The great thing with writing for Shotkit is that I get to try out camera bags from a lot of brands (and I have somewhat of a bag fetish).
The downside is my camera bag closet already looks like Taylor Swift’s shoe closet, and I’m already on thin ice after I suggested to my wife that her wedding dress was taking up valuable space that could be used for more bags.
My bag fetish aside, occasionally we get sent something that hasn’t been released yet, and that is cool. This is one of those occasions, and it’s for a brand I’ve had my eye on for a long time: Wotancraft, with their newly released Wotancraft Trooper travel camera backpack.
Wotancraft has built a reputation for the high quality and unique styling of their bags. As a result, they have found many brand advocates in the photography community. It’s not hard to see why – their bags are amazing.
As you can imagine, unreleased camera backpack reviews aren’t quite the cloak and dagger stuff like a James Bond film. I tried hanging around at locations photographers frequent hoping I could use the “If I told you, I’d have to kill you” line. Sadly, I had no bites.
The problem with a photography bag that doesn’t look like a photography bag is even when you hang out with photographers, none of them knows you’re wearing a photography bag.
Table of Contents
Wotancraft Nomad 25L Travel Backpack Specs
- 15L padded main compartment (trapezoid bottom)
- Width 10.6″ (27cm) x Depth 5.31″ (13.5cm) x Height 16.54″(42cm)
- Adjustable dividers to fit camera mounted on handheld tripod / GorillaPod
- 5L expandable rolltop, non-padded, Expanded height 7.5″ (19cm)
- Extending from the padded compartment, allowing flexible storage of clothes & travel items
- 13-inch laptop compartment – Can fit a 15-inch Macbook Pro
- 5L frontal storage space, non-padded
- Hidden left & right “wing” pockets 12.6″ x 6.7″ (32 x 17 cm)
- Hidden passport/wallet pockets (either side)
- Luggage handlebar slot (centre back)
- Molle strap loops
- Left & right shoulder strap: 4 vertical loops at each side
- Left opening lid: 8 vertical loops
- Right opening lid: 3 vertical loops
- Chest strap (sternum strap)
- Weight ± 3.75 pounds (1.7 kg)
- Available in Charcoal Black Canvas or Olive Green
Build & Appearance
Many brands make camera bags that all look like they rolled out of the same factory with the same designer. As a result, there are a large portion of bags on the market where you could just swap the logo, and nobody would notice the difference.
Wotancraft has done a great job of differentiating themselves. They produce a mix of styles with several following the military / apocalyptic style.
While the styling on the Wotancraft Nomad won’t be to everyone’s liking, it’s important to remember that it’s a travel backpack. That means you don’t want the bag to stand out and you don’t want it to look like a camera bag.
I think this bag achieves that successfully. Photography gear is always a high risk in public, even in the safe confines of a first world country.
With a travel backpack you want something to blend in, and this certainly achieves that.
The Wotancraft Nomad backpack is made from a lightweight Cordura material that Wotancraft claim is unique and five times stronger than waxed cotton.
It’s designed to make this bag as light as possible, while still maintaining good quality construction and durability – similar to the Wotancraft Pilot backpack.
While I can’t personally vouch for the longevity of the bag, I can say the quality of craftsmanship is on everything you see with the bag, and many elements you don’t see. A lot of thought has gone into the Nomad.
It’s visible in the durability of stitching, or many cases stitched and glued for added strength.
It’s the quality of the fixtures on the bag, including the leather loops on the zips only where appropriate.
It’s the back padding that is unique, a high-density foam ladder frame to ensure you get full ventilation if you are walking for hours.
There aren’t many things to point your finger at in terms of improvements. The camouflage print may not appeal to everyone, but Wotancraft also offer a charcoal black version which has a more commercial look.
Wotancraft also offer a 15L version which may be more suited to smaller mirrorless systems like Fujifilm.
Wotancraft has hidden many of the external features on the bag using side flaps that attach with magnets. This ensures they remain flat against the bag when not in use. This seems to be a tried and tested approached they use across several bags in their line.
These side flaps also offer additional storage, so they’ve tried to make the bag lines clean while ensuring its feature-rich.
The Wotancraft Nomad backpack is the kind of bag that you need to spend 10 minutes to really work out. You lift a flap and say “nice, bottle holder”, only to go back and realise that there is a passport compartment subtly hidden behind the bottle holder that you didn’t see.
As a backpack, you have the conventional back straps along with a carry handle the top and side of the bag, which is useful for handling.
Wotancraft has also provided waist and sternum straps. I only use them occasionally outside of travel, so it’s great that Wotancraft provided quick and easy ways of removing them.
The waist straps also include a small zipped storage area suitable for coins or cards. I noticed with the waist straps that one attaches from the bottom and one from the top.
I’m not sure if this puts that waist strap on the one side at high risk of being lost so it might be something purely cosmetic.
I like the hidden bag carrier loop in the middle of the backpack so you can attach the bag to a rolling bag.
This is missing from the vast majority of camera backpacks, and it’s great to see someone finally come up with a simple way of including it.
Finally, if the storage isn’t sufficient, there are numerous strap loops all over the bag for attaching additional objects.
Access to the camera section is available from the top of the bag or either side. While you will have access to the camera body from all three, you will only have lens access via the side access points.
The camera dividers are of high quality and provide more than enough protection.
In conjunction with the dividers, Wotancraft have provided what seems to be a metal frame inside the padding to protect the camera compartment from heavy knocks.
I think having some form of removable divider for the top access would have been helpful, as there are occasions I want to put something in without worrying about it going into the camera compartment.
Under the side flaps set way at the back, you’ll find one zip-up hidden compartment on either side. These are suitable for wallets and passports, with one being set with storage behind the water bottle.
The top access point on the Nomad is a roll-top ensuring that you can expand the volume, which will be necessary for travelers who need adjustable capacity at various life-cycles of their journey.
For landscape photographers, you’ll be happy to see a tripod attachment. It’s a rubberized wrap-around flap that attaches to the leg/s and clips onto the side, rear or front.
Having front storage for a tripod may seem like an odd location; however, it is relevant for travel users who attach a gimbal on a monopod at the front.
It’s also worth mentioning at this point that the Wotancraft Nomad has actually been designed for vloggers, who usually need quick access to gimbals and selfie-sticks, often with an action or compact camera already attached.
When designing this bag, it’s clear that Wotancraft tried to allow for maximisation of space for travel but still focused on a minimalistic look, which is difficult to achieve.
As a camera bag, let’s start with the camera capacity. The capacity of this bag is on the large size at 30L. The specs say a body and five lenses so let’s look at what that means.
In a default configuration, You have a camera section (including camera and lens), and space for four additional lenses. The camera section is large enough for a full-frame camera and mid-size lens.
It’s big enough for a gripped camera, but the opening is tight with a gripped camera unless you remove one row of lenses. If you want to keep both rows of lenses, stay with an un-gripped camera.
The lens compartments are large enough for mid-size full-frame lenses. Smaller lenses like the Batis 85mm f/1.8 are dwarfed by the compartment.
The compartment is configurable in many ways. A lens row can be removed or the split between lenses modified to accommodate one big lens, two mid-size lenses, or one big and one small lens.
My default configuration came with the dividers set off-centre which I like. It leaves you with larger lenses (like the Sigma 35mm f/1.2) on one side and smaller lenses (like the 55mm f/1.8) on the other side. With it set up this way, you’re more like to know which side to fetch lenses from.
The benefit of this bag really comes from the roll-up top which allows you to extend storage when you need to. I could add 2 pairs of pants, a jumper and two t-shirts without impacting my camera storage.
Ease of Use/Comfort
For a bag with this much expandable capacity, the weight is extremely light (1.7kg’s), but doesn’t compromise on comfort or quality, which is an outstanding achievement in itself.
When I test a bag like this, I like to fill it to capacity with pro glass and see how long it takes before you start feeling the load. I expected a little more from a camera bag as opposed to a camera bad. People refer to a bag as a travel bag for the simple reason that travel bags tend to be loaded up, all the time.
The back straps are thick and wide, offering excellent levels of comfort for heavier loads. The back padding uses a unique design that incorporates a ladder frame to allow for airflow while you are wearing it. It’s one of the best designs I’ve seen to date.
Wotancraft has thought hard about usability with this bag. The back straps’ adjustments have loops to make it easy to get a thumb in and tighten it.
Accessing the camera section of the bag while it’s at your side is a little challenging as the camera compartment is sloped. While it can fit a gripped camera, getting it in and out is going to be difficult if you use the side access.
Value for Money
Priced at around $300, it comes as no surprise that Wotancraft is targeted at the premium end of the market.
While pricing may be on the high end, it’s reasonable for the high quality of the bag.
Put simply, you get what you pay for. For some potential buyers, that might be out of reach, but for those who are prepared to pay the asking price, you will be rewarded with a robust, stylish and highly usable camera backpack that is like no other.
Wotancraft Nomad Travel Backpack Review | Conclusion
I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to review my first Wotancraft, and to be honest, it has lived up to the hype. Simply put, the Nomad is a fantastic camera backpack.
With so many bags, you’re left thinking “this is awesome, but if only…”. With this particular bag, there are very few cons that stand out, and many of them are so minor, they’re likely to be subjective issues.
I think one of the impressive outcomes is that Wotancraft has managed to combine a travel backpack with a broad set of features into a simple clean system that disguises the real purpose, and that is extremely difficult to achieve.
As a premium manufacturer, no doubt the premium price is going to come into play for potential buyers. Ultimately, that comes down to the target market and quality you are getting.
If you want a travel bag and this is in your budget, just get it. You won’t be disappointed.