Camera backpacks come in all shapes and sizes these days, and it can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to decide what would best fit your needs. The first port of call then is to figure out exactly what those needs are, and then find something that addresses those.
This engineering approach is something that camera accessories brand Moment has been doing particularly well lately. They have just launched a collaboration with travel photographer Emmett Sparling and have introduced the 35 L Day Chaser Camera backpack. It’s being billed as “rugged, versatile and extremely comfortable” and “built to carry everything”. I was able to try it out and put it through its paces in my most recent travels across Europe.
Firstly, let’s look at what this bag has to offer. At first glance, it’s a very nice-looking piece of luggage. The backpack comes in two colour combinations: either plain black or an attractive midnight blue with gold trim. It looks like a quality piece of equipment that hasn’t skimped on features.
The bag measures 53cm (21 inches) in height and 28cm (13 inches) wide. Empty the bag weighs 2.3 kilos (5 lb 2 oz), reassuringly weighty enough to convince you that your camera equipment will be well protected. The camera compartment fits 16L of gear, and an extra expandable compartment on the top easily fits an extra 14L of pretty much anything you can think of that you might want to bring. There is also a side pocket that fits a medium-sized laptop.
The other unique selling point of this particular bag is that it is designed to fit “travelling photographers of all shapes and sizes”. The bag uses a military-grade harness design with four points of adjustment and should be comfortable for all heights and genders, according to the Kickstarter page.
The bag is made from “super rugged” DWR impregnated 500D kodra fabric with a double-layer waterproof backing. The bag also includes an additional rain cover for particularly bad weather encounters.
The camera compartment is a classic side access feature. This allows photographers to access their gear without having to take off the backpack. The idea is that you can just slide it around. A flap and dual buckles prevent people from unzipping this compartment without the wearer knowing.
In practice, this side opening system is quite practical although I usually end up taking the backpack off anyway to access the camera gear.
The compartment is very spacious, far bigger than I would likely ever need. It’s also very deep meaning that you can get your longer lenses in vertically. It easily fits two camera bodies plus several lenses, and likely a small drone or gimbal as well. It’s very well padded and your equipment feels secure and snug. Any knocks or jolts and your equipment is going to be safe from damage in this bag.
Behind the camera compartment is a laptop pocket built into the side. This is designed to fit a medium-sized Mac Book Pro or equivalent. I easily fitted both my iPad pro and my laptop into this compartment. It’s fully protected by the harness and back padding, and yet you can’t feel it when you’re wearing the backpack.
Adding a laptop, although making the bag heavier, doesn’t impinge on any interior space at all. It’s a very clever design, particularly as most photographers are not able to travel without their laptops these days when travelling and working at the same time.
The top part of the bag is divided into 3 separate zip pocket sections. Each pocket also has small compartments inside which is very useful for keeping things organised. The largest pocket fits an extra 14L of equipment. The Kickstarter page says that it should easily fit 2 pairs of pants, 2 t-shirts, underwear and a small toiletry kit. Depending on the size and nature of your clothes, I think this is a viable claim if packing extremely light.
If you’re going for a weekend you could easily get away with just taking this bag for all your equipment. Longer than that and you might want an additional bag or small suitcase. But the concept is solid: fit everything you need for a short trip into this one bag. It will be heavy but it does simplify everything somewhat.
The side pocket easily fits a small tripod or a large-sized water bottle. There is plenty of space and no feeling of forcing anything in to fit.
Now as we know, backpacks need to be comfortable, and I was keen to see how the Daychaser fared on this aspect and lived up to its claims.
I am 5 foot 5 inches tall. This backpack is quite large on my frame. However, the four different points of adjustment on the harness definitely adjust well to make it comfortable. Even fully loaded up with gear for travelling it felt well balanced. It did need the waist and chest straps however to take the strain off the shoulders.
Of course, this is all down to personal preferences, but it was comfortable enough lugging the backpack around the airport all day. Saying that though, if you were carrying this pack around full for days on end it would feel heavy quickly.
My only real complaint about this bag is that the size (height) is just 5cm over the maximum height for European airlines’ under the seat cabin bag restrictions. Larger than this and you need to pay extra for the overhead bin. As it was, I managed to smuggle the bag onto an Easyjet flight without anyone stopping me. However, it was definitely too large to easily fit under the seat. This could be a consideration for people taking budget flights and trying to keep costs down. You really don’t want to risk your camera equipment being put underneath the plane in the hold if they don’t let you on.
This is an incredibly well-made camera backpack which uses clever design to not only make it comfortable but incredibly roomy and versatile as well. With this bag, you don’t need to choose between taking all the camera gear you want and other items such as extra clothes, laptops, food and drink.
It’s also very good in bad weather. I took it out for a walk in pretty heavy rain without using the rain cover, and everything stayed dry inside. It can survive a typical British summer, that’s high praise indeed!
The Day Chaser is not small and it’s not light. But if you like to bring everything with you, or need to pack out a ton of camera gear with a few extra items and want everything on your back in one bag, this is perfect. Great for digital nomads, the laptop sleeve is a particularly nice touch. Everything feels very secure and nicely padded. I would not worry about items getting damaged or stolen in this bag.
I would use this backpack primarily for multi-stop travel. It’s perfect for multi-cities or taking on a train or flight, provided you can smuggle it on board without paying huge oversize fees. It would hold up well in the outdoors, however, if you’re a serious wilderness photographer or doing a multi-day trek there are better options out there, such as the Strohl Mountain Light backpack.
But for most travel photographers, this is a very strong, sturdy backpack, which really does live up to its claims of comfort and capacity.
The DayChaser backpack is available to buy now from $199 on Kickstarter and will start shipping in January 2023.