Camera bags and photographers. Sometimes I think we go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Other times, I think we go together like oil and water. Picking the right camera bag for every situation is pretty near impossible and that’s why I have an entire closet devoted to just camera bags. Small ones. Big ones. Medium ones. Waist bags. Shoulder bags. Backpacks. Black. Green. Yellow.
Name a bag and I’ve probably tried it or owned it. A few years ago, I finally came to my senses and realized that the perfect camera bag doesn’t exist. There isn’t one bag that serves all purposes. Therefore I’ve resigned myself to buying specific bags for specific tasks. I have a bag for street photography, one for hiking, one for travel, one for events and another for sports.
During one of our Nikonians Academy past photo safaris to Tanzania, a participant brought along a bag called the Kiboko by a company called Gura Gear. He used the backpack on each day of the trip and I was smitten. I had to get one for myself and finally bought one a couple months later. I’ve been working with the bag in preparation for our next photo safari to Tanzania.
I’ve taken the bag on international flights from the USA through Paris and into Switzerland. I flew on the small regional jets as well as the large Airbus A340 and the Kiboko fit perfectly fine in both planes. I had the bag loaded with over 50 pounds of gear and I didn’t have a single problem in any of the airports.
I also took the Kiboko on a week-long Nikonians Annual Photo Adventure Trip (ANPAT) to Olympic National Park in Washington State. During this trip, it rained a lot and we did quite a bit of hiking through the forests. To combat the rain, the Kiboko has a built-in rain cover that is super easy to deploy. For the long hikes, the Kiboko’s harness system was extremely comfortable and I never had any back or shoulder issues – even after wearing the bag for six days of shooting. I happily continue to use this bag for ANPATs.
One unique design element of the Kiboko is the bag splits down the middle, so you can store a long lens on one side with the camera attached and another lens/camera combination on the other side. The concept is that you can quickly access the lenses by unzipping the long pocket and then put them back to protect them from the dust or the rain. This is how I will use the bag when I’m in Africa. On one side of the bag, I’ll put a Nikon D300s with 200-400mm f/4 and a 1.4x Teleconverter.
On the other side of the bag, I used a Nikon D700 and now a D800 with a 70-200 f/2.8. I’ll also have a smaller DSLR with a 14-24mm f/2.8 wide angle lens attached.
These three cameras will all be readily accessible so I can quickly remove the camera, take a photo and place it back into the bag, never having to remove lenses.
The materials used to create the Kiboko are absolutely top notch. As such, the bag is super lightweight and weighs less than four pounds when empty. The fabric is a high tech and durable Dimension Polyant VX-21 sail cloth which holds up very well to abrasion, dust, rain, etc. Also, the zippers are tough and easy to grab with their very large pull-tabs.
The bag ships with more inserts and dividers than you will ever use. You can configure the system however you want to.
One of the best things about the backpack is how easy it is to fold up the shoulder straps and stow them inside the bag. When all the straps are stowed, the bag looks very small which helps to hide the fact that you’re carrying 50 pounds of expensive camera gear inside!
So, there you have it. The Gura Gear Kiboko simply works. It is one of the finest camera backpacks I’ve ever owned and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to own the best. At $379, the Kiboko isn’t the cheapest bag out there, but then again, if you want the best materials and the best design, you’re going to have to pay for it. It’s worth every penny.
It is now the most used bag on our Nikonians Academy African Safaris.
The Gura Gear backpacks line is now updated and expanded with the further improved Bataflae bags and will shortly be available at the PhotoProShop, along with other bags and accessories by Gura Gear.
One of the problems with bags of all types today is that manufacturer designers seem to forget about the air-traveling photographer, by making their bags deeper than a regional jet carrier would allow. Nine inches max. Gura Gear and ThinkTANK Photo seem the only ones aware of this issue and consistently producing splendid bags to fit all needs and small airplanes requirements.
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