There are a large variety of Kickstarter backed companies producing some interesting and brilliant camera backpacks, and one of that’s stood out to me is a company known as Boundary Supply.
A modular system can be truly brilliant, and Boundary pride themselves on creating products that not only work well with each other, but are good for the environment and society too. Their entire product line are only manufactured using Bluesign® Approved fabrics and factories.
The whole combination of modular, environmental benefits, and outright style are really what caught my attention – a good cause and a great line up of products, that is a combination for success.
The Prima System Modular Travel Backpack looks great (the Mojave colour is wonderful), it’s durable, built for tough adventures, and comes loaded with plenty of storage options.
However, some of the design and functionality choices are quite different to what I am used to… so this had me thinking twice about it.
I do like a challenge though, and I do like things that break from the norm. So let’s see how it fairs up in this review of the Boundary Supply Prima System.
Boundary Prima Modular Backpack Review Summary
Innovative, rugged, good-looking and highly functional travel backpack system that offers unique benefits to photographers carrying camera gear. With a standard capacity of 25L, the Prima can be expanded up to 31L, with the optional Verge Case providing an additional 10L of storage. Premium durability and minimal branding tops off a great backpack.
Boundary Prima System Travel Backpack Specs
- It is incredibly durable
- It looks fantastic and I greatly appreciate the modular design
- It’s amazing just how much you can pack in to the kit
- It feels secure from pick pockets
- A few random little design flaws
- Combined it is already 2.5kg (5lbs)
- I don’t like how the Verge Case sags inside the Prima Backpack
50.8 x 30.5 x 20.3 cm (20” x 12” x 8” in)
25L (31L expanded)
Combined with the Verge Case attached or carried on the outside will provide a total of 41L of storage capacity
22.8 x 20.3 x 12.7 cm (9” x 8” x 5”)
5L (10L expanded)
ie: 1x Camera Body + 2x Lenses
35.5 x 25.4 x 1.2 cm (14” x 10” x .5” in)
Contains a 13″ Laptop or Tablet pouch + 2 pen slots, 3 zipper pockets for small items such as USB hard drives and cables, and includes second sleeve for A4 sized documents or magazines.
17″ Laptop Storage
Padded NYWOOL® Sunglass Pocket
RFID safehouse passport pocket
External 32oz bottle stowage
Magnetic key clip included
Removable waist belt (becomes a shoulder strap for the Verge Case)
YKK Stormguard® zippers
Hypalon® abrasion resistant panels
LFT® Foam Shoulder Straps and Backpad
The Prima is chock full of interesting materials and features. It has a standard capacity of 25L, and can be easily and speedily expanded up to 31L.
If you also use the Verge Case externally you’ll gain an extra 10L of storage. That’ll provide you with a whopping 41L of storage! That’s a lot for a bag of this size!
Better yet, combine it with their other storage solutions (such as the Port Kit or Port 6) and you’ll be shocked at how much you can carry. More than my back can handle, I’m sure!
Build & Appearance
From the very get-go I liked this bag. Starting with the photos on the internet to receiving it in person, I’ve liked it.
I also must add the Prima Backpack definitely looks better in person than online, and the Mojave Brown also seems to change slightly depending on lighting as well! It’s a great looking backpack. There are a lot of really nice details, from subtle finishes and markings to detailed stitching.
I felt that the brown colour would grow tired and look too “adventure” for my mixed use, but I’ve changed my opinion of that! Sure, it’s no classy sleek black and it definitely stands out on the daily commute, but I do really like it.
The Prima Backpack feels incredibly sturdy and purposeful, the materials are tough and very well made. It doesn’t mark from leaning up or being dropped on to the ground and the bottom lining doubles as extra protection.
With all of the materials used however, it is quite a weighty bag. Weighing in at a combined 2.3kg (5lbs) with both the Verge Case and Fieldspace equipped may not sound like much, but when you’re also filling it with items, it adds up quickly.
Wrapped and constructed from heavy duty and durable materials that are coated in Boundary’s Barricade™ DWR coating, the inside and outside of the full Prima System are water-resistant and stain-proof, and easy to keep clean.
One of the first things you’ll notice on the Prima Backpack is the full length single rail zipper and the dual outer clips.
The clips are magnetic and are a lift-upward action, and the full length zipper closes at the top and gets folded over. This makes the bag quite secure and protects your items from potential pick-pockets. It’s not a standard style bag, so you’d surely notice somebody having a good go at it!
The top lid also contains a neat little pocket that also contains a magnetically sealed inner pouch coated in Water Resistant Nywool™ which helps to keep your items safe and comfortable. They’ll thank you for it later.
You’ll find the YKK Stormguard® zippers throughout the bag to be smooth and easily used, with the weather sealing never snagging or getting in the way. Combined with the aforementioned heavy set Barricade™ DWR coated combination of Nylon’s, this bag becomes impressively water resistant.
The Prima Backpack should survive and protect your gear through heavy downpours and waterfall based adventures, but don’t go using it as a flotation device or swimming with it!
Situated on one side is your standard bottle pouch, which can double as a travel tripod holder along with a sneaky little hidden strap up top!
You’ll also find another super sneaky little hidden pocket that is part of the bottle pouch as well. You can also attach a tripod to the bottom of the bag using the straps along the base of the bag.
Found on the opposite side to the bottle pouch is your entry point to the Verge Case, when mounted inside the Prima Backpack.
It’s very much standard practice these days (and a much preferred method) to have a large side access point on camera bags, allowing you to easily swing the bag to your side and remove or pack in whatever is required without having a top flap all up in your grill! Despite what anybody says, this bag does not taste good…
To match up with the heavy duty nature of this bag, you’ll find a large chunky handle on the top with Boundary stylishly written across the top, a smaller grab handle down the side, and decently thick back straps stylishly stitched on underneath a smooth protective layer.
Around the waist area you’ll find a removable waist strap which doubles as a shoulder strap for the Verge Case, if you’d rather use it externally or as a day pack instead (ie: when you don’t need a full size backpack).
On the back of the Prima Backpack you’ll find Boundary’s LFT™ EVA foam, which is a thick breathable padding to help cushion the load and disperse heat. Style, function, and comfort!
This also adds a layer of external protection for your laptop pouch, which can be accessed through the top of the bag. This area is also where you’ll find the Fieldspace stored.
The Prima Backpack is fairly bare-bones on the inside, it seems more dedicated to dealing with sheer volume than for built in internal compartmentalisation.
You’ll find one discrete zipper pocket on the side, a deep mesh pocket on the other, a large soft internal pouch (for a laptop or documents), and an RFID safehouse pocket on the inside of the side access door.
This large open space allows you to freely load in large items easily or drop in plenty of smaller items, but I must say you’re best to pair this up with packing tools (which Boundary Supply also have available).
Being able to lay the bag flat and unzip the entire thing makes for packing it smartly much easier than dropping things in from the top.
But the real drawcard to the interior of the Prima Backpack is equipping it with the Verge Case on the inside.
You’ll find two button points firmly built in to the inside sidewall of the backpack, and two more situated on the inside of the side entry door. In doing this, using the outer zipper opens both the backpack and the case.
This also allows you to securely fastens the Verge Case to the inside of the Prima Backpack and provides you with what is essentially an internal padded camera cube.
You can leave the shoulder strap attached to the Verge Case if you were previously using it externally, or remove it to reduce clutter and bulk on the inside.
The Boundary Supply Prima Backpack is not a bulky bag to begin with, and you can carry quite a good amount of stuff before you even need to expand it. Howver, if you’re one to travel heavy for a day trip or longer, this bag will suit you quite nicely.
As I mentioned at the beginning, if you use the Verge Case on the outside and completely expand both it and the Prima Backpack, you’ll be able to carry 41L of gear + a tripod.
Pair it up with another one of Boundary Supply’s packing solutions, and you’ll also manage around 47L or more! Quite amazing really.
I tried to be more realistic in what I would carry, instead of showcasing the sheer amount of stuff I own and could fit in. Be mindful that what I am listing and showing in the photo above didn’t come anywhere near maximum capacity.
The Fieldspace clips in to the back section of the bag where you’ll also find the laptop pouch. I slipped a 13″ Macbook Air, and the front pockets had enough space available for a couple of USB hard drives and an assortment of charger cables.
There is a pouch with a magnetic lid where the small 13″ laptop can slide in to, and another sleeve for things such as A4 sized documents, magazines, or booklets.
The Verge Case has room for a Canon 5D MKiii with a 24-70mm attached, a couple of spare batteries, memory cards and still had space for other accessories.
If you’re a mirrorless shooter, you’ll fit a Sony A7iii with a Tamron 28-75mm attached, and also able to fit a Samyang 35mm f/1.4 along with another lens.
My advice if you’re doing this is to find some dividers that will assist in holding your lenses steady, or they’ll move about with the camera.
The Verge Case also has a pair of mesh pockets stitched in to the lid, and an outer zip pocket that’ll easily fit a phone or a slim USB battery pack.
The Prima Backpack with all the above items loaded still has the large empty interior space available. I stuffed my jacket in to the bottom under the Verge Case and dumped the rest of my cables and goodies on top, all without expanding it at all.
It also has a laptop pocket on the back with top access. It fits upwards of a 17″ laptop along with the loaded up Fieldspace as well. I fit the Fieldspace loaded up with the above mentioned items, along with my 15″ Metabox gaming laptop with no troubles at all.
When you unzip the rear section it’s opens nice and wide, allowing you to easily slide in a laptop or unclip the Fieldspace without resistance.
Located in the top lid pocket you’ll even find a nice little magnetic keyclip tucked away in there. It easily detaches when you need it and securely fastens back up when you don’t.
Unfortunately however, I found that the black paint on the keyring easily scratches when attaching your keys. It’s still super handy though, as I tend to lose my keys inside bags.
Ease of Use/Comfort
As I previously mentioned, the top lid on the Prima Backpack folds over and is held down by the two magnetic clips. They’re super easy to unclip, just requiring a light lift or flick (see above image). They close back up rather easily by just placing them close together.
The straps attached to the clips easily slide through to expand and contract the length as you require, not fiddling about to tighten or loosen it up, allowing you to fill the bag to the brim and get it closed.
Being able to fully open the bag to pack it is incredibly handy, however it can be a bit fussy when trying to access items in the main compartment while walking. It’s a job better done with the bag placed down.
All of the adjustment points on this bag are quite easy and intuitive to use. Expanding and contracting the size of the Prima Backpack using the straps provided is a process that is done quite easily.
I can’t say quite the same about the Verge Case though. Expanding it is a straightforward procedure using the zipper provided, but I’ve found it tends to snag when it’s done up completely. Numerous times I’ve had this snagging problem and therefore it’s been difficult starting the expansion process.
The padding on the back of the Boundary Supply Prima Backpack and the design of the shoulder straps make this bag really comfortable to wear.
The waist strap does a great job of shifting the weight of the bag which helps immensely during times the bag is fully loaded.
However, removing or replacing the waist strap to use elsewhere can be difficult as the velcro that holds it in place is rather grippy!
You’ll also find a convenient suitcase handle slot to securely place the bag atop of a large roller bag. This is something I use on every holiday where I travel with a suitcase – this should always be a standard feature on backpacks!
The magnetic clips and points of contact used throughout the bag are fantastic – they’re a great way to ensure something always clicks in to the right place. Gone are the days of fiddling around for the perfect fit to secure your items.
Value for Money
The money that Boundary Supply are asking for this bag in its basic kit I feel is a fitting price. It’s extremely durable and a great sized package.
Sure, there are design choices made with this bag that don’t exactly work ideally for me, but given the overall quality and value of the resulting product as a whole, I am happy with it. It’s definitely suitable for the daily commute or the next adventure.
If you need more than the basic kit, there are a few other predefined customisable packages that Boundary Supply are offering. These come with extra packing solutions at a discounted rate (compared to if you were to purchase separate). These have been designed to integrate with the Prima System in different ways.
You’ll also find that Boundary Supply have developed an X-Pac variant of the Prima System, for extra durability. This comes at a larger cost, but damn… extra tough layers including Kevlar Fiber X-Ply! If the standard Prima System wasn’t already ready for everything, this is just next level.
If you’re in to some serious stuff, the X-Pac variant is the way to go – I’m pretty sure that bag could survive anything. It is seriously a boss combination of materials in an already great package.
Boundary Supply Prima System Review | Final Words
It is a great bag and the Verge Case and Fieldspace integrate relatively well with the Prima Backpack, but as I’ve already mentioned, it doesn’t come without flaws. I want to touch on those before finishing up the review, because I feel that it is something worth noting.
I do not find them deal breakers, as there are far more great things than negative things about this system.
A downside I found to having the Verge Case on the inside of the Prima Backpack that it is only attached on one side of the bag, and once loaded with camera gear, is it massively sags downwards. It’s much more noticeable if you load the Verge Case in while it is expanded as well.
You’ll also find a large vacant area between the bottom of the Verge Case and the Prima Backpack. This does help to protect your gear by not having it sitting directly on the base of the bag, but it does pose a problem if you’ve thrown a bunch of small items in to the backpack. They tend to work their way down to the bottom and it can be quite annoying fishing them back out again.
That dead space on the bottom can still be utilised, but it’s not as cleanly done as the rest of the bag. I feel it’s a bit of a let-down. I made use of it by stuffing a jacket down there, which also held the Verge Case upright more, but it felt like a bit of a design flaw.