- Buyer's Guide
Shimoda Explore V2 Review
Several years back, Shimoda Designs showed up and brought a new adventure camera bag to the market. It was lightweight, durable, well thought out, and insanely comfortable to carry. You can look back and see my review of the original Explore 30 here. Shimoda has become known for producing stellar backpacks with fantastic harnesses that are comfortable to carry fully loaded for long periods. So after launching the Action X series, the brand is back with the improved Shimoda Explore V2 series. Let’s dive in and see what’s new.
Carry-On Camera Bags
One of the biggest changes in this series is the sizing. Explore V1 came in a 30/40/60L, whereas the second version comes in a 25/30/35L selection. The sizing change is a nice move as it sets the explore series apart from the Action X bags (30/50/70L).
Shimoda changed these sizes to accommodate travel/landscape photographers worldwide. Carry-on options are different depending on where you are flying and what airline you use. The E25 will fit in carry-on sizing globally, with the 30 sized for the EU and the 35 sized for the US. This sizing works for those who carry a smaller kit when traveling or shooting to fit in carry-on compartments.
Savvy Organization and Security
The other significant change on the V2 is the amount of organization that you have with the pack. That was my biggest issue with the V1, the lack of organization. The Explore V2 has several new organizational features that make this a stellar option when looking for a new camera pack. The new organization features are fantastic; from the filter pocket to the hidden passport pocket, the second front pocket, and the internal document pocket, there is room for nearly every accessory that you might need to carry.
Another thoughtful feature is the addition of the lockable YKK zippers on the bag. This allows a traveling photographer to keep their gear secure even if they need to check their bag or just for peace of mind.
Comfort for the Long Haul
Shimoda improved on something that I did not think was possible; their harness system. I will venture to say that the harness on the Shimoda bags is one of the most comfortable and well thought out in the industry. The designers at Shimoda changed the face fabric of the harness system from coated nylon to mesh, giving the user a far more breathable carry system when in hot/humid climates or on long treks.
There are also new additional handles on the Explore series. The side handle is a nifty addition as there are times when carrying the pack sideways helps in certain situations. This side handle also doubles as a luggage pass-through. There is an added handle at the base of the pack to aid in handling the pack if the rear panel is open or just for extra support.
Taking Rain and Rough Use In Stride
Shimoda now includes a rain cover with the Explore series. While the packs themselves are incredibly weather-resistant, there are times when we need a fully waterproof cover to protect our gear. Including the rain cover is a solid move.
Something that I found was changed but not listed was a reinforced bottom to the pack. The bottom is now the same as the Action X line. The material change gives the user a better abrasion resistance if you find yourself in situations where the bottom of the bag rubs or drags on rough surfaces. This change is a significant improvement as I tend to beat up the bottom of my bags. So props to the team for beefing this section of the pack up.
Action X or Explore?
So, you are looking at the Shimoda bags and trying to figure out which bag is the best for you, the Action X or the Explore; which do you choose?
The first thing to consider is what you primarily shoot and what kit you need to achieve the result. Suppose you need to carry external equipment such as ice axes, rope, skis, snowboards, or other equipment. The Action X series is what you should look at.
If you need a pack that you can travel easily with and are carrying a simple kit, the Explore Series is more up your alley. If you tend to shoot a little of both, I would choose the Action X as you can carry the sports equipment when needed, but you could still carry the camera gear no matter what you are shooting.
The big thing to keep in mind with these packs is if you run a mirrorless setup or carry larger DSLR systems or even larger video equipment – while some of this is decided by the size of the bag, the Core Units play a considerable role in what you need to carry. The team at Shimoda has designed a user-friendly page to help you decide what you need for the kits you carry.
Overall the Shimoda Designs camera bags are some of the best on the market. You can be sure that no matter which one you purchase, the bag will fit what you carry and will be one of the most comfortable bags that you wear, even fully packed and for long periods of time. With all of the new features on the Explore series, from the latest organization to breathable straps and reinforcements, these bags will last you for many adventures to come.