companion — especially for Indiana Jones-ish photographers with a sense of adventure.