Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 Review
The Compagnon 'the backpack' 2.0 is beautiful, innovative and built to last a lifetime. But how useful is it for photographers? Read our review to find out.
By Greg Cromie
I recently had the chance to experience and use Compagnon’s ‘the backpack’ 2.0 and I have to say, it’s an impressive and premium quality camera bag.
Within the photographic communities that I’ve been involved in, there has always been considerable debate over what makes a great camera bag.
Some prefer a branded bag that’s mass-produced and very clearly looks like a camera bag. Others tend to look for something a little more unique and little less obvious as a camera bag.
And then there are bags at the top end of the scale that scream quality design, materials and construction. I say “construction” because the kind of bag I’m talking about is generally hand made. The Compagnon is one such bag.
You’d be forgiven for saying you’ve never heard of this brand as I myself had never heard of it nor come across it before.
Compagnon is a German brand and they produce high-end camera bags for photographers and filmmakers. Their products are bespoke-like in the quality and care taken to deliver a premium camera bag for any occasion.
That level of quality always comes at a cost and this bag is no exception to that rule.
But if you’re serious about being able to transport a considerable amount of your gear in comfort, then this bag is certainly fit for purpose.
The Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 is the kind of camera and lens backpack that I categorise as doing it right the first time, as this bag will last you a lifetime.
There is also the Compagnon ‘the little backpack’ which is the smaller version.
Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 Specs
- Quality of materials
- Rugged and durable
- Huge carrying capacity
- Comfortable for long journeys
- Customisable gear layout
- So much velcro!
- Heavy when empty
- Exterior dimensions: 49.5cm H x 32cm W x 21.8cm D (19.5″ H x 12.6″ W x 8.6″ D)
- Internal dimensions: main storage: 40.1cm H x 30cm W x 15.7cm D (15.8″ x 12″W x 6.2″ D)
- Internal dimensions: unfolded rolltop as extra storage: 30cm H x 30cm W (12″ H x 12″ D)
- Laptop compartment: 36.8cm H x 23.5cm W x 3cm D (14.5″ H x 9.25″ W x 1.2″ D)
- Weight: 2.25 kg (79.4oz)
Build & Appearance
If you asked me to pick a weak point on the Compagnon ‘the backpack’, I couldn’t.
If you asked me to point out an area where the bag is likely to wear out over time, I couldn’t.
If you asked me if this is one of the most rugged camera bags I have ever come across, my answer would be, most definitely!
The Compagnon is made from incredibly durable canvas that covers approximately 70% of the exterior of the bag. This canvas seems to be twice as thick as that used on most other brands, and the stitching is quite heavy-duty to match this.
There appears to also be an inner shell within the lining of the canvas to give the bag strength and shape.
The remainder of the outer shell is made from thick hand-cut leather and again the stitching is heavy-duty. However, the leather is not stiff but is quite soft and has a buttery texture to it.
The leather isn’t just used to highlight elements of the bag for good looks. The leather sections of the bag form essential parts of the structure and wearability of the bag.
The overall shape of the bag is that of a boxy large backpack with a roll-top. Despite its initial boxy appearance, it also has a look of comfort thanks to the selection of materials used.
I think it looks great, and if you’re carrying a large amount of camera gear then you’re doing so in style and comfort.
Upon first appearances the Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 has a fairly minimal outer shell. However, there is far more than initially meets the eye and the detail to engineering and manufacturing is evident in those details.
Starting with the front of the bag, there is a single zippered pocket that runs horizontally about two thirds up towards the top of the bag.
This pocket is a little narrow but is wide and deep and the zipper opening is highlighted with leather tags.
Just above this pocket is the base half of the most impressive main buckle I have ever seen in my life.
The bottom half of the buckle is made from black and gold anodised alloy and is fixed to the bag via a sturdy leather strap.
The other half of the clip is also made from a black alloy and is fixed to an adjustable nylon strap.
This strap and the clip helps to close the roll-top at the top of the bag.
Getting back to that clip, it has a very smooth mechanism that just falls into place when coupled.
Releasing the buckle relies on a pinch and pull gesture. This clip is just one example of what makes the Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 a premium product.
As mentioned, the top of the bag features the roll-top cover.
This roll-top is not just for show as it adds significant volume to the bag when it is fully unrolled. It offers half the original volume of the bag again if you so wish to carry that much additional gear.
The roll-top would be ideal for accommodating your jacket if out on a long walk.
The actual opening of the roll-top features a really clever set of magnets and seams that automatically creates a crease that is pulled shut. This forms a perfectly flat closure on the bag.
The sides of the bag are identical and feature a pair of adjustable nylon straps with hardy alloy buckles to pull them tight.
Each side of the bag also features a small narrow side pocket running vertically with leather accents on the zippers.
The base of the Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 is made from thick leather and wraps up from the base by around 8cm (3″) forming a protective barrier on the sides and front also.
Attached to the base are two more nylon straps again with the same high-quality buckles.
The back of the bag is where the magic happens as the entire back is made from the same butter-soft leather.
This section is padded with channels for breathability and has a dual zipper that runs around the entire section. This way the bag opens up like a clam-shell, but more on that later.
The shoulder pads are again made from that same leather and are thickly padded and fixed to the bag with adjustable nylon straps and more leather fixtures.
The quality of product and manufacturing is really evident here in the straps, stitching and engineering in the alloy fixtures.
The back of ‘the backpack’ 2.0 also features a thick leather carry handle for a quick get-away.
All of the additional straps on the sides and on the base of the bag would allow for a significant amount of additional gear to be carried such as tripods or monopods.
Just inside the roll-top, there is a small zippered pocket with a leather back and a mesh front that would be ideal for small items.
When you unzip the whole back of the bag there is a laptop sleeve that comfortably holds a 13″ MacBook Pro. This section is very padded and has a leather strap with velcro to secure your laptop in place.
On top of the laptop sleeve, there are three leather pockets with mesh fronts that are ideal for holding filters, spare batteries and one that is obviously made to hold memory cards.
The genius behind this section is that each pocket is velcro backed and the entirety of the inside of the bag is velcro attracted. So you can move these pockets to wherever you want inside the bag.
The rest of the interior of the Compagnon “the backpack” 2.0 is a single cavity.
Fortunately, the bag ships with a huge amount of padded velcro dividers so you can divide up this space in whatever way you want.
You can even seal off an entire section of the interior so you have one part for your camera gear and the other for your daily carry items. The choice is yours, once you’ve finished wrestling with all the velcro.
In addition to this, the bag comes with eight leather straps with velcro tips that are meant to help lock down your bits of gear once they’re in their dividers.
Again I like the flexibility but personally I hate velcro and its resistance to my will.
As mentioned earlier, the Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 is a big bag and the large roll-top adds significant extra volume.
Without the camera dividers inside the bag, it would make for a very comfortable weekend bag. This bag would easily hold the same amount as a standard carry-on luggage bag for aeroplane travel.
However, it was not designed for this and to be honest, once you have the velcro inserts in and set up to suit your gear, you’re not going to want to take them out again.
The Compagnon would very comfortably hold a significant amount of your total camera kit. If you were off to a photographic job or opportunity, you wouldn’t have to leave to much back at home.
The bag could comfortably hold two full-frame DSLRs with several primes and larger zooms. Added to this, all of your charging gear, filter kits and all the bits and pieces we deem necessary to fulfil our craft.
Alternatively, you could set up the dividers differently to easily carry a larger drone along with all the spare batteries and gear for that kit.
Check out Compagnon’s smaller version Compagnon ‘the little backpack’ if you’re after something slightly smaller.
To be honest, my own Fujifilm kit would look silly as an example inside this bag as most of my lenses are small primes. Pictured above is a larger kit to give you a better idea!
- Sony A7RIII with battery grip
- Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-56 GM OSS
- Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art
- Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 DG DN Art
- Sigma 35 f/1.2 DG DN Art
- Godox V860IIS
- Apple iPhone X
- Paprika Jumper
Ease of Use/Comfort
As far as backpacks go, Compagnon’s ‘the backpack’ 2.0 is a comfortable all-day bag even when it’s fully loaded. The trick is to make sure that the heavier items are loaded to the bottom of the bag to keep your centre of gravity balanced.
The padded leather back panel feels very comfortable on your back, though I do wonder how this would feel after a full hot day of hiking.
The leather shoulder straps are also extremely comfortable and thanks to the adjustable compression strap you can get this bag to really hug your body.
All of the nylon straps work smoothly in conjunction with the alloy buckles and allow for adjustment and security of any gear you have attached to your bag.
I did find the large roll-top of the bag a little cumbersome to get items out of the top of the bag. However, full credit is due to the brilliant magnet system that seals the roll-top shut.
I mentioned, partly in jest, the need to wrestle with a lot of velcro and this is true. But, once you have a bag like this set up it would be very rare that you would have a need to re-arrange all of your dividers.
It’s not a deal-breaker at all, but perhaps an alternative or even a separate product would be a pre-made camera cube to slide in and out of the bag.
Value for Money
The Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 retails for around $550.
If you consider the volume of quality products and fixtures that have gone into making this bag, plus the quality of hand construction and engineering applied, you start to get an idea of why the bag is priced as it is.
It’s also important to consider that this bag is built to last a lifetime and is the sort of buy-once, buy-right bag.
Plus, it will carry a huge amount of gear in safety and comfort.
Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 Review | Conclusion
All too often we’re advertised products that claim to be premium when in actual fact they are not.
Thankfully, every now and then a product comes along that is exactly what it claims.
The Compagnon ‘the backpack’ 2.0 is a premium hand-crafted camera bag designed with photographers and videographers in mind.
Every inch of this bag is made from quality materials matched with superb construction and application.
The bag has a vast capacity and can manage even the biggest of camera kits thanks to its flexible storage solutions.
What’s more, this bag presents you with a level of luxury and comfort unmatched by most brands.
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