Reivew: The Gura Gear Bataflae 32L Camera Bag
I received a package from Gura Gear the other day; tucked inside was their workhorse Bataflae 32L camera bag. This is a fairly large bag, which has exterior dimensions of 14x21x9 inches. This bag is built with the traveling photographer in mind. Total linear dimensions are equal to or under the maximum allowed by most airlines. It is set up as a dual carry-on bag and backpack.
First impressions: Light weight, definitely not a bag that weighs as much as the camera gear. Very high build quality. Great zippers. Compartment shapes and access well thought out, designed with the photographer in mind. Ergonomic carry handles, terrific backpack strap design and storage, versatile tripod carry.
Per cubic foot of storage space, undoubtedly the lightest bag I have used. The padding built into the bag provides plenty of protection, but it’s what I might call “low profile” – not as bulky as other bags I’ve used. More than enough room for medium-format gear, or a big collection of 35mm DSLR.
Also, Gura make the best compartment zipper pulls and zippers I’ve ever seen. I have several bags that are in great shape – except that half the zippers are broken, so the bags are useless. And get this – the zippers are water-resistant, and they’re installed “inside-out” with the waterproof layer facing out –very clever. The main compartment zipper pull is color-coded (they are blue, lower left of this image); interior compartment pulls are color coded as well.
The side carry handle is ergonomically designed, set at an angle to protect your wrist.
The padded backpack straps are very cleverly designed, and hide away (or deploy) quickly and easily. A padded weight-bearing waist belt and chest strap are also provided, the former not only puts the weight where it belongs – on your hip bones – but keeps the bag stable, a real safety issue. The backpack strap design includes some subtle curves that help the straps lie flat across the body, and also help the pack rest flat against my back – quite comfortable and balanced.
The image above shows the straps positioned outside the back cover pocket – it’s easy to deploy and re-stow these straps as needed.
Main compartment access is provided through a dual-end-zippered front flap, which hinges at the bottom. As far as this goes, a fairly conventional design.
But wait, there’s more! The main compartment has a center spine (see photo – red arrow) which is covered with Velcro. The front flap also has Velcro down the center – which means that you can open the zipper halfway around the edge of the bag, and hinge the flap in the middle for access to one side of the main compartment.
This isn’t just a matter of convenience – much of my photography work is done on location, and quite a bit of that is outdoors, in the weather. Dust and moisture are constant concerns, and the main flap design does help keep the crud and critters at bay.
Note the inside compartments, which are large, and have see-through mesh and color-coded zippers.
The main compartment is light gray in color, which I prefer for visibility. (Gura provides plenty of extra partitions, so there are no issues with setting up the interior any way you like.)
Pockets and compartments are easy to get to, and are gadget-friendly – not only good shapes and depth, but plenty of top clearance to let your fingers in. Exterior pockets are full-length.
Loaded up, it carries well. Nicely balanced. If you don’t wish to use the waist strap, it folds out of the way very comfortably. Interestingly, carried ruck-style the bag rides exactly as it should, low and close to your back. With the waist strap in use, the bag rides a bit higher, positioned correctly over the hip bones – and it’s nice and steady. Inspires confidence for trail hiking and rock-hopping.
The tripod carry system is set up for side or rear carry. I’m not a big fan of side carry for field use, but I can see how it can come in handy during air travel and such. Carrying, I’d rather mount it on the back and let the weight rest evenly on the bag. Here’s two view of the tripod side-mounted, and back-mounted.
Gura Gear have come up with a very clever system for attaching the tripod; see this video for a quick demo. I particularly like the quick on/off of the tripod strap design. (note how the tripod rides centered on the bag for better balance; many bags position the tripod too high).
The Bataflae 32L is also provided with a waterproof rain cover which doubles as a ground cover.
Many bags will carry a lot of gear, but not very comfortably. Stability can also be an issue. This bag is very stable and easy to carry, even with a full load of medium-format and DSLR gear. Overall, this is a bag that can handle a variety of assignments, from short trips or location work, all the way through extended field hikes in rough country. Very nicely done!