WANDRD Fernweh Backpacking Camera Bag Review
Need a big backpack for your hiking/photography adventures? The 50L WANDRD Fernweh offers incredible padding, support, capacity and features. Check the review!
The WANDRD Fernweh 50L backpacking bag is an exciting new adventure bag crafted for folks who like to take a serious amount of gear on their adventures.
Small trips, multi-day expeditions, air travel – this bag’s been designed to do it all…comfortably.
Cavernous 50L capacity with comfortable, adjustable carry system and multiple camera access points. Perfect for adventurers!
As a photographer who does multi-day backpacking trips, I was especially excited to try out the Fernweh.
I’ve yet to find a backpacking camera backpack that works for me when I need to carry a sleeping bag, tent, food, and other camping gear.
How does the WANDRD Fernweh backpacking bag measure up? Let’s take a look!
WANDRD Fernweh Backpacking Bag Specs
- 4 access points (including side!)
- incredibly comfortable
- two sizes + adjustable harness ensures a perfect fit
- dedicated hydration pack sleeve and water tube routing
- waterproof front pocket
- 16″ laptop sleeve
- breatheable back panel
- several different sizes of camera cubes available
- lots of pockets
- lots of clip points, daisy chains, etc.
- strong straps
- removable hip belt
- lifetime guarantee
- no tripod carry built in
- only hip belt pocket access while wearing the bag
- chest strap clips come off too easily
- side access point leaves only one usable side pocket
- straps get in the way when you need to reach something
- Two size options: Small/Medium | Medium/Large
- Exterior Dimensions: 25 x 13.5 x 9.5 Inches | 26 x 13.5 x 9.5 Inches
- Torso Length Range: 14.5-16.5 Inches | 16-18 Inches
- Exterior Materials: 4200 Nylon 5PM 6300 Nylon
- Interior Materials: 2000 Polyester
- Size: 50 Liters
- Weight: 5 lbs/2.2 kg
- Colors: Black or Gobi Tan
Build & Appearance
You can tell that the designers at WANDRD put a lot of time and thought into the design of this pack. It’s really built to last, with consideration given to every single element.
Personally, the Fernweh is probably the most durable camera backpack I’ve ever experienced. Both the exterior material (420D ripstop nylon) and the interior lining (200 D polyester) feel bomb-proof. They also happen to be waterproof.
In fact, the only thing that keeps the entire bag from being billed as waterproof is the lack of seam sealing. (WANDRD sells the rain cover separately.)
The padding – both on the inside and on the outside – is considerable. This is a thick pack. The frame is solid, providing an excellent level of rigidity and helping the bag keep its form.
The zippers have weather-proofing and are quite heavy duty. The handles are heavy-duty as well. (Everything on this pack is heavy duty!)
Overall, the Fernweh is an exquisitely-crafted backpack with attention given to every detail. It will hold up well to any backpacking expedition, and even if it doesn’t, send it back to WANDRD who offer a lifetime guarantee!
As far as appearance is concerned, I gotta say I’m not quite a fan of the two color schemes.
I appreciate that they’re not flashy – I don’t like to pollute the visual scenery of the great outdoors with brightly colored packs – but the flat colors don’t quite do it for me. I’d much prefer a few accents on the black pack or having the pack come in outdoor colors (forest green, desert brown, etc.)
Otherwise, it’s a sleek and good looking pack.
The Ferweh comes chocked full of features, both inside and out.
At first glance the pack seems quite sleek, but don’t be fooled – there are a number of points to attach to and ways to strap gear on the outside.
The one side pocket is huge and can carry a small tripod or large water bottle. It’s sealed against water leakage from the main compartment of the pack and comes complete with a water drain spout at the bottom.
(Below you see it with my Zomei Z699C travel tripod, which almost fits all the way in!)
The side straps are quite thick and strong, making them perfect for side carries. However, as a long exposure photographer, I really wish there was a dedicated tripod carry system on the front of the bag, as the side pocket is prime real estate.
The back panel on the WANDRD Fernweh is super thick, and as such affords incredible comfort and airflow.
With two torso sizes and an adjustable harness, this pack can really fit just about everyone.
The removable hip strap is also seriously padded and nicely contoured. It is however a little bulky and prevents the Fernweh from laying flat on its back, but you can remove it completely if you prefer.
Similarly, the shoulder straps are thickly padded and contoured, with the same design as the back panel for maximizing airflow.
This was super helpful when I took it on treks through the Arizona desert, with my back, shoulder and hips not suffering too much with sweat in the heat.
One thing that’s quite innovative is the front chest strap clip system of the Fernweh – they literally just pop on and off.
If you don’t want to use the chest strap, you can clip both ends on one side of the pack to keep it out of the way. In the photo below you can see all the adjustment points.
One of the coolest things about this pack is the side camera access. It takes the place of the other side pocket.
Here you can see the quality of the material on the outside of the backpack.
Here’s a view of the top-most pocket. There aren’t any connection points on the top of the pack, but this upper pocket is large enough to fit a few things – you could even carry an extra camera in it if you needed.
When fully strapped to your back, the only real access to your gear with the Fernweh while hiking is the rather commodious pocket on the hip belt shown below.
I use it for snacks, maps, my phone and sunglasses as well as for lens cloths. Having these commonly-needed items within quick reach while the backpack is strapped on is great – I wish more backpacks offered something similar.
At the bottom of the pack is a flap that comes out and can wrap around a tent or pad. It lives in a small zippered compartment that also houses the rainfly (sold separately).
As mentioned before, all the straps, attachment points, zippers, and handles are quite heavy duty. This pack looks like it could withstand just about anything!
I really love a number of the interior features of the WANDRD Fernweh.
The front pocket gives quick access when the bag’s on the ground and has a hydration bladder sleeve.
WANDRD is serious about protecting your camera gear from water incursions – any place that might have water is sealed away from the main compartment of the Fernweh and this front pocket is no exception.
There’s also a routing system for your water tube. I know a lot of hikers aren’t into water bladders, but I’m a serious user of them and as such WANDRD’s attention to these details on the Fernweh makes me especially happy!
If you don’t use a water bladder, this front pocket is also great for clothing, especially since it has an elasticated upper, meaning it can expand to house its contents.
There’s also more room for clothing or other soft items on top of the bladder pocket – it’s a great place to stuff in a waterproof jacket, for example.
As mentioned before, the top pocket is another quick gear stash place and is nice and large, with the zipper running end to end to allow for easy hand access.
As far as camera access goes, the Fernweh pack is amazing. You can lay it on its back or front and get into the main compartment. You can also reach the main compartment from the top and the side.
Below you can see what the pack looks like when you open up the back. The camera cube lies at the bottom and lines up with the side access panel. The side access panel is on the top side of the pack in this photo).
Depending on how you organize your gear, you can divide the main compartment into one or two sections.
WANDRD provides what they call a “bucket” compartment – when installed it provides a separate compartment from the camera gear. It’s quite commodious.
Since I go on multi-day trips, I need the two compartments to keep my camping gear separate from the camera cube, and this works really well.
Depending on the size of your camera cube, there’s still a lot of room left for food, clothes, and other hiking necessities.
When you have the pack slung over one shoulder the side access for the camera is really handy!
Of course, I’m not sure how well this would work when fully loaded for a multi-day trip, but it worked fine for single-day trips.
On the front of the back panel is where the laptop sleeve is. It holds up to a 16″ laptop or tablet.
I don’t carry my laptop on backpacking trips, but if you’re planning to use this as a world travel pack this is where it would go.
On the back of the top flap is a large, zippered mesh compartment…critical for gear organization since there aren’t many smaller pockets in the Fernweh.
There’s also a secret compartment behind the lumbar padding which is big enough for a passport or some cash.
It’s a nice touch that WANDRD includes one of these secret pockets on its backpacks for safer travel – you may have seen one before on the hugely popular PRVKE backpack.
Since I tend to go on multi-day backpacking trips I try to keep my camera gear to a minimum.
That being said, long exposure photography has its own needs, as does wildlife and landscape photography. That means I tend to have about 3 lenses with me at any given time plus a number of filters.
Also, living in the Pacific Northwest of the US, rain is a frequent companion of my treks (hence the Storm Jacket).
Here’s what fits in the camera cube:
- Sony A7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm lens
- Sony FE 50 mm lens
- Sony 70-300 mm lens + lens hood
- Peter McKinnon Variable 7-9 ND filter
- Circular Polarizer
- Step-up ring
- WANDRD camera strap
- Storm Jacket
- spare batteries and SD cards (not pictured)
- lens cloth (not pictured)
- lens dust blower
On their website, WANDRD states that the Fernweh Essential+ profile can hold a sleeping bag, tent, camp stove, hiking boots, and hammock.
While I find the Fernweh to be large, I haven’t really been able to fit my sleeping bag, sil tarp (I don’t use a tent on backpacking trips), food for 3 days, stove and necessary layers inside, in addition to the camera cube.
Maybe they were including strapping things to the outside, but I for one don’t like my sleeping bag, food, or clothing on the outside.
To be honest, I found this a bit disappointing. I’m a small person but I keep hoping to find a bag that will hold my camera cube and all I need for a multi-day trip … without having to strap everything on the outside. (It rains where I live, remember?!)
With the camera cube, I can get my sleeping bag, a squishy down-jacket, a rain jacket, my tiny sleeping pad, stove, and my sil tarp inside. No food, water bladder, socks or other clothes, rain gear, etc.
If you’re hiking in an area that’s warm where you don’t need layers or a decent sleeping bag, you might be able to get all that in there.
(The tent and hammock and shoes can easily be fitted to the outside. Also, if you have a larger sleeping pad you don’t mind strapping to the outside.)
Keep in mind that if you strap anything to the sides you can’t access what’s underneath (in this case the camera access point on one side and the tripod on the other).
Fitting all the gear I want for a multi-day backpacking trip into a single backpack is always a puzzle – especially when there are things I definitely want to stay on the inside.
The Ferweh will probably work if I get creative. Until I figure it out though, I’ll probably stick with using my Osprey backpacking pack with a Tenba camera cube – I appreciate having a separate sleeping bag compartment.
Obviously, everyone’s needs are different, and there will be plenty of photographers who choose to use the Fernweh without all the backcountry multi-day hiking peripherals.
I know that Mark, the Shotkit founder, loves using his Fernweh to travel by plane on 2-night trips to Sydney from the Gold Coast to shoot weddings – in this case, he’s only carrying clothes and camera gear, and the backpack works great for that.
It also fits in most airline overhead compartments, although the hip strap can be a bit of a nuisance since it prevents the backpack from laying flat – the best bet is to flip it over the other way or remove the hip strap completely.
Ease of Use/Comfort
The WANDRD Fernweh is amazingly comfortable no matter how you load it up – once you get it adjusted to your body.
You can carry a serious amount of weight with the Fernweh and the load will be perfectly distributed, with your hips comfortably taking the majority. If you travel heavy, this is definitely a pack worth considering.
It takes a while to get used to where everything is and how to get to it, though. And while there aren’t any “danglies” once you’re all together, you definitely have to unlash and unclip things to get to other things.
Other than that, it’s mostly getting used to the Fernweh’s many features and how they work with your own travel system.
I particularly appreciate having a backpack with such comfortably padded shoulder and hip straps, and a back panel that lets the air-flow properly to help prevent having a really hot back.
The ability to adjust the height of the straps (via the clips on the back panel) is intuitive and handy too, ensuring a perfect fit, no matter your body size.
To be honest, there aren’t that many other camera backpacks that match up to the Fernweh for versatility and customizability.
The Mindshift Firstlight 40L and the Mindshift Rotation 180 Pro 38L both have fully adjustable shoulder straps, but they’re much smaller in capacity. (The Ferweh is 50L!)
In the 50L capacity world, there just isn’t really competition to the Fernweh. Other large capacity camera backpacks (i.e. Lowepro’s Whistler or Trekker series) have only one access point and aren’t nearly as adjustable. They also have few features overall.
There are other large backpacks that have both side and back access, but they’re not designed for backpacking and it shows.
The Peak Design 45L Travel backpack, for example, has tiny straps and hip belt – take it on a long weighted hike and you’ll definitely feel it.
Also, those with side access tend to have all the items spill out or lose their form if you open both sides at once.
So yeah, you’ll find some cheaper alternatives to the Fernweh, but none of them will come close to this level of adjustability, capacity, and comfort all at once.
If this pack has what you want, it’s pretty much the only one out there.
Value for Money + Discount Code
At over $400 for the bag only, the Fernweh doesn’t come cheap. That being said, if this bag meets your needs you won’t ever need another one!
It’s solid on both the outside and the inside, and the features – if they work for your setup – really can’t be beaten. Add to that a lifetime warranty and for some photographers, this really could be the one bag that does it all.
Wandrd Fernweh Review | Conclusion
It’s clear that WANDRD designed this bag to carry a lot of gear on long treks…COMFORTABLY!
If you’re a serious adventurer looking for a truly competent camera bag that won’t fail you in the field, this could be the perfect bag for you.
It fits as carry-on on most airlines (depending on the airline and the size of the pack). It’ll hold all the camera gear you need and plenty of trekking gear as well. The build quality is truly at the top of its class and the features are fantastic.
One thing to keep in mind – this is not a light bag. It’s made to carry a serious amount of gear without skimping on comfort. If you’re looking for something ultra-light (or even just light), you’ll probably want to look elsewhere – the Veer is one super-light option if you’re ok with a small 18L packable backpack, for example.
Also, tripod users will need to get a bit creative as to where to stow it, and multi-day backpackers like me will need to be seriously minimalist, but the Fernweh is definitely the best backpacking camera backpack I’ve tried to date.
(I’m still working out how to carry the gear I need with it, but I’m always doing that with my normal system anyway!)
Overall, this bag is one of the best! Definitely worth trying if you carry lots of gear into the outback!
Cavernous 50L capacity combined with comfortable, adjustable carry system and multiple camera access points. Perfect for adventurers!