While Manfrotto is best known for its tripods, it’s important not to sleep on its amazing offerings in bags for getting your gear to and from set—including your tripods.
We got to spend some time with their PRO Light Camera Backpacks, available in Frontloader, Backloader, and Flexloader configurations. We walked away very impressed with all the features and flexibility Manfrotto is able to load into such lightweight packages.
There are bags out there that add enough weight to your setup that you wonder if they are worth it, but the Manfrotto bags are not that.
They all feel almost magically lightweight, coming in around 4 or so pounds each, depending on the configuration, and will feel like negligible additions to your overall gear load.
The big difference with the models is how you load the bag and where the camera dividers are located.
With Frontloaders, you open the front of the bag while the straps are sitting on a table, while with a Backloader, you put the side away from the straps on the table to open up the “back” of the bag. Both of these configurations have their benefits and it will largely come down to personal preference and how often you think you might want to access gear while the bag is on your body.
If you work with an assistant who might have the bag on and you want to grab from it while going, the Frontloader will make a bit more sense. If you always take the bag off to grab gear, both are about equally easy.
You also don’t need to open the full bag and can just open the top in order to get quick access to the gear when on the go when you don’t have the time, or space, to put the full bag on the ground. All the bags feature storage slots for a 16” laptop, which is great for keeping your download station ready to go while you are on move.
They come with rain covers that you can slip on in a jiffy to keep your gear safe and ready to go.
One really wonderful feature, unsurprisingly for Manfrotto, is a lightweight tripod bag for keeping your tripod both better protected and more secure on your bag.
Bigger tripods will often come with storage bags, but smaller tripods won’t. That smaller tripod strapped outside your bag is left unprotected to get knocked around by the outside world, including getting snagged on objects like branches as you walk around. Sticking it in the soft accessory bag keeps it safe, and makes the attachment to the bag system more secure.
There are a million little details on the new Backloader bags from Manfrotto that make you appreciate that these bags are designed by creators.
Not just that they interviewed filmmakers and videographers, but that they probably shoot themselves and know the pains and travels we all go through moving with our gear.
There is, for instance, the little pocket to stash your TSA-complaint lock. It also comes with a TSA-complaint lock to keep your bag locked up tight. There is a spot for it to keep it snagging on things as you work.
We also love the red backing behind the strap points on the back of the bag.
If you’ve ever tried threading something to a bag in the dark and kept finding it tricky to get your strap started, especially if you are tired and you just want to hike the gear out, this is a small detail but one you’ll appreciate.
The stretch elastic straps in the side pockets are great.
Most bags that have a side pocket (a water bottle pocket is how we think of them, but they hold all sorts of stuff, especially small tripods) either leave them flapping around in the wind or they make them too tight and they break at the seam.
This is the perfect solution, an elastic band, that holds the pocket close, that lets you have a snug grip on a variety of water bottle sizes when you need it, and the freedom of clean sides for faster movement when you don’t.
All over these backpacks, there are a host of features that make you feel like the designer knows precisely what it's like for you to do your job and how to make it easier.
As you are putting together packages for run-and-gun shoots, travel jobs, and nature jobs, the Pro Loader lineup is an amazing choice.
Check out more from our Manfrotto Week: Camera Movement coverage!