One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with just about every camera bag geared towards women is finding one that offers both comfort and a stylish aesthetic.
It often seems like you have to sacrifice one for the other.
The Jo Totes Bellbrook backpack is different. This is a bag that looks elegant, keeps your gear safe, and is comfortable to wear.
Let’s delve into the full review.
Jo Totes Bellbrook Backpack Specs
- Water-resistant waxed canvas
- Laptop sleeve
- Easy access to gear
- Thinly padded straps
- Canvas material does collect dust and pet hairs
- Turn lock doesn’t stay
- Water-resistant waxed canvas and high-quality leather trim
- Interior fabric: brushed nylon
- Includes insert (approximately 10.75″x 4.25″ x 6″) with two adjustable pads
- Seven padded dividers in two sizes
- Laptop sleeve can accommodate up to a 15-inch computer or notebook
- Backpack base is padded
- Large, zippered pocket in front
- Organization pockets in rear compartment
- Adjustable, padded shoulder straps
- Padded back for comfortable wear
- Turn lock closure in satin brass color
- Size: 15.75” x 12” x 6.25”
Build & Appearance
As far as aesthetics goes, I love the Jo Totes Bellbrook in classic black. It’s of course as timeless as it gets.
The water-resistant waxed canvas is thick and gives the bag a nice texture.
More importantly, it feels durable and you just know it will protect your gear in inclement weather.
The downside I’ve found is that if you have pets (we have lots), fur likes to stick to the material. The fabric does seem to collect dust and other fibers.
Thankfully, it’s an easy fix to remove it.
The exterior of the Bellbrook has two side access zippers which give you easy access to your gear. This is my favorite feature.
There’s also a small front pocket for miscellaneous items.
The bag itself has a zipper to secure your gear, and a front flap that locks into place with a gold latch.
The flap gives the bag a minimal, sleek look. It adds a simple design feature to the bag that I personally find very appealing.
The Jo Totes Bellbrook is softly padded in the inside with brushed nylon. There are several dividers (a total of 7) which means you can customize how you organize your gear.
One of my favorite interior features is the laptop compartment. The backpack can hold a 15-inch laptop – trouble is, I have a 16-inch.
Turns out not to be any trouble at all, as I found that I could still fit my laptop inside the compartment.
Right near the laptop compartment is an organizational section that’s great for storing items like wallet, business cards, or any other such bits and pieces.
Then there’s the most genius feature: the side access to your gear!
Convenience is a huge consideration with any camera bag – especially so when your main subjects are active little children. Moments are fleeting and I often don’t have time to take off my bag and unload all my gear.
With the Bellbrook, if I need to swap out a lens, I can easily do so via the side access.
I prefer a bag that can operate as a purse. The more pockets, the better!
One of my favorite features of the Bellbrook, as I mentioned above, is the laptop case located behind the camera and lens compartment.
Not only is there room for you to store your laptop, there’s also room to hold your purse and wallet items.
The fewer bags I have to take with me out and about, the better. This camera bag is definitely an all-in-one bag.
The main camera and lens compartment of the Jo Totes Bellbrook is nice and large with padded dividers if you need/want them.
I like to carry, on average, about two or three lenses with me. This bag can easily fit two lenses.
The bag has zippered compartments but another wonderful future is the top flap that folds and locks, adding an extra layer of safety.
Ease of Use/Comfort
If I had to name just one quality that’s most important to me with a camera bag, it would be comfort.
I wear my bag everywhere. Out on hikes with my family, running errands in town, travel… you name it.
With that said, I need to have a bag I can wear for long periods of time.
The Jo Totes Bellbrook has two padded straps, and while they are thinly padded it does provide a good level of comfort. The straps are also nice and wide so they don’t dig into your shoulders while carrying a lot of weight.
The Bellbrook also boasts lots of padding on the back, which is a huge plus if you’re like me and wear your bag for long periods of time.
The padding is covered with mesh, making it breathable. It provides great cushioning on my back.
In regards to the size of the bag, it’s just right. I’ve owned several camera bags and often gravitate towards backpacks (again this has to do with comfort and being able to wear the bag for long periods of time).
While large camera backpacks are nice because they can fit a lot of gear, they’re not practical or convenient for me. I find this bag can carry all the gear I need.
Value for Money
At around US$200, I do think the price is fair and comparable to other brands.
With the Bellbrook, you’re getting a classic and stylish-looking backpack in quality weather-resistant canvas.
On top of that, there’s the side access pockets – a feature that sets this bag apart and makes getting to your gear really fast and easy.
Those things combined make the bag great value for money if you consider everything that you’re getting for the price that you pay.
Jo Totes Bellbrook Review | Conclusion
Overall I’m really happy with the Jo Totes Bellbrook. The likes far exceed the dislikes, which are minimal.
The Bellbrook provides all that I want and need in a camera bag.
Its simple and stylish aesthetic is definitely appealing.
I’ve been using this bag for the past couple of months and find the size is wonderful for traveling, comfortable on long hikes and fits all the gear I need.
More importantly, the bag is practical with its laptop compartment and extra pockets.
If you’re looking for a comfortable, high quality, all-in-one camera bag, this is it.
Meg Loeks is a lifestyle and fine art family photographer based in northern Michigan.
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