Wotancraft “New City Explorer” Scout Camera Messenger Bag Review
Wotancraft's latest Scout camera bag is durable, practical, and comes in a cool vintage-inspired distressed design. Read our full review.
There have been a few landmark moments in my life: meeting my wife and woman of my dreams, the birth of my kids, the Bulldogs’ grand final victory in 2016 (it’s an Australian thing), and my first Wotancraft bag.
Okay, the last one may be an exaggeration, even for a camera bag fanatic like myself. What I’m trying to say is that Wotancraft bags are the kind of bags that you remember. They’re premium camera bags, and those who have them, love them.
It’s been a while since I last reviewed a Wotancraft bag, but I have the latest Wotancraft Scout in my hands and an opportunity to put my thoughts on paper. It’s a bag that Wotancraft calls the “New City Explorer” – a messenger-style camera/laptop bag, and version 3 of the original Scout that was released ten years ago.
Super-durable, stylish, and offering easy access to your gear, this is a versatile messenger you can use every day.
Backpacks are more commonplace for photographers, but I’m still a huge fan of camera messengers. They force you to go lighter than usual.
If you’ve ever gone out for a photo session and discovered you didn’t use most of the gear you brought along, that’s the situation I’m talking about.
A messenger doesn’t offer you that luxury of carrying camera gear just in case you need it. Instead, it forces you to think about what you want to photograph and how you intend on doing it before you venture out.
So, if the idea of trading in your backpack for a messenger or adding a messenger to your bag collection seems like a good idea, read on.
Wotancraft Scout Specs
- Quality of construction and material
- Light weight
- Customisation with internal modules
- No tripod holder
- No water bottle holder
- Internal pouches not included
- Capacity: 9L
- Exterior: 35 x 27 x 12cm (W x H x D)
- Main Compartment: 34 x 24.5 x 11cm (W x H x D)
- Laptop Compartment: 32 x 24cm (W x H)
- Front Pockets x 2: 12.5 x 16 x 2cm (W x H x D)
- Back Zipper Pocket: 30 x 16.5cm (W x H)
- Luggage Strap Opening: 21cm
- Weight: 1250g
- Content: Scout Bag x 1
- Shoulder Strap + Padding x 1
- Divider (L) x 1
- Divider with Lid (L) x 2
Build & Appearance
Like everything else from Wotancraft, the Scout camera bag incorporates a design with a WWII vintage aesthetic.
However, anyone who has owned or used a Wotancraft will know that whilst the bags are vintage, the quality and materials are anything but.
The Wotancraft Scout is available in either olive green or charcoal black Cordura 500D with leather accents. The charcoal black has black leather accents, while the olive green has brown leather.
The original Wotancraft Scout was waxed canvas. Wotancraft upgraded it to Cordura with V2 (in around 2014), so there was no need to upgrade the material with this model. That said, it’s still lighter than the model it supersedes.
The Wotancraft Scout is a good-looking bag, aesthetically speaking. I like that the aesthetics of the brand are unique and unmistakenly Wotancraft.
Wotancraft maintains the purist approach, which is refreshing. Black is more suited to an everyday carry bag (EDC) for work, but both colours look equally good.
Your Wotancraft experience typically starts with an unbagging, as Wotancraft supplies their bags in a lovely cotton bag that is great for protection while in storage.
Although I’m not 100% sure why, the Wotancraft Scout feels a little lighter than it is. Wotancraft lists a weight of 1.25 kg without dividers, but the bag feels substantially lighter than the ONA Prince leather edition, which supposedly only weighs 150 grams more.
The quality of the material and construction on the Wotancraft Scout is outstanding, as you would expect in a premium bag. I inspected it in a fair amount of detail, and it’s hard to find anything to nitpick.
Everything from the studs used, to the buckles, leather quality, and padding on the bag is simply impeccable and ties in nicely with the bag’s aesthetics.
The studs have a distressed quality that matches the metals and the leather.
The exterior lines of the Scout are clean, but I think that suits the style of the bag.
The Wotancraft Scout is an everyday bag more than a dedicated photography bag. As a result, some things you would take for granted on a full-time photography bag don’t exist on the Wotancraft.
It’s missing a tripod holder; however, it’s not mandatory on an everyday bag as many users won’t need it. I had one on my previous everyday bag and it’s never been used.
A large flap protects the camera bag from the elements and makes it harder for prying hands to access the contents. It covers all access points, except for a small rear pocket typically positioned against the body.
The flaps have a unique loop closure design that makes them easy to lock without putting pressure on the bag’s contents. I like the design and wish more bags incorporated it. The 40-degree front opening makes it easier to spot, access and store your gear in the main compartment.
On the rear of the bag, there is a zippered pocket. It offers an easy access point suited to passports or other items that require fast access. Wotancraft indicates it is large enough for a 9.7″ iPad.
You’ll find two external pockets on the front, which have the same style of closures as the main flap. They are sizeable and would fit an LED light but not a full-sized Speedlight like a Godox V860. (The Godox V860 fits in the pocket, but you can’t close the flap.)
Neither of the pockets has any pen holders or the myriad of other pockets and hooks that some camera bags include. I can’t imagine this is a showstopper for anyone, but it’s worth noting in case it is.
The front pockets follow the same finger loop closure design as the flap.
The Scout camera bag has a carry handle, although I would class this as only suited to short-term carrying. It is padded but not extensively, nor is it ergonomically shaped. As a result, it’s not suitable for extended periods.
There is no water bottle pocket, which might be a deal-breaker for some. However, Wotancraft has included a loop under one of the shoulder strap attachment points, which will allow a water bottle to be attached.
The interior of the Wotancraft Scout is light on features simply due to the minimalist style of the bag. There is a laptop section that will fit a 13″ Macbook Pro or other 13″ laptops. The laptop area is padded sufficiently to protect the laptop from knocks.
Aside from that, you also have the interior camera equipment area. Unlike some previous Wotancraft camera bags, this is not a separate insert. Instead, the dividers attach directly to the bag itself.
Wotancraft includes three dividers, two of which are folding designs allowing you to stack additional lenses on top.
As mentioned previously, the quality of the dividers is excellent. These have a similar divider style to Shimoda’s – a thinner, high-density foam design. I prefer this over ONA’s style, which frays over time and looks more tattered after extended use.
While the interior may seem bare, it comes into its own when you add internal modules covering everything from cable management to coin pouches. The divider-ready velcro interior uses the same velcro for attaching modules.
Wotancraft provides modules with specific purposes in mind, including modules for managing camera batteries and SD cards, or carrying laptop chargers and cables. There are also pouches for carrying coins or phones.
You can also use the external pockets for organising content, so if you’re carrying something like a laptop charger and mouse, these will fit in the front pockets of the camera bag.
The storage capacity of the Wotancraft Scout is what I would classify as mid-tier for a camera bag of this kind. The bag can hold a pro body and three mid-size pro lenses like an 85mm f/1.4.
If you carry a smaller body and lenses, like an APSC body or f/1.8 lenses, it would be possible to take five lenses if you stack them, although I wouldn’t recommend this.
It’ll carry a 13″ laptop, some accessories in the front pockets, and a 10″ iPad in the rear pocket.
Wotancraft says it fits a 10″, but it’s more suited to an iPad Mini than an iPad. If you have a larger than 10″ iPad, it will have to be an iPad or laptop unless you plan on losing the camera section of your bag.
The laptop pocket is tight with a 13″ MacBook Pro or HP Dragonfly, so I don’t think it will fit a 14″ Macbook Pro, but I didn’t have one on hand to test.
Storage isn’t extraordinary from a capacity perspective, but this isn’t a dedicated camera bag; it’s an everyday bag with the ability to carry a camera. Overloading a bag every day will result in long-term discomfort.
Ease of Use/Comfort
The nature of a messenger is that ease of use improves and comfort decreases slightly. Unfortunately, it’s the price you pay for easy access to your gear.
Wotancraft has done a few things to improve the bag’s usability. The loop design of the fasteners on both the bag flap and the front pockets is fantastic. The flap takes a little while for the leather to soften, which is typical for leather.
Wotancraft has also provided an additional laptop access point directly above the laptop pocket. The additional access point ensures users don’t have to unzip the whole compartment and expand the interior to access the laptop compartment.
One feature Wotancraft added with the V3 is a luggage pass-through. It’s an essential feature for an everyday bag if you do airport travel.
From a comfort perspective, the strap is excellent. Padding is soft and comfortable but has sufficient grip to prevent it from sliding around. It won’t match a backpack but it’s great for a camera bag of this type.
When it comes to messengers, there aren’t a lot of alternatives in the same category or quality.
- The ONA Brixton is priced around $50 more for the canvas bag. However, the quality of construction and materials on the Wotancraft is better. The ONA is also more a camera bag than an everyday bag.
- The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is around $50 cheaper. It beats the Wotancraft Scout on features, but the design is more likely to date. I also feel that Wotancraft has far more durable construction and won’t show the same degree of wear and tear.
- The ThinkTank Retrospective 30 V2 is closer in retro aesthetics and around $80 cheaper but doesn’t match the construction or materials, with waxed canvas instead of Cordura. It also falls into being more of a camera bag than an everyday bag. So, this option may be more suited to someone on a tight budget.
Value for Money
They say you get what you pay for, and in the case of the Wotancraft Scout, that is true. The Wotancraft Scout isn’t cheap, but it’s a great quality bag.
With a price of US$299, it’s priced marginally higher than other bags – but it’s not unreasonable. It’s on a par with what I would expect from a good premium bag.
The durability of the bag will see it outliving many other premium camera bags in the same price range and one has to consider this when comparing pricing.
It’s important to note that the internal modules aren’t included in the bag cost. These have to be selected at an added cost.
Wotancraft Scout Review | Conclusion
The Scout isn’t my first adventure with Wotancraft. My Wotancraft Nomad, as an example, is my first choice of a backpack when I am out with camera gear.
Reviewing the Scout also hasn’t changed my view of Wotancraft. Instead, it’s reinforced the perspective that their success is not an accident.
Wotancraft continues to have a strong following because they don’t compromise on their bags’ quality and stay true to their design aesthetics.
This isn’t just my opinion. If you look at Wotancraft camera bag reviews, there are very few negative ones. That in itself should tell you something.
I like that Wotancrafts designs are different. They’re not trying to be anyone except Wotancraft. In a world where imitatin is commonplace, being original is an admirable trait.
Super-durable, stylish, and offering easy access to your gear, this is a versatile messenger you can use every day.