- Buyer's Guide
NOMATIC and Peter McKinnon Team Up for V2 of their Photography Collection
Our Carry Awards always search high and low for the best innovation, the best function, and the best materials. The winners of these awards often beat out stiff competition to take their crown. The camera category is where we often see a lot of inventive problem-solving, and last year’s champion was no different. The NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon Camera pack turned out to be a real workhorse, gear locker, and travel bag all in one. In fact, it is still the camera bag I use when I need to take all of my gear to a shoot.
However, there is a downfall with this bag – it is a behemoth. While it is exceptionally comfortable and robust, it is also rather large. Many of my days don’t require 42L of carry, and it appears the folks at NOMATIC saw this too. With their newest additions to the PM line, they’ve taken all that is good with the “tank” and distilled it down into two new products for the NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon Everyday Camera Line. I’ve spent the last month playing with some pre-production prototypes – so let’s unpack.
NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon Everyday 25L Camera Bag
The first piece in the collection, the 25L Everyday Camera Bag, is a natural evolution of the collection. It is a physically stripped-down version of the original travel pack, but with a similarly sleek design and new internals. Aesthetically, it fits well into the lineup with a padded grab handle, adjustable sternum strap, EVA back panel (including the PM Skull and Crossbones emblem), metal zipper pulls with the insignia of both NOMATIC and PM, and Hypalon gear loops. It is approximately 30% smaller than the original, as it is designed for everyday carry as opposed to the travel intentions from the first iteration.
It’s a sleek bag, although it is decidedly “techy”. Now, in theory, I don’t have issues with that from a design point of view. And I know that I can trust my gear’s physical safety in this piece. However, when my bag is holding my livelihood, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gear, if it looks too clearly like a gear locker, I become a little more nervous and cautious about whose eyes are on it. That said, it isn’t by any means a box on your back like some camera bags can be. And it does have a more refined look than many other durable camera bags on the market.
For example, one subtle change from the original that I really like is the PVC PM emblem. This was originally metal. I think it suits the bag more and is decidedly more practical. This is designed for the working photographer, and I know that the metal emblem on the previous one was prone to scratching. While this change may seem small, perhaps even insignificant, it is a sign of NOMATIC growing, progressing, and pushing to create the best products they can.
This is where they excel. This backpack is an absolute joy to carry. From the full clamshell opening, the ladder/tray system, and even the “loft” at the top of the bag (which can be accessed from both the top and the rear clamshell opening via magnetic latches), it’s just so easy to use. When your focus is on the subject in front of you, it makes a world of difference when you can access your gear quickly, or whip out an iPad to make some fast edits. The new internals just make this convenient. They’ve kept the same rich brown/gold interior which is easy to navigate, and looks really excellent!
However, it is the modularity that is so impressive and sets this bag apart from others. This modularity isn’t just at point of purchase, where you add X and take away Y. With the Everyday camera bag, you can consistently edit your bag’s internal layout in a process that is both simple and unique. I know what you’re going to say, “Laurence, many camera bags have shelves, inserts, etc. What are you talking about!?”. Firstly, relax, I’m getting there!
What makes the NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon organization unique is the cubes. Not cubes that you’re thinking of, that connect by clips or Velcro. No, these cubes are more like caddies or valet trays and I’m obsessed with them. They come in two sizes, small or medium. And the bag can technically hold a few different configurations: three small cubes, two small cubes, one medium and one small cube, one small cube, no cubes.
Thanks to the adjustable removable ladder system you can make this bag work for whatever tasks your day-to-day calls for. Only run with a small point and shoot or APS-C camera? You can use one small cube, pop the ladder system further down into the main cavity, and keep it nice and safe. Or maybe that’s the perfect solution for your drone setup? Perhaps you have a more substantial camera carry with a mirrorless, a few lenses, an action camera, and some extras like batteries and rockets? Then you want to use the medium cube. Or it could even be a busy day where you need both your drone setup and your mirrorless. If that’s the case you could remove the ladder system and insert both your medium and small cubes to give you the full carry you need.
The most useful feature for me during testing though wasn’t just the fact I could customize quickly and easily. It was the ability to leave a cube loaded, and pop it in or out as I needed. When working on location, or editing, I could unload the cube, and it became a working caddy on my desk. I thoroughly enjoyed that transfer from bag to desk, it streamlined my workflow.
Not only are the cubes excellent for organization, the whole bag, in true NOMATIC form, is functional to a tee. If you aren’t a cube person, no problem. There is also a configuration where you can build your own organization by using the excellent Velcro dividers that were in the original bag and also come with this new version. This is likely useful for those who have the same carry every day, or have dedicated shoot bags. And it is just as functional as the cubes, with a mix of longer, bendy dividers and shorter “ends” to create the pockets you need. These dividers also work in the cubes, too. You’d have a hard time not making this bag fit your needs.
It’s not only useful for camera carry though. This bag works excellently as daily carry too. Whether you remove the ladder system or not, you can configure it however you’d like. Perhaps you use the loft for your immediate grab-and-go items like headphones, wallet, keys, etc. Then the rear entry can be reserved for a lunchbox, jacket, and the like. On the final version, there will be two stretch mesh pockets in the loft area, so that you have a spot for any EDC, chargers, batteries, etc. On the rear of the clamshell opening, there are also four zip mesh pockets, which can hold microfibre cloths, batteries, Allen keys, whatever you may need. Do be aware when packing though, whatever you place in those pockets will protrude into the main cavity. Look after those cameras and be a little strategic.
There is a well-thought-out laptop sleeve on the rear, that managed my 12.9″ iPad easily and is touted to fit up to 16″ laptops. Externally, you can also customize this bag. There are two water bottle pockets that collapse flat and close with magnets. I love this feature, I have them when I need them, but they’re out of the way when I don’t. They held a 36oz water bottle perfectly, along with tripods and umbrellas. There are also multiple attachment points on both the sides and the front. You can use clips to secure your tripod or attach a wet raincoat to the front of the bag. A luggage pass-through makes this convenient for travel too.
As you can see from this extensive list of features, you can make this bag fit into your system, rather than adjusting your own carry preferences. If you want to run sleek and clean, this bag will hold all that you need for a day’s shoot or carry. If you need to add more, you can!
During my month of testing, I essentially had the whole four-season experience (no snow, but I did have hail!). I was reassured using this bag. It handled most weather situations and on-site locations with no issue. It came with me down to the quarry floor, the beach, survived torrential downpours, 90ºF days and I’m willing to bet it would survive a snowstorm too! Dirt from the quarry brushed right off, sand didn’t make it past the zippers, and my camera gear was still dry as I legged it home during the rain. My back wasn’t even too sweaty on the hot days. It isn’t waterproof, and I wouldn’t want to put it through much more rain than I did. But it stood up to it pretty impressively. Perhaps there could be a raincover like in the first edition?
The NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon 8L Sling is an entirely new addition to the line, and in the same vein as their cube pack, this is a versatile piece of kit that fits into the original travel bag. However, it also functions magnificently on its own. I must confess, I am not a huge user of slings for my camera gear. On the whole, I tend to like having something more functional. And I often find that while slings are compact and easy to move with, from a shooting point of view they can leave a lot to be desired. Well, ignore everything I just said, because this is a delight to use.
Materially, it is the same as the bag – robust, comfortable, and weather resistant. It features some Hypalon webbing for any extra accouterment you may need. And you can comfortably attach a full-size tripod on the bottom of this.
The size is of Goldilocks proportions, it’s neither too big, nor too small. I find eight liters to be perfect for my shooting needs. I used it in two configurations: Camera (mirrorless, two lenses, point and shoot, pocket rocket, batteries, cards) and Drone (drone, controller, batteries, filters, cables). It is the right size for both specifically because it doesn’t force me to cut down too much. But in the same breath, I can’t really overpack this. I find that useful for my shooting workflow because I can leave it packed with just the right amount. The chances are, if I need more than two lenses, I’ll be taking a backpack anyway. If I need to take my drone AND my camera, then I’m obviously taking my bag. This is a great mobile studio that forces me to take just enough equipment and focus on the shooting.
It also makes me really nimble and I can move easily. For example, when I was shooting this surfer, I could move with him rather than picking up and setting down every few moments. That cannot be underestimated when you’re shooting fast-moving subjects.
Internally, there is some simple organization with removable Velcro dividers, a zip pocket, and five stretch mesh pockets for batteries, cables, or memory cards.
I think the best feature about this sling bag is the full zip. It allows the sling to drop open, and thanks to the pleated opening, you have a working space on your body. You can access the whole sling volume, rather than having to remove one item to get to another, which is one of my pet peeves regarding slings as a photography tool.
Not only that but there is an ingenious piece of elastic that you can quickly pull with one finger to “close” the sling around a stud near the handle. I love this feature. It is quick to get in and out for a lens, filter, or battery while holding the camera! Those of you who photograph know how frustrating it can be to miss a shot because you’re busy closing a bag or changing a lens. This feature reduces the chance of losing too much time in the field faffing around.
A lightly padded sling keeps you comfortable on the move. I happily toted this around for full shoots with no issue. It also has a stabilizer strap, but I only used that when cycling. I didn’t find it necessary for most uses.
These new additions to the NOMATIC x Peter McKinnon Line have really impressed me. I loved the first edition, and continue to trust it implicitly with my gear on shoots. So it’s nice to now have the smaller siblings who are just as functional, if not more so with the incredibly impressive cubes. NOMATIC are onto a winner with their Peter McKinnon collaboration. I hope they keep pushing into it, I’ll certainly be ready!