I have collected a lot of camera bags over the years...and honestly, I have not found a be all and end all bag for every situation. However, the Vanguard Heralder 51T is pretty darn close. I find it so incredibly useful - not only for photographing here in the urban environment but pretty much for everything.
Let's first talk about the basics. The Heralder has it where it counts...and in this case, I am referring to capacity. I am able to fit a pro level body, a 300 F2.8, 5-6 lenses, my contingent of Singh-Ray ND Cards, a CF Media wallet, an iPad, and my wife's 13.3 inch MacBook Pro in this beast. I don't have much that won't fit into this bag. It is almost insatiable. Right now, I am in Maine and I have so much stuff in it that I have trouble picking up the bag!! It seriously holds that much equipment. It has been a lifesaver.
The below image shows the tripod foot that folds out of the side of the bag.
The Heralder comes with a host of standard features that include: a tripod footer, a rain cover and a removable tray (so that you may use the bag as a standard backpack for your luggage). In short, it does everything you want it to - and then some, for one price of admission. It even comes with a cell phone holder on the C shaped shoulder straps (which I just use for my Metro Card). The cellphone and tablet storage spaces come in two separate sleeves on opposite sides of the flap of the bag (see below).
The camera also has one major feature that I did not mention above...and it is what makes the bag so perfect! It has wheels and a handle that allow it to be wheeled like a dolly. I cannot tell you just how awesome this feature is. With two quick clicks, the shoulder straps come off and get placed in the side pockets. All of a sudden, I am ready to go for a walk around NYC with little to no effort of carrying all that gear. It makes the bag perfect for walking around in just about any urban environment. Also, I imagine that this bag is great for people with some locomotion disabilities or folks who just don't want to carry much on their backs. I have now had several situations, for business and leisure, where I have found the wheels to be a life saver...for example, two weeks ago when I had to take the bag 14 blocks to photograph a person's cat after meeting with some friends after work.
To give another illustration of how convenient the bag is:
My wife and I were loading the car for our trip to Maine. As I was double parked in front of the building, Chanthee was able to bring down my bag, her bag (a Tamrac with our 5dII and her assortment of lenses), two tripods and the toiletries I forgot to pack. If it were not on wheels at the time, this would not have been possible.
Build Quality and Ergonomics:
The Heralder could easily have been referred to as a Sherman tank. It is big and sturdy...just what someone with a lot of expensive gear is looking for. All told, it weighs in at about 9.6 pounds and has the following measurements:
Inside Dimensions: 11.8×7.7×18.1 in. (30x19.6x46cm.)
Outside Dimensions: 14×11.6×22.6 in. (35.6x29.5x57.4cm.)
The outside body is made with a strong 1000D Polyester, durable for just about any typical application. It's rain cover (again, standard) means that it can be taken pretty much anywhere I need it to go. Of course, it did not protect the bag from the pigeon bomb that struck the poor bag the first day I took it out into the city. For a protector to work, it must be on.
. The other place the bag cannot go is as a carry-on at most airlines (for example, Delta's carry on policy allows for a bag that is approximately 22" x 14" x 9"). On another note, if you do check your bag when you fly (I try not to, but have had to on some of the smaller planes), I always bring the bag to the gate and have them take it from me there (usually after an argument). You should be able to save the bag from going in with everyone else's luggage after you impress upon them the liability and cost of your different lenses, and it will be given to you when you arrive at the gate.
So, after about six weeks of use, I have absolutely nothing negative to say. If anything, I have nothing but positive things. It is a great bag that has given me a lot of freedom. I am working on a new urban landscape project and this bag has made my life so much easier as I have shlepped around the city. I am honestly hesitant to highlight the 'urban practicality' of this bag because I am taking this bag everywhere. Right now, for example, I am sitting out on Maine's rocky 'Bold Coast' in Acadia National Park. Due to its size, this is obviously not a bag for long periods of hiking, however for those of us traveling not huge distances from our car (or in places with paved roads), it really will go where you need it to - without too much effort. In short, if you need a big bag and want something with wheels, strongly consider this product!
Like the article and are interested in purchasing the bag? Please consider buying it from Hunts Photo and Video. They get us a lot of stuff to review, so we are pretty grateful. They even provide us promo codes, so you get a discount on the products we review!
For this special, they are giving an additional 50 over the $80 special that is currently on the bag. This means that it has a discount price of $199 from the normal price of $329!!!
Check it out!!http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=THEHERALDER51T&sp=iJEhd
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