Remember the last time you came across a camera bag that would tick almost all the boxes? Something that looks classy enough for the streets, yet can also save your precious gear from all kinds of weather when out in the wild.
A bag that’s affordable, practical, lets you keep a 13-inch laptop for post-processing on the go, and that can actually accommodate a travel tripod at the side of its 11L frame.
Most likely it would be something like a MindShift Gear Photocross 13, a popular camera sling bag by Think Tank Photo.
When Think Tank sent me a Photocross 13 bag to try, I was asking myself if there was any reason to carry a huge 40L backpack in the streets of Hanoi – I couldn’t find one.
It was time to try something smaller.
Table of Contents
MindShift Photocross 13 Specs
- Sturdy and weatherproof
- Large number of features for its size
- Folds up compactly – great for carrying as a second bag in a corner of your luggage
- Stylish yet adventure-conscious design and materials
- The interior mesh pockets look messy
- Rain cover comes in a small pouch rather than attached to the bag (meaning I’ll probably lose it)
- The eye-catching wording like ‘Photocross’ on the outside advertises the bag’s valuable contents
9.4” W x 14.2” H x 5.5” D
(24 x 36 x 14 cm)
12.6” W x 17.7” H x 7.1” D
(32 x 45 x 18 cm)
9.1” x 13” x 1”
(23 x 33 x 2.5 cm)
Maximum weight (with all accessories):
2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
Build & Appearance
Something interesting I noted when reading through the official MindShift Photocross 13 specifications was that this bag was designed with adventure photographers in mind.
This means that the bag is made to withstand real punishment under most weather conditions.
When you’re at a stage of your photography life when you start to question what you can carry, then this bag is a good starting point. Do you really need a huge backpack for an outdoor adventure?
This bag has an exterior fabric that’s treated with water-repellent coating and other heavy-duty materials including weather-resistant zippers.
Now, just because you have a perfectly weather-resistant bag doesn’t mean you can treat it poorly. But I did exactly that during the late winter showers in Sydney and I’m happy with the results: the outside of the bag got negligently wet but the interiors stayed perfectly dry.
The back of the Photocross 13 is made of air-mesh which is breathable and supposedly keeps your back cool during long hours. I didn’t bring it out during warmer months – let me wait till summer to see how well it works.
When empty, the Photocross 13 compacts down considerably – which is a good thing as you can just keep the bag in your luggage like it were another pair of trousers and use a larger backpack as carry-on.
Overall, it’s a thoughtful and well-built product.
I tend to like stylish products and I wouldn’t carry something that looks ugly just because it was given to me for free. It’s just my personal preference and I have seen plenty of bad-looking camera bags.
But I would certainly carry the MindShift Photocross 13 in the streets. It looks classy with black and white tones and orange coloured zipper borders, and it serves the intended purpose too.
The bag’s strap runs across your shoulder so you can quickly access it and even change the lens without taking off the bag.
I might try to hide the word ‘Photocross’ at the side of the bag though, as I don’t want to trigger any unwanted interest in the bag’s contents.
The MindShift Photocross 13 has weatherproof zippers and materials so you can take it wherever you like – be it the city or the wild.
If stuck in a downpour just grab the rain cover included in the package for extra protection. I especially liked the bottom waterproof panel as I tend to put my bags down randomly when in a hurry – once almost onto a cow dung in rural India.
Even if I did that with this bag, I can easily clean it without any residue.
The exterior pocket has two dedicated smaller pockets which can hold a couple of square filters or some more round filters depending on the thread size.
Once the bag is loaded you can still store a bunch more accessories. Well, I kept three small Fujifilm lenses after loading the main compartment – that’s kind of extreme but doable.
The zippers of the Photocross 13 are classy and very responsive and I was actually able to lock the bag with the use of two zippers. This will let the thieves struggle a bit until I turn and say Hi!
There are two carrying handles on the side and the top which for me were handy at times – they can stay.
The materials used in the bag are abrasion-resistant. But since it’s a pretty new bag I have no intentions to test this out.
This will leave enough space to keep another longer telephoto lens or another medium-sized lens; or if you don’t really give respect to your gear maybe two medium-sized lenses stacked on top of each other. Such a monster… shoot me.
If you are a DSLR user then you can keep around 3-4 lenses including a telephoto lens and a camera body.
There are around four pads included in the bag which can be used to customise further.
The MindShift Photocross 13 has another well-padded computer section which can hold a 13-inch laptop or a tablet securely. For a bag of this size and purpose I like that laptop component – editing on the go with something like iPad Pro is a real time saver.
Inside the top flap, there is a mesh compartment running along the length of the bag which is divided into two parts by some stitching which is kind of meh!, but still practical to separate memory cards, batteries, etc.
Still, I didn’t quite like the look of it and I fear it will get damaged with frequent use. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit more careful and use of any other materials might have failed the purpose.
And on a positive note, the mesh actually increases the capacity and I can keep around five or six batteries somehow in one pocket.
If you are someone who carries almost all the gear you have and use only 50% of it then just go and buy the MindShift Photocross 13 without over-analysing.
Once purchased, sit and think about which gear you really use, because now you’ve got a smaller bag and you have to use it.
This is something similar to self-prescribing. I did it with my gear and I left on my travels with two mirrorless camera bodies and three lenses. I still had enough space to keep another two lenses and the laptop with all other accessories.
All my other gear items, which I probably use 5%-10% of the time during my trips, either stay at home or within the hotel locker. So far they’ve been nothing more than an additional burden.
Interestingly, the Mindshift Photocross 13 also has straps to attach a tripod, but I haven’t tried these personally as I don’t use smaller traveler sized tripods – not yet anyway.
There is a pocket for a water bottle as well which is very, very important for me. I’m already excited about the number of features that a bag this size can offer.
Ease of Use/Comfort
The MindShift Photocross 13 weighs 1.1kg/2.4 lbs when empty, but when holding it I didn’t feel any discomfort. Considering it goes across the torso I felt the weight was subjectively less.
The strap is easy to handle, particularly when rotating the bag to the front – which will be very frequent given the bag’s intended way of use.
The shoulder strap is pretty wide which makes the bag pretty comfortable, even if you carry it for hours.
I was able to get the camera quickly when needed and also to use the bag as a support to change lenses rather than taking off the bag.
Overall, it’s a very comfortable bag that didn’t make me tired. And being a photographer who notoriously shoots all day with only small meal breaks, I wanted something that wouldn’t tire me out soon into the action.
Value for Money
At around US$130 this bag is, I think, well priced for the number of features it offers.
It’s a stylish and practical bag with ease of access to any gear when needed – which is especially useful during street photography shoots.
The construction of the MindShift Photocross 13 is well-done and considering the element of disguise (i.e., it’s not very obvious as a camera bag), I think I’ll carry it around the busy streets while the ‘obvious’ leather camera bags stay at home.
MindShift Photocross 13 Review | Conclusion
Considering all the features of the MindShift Photocross 13, its easy-portability, and obviously for its style and weather-resistant design, I think I will definitely take it with me for the next tour.
I should be greedy to expect more than what this bag already offers. It’s not without its flaws, but then again what is?