Cecilia Humboldt Camera Backpack Review
I am an avid believer that for a product to be functional, durable, or dynamic, it doesn’t have to look utilitarian or even appear to be designed for it’s intended purpose.
A camera backpack doesn’t have to be capable of having 20 different attachments fitted to it, or look like it’s ready for a hike through the forest; nor does it have to be made from nylon or come dressed up in trendy patterns.
It can certainly be a fashion statement if it wishes, and it can definitely be made from a stylish and meticulously crafted full-grain cowhide leather from a company that has been specialising in it for over 160 years.
It doesn’t have to just be a camera bag either – it can be more than that if it so desires.
The Cecilia Humboldt Backpack is just what I described: it’s a camera backpack that doesn’t look like one.
As far as anybody else is concerned, it’s a beautifully crafted backpack that could be carrying anything from your company laptop to your gym gear.
It’s been specially designed with the adventurous but style-conscious photographer in mind, but is perfectly suited for just about anybody else looking to carry their gear or daily items in style.
Summary: Cecilia Humboldt Backpack Review
The Humboldt 14L is a meticulously crafted, stylish backpack that doesn’t look like a camera bag. Being relatively small and light, it’s perfect for everyday use, short trips, or for street photographers who want to remain inconspicuous. Premium priced, it is comfortable to carry and can hold a surprising amount of gear.
Cecilia Humboldt 14L Backpack Specs
- It’s super stylish and lightweight
- It surprised me just how much I could pack into this bag
- Huge amount of customisation ability on the inside, especially with that top interior lid
- I really wish there was a bottle holder!
- The leather marks very easily, so I get worried when I place it down
- Max Capacity: 14L
- External Size: 44.5cm x 27.3cm x 14.6cm (17.5″ x 10.75″ x 5.75″)
- Internal Size: 40.64cm x 26cm x 11.4cm (16.5″ x 9.1″ x 6.3″)
- Weight: 1.29 kg (2.85 lb)
- Max Laptop Size: 13″ (ie: holds 13” Macbook Pro/Microsoft Surface)
- Colours: Black Leather, Chestnut (brown) Leather, or Charcoal Cotton Twill
- Materials: Full-grain cowhide leather (Black/Brown) or water-resistant cotton twill with full-grain leather details (Charcoal)
- Opens flat (secure body-side access to camera gear)
- Top zippered compartment for quick access to camera gear and everyday essentials
- Padded dividers for customisation
- Cushioned sleeve for laptop (up to 13″)
- Hidden tripod pocket and straps
- Custom-moulded EVA foam back panel for extra comfort and ventilation
- Waterproof rain cover
- Soft storage cover
- Lifetime guarantee
Build & Appearance
The Cecilia Humboldt is undeniably beautiful: it’s sleek, stylish, and features soft-to-touch full-grain cowhide leather which ages wonderfully and is certainly quite durable.
Although it marks easily, it’s a bag that’ll age gracefully and change throughout its everlasting lifespan.
This is a backpack that’s ready to go to your office or join you out in the field. With two main access points through the top and back of the backpack, it’ll hold your gear securely and allow you freedom of access when you need it.
With carefully crafted stitching throughout the bag, the sheen of the black leather is something that’ll definitely stand out from the rest.
Cecilia’s bag range is available in three colour options: the beautiful black leather, a strong and bold chestnut brown leather, and a tasteful charcoal cotton twill if leather isn’t your preferred choice.
Being of an urban heritage style, the Cecilia Humboldt Backpack not only works with your everyday routine but is dynamic and versatile enough to function fantastically on your adventures out in the wild, or comfortably during your explorations through cities around the world.
During whatever adventure this bag joins you on, it’ll develop a natural patina and lustre with its age and every mark will display proudly telling the story of its time with you.
It’s small and lightweight, suiting short trips with a selected amount of gear.
Whether you’re one who travels light or brings everything you feel you may need while out and about, the Cecilia Humboldt should cater for your needs without appearing bulky or oversized.
I must also say the padding on the back of the Cecilia Humboldt is definitely not in the same aesthetic style as the front of the bag – it feels rather polarising!
You have this stylish classic front with this wild modern heavily padded back. But I really like it; it’s functional and cool while keeping this sleek stylish facade on the front!
The Cecilia Humboldt Backpack isn’t one that’s loaded with exterior features other than the expected straps, handles, and padding.
It seems like Cecilia took a “less is more” approach with the Humbolt and is focused more on improving quality of life with their products than packing them full of extra fluff and gimmicks.
They took great care in developing thin and very comfortable shoulder pads that mould nicely over your shoulders and support the weight of the loaded bag very well.
The custom moulded closed-cell foam back padding built into the body side of the bag is ridiculously comfortable throughout the entire day of use. It’s designed for maximum airflow and dispersing of heat and moisture, and I must say it works quite well.
The Cecilia Humboldt features a clam-shell design with the main zipper opening the bag right up and providing complete access to everything contained with it.
However, the interior is divided into two by a uniquely designed removable top flap interior lid. This allows you to designate the top section of the backpack to be filled with easily accessible items through the first top zipper.
The second main top zipper wraps around the body of the bag on three sides allowing you to open up the entire backpack if you so wish, or unzip it part way to access just the laptop compartment and two of the small internal pockets (if you have the interior lid attached).
If you didn’t check the weather beforehand, or you were well aware you’d be around water, contained within a discrete pocket at the bottom of the Humboldt Backpack is a detachable waterproof rain cover.
It’s tucked away in the bottom of the bag along with a conveniently considered tripod flap which can be paired up with two detachable connecting straps tucked away in the upper front accessory zip pocket, providing you with a convenient front tripod carry.
Situated on the side is a tight document pocket suitable for paper maps, field notes, or travel documents that you need to keep within easy reach.
I was hoping that there would be a bottle pocket tucked away behind the zipper, but unfortunately there is not.
This is the only feature I wish was built into the Humboldt, as I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go!
One of the greatest features of the Cecilia Humboldt is the built-in detachable interior lid.
It’s held on by a clever combination of buttons and velcro (I assume the buttons help with placement and strength) which can be quickly attached or detached as you require.
This lid provides you with a separate top compartment section and gives you four extra mesh pockets to store smaller items for easier access.
It has a zipper built into it as well so you can open it up and access it whilst the main lid of the backpack has been opened on the ground, or the pocketed zipper section can be detached from the padded foam base if you don’t require it at all.
By opening the main zipper you’ll gain access to the top compartment or whatever else you’ve stored at the top, and if you open the back zipper you’ll gain access to the padded laptop pouch and whatever else is tucked away in those two little pockets.
The laptop pouch will fit upwards of a 13″ laptop, tablet, or documents you want to keep safe and orderly while on the move.
There are plenty of removable soft padded dividers provided in the Cecilia Humboldt Backpack upon purchase, allowing you to really express yourself with how you want to arrange the items you’re carrying with you.
Depending on how much or how little you need, the combination of sizes and how easily they’re able to be moved around will definitely help.
The dividers aren’t very thick either which I really appreciate as they can organise and protect without taking up too much precious interior space.
The main back lid of the Humboldt contains not only the laptop pouch but also two zipper pockets for other accessories and cables.
Do note that the more you stuff into these pockets, the more they can protrude into your main compartment – so depending on how large or heavily packed your gear is this can impact on those.
Cecilia have provided a ton of examples of just how much you can stuff into the Humboldt Backpack on their website. They even go so far as to provide an itemised list of everything included in their photos!
But based on my experiences, this bag carries more than enough for me to use on a day out with my camera gear and my DJI Mavic Pro.
I was pleasantly surprised at being able to fit my Canon 5D Mark III with attached Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 in there along with the DJI Mavic Pro and controller.
Tucked away in the upper compartment I stored my two spare DJI batteries along with two more Canon batteries and everything else that I felt I needed.
If you layer and pack everything in a smart manner you can really fit a tremendous amount into this shiny little leather backpack.
All that is within the above photo tucked away nice and tight, so had I shaved off a few items, things would fit in a more comfortable manner. But just like airlines do, I forced them all together like a tin of sardines, just to see the maximum capacity based on my own items.
I didn’t utilise the front upper accessory pocket or the side document pocket, so if you’re a savvy packer or loaded in a smaller camera, you could definitely add a few more things here and there as well I’m sure.
But still, I couldn’t bring my bottle of water along with me without taking up valuable interior space!
Ease of Use/Comfort
The Cecilia Humboldt Backpack is a very comfortable bag to carry around with you on your day to day commute. So it would be quite a comfortable bag to use while travelling or just on an adventure as well.
The shoulder straps mould comfortably over your body and they seem to take a bit of the weight as well. I’m unsure what’s happening exactly, but a fully loaded bag didn’t feel as heavy on my shoulders as I expected it to.
The leather the Humboldt Backpack is made from is super smooth and soft to touch, and the zipper pulls are long and made from the same materials. As such, they match nicely as well as provide you with an easy to find and easy to use motion while accessing your items.
Reorganising the interior space of the bag is a rather easy experience as well since the velcro isn’t super tough and the padded dividers are quite malleable as well.
If you need to squish or reshape the dividers to fit the different gear you’re loading into the bag, then it’s a rather simple experience. Not to mention the top interior lid being removable if you need that extra space for a longer lens too.
Combining all of the above with the excessive padding on the back provides for a rather comfortable and pleasant experience with the Humboldt!
Value for Money
Coming in at just under USD$450 for the leather variations, or around the USD$350 for the cotton twill style, the Cecilia Humboldt 14L Backpack is by no means a cheap camera bag.
However, the full-grain cowhide leather is nothing but top quality and the bag is built with passion.
Being a backpack that can be used on your day to day errands or be customised to be specialised for anything else you may be planning, it’s one that’s rather flexible in its purpose.
Cecilia have been creating leather products for over 160 years now for brands such as Leica and Coach; only just recently have they branched out into constructing camera and carry products.
Not being a new and fresh face to the leather industry, you can trust the level of skill and craftsmanship that has gone into developing their new range of camera bags.
Not looking like anything else out there, the Humboldt is a unique creation constructed with leather made by masters in their field.
Coupled with strict quality controls, Cecilia guarantee their products for life. So if you’re unhappy with the product you receive, they offer a return policy that provides you with a full refund.
If you’re after a high-quality, lightweight, comfortable and stylish leather backpack, the Cecilia Humboldt is definitely a bag to add to your collection.
The leather variations will age uniquely as all great leather products should, and they will proudly carry your gear through whatever adventures you take them on.
Not only is this bag undoubtedly a great fashion statement while in the field, but it’s a fantastic piece of craftsmanship that you can proudly wear on pretty much any occasion.
Cecilia Humboldt Backpack Review | Conclusion
Immediately after removing the Cecilia Humboldt Backpack from its included soft storage bag, I knew that it was something special.
From the beautiful shine of the full-grain cowhide leather, to the super comfortable back padding and shoulder straps, to the customisation of the interior area… It’s a bag that has been very well thought out and has been designed with passion and care.
This bag is something special and is something that I wear with pride. Once I get over my fear of marking the beautiful ageing surface I will really enjoy it even more than I already do!
It always takes time to reach that point of comfort – where you finally let go of the fear that something could mark the surface. But with a bag like this one, that’s part of the experience.
Having battle scars and marks that tell stories of the adventures you shared together is something that this bag offers as it grows with you through every adventure.
Although, Cecilia, may I request that you please provide a bottle holder in the future? That would really top it off for me and is a feature that I’d really like to have on any future updates!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.