- Buyer's Guide
Head to Head: NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C Vs. Shimoda Designs Explore 60
There are a ton of camera bags out in the world today with more coming every month. Both Shimoda Designs and NYA-EVO are leaders in current climate, producing exceptional bags for adventure creatives. Both companies are producing bags in both smaller sizes, as well as the ones in 60Ls, when you’re on assignment and need to have all the gear that you might need to get the project done. I have used both bags for several months and both have had their fair share of adventures. But does one win out over the other? Let’s dive in and see how deep this rabbit hole goes.
Weight: 1900 g / 4.18 lbs
Dimensions expanded: 34 (W) x 70 (H) x 32 (D) cm / 13.4 (W) x 27.5 (H) x 12.6 (D) in
Dimensions not expanded: 34 (W) x 56 (H) x 25 (D) cm / 13.4 (W) x 22 (H) x 9.8 (D) in
Main material: Nylon 210 Denier Rip-stop fabric
Weight: 1500 g / 3.3 lbs
Dimensions : 29 (W) x 61 (H) x 28 (D) cm / 11.4 (W) x 24 (H) x 11 (D) in
Main material: Nylon OX Ripstop with Carbonate Resin in the face and 2X PU on back.
Both bags have a front clamshell-style pocket as well as an upper zipper pocket that can be compressed down, and a separate compartment below that.
Space and Access
The NYA-EVO front pocket has some rad organization. There are several smaller pockets as well as two bigger pockets that are fairly deep. You can also use this compartment for a hydration pouch and run the hose through the small H2O port above.
These pockets give you room to hold a variety of small items as well as several bigger items. The front pocket also expands by 7cm to give you more depth. This way if you really need to pack something for later, like a jacket, you have room to toss it in there and not compromise space.
The Shimoda has the same style zip pocket, but does not have the organization. There is a separator in the pocket so that you can keep any items apart from something like a hydration pouch. This pocket also has a port for a hydration hose that runs along the side of the bag. At first glance you might miss it as one of the straps blocks it from view. This pocket is roomy and I usually use it to store an extra layer like a rain jacket or a change of clothes.
The NYA-EVO top pocket is waterproof and separate. (Not only is the zipper waterproof, but you can fold the pocket over for extra security). This has been great for me because at times I need to store dirty gear that is wet or sandy, yet keep it separate from everything else. Most recently I was canyoneering through sandstone canyons that had mud and water. When we came to the river part of the hike I stored my guide pants in this pocket and later just rinsed the pocket out.
Below this pocket is the top part of the main compartment. This compartment beneath allows you to separate your gear with a removable internal separator that both zips in from the top and sides as well as velcros to the opposite side to keep items from falling into the main compartment. When unzipped and detached this opens up the main compartment to hold more packing cubes or extend the length of the cubes inside. Most times I use this to hold pouches that may contain batteries, electronics, or other items that I may not store in the front pocket. This area also has a separated mesh pocket that stores the rain cover for the bag.
The top pocket of the Explore 60 is waterproof, and has a separate mesh pocket on the “floor”. This is great for keeping items separated, but can be a pain to clean out if you get sand or dirt in the pocket. The pocket does not fold over but can be slightly compressed with the straps.
The compartment below the top pocket is a drawstring zippable pouch area. It has two admin pockets that are sized for hard drives, gloves, or hand warmers (among other things). When unzipped this pocket opens up into the main compartment of the bag, allowing for more room for the packing cubes inside.
The main difference between these two areas in the bags is that with the Shimoda, you have the drawstring compartment directly underneath the top pocket. Whereas the NYA-EVO has them separated by zippers (the top pocket does not interfere with access to the separate compartment of the bag).
The NYA-EVO has a small zipper pocket on the front of the bag whereas the Shimoda does not. This pocket is large enough to fit small items like a phone/charger or snacks. Perfect for easy access.
The main compartment
Access to both bags is from the rear. The NYA-EVO zips and folds down, and the zip panel has two pockets that are big enough to hold documents, maps, journals, memory card wallets or other small flat items. But these pockets are not built for bulky items as they would obstruct the use of the camera compartment. With the NYA-EVO I used the large RCI case which is pictured above. This case takes up most of the compartment, but would allow room to use both the large and small RCI. (If using both this would take up much of the room of the pocket above). The large case allows me to take most of the gear that I need for a commercial shoot. Packed inside the above photo I have two full frame DSLRs with lenses attached, a third lens, a DJI Mavic Pro with controller and two batteries, and a small mirrorless camera. For the most part that is what I carry for both a day shoot as well as a 2-3 day shoot.
The Shimoda Designs opens up from and folds to the left. Rather than pockets there is a dedicated laptop pocket that fits a 13″ laptop. With the Explore 60 I used the medium and the small core unit together to carry my usual setup. There is room inside for another small core unit, but just as before, the use of another small core unit would take up space from the pocket above. The big difference in this compartment is that the Explore 60 allows for side access, so if one were to arrange the core units in such a fashion, you could access your gear through the side zipper.
Overall pocketing: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 0
Laptop protection: NYA-EVO – 0, SHIMODA – 1
The Build – Look/Burliness (Durability)
The overall look seems very similar. But I lumped in burliness to this as for me that is part of the aesthetic.
When these two bags sit next to each other the NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C beats out the Shimoda Designs Explore 60. The build, the straps, and the zippers, along with the Hypalon reinforcements definitely stand out and make this bag one that will last through many adventures. But let’s get into the details.
The NYA-EVO has two side pockets. Both of which can hold a 32oz Nalgene. Both pockets have a well designed expansion system. The pockets are held tight when not in use but can expand to hold a water bottle or tripod when needed.
The Shimoda Designs has two very different side pockets. On body, the left side has a stowable pouch that is removable, but can hold/support a tripod, or a large water bottle. My use cases were for the tripod, but I also detached the pouch at one point and attached it to the waist belt and utilized this as a drop pocket. The right side of the bag has a zipper that can access the main compartment. I never packed the bag in a way to utilize the zipper in this fashion.
Both packs have straps that can help secure extra gear. Skis, ropes, ice axes, or anything extra that you might need to carry.
Side pockets: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 0
NYA-EVO made an excellent choice of reinforcing the entire bottom of the pack with Hypalon. As you can see from the above photo I certainly put this feature through the wringer when I was out in the canyons in Utah. While the bottom is dirty, there is no damage that was done to the pack.
The Shimoda Designs bag does not have any reinforcement on the bottom of the bag in the way of protecting from abrasion.
Bottom reinforcements: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 0
Both bags have H2O ports that are accessible through the main front pocket. Really the only difference is that the Shimoda threads from the front through to the rear of the pack. The NYA-EVO comes out from the front and you need to use the straps to support the hose. On this feature I see the Shimoda bag pulling ahead slightly by keeping the hose out of the way and from snagging on anything.
H2O Port: NYA-EVO – 0, SHIMODA – 1
Zippers and Pulls
Both bags have waterproof zippers on the exterior of the front of the bag. The back panel on each is not waterproof. The NYA-EVO utilizes a faux climbing stopper, whereas the Shimoda uses a leather zipper pull.
Zippers and pulls: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 1
While they’re small features, I like carry handles on my packs. Especially my bigger bags. The NYA-EVO uses a single strip of webbing. This is plenty strong and will take a beating. The Shimoda Designs uses a webbing that is wrapped around some foam. I like this as it gives my hand a little more to grip onto. The big difference is that the Shimoda bag has a side carry handle which is nice with a bag this size, as if you carry from the top it might drag on the ground.
Carry handles: NYA-EVO – 0, SHIMODA – 1
Buckles and Webbing
I felt like I needed to touch on the external buckles and webbing for both bags as they affect the overall use of the packs. Both bags have straps on the sides and front that can be used to secure gear to the pack. Shimoda Designs utilizes a ¾” webbing on the front and sides. NYA-EVO utilizes a 1″ webbing on the sides and front. NYA-EVO has made it so that you can remove the straps from the bag if you need to, giving you a way to keep the bag super clean if your use case needs that.
Buckles and webbing: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 0
Straight out of the box both bags are tied for how weatherproof they are. Zippers and fabric both will give the same amount of protection. However the NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C comes with a rain cover included. The Shimoda Designs Explore 60 has one available to purchase for about $9. The fact that the rain cover is included with the FJORD 60-C gives NYA-EVO the win on this one.
Weatherproofness: NYA-EVO – 1, SHIMODA – 0
I put this one at the bottom as this is a feature that matters a lot with a pack, especially one that will carry a bunch of gear. After pocketing, the harness system is what differs the most between the two packs.
NYA-EVO utilizes a thick foam (~½ in) wrapped system for both the shoulder and waist strap. This reminded me of the type of strap that you would find on your uncle’s old backpacking kit. The type that were super old and dirty, the sweat had permanently changed the color of the black to whitish/yellow, but the bag was floppy, broken-in, and more comfortable than any other pack you have ever strapped to your body. I digress.
The Shimoda system is also wrapped in foam (~¼ in). Straight out of the box this bag is comfortable. The frame and straps hold well on your body. I have used the Shimoda harness on both the 30L and the 60L. No matter the weight the bag sits very well. In fact, the way that Shimoda Designs bags fit might be one of my favorite systems that I have used.
The shoulder straps on the two packs differ immensely. While the NYA-EVO bag has points on which one can attach items like an avalanche beacon or GPS, this is pretty much the extent of organization on this pack. The Shimoda Designs bag has these attachment points as well, and more. Wearing the pack, the left side has a small zipper pocket that is big enough to hold any accessories that one might need to use while shooting out in the field. I often use this pocket for items that I might need in the moment for a shot, some glass, or copper, or maybe a snack. This pocket is big enough to fit an iPhone 7 or similar. The right side has an elastic pouch that fits a 20oz bottle. This is perfect for quick access to hydration when hiking, but can also be used for any comms units that one might have while out in the field.
The attachment points for both bags are well thought out. The Shimoda Designs uses a Velcro adjustable point that is tucked away within a zipper fold. This allows you to adjust the bag according to your frame size.
The NYA-EVO bag also has an adjustable shoulder strap, but utilizes a webbing wing to adjust for frame size.
Neither attachment point feels like it has its own particular advantage or disadvantage.
While the construction is the same as the shoulder straps, the packs differ in how they are set up.
The NYA-EVO has webbing that can attach a pouch, clip a walkie or GPS unit to, or any other clip-style accessory.
The Shimoda Designs has a unique waist belt system in that the belt itself has an oval space, which could be utilized to clip an accessory. The belt has two unique features: a handle that one can use as a support for their hands or to adjust the pack while wearing. This might seem small, but when you are out in the field these are extra little treats when needed. The handles can also be utilized to clip extra gear to or as a quick stow for an axe or tripod. The belt also has a small pouch that Shimoda designed to hold any small bits of trash. I have used this for this reason, and it is a very small but cool feature.
Hauling comfort: NYA-EVO – 0, SHIMODA – 1
So while the camera cubes do not pertain specifically to the bag itself I felt that it was important to cover them as they are big parts of the bags’ system. The cubes are purchased separately at both companies. With Shimoda they range from ~$50-100 and with NYA-EVO they range from ~$80-120.
You can see the difference in thickness between the two inserts and their Velcro attachments (NYA-EVO being the gray and the Shimoda Designs being the blue).
NYA-EVO uses a softer thick foam to line their cubes or Removable Camera Insert (RCI) as they call them. Each RCI comes with a zip-off lid and reinforced metal D-rings for if you need to attach a shoulder strap. These can be carried as separate cases if so desired. The RCIs are built to be collapsible, which is nice when it comes to storage when not in use.
The Shimoda Designs Core Units are made of a padded ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). While thinner than the RCI cases, they still have enough padding to protect one’s gear. Each of the Core Units comes with a skin pouch that can be zipped on or off and utilized to protect the gear inside, or as a separate packing bag for other items you may pack.
The Explore 60 has webbing attachment points on the bottom of the pack that allow you to use straps to attach items to the pack. You can purchase straps from them as seen in the photo. These straps have quick-release buckles to make the attaching and detaching simpler. But you could also utilize any straps that have clips. If you happen to be hauling out a tent or sleeping bag, this feature might come in handy.
The NYA-EVO system includes a detachable gear net. This is great when you have just a few extra items and need to secure them to your pack.
The NYA-EVO also has some great expandable points. There are two zippers on either side of the front clamshell pocket that when unzipped allows for more depth to this pocket (NYA-EVO says this allows for 7cm more depth). The ability to compress this bag down to about 44L makes it a great all-purpose bag.
For me the NYA-EVO wins out by the smallest margin. While the Shimoda Designs bag feels more comfortable, the pocketing and overall build of the FJORD 60-C is what matters to me in the long run. The fact that NYA-EVO also includes both a rain cover as well as a gear net are a nice touch. Both companies make a well researched and thought out pack that any creative would be happy to carry.
NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C – 6
Shimoda Designs Explore 60 – 5
Matt Ritscher is a Colorado-based adventure and wedding photographer. Check out his work here.