Most of the photography bags I have reviewed in the past have been very functional, but they also…hmm, how can I say this? They looked like casual bags which were camouflaging the fact that they could safely hold many thousands of dollars in equipment — which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn’t feel that any of them exactly stated “I’m a professional photographer, so yeah…take me seriously”.
Of course, that might also be because I am not one, and I don’t play one on TV.
However, the bag I am going to look at today does look like something I would envision a professional carrying. Go ahead and laugh, we all have certain stereotypes that we get in our minds when we think of different professions; to me this bag looks like the real deal, and after going over it with a fine-toothed comb, I am even more convinced. I would fully expect to see a news reporter / photographer carrying a bag such as this when on assignment; once we have finished going over it together, you can tell me if you agree.
The bag is the Sierra Messenger, which is the smaller of the two offered in this style – the larger being the . Inside the Sierra’s compact exterior is enough room to carry a 12.1″ screen laptop in its own padded and protected pocket. Inside the main compartment are two removable inserts, of which the larger is “capable of holding a DSLR camera with up to a 6 1/2″ lens attached, and two smaller lenses or 1 small lens and a flash.” While the smaller insert will hold “a large lens, or a flash and a smaller lens.” This bag is loaded with pockets and features, so many so that I think you’ll be left reeling once you realize everything this bag can hold. Let’s take a look…
Available in black, navy blue and olive drab, the Sierra is composed of water, dirt, and stain resistant 16800D ballistic nylon. Its exterior measures approximately 14″ wide x 9.5″ tall x 7″ deep. The front section of the bag is secured with a 1″ wide nylon strap which starts at the top middle rear of the bag, connecting to a second strap originating from the bottom middle front with a heavy plastic pinch clip. The main purpose of this strap is to secure the main middle compartment of the bag (which is also secured with a zipper), as well as the large open pocket on the front of the bag.
You’ll notice on the left there is a built-in compass, but what you probably can’t see is the 2″ tall x 1″ deep nylon strap loop it is attached to…
…so let me show you that a little more closely, as well as the 1″ nylon loop underneath; these can be used for clip-on accessories.
There are also two adjustable 1″ wide straps which run across the front of the bag. If you are truly set on overloading yourself, you could pass a tripod through them, or hang some other large object from them. You’ll also notice the rubber pads on each side of the bag’s bottom – these should help cut down on wear and tear; they will also help further cushion the portion of the bag holding your SLR when it is set down.
On the front of the bag, there are three pockets. The front two measure approximately 5.75″ wide x 6.5″ tall, and they have snaps to hold their gussets (expandable to 3″) closed when they aren’t needed. Each pocket is lined in nylon, and has four pen pockets sewn into the back wall. A 2″ tab of Velcro keeps the pockets closed, whether they are snapped on the sides or not.
Directly behind the front pockets is a large open compartment measuring approximately 12″ wide x 8″ tall. This compartment is held shut with magnets, which fold over and onto each other. When the front nylon strap is not fastened, this pocket is easy to get your hand in and out of – without your stuff falling out – due to the magnets. When the strap is fastened, the pocket is completely secure.
There are two nylon hand straps which come together on the top of the bag, snapping into a single lightly padded handle. When these two straps come together, they effectively lock in every compartment accessible from the top of the bag.
The back of the bag has a 13″ wide x 7″ tall slash pocket, which is held shut by a 3″ strip of Velcro. It’s perfect for plane tickets, magazines, and other items which need easy and quick access. The website shows that this pocketto accommodate a luggage handle, but the bag I received does not have the bottom opening which would facilitate such use. If it meant giving up the pocket, I would say you are better off without the baggage attachment, as this is a particularly handy storage area.
This is the right side of the bag, which has the metal clip for the shoulder strap, as well as a plastic ring which can be used to snap on hanging accessories. In the middle of this section, there is a 2″ wide reinforced nylon strap which can also be used to carry additional clip-on items that might usually fit on a belt.The bag weighs almost 4 pounds, so you can see that it would be quite possible to really go overboard loading it down, but at least it starts with a reasonable weight.
This is the left side of the bag, Here you can see that the zippers all have 2″ long nylon and plastic pulls, as well as a 0.75″ nylon flap which covers the actual zipper track for wet weather protection.
Yes, Avah does have a habit of inserting herself in product photos…what a ham. Here she is looking at all the items piled up for the current Gear Diary give-away.
Now let’s take a look at the four compartments that make up the middle of the bag. Behind the front pockets is the first zippered pocket, which measures approximately 11″ wide x 8 ” tall.
Next is the main compartment, which measures approximately 13″ wide x 8.5″ tall x 4.75″ deep. Inside there are two very well padded removable drawstring compartments which fit perfectly inside. The larger measures approximately 8.5″ wide x 8″ tall x 4″ deep, and the smaller measuring 5″ wide x 8″ tall x 4″ deep. Both are secured inside the bag by a 3″ strip of bristly Velcro, when they are removed the soft side of the Velcro strip is left inside the bag.
Also shown is the picture above is the removable and adjustable shoulder strap, which features a nicely padded, non-slip shoulder pad and metal clips for attaching to the bag. It should be evident, but I am going to say it now – just in case: everything about this bag is top notch, first quality, well thought out, and perfectly done. I am really impressed; but I digress.
These two drawstring bags are composed of soft nylon that feels like flannel; they are highly padded and they each have configurable padded pieces which can be Velcroed in the interior as needed. Take a look…
This is the small bag, which has a single removable padded divider.
And this is the larger bag which has two removable dividers. These padded pieces can be set so that they cradle the les andbody of an SLR, with storage on either side.
Both bags have knotted nylon drawstrings which can be drawn in to secure and protect their contents. I think these bags are particularly brilliant, because they can be removed, allowing the Sierra to be used as a traditional laptop / messenger bag when the camera doesn’t need to be carried; these padded bags are also perfect for storing delicate camera equipment in a larger piece of carry-on luggage if needed.
When this main compartment of the bag is empty, it is easier to see (and use) the two open mesh pockets on the front wall…
…as well as the 8″ wide zippered pocket on the back wall.
Here is a shot of the two drawstring compartments inside the bag; they completely fill this main middle section when they are inserted.
Here is a picture of my 5D inside the larger removable padded compartment,
The next zippered pocket is the padded laptop section, which measures approximately 13″ wide x 8″ tall x 1.5″ deep, and it can very easily hold a laptop such as my HP TX1327CL. I have to tell you, the amount of storage in this bag, and all of the various ways it can be configured just blow me away!
Check it out! An adjustable heavy mesh sling strap is stored in there, complete with a 5.5″ long x 2″ elastic sided phone case (which easily holds the iPhone and more tightly accepts the HTC Mogul), as well as a 5.5″ tall x 5″ wide nylon and mesh pocket which closes with a fold-over tab of nylon and Velcro.
The sling strap attaches to a very cleverly concealed heavy plastic clip which only comes out when needed; otherwise the clip stays tucked under its nylon flap.
The Naneu Pro Sierra is really one of the most amazing camera bags I have ever reviewed, if for no other reason than that they have managed to make it into a truly adaptable bag for whatever gear you might need to carry on any particular assignment. I suppose all that is left is to show it on a human…and so here is Sarah, my model of the day.
First she shows the bag being worn as a messenger, with the attached shoulder strap…
And here she wears it as a sling…
The bag is a bit bulky, as you can see here, but with this many pockets it probably can’t be helped.
The Sierra SLR/Laptop Messenger is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retialers.
What I Like: Option of sling or shoulder bag style; excellent construction with quality materials; inner (extremely) padded compartments are removable and configurable; a padded compartment for your laptop; compact size; really an amazing list of features altogether
What Needs Improvement: The bag is a bit bulky; there are so many pockets and storage compartments that you almost need a key to remember where everything is stored.