- Buyer's Guide
Wotancraft Pilot Review
I am a big fan of waxed canvas bags. Something about the heritage look and feel tickles me in ways that are hard to put into words. I have had several shoulder bags made from waxed canvas, but I am picky as I like a lot of pockets for organization and room to fit the gear that I need when using them for photography.
I use shoulder bags when I am shooting engagement photos or during full wedding days when I can have a base (like my car) for the rest of my gear. Occasionally I take a shoulder bag for some commercial work when I don’t need my full kit.
When I first opened the box with the Pilot, I knew right away that I would be stoked with the product as long as it could hold the gear that I needed. The lightweight Cordura fabric is fantastic. Being Cordura, you know that it will take some abuse and hold up to wear and tear over the years. With that nice dry wax look and feel, you get that rad vintage feel.
The bag utilizes a MOLLE system to build out your bag as you might need for your use case. The Modules allow you to attach and utilize the strap to use a pouch as a standalone if need be.
But let’s run through the build of this bag and see what works.
(While having both the 7L and the 10L for testing, I primarily used the 10L. The only difference between the two is the size).
Who It Suits
As long as you dig this bag’s aesthetics, anyone might want to have one of these in their arsenal. It is built for photographers, but I also used it for a few days just as a work bag. I carried my 15″ laptop, journal, and my lunch in the bag and had room to spare. With the modular add-ons, you can even expand to have more space. I would use this bag as my shoulder bag on a wedding day, or as my camera bag for some of my smaller shoots when I need quick access.
If you carry a DSLR and a lens or have a mirrorless kit, this would be a killer bag for your needs.
Who It Doesn’t
If you are not into the vintage look and feel, this bag is not for you. Depending on what gear you want to take on a shoot, this might be too small. If you were to carry a full frame DSLR with a 70-200, it would take up a good portion of the bag. At 10L, it might be too small for some to carry as a day bag.
The bag has a front zipper admin pocket that is relatively deep; this can easily fit a small notebook, iPad, or a bottle of whiskey. There are two mesh pockets for organization, both big enough to fit a power bank or a memory card holder. If I were using this on a wedding day or an engagement shoot, I would probably toss my extra batteries, my memory cards, and a speedlight in this pocket
Behind the admin pocket, there is a pass-through “hidden” pocket. An excellent place to keep any items that you want protected, such as a passport or your wallet while traveling or out in the city. No one would know that there is a pocket here, so it would increase your chances of being protected from a pickpocket.
On either side of the bag are two drop pockets that are held closed with elastic. These pockets are big enough to hold a Nalgene bottle if needed, but some space inside the main compartment is lost when holding a bottle.
The main compartment is big enough to hold a 15″ MacBook Pro, and the removable divider is both padded yet firm, which I dig as it will protect my laptop from any potential damage when carrying a camera and other gear.
The bag’s back has a full-length zippered pocket and uses a YKK AquaGuard zipper to protect any important items inside.
The main compartment is protected by a flap and secured with a metal G-hook. The sides fold in, and the flap covers both the main and admin compartments. This flap also means that none of the zippers’ compartments can be accessed when closed, which is a nice little extra security feature.
The bottom of the bag has two webbing straps that are part of the bag’s MOLLE system. These two straps can secure a jacket or a tripod for when out shooting in the field.
I love the design of the strap. The Pilot uses swivel snap-hooks on either end so that no matter what, your strap will not get all twisted. This is always nice when you are in a rush, like shooting a wedding, and need to grab and go. I hate it when I have a twisted strap.
As previously mentioned, they have utilized a MOLLE system to build out the bag that you need. These webbing straps look clean when not in use, and the attachment system clips are simple yet effective.
While Wotancraft is currently designing more Modules, the two that I used are the drawstring pouch module and the zipper pouch module. I like the zipper closure pouch the best as it fits closest to what I usually use. The pouch has one main compartment that would hold a single speedlight but also has a drop pocket on the front, which for me is ideal for snacks. The mesh front makes for a bit of expandability on this pouch.
The drop pouch has a mesh top closure, but no front pocket.
Both pouches can be used as standalone carry systems by detaching the strap and attaching it to the pouch. While I would never use this, it is always nice to have options.
Wotancraft also has several Velcro-backed pouches that you can use in your bag. You can choose from pouches that can hold cords and cables, zipperless pockets, card holders, and SD/battery holders.
In my humble opinion having a modular system for photographers is a huge plus. Not everyone needs the same accessories or ways to hold them, but giving a person the ability to customize their carry system allows for more people to use the bags.
Not So Good
While overall I like the look and shape of the bag, there are times where the side “seashell flaps” can catch on the camera when you have the bag on your body. You have to be strategic about how you pack the bag to access your camera without snagging. But after testing the bag and utilizing it for both camera and day-to-day use, this was the only issue that I had come up.
Wotancraft has done it again. If you are looking for a bag for your full kit, you can pick up the Nomad, but now they have brought us something to manage a smaller kit. Because all us photographers know that you don’t always need to carry everything. Sometimes you need a little bit. The material and build will keep your gear safe, even when traveling in other countries. The fact that all the access points are secure is rad. If you are looking for a small shoulder bag and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, jump on this ASAP.