- Buyer's Guide
I really enjoy non-obvious gear, something you can’t easily find in a shop just around a corner. In today’s world, full of mass produced and cost-oriented gear, it’s harder and harder to find companies with true passion for what they do. WOTANCRAFT is one of these old-school exceptions, with real craftsmen and real products, designed and made to last for life. I came across WOTANCRAFT a couple of years ago when looking for a vintage leather strap for my classic watch. I was really blown away by all the details in that dedicated Panerai strap - a true vintage look, classic sewn-in buckle, perfect stitching etc. And later I found out that they offer more than just cool straps… so let me introduce my new photography companion, which I’ve used for the last couple of months: the WOTANCRAFT Trooper Camera Bag in size Large.
- Name: Trooper Camera Bag (L size)
- Brand: WOTANCRAFT
- Format: Shoulder camera bag
- Measurement: Exterior: 43 x 16 x 27.5 cm; Main compartment: 37 x 13 x 27 cm
- Capacity: 12L
- Weight: ± 1.40 kg
- Zippers: YKK water-resistant zipper
- Material: Nylon 6,6 yarn Cordura® 500D waxed canvas
Who It Suits
Street photographers would be delighted. Also adventure and everyday photographers looking for a high-end shoulder bag in premium materials, with a non-camera bag look and slightly vintage military styling. By the way, if you shoot Leica (I wish I could) then one of the Troopers should definitely end up in your bag arsenal.
Who It Doesn't
If you always carry an excessive camera kit with you (multiple bodies, strobes, 4-5 lenses, etc.) then, well, there are definitely better choices for you. Also if you need a big and bold logo of your photography equipment at the front of your bag to impress your clients – you can stop reading here.
Dark brown leather and worn waxed olive Cordura canvas – this bag couldn’t look any better in my opinion. Overall it reminds me of a vintage military-style shoulder bag of the WWII era. But also it’s not overcooked and designed with taste. It has just the right amount of military styling to keep it interesting but it’s not overbuilt or pointlessly heavy. The front of the bag is dominated by a big flap and two broad leather straps. It simply looks good, especially with a pair of worn jeans and an M65 jacket.
This is a legitimate camera bag, and you can find proof of that in every corner of it. The main compartment can be easily customized with a handful of padded dividers provided with the bag. The inner walls are Velcro compatible so you can fully customize the interior to your needs. Of course you can also attach all kinds of Velcro pouches inside if you need more organization. The top flap is integrated with a foldable collar, so all the gear inside is fully protected against not only the elements, but also pickpocket fingers. The flap has a built-in magnetic closure so there’s no need to use the leather straps for a quick lens change. By the way, I really like that the bag opens totally silently, not only with magnets but also the leather straps are optimized for silent operation with toggles instead of jingling metal buckles. A ripping Velcro sound is the last thing you want when taking wildlife photos or during a wedding ceremony. To me Velcro closures should be banned from any camera bag! Traditional zippers are better but still can scratch expensive gear. I don’t care too much about scratching my Fuji, but for classic Leica owners that might be something to consider. The overall construction is a blend of classic looks and innovative features, most of them cleverly hidden from bystanders’ eyes. The bottom of the bag is a solid piece of thick leather for extra protection.
Materials and Hardware
Thick genuine leather, Cordura fabric, YKK zippers, tough metal hardware. Can you see a pattern here? Yeah, they use the best materials and hardware they could find. Even the padding material is top tier in the Trooper bag - thin enough to keep the bag compact, but still sturdy and dense, perfectly absorbing all bumps. They didn’t cut any corners regarding materials used in the bag. Actually the Cordura they use is a very special one, with a multi-layer treatment. So on top of standard 500D canvas you get a subdued camo coating and waxing for a vintage aged look, a Teflon coating on the outside acting as DWR protection, and also a polyurethane coating / sealing on the inside as a last-ditch weather protection barrier. So it not only looks good, but is also a top performer. And yes, that costs more to make, no doubt. But I’ve never said we’ve been discussing a budget bag here, right? Add to that all-metal buckles and fasteners… this bag screams quality and longevity!
Some have already been mentioned, like the clamshell magnetic opening. But there’s much more, such as a pass-through band for carry-on luggage compatibility. The top straps are great for either a compact tripod or (like in my case) folding kneeling mat, which is crucial gear for macro photography in a forest. The hidden side pockets are expandable and easily accessible. Leather reinforcements, a modular interior, Velcro compatibility, heavy-duty metal parts and fasteners... Actually most of this review is about features of this bag. But most of these features blend in so nicely that they are not visible at first glance… which is exactly what you want in a street camera bag.
Space and Access
There’s no such thing as a ‘standard camera’ today anymore. A tiny Olympus kit, mid-sized Fuji-X system, compact mirrorless full frame camera, or old-school Leica M6? Every camera is very different today. The same goes for the lenses – big, small and tiny. So full customization is simply a must today. Laptop compartment? Check, big enough for my 15.4" Dell. And yes, you can remove it completely if you need more space for actual camera gear. Access to gear is quick and easy too. You could even overload the bag slightly but… there’s still just a single hole on the straps for closing and that can be tight sometimes. So I decided to punch a set of extra holes in the straps. Nothing too complicated but it makes my bag easier to close when loaded to the fullest. This bag is Large size but with a total volume of about 12 liters (give or take) it’s not too large for everyday use. So if you’d like to pack a bit more gear than one body and three lenses plus some accessories (or one body, two lenses and a flash) then I’d recommend going Extra Large, which is a 20-liter bag (but that sounds a bit big for an everyday carry).
Pockets and Organizing
In a camera bag organizing is the name of the game. You need gear quickly and without guessing. As I mentioned earlier you receive the WOTANCRAFT Trooper with a full array of Velcro dividers. That includes a big backside divider for the laptop compartment, so you can adjust it precisely to the thickness of your laptop or you can remove it completely - as you wish. I organized my interior with a laptop sleeve and four small lens/accessory bays. The central one is for my Fuji X-H1 with lens attached and it works even with my biggest XF 50-140mm f/2.8 lens (it rides vertically, of course). On one side I keep my wide angle prime, on the other side a macro lens or short but ultrafast f/1.2 portrait lens - depending on the mission of the day. All extra accessories store easily inside (cables, cards, lens pen, small external drive, etc). Expandable side zipper pockets, hidden by design (love that!) are great for gear I want to keep close at hand – extra batteries, headlamp, multitool. The front pocket is expandable too, quite spacious and great for keys, a Swiss pocket knife, or other EDC items. That pocket also features a wallet/document sleeve, perfect for a passport or airplane tickets. And last but not least there’s a big flat zipper pocket on the back, which I use for my iPad Air but it’s also great for photography session scripts, notes, shooting permission, model agreements and other legal-sized papers. On top of that you can purchase internal zipper pockets and cable and card sleeves - handy if you need more organization. Of course don’t forget that every next padded divider, pocket and sleeve eats up some space too. So don’t go too crazy and don’t overload your bag with this stuff. Rather adjust the interior of your Trooper to your specific mission today and change or adjust tomorrow if required.
It’s a really comfortable bag to carry around. The two-inch thick canvas carry strap with padded non-slip shoulder pad couldn’t be made any better. Also the bag is not too thick, so the center of gravity of a loaded one is relatively close to the photographer’s body, making it one of the most maneuverable camera bags in my bag arsenal.
And if you need to grab your Trooper out of a vehicle – just use that oversized carry handle, sewn out of Cordura for strength and discreet looks.
I’ll say this again: the Trooper bag is made of multi-layered, waxed and PU-coated Cordura canvas, pretty much as weather resistant and natural-looking a fabric as you can buy today. My bag made it through heavy summer rain, the ever-changing weather of spring and even light snow earlier this year (remember, it’s been on my shoulder for months, not days or weeks). I never ever had an issue with weather protection, leaking, etc. Also the clamshell-style main flap protects the interior in the best possible way and upon opening all the residual rain or snow has zero chance of coming in contact with your gear. The way the bag opens is simply ingenious – try it once in bad weather and you’ll never ask for anything else.
Alternatives to Consider
National Geographic series – A good choice if you’re looking for casual styling but your budget excludes a WOTANCRAFT bag.
Billingham bags – A classic UK-based brand of classy camera bags; top quality too but with a slightly more conservative build and features.
For me the Trooper bag redefines quality and style. It’s made with the best available materials, but still it’s form that follows function and not vice versa. The design and execution are top tier. Well… it’s perfection.
Not So Good
If you’re on a budget you may find the price ($289 USD) quite restrictive. However, you absolutely get what you pay for. Other than price it’s hard to find anything "not so good" about this bag, sorry.
It’s one of those 'buy once, cry once' products. It’s not a flashy bag, it looks more like an old-school messenger than a modern camera bag. With a bit of a worn subdued look, and cracked leather (on purpose, it’s just a wax layer) it also doesn’t scream "Steal me!" on the street. It’s durable, weatherproof and pickpocket-proof. I wish I had such a bag when I was photographing New York a couple of years ago. Actually, the only issue is… you may end up purchasing another one in a different size, or simply getting other stuff they make like vintage watch straps. It’s addictive gear. So if you’re into vintage-style quality gear and in the market for a new mid-sized everyday camera bag – you’ve just found a true gem, which must end up on your shopping short list (at least). And it’s classy too.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Space & Access
Look & Feel
Build, Materials & Hardware
Warranty & Support