I have been an adventure photographer for over ten years and finding the best camera backpack for the job is tough.
I’m very excited about the release of the updated Shimoda Action X V2 series of backpacks.
Shimoda bags have been my go-to camera backpack since 2017 when I backed their original Kickstarter launch.
After testing the latest women’s specific Shimoda Action X40 V2, I can say that their bags have never been better.
This new backpack is ideal for anyone who wants to carry camera gear on adventures.
Read on for my review and to learn about all the cool new features they have incorporated into this bag!
Table of Contents
Shimoda Action X40 V2 Specs
- Rugged & Durable
- Top Quality
- Thoughtful Design
- Back Panel Access
- Women’s specific design
- Max Capacity 40L for women
- Somewhat Heavy
- Volume: 25, 30, 40 L
- Weight: 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs)
- Weather Tough Coated Abrasion Resistant Ripstop Nylon
- Weatherproof YKK Splashguard Zippers
- Expandable Roll Top
- Chest pockets for Accessories
- Adjustable Torso Length
- Tripod and Water Bottle Side Pockets
- 2 Laptop Sleeves (up to 16″)
- Versatile Side Straps and Helmet Holder
- Rear and Side Access
- Removable Waist Belt
- Durable and Weatherproof Design
Shimoda Mirrorless Medium V2 Core Unit Specs:
- Dimensions: 30cm H x 29 cm W x 13 cm D (11.8″H x 11.4″W x 5.1″D)
- Weight: 0.5kg (1.1 lb)
- Removable Skin or Packing Cell
- Customizable Foam Dividers
Build & Appearance
Build quality and appearance are what first drew me to the Shimoda backpacks.
Their high-quality weather-resistant bags are just what I wanted to carry my camera gear in the backcountry.
The Shimoda Action X V2 has been refined and improved from the original release. It is now fully featured and offers a women-specific version.
Designed for women, the deep teal colorway looks sharp without being too flashy or bright.
It is more interesting than a classic black while also being neutral enough that it doesn’t draw unwanted attention.
Many photographers tend to get everything in black but this color is a lot more fun!
In addition to the fun color, this pack looks the part when it comes to outdoor activities.
It has all the features you need to match almost any outdoor adventure you can think of.
Overall, you can tell how much attention to detail went into the design of this pack and the craftsmanship is top-notch.
Starting with the harness, this pack is very well designed. The adjustable waistbelt can now accommodate smaller waists making it a great option for all sizes.
In addition, an accessory can also be added to extend the waistbelt for larger users.
I really love the design of the women’s specific portions of the harness.
It features air mesh padding for breathability that is incredibly comfortable on long hikes.
The women’s version also has two chest buckles on the shoulder straps that allow you to find a comfortable fit across your upper body.
The customizable torso length allows you to dial in the fit just right and the load lifter straps ensure the weight is well-balanced on your hips.
Version 2 of this pack has several other new features that are nice improvements:
- Luggage handle – pairs well with a typical airport roller bag
- Base handle – great for picking the bag up while the back panel is open
- Removable water bottle/tripod pockets – can also be attached to the waistbelt
- Larger phone pocket on shoulder straps
In addition, it retains some of my favorite features from the previous version (see our review of the Shimoda Action X30):
- Rolltop design – easily expands capacity
- Lots of access points and organizational pockets
- Straps for attaching skis, ice axes, and additional gear
- Weatherproof design
Overall, the exterior features of this pack are very well thought out.
The improvements are welcome and there were no frivolous features added.
The Shimoda Action X40 V2 still performs exceptionally well when it comes to carrying camera gear with the added thoughtfulness of the features described above.
For someone who carries their camera gear into the great outdoors, having back panel access to your camera gear is essential.
When you lay your pack down in the mud or snow, you don’t want to have to get that on your back when you put the bag back on.
All the Shimoda bags feature this style access and it is so helpful!
Once you open the main compartment, you’ll have a large opening that makes the internal camera cube or “core unit.”
This sturdy padded rectangle can be configured in a large variety of ways to allow you to fit all your cameras, lenses, and accessories.
In addition to the main core unit, there are a few other internal features that make this pack stand out.
The Shimoda Action X40 V2 now comes standard with two laptop pockets (both padded) to store up to a 16″ computer.
I really like the pocket on the back panel because I can easily slide my Macbook Pro into it while only partially unzipping the main compartment.
A rain cover is also included inside the internal storage pocket.
This way you’ll never have to wonder if you have your pack cover when there is a heavy downpour.
I personally rarely use the rain cover because the outer fabric is so weatherproof but having it neatly tucked away inside the pack just in case gives me peace of mind.
The latest version of the Shimoda Action X bag also features several internal organizational pockets on the sides and front of the bag.
I especially liked the addition of the small Airtag pocket that is hidden inside the back pocket.
Having an air tag in your bag will give you a little peace of mind while traveling through airports or in more populated areas where theft might be a concern.
I appreciate how the interior of this bag is organized without being overly complicated.
It has just enough pockets to keep my gear stowed without so many that I wonder where I put things.
With several sizes of this bag to choose from, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.
The women-specific version comes in 25, 30, and 40-liter versions, however, the pack Action X line goes up to 70L for those big missions.
The 70L bag is great for people carrying more gear or people with one super telephoto lens.
Wildlife photographers will appreciate the availability of custom camera cubes designed to hold up to a Canon 600mm f/4 L lens.
The 40-liter women’s version that I use holds all of my camera gear and outdoor gear for all my needs.
Even if I am planning a full day out with all my camera gear, I still have room in the expandable rolltop compartment for jackets, food, and other essentials.
When the interior of the bag is full of equipment, I still have the option to strap additional items on the sides of the bag for specific activities.
I will often attach things like skis, rope, and a helmet to the exterior of the pack.
If you are not going as far or mainly carrying camera gear, the 25 or 30-liter bags will likely be plenty of storage for most activities.
I appreciate the options available in the Action X line of bags but hopefully, you don’t need 70 liters worth of storage because that sounds heavy!
Ease of Use/Comfort
Initially, I was drawn to the Shimoda Action X series of bags because they are stylish and functional.
What made me really appreciate the bags was their comfort and ease of use out on adventures.
The Shimoda Action X40 V2 is my fourth bag from Shimoda Designs and I can say it is the most comfortable.
With a women’s specific harness made from air mesh material, it is very comfortable on longer hikes.
The internal frame of the pack transfers the load well and the shoulder straps fit women’s bodies better than other bags I’ve used.
In addition to being very comfortable to carry, having easy access to my camera gear when I get to a location is key.
I love the simplicity of laying the bag down and unzipping the back panel to reveal all my cameras and lenses.
When I’m on the move, I sometimes use a Peak Design Capture Clip on the shoulder strap to keep my camera ready.
However, most of the time, I’m quickly unbuckling the bag and laying it down so I have all my equipment available.
This makes changing lenses or grabbing a second camera body really easy.
Once I’ve finished shooting at a particular location I will zip up the bag and be ready to move in no time.
Because the fabric of this bag is so rugged, I rarely worry about inclement weather.
Overall, this bag is on the heavier side when it comes to camera bags.
This is a tradeoff with the rugged fully featured design.
Camera gear isn’t lightweight so having a heavier bag that keeps my gear safe/accessible is a trade I’m willing to make.
If you want a superlight camera backpack (that doesn’t carry nearly as much camera gear), check out our Alex Strohl x Moment Mountain Light backpack review.
How I Tested the Shimoda Action X V2 Camera Backpack
As I mentioned, the Shimoda Action X bag goes on all my adventure photography shoots: skiing, hiking, climbing, etc.
Although the women’s specific 40L V2 bag is new to me, it is similar to the previous version I’ve been using for several years now.
The old bag shows almost no signs of wear and I expect the new bag to hold up equally well.
So far I’ve tested it on several hiking and ski shoots and it has performed just as I expected: excellent.
With so many backpacks on the market, it can be difficult to choose one that is high quality, functional, and durable.
I assure you the Shimoda Action X40 V2 is all of those things.
Alternatives to the Shimoda Action X40 V2
The camera backpack market is getting increasingly competitive but the Shimoda Action X V2 stands out to me as a leader in the space.
It is fully featured and top-of-the-line.
When compared to the alternatives, it is a clear choice for me. The nearest competitor is likely the bags from F-Stop Gear.
They make a variety of bags with similar features but not as thoughtful of designs.
For example, their back panel access flips down instead of to the side which isn’t as easy to use.
Alternatively, you can look at options from LowePro which are nice but don’t often feature a simple back panel access to all your camera equipment. They are also not as rugged or weatherproof.
The only bag I have tried that I have been using is the Alex Strohl x Moment Mountain Light backpack because of its super light design.
Though to be fair, it doesn’t hold nearly as much camera gear as the Shimoda Action X.
If you have any bags that you think are awesome and can compete with the options from Shimoda Designs, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
The search for the perfect camera bag is ongoing and I’m always excited to try new options.
Value for Money
At around $350, the Shimoda Action X V2 is not cheap. Especially with camera bags, you get what you pay for.
Because I use this bag so often to keep my gear safe, I justify the cost.
Damaging or dropping even one item in my bag would cost me more than this backpack.
Therefore, if it keeps my gear safe, it provides a solid value. In addition, the speed and comfort that it provides out on a shoot are hard to measure.
Being comfortable in the outdoors allows me to focus on the experience and make more compelling images.
If my back hurts from carrying an uncomfortable pack, my mental energy to make the best images possible is diminished.
The other value proposition for this bag is the longevity of its performance. After several years of consistent use, my old Action X backpack is still looking like new!
Lastly, I am proud to support companies that are designing products specifically for women.
So often the photography space is dominated by male influence so it’s nice to see a company catering to women!
What size is the Shimoda Action X Bag?
The Shimoda Action X series of backpacks come in 25, 30, 40, 50, and 70-liter versions. The women’s specific version comes in 25, 30, and 40-liter sizes.
Who owns Shimoda Designs?
Shimoda Designs was founded by Peter Waisnor and Ian Millar in 2017.
When was Shimoda started?
Shimoda Designs launched its first backpack on Kickstarter in 2017 and has launched several other lines of backpacks since the original Explore series.
Shimoda Action X40 V2 Review | Conclusion
As you can tell, I’m very excited about this updated version 2 of the Shimoda Action X series of bags.
The addition of a women-specific design in a custom color is awesome.
It retains all my favorite features and improves on the already high-quality design.
If you’re looking for a camera backpack to take out in the backcountry and keep your gear safe, I highly recommend the Shimoda Designs Action X series.
You won’t regret getting a high-quality backpack when you’re hiking up a mountain in the rain to capture the beautiful sunset landscape.
Your camera gear will be safe and dry and your shoulders will appreciate the high-quality suspension on this pack.
The only thing this pack won’t do is stop your legs from burning on steep ascents, that is up to you and your training plan!
I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment below!