Camera backpacks come in all shapes and sizes these days, and it can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to decide what will best suit your needs. The first port of call is to figure out exactly what those needs are and then find something that addresses them.
This reverse-engineering approach is something camera accessory brand Moment has done particularly well of late. They have just launched a collaboration with travel photographer Emmett Sparling and introduced the 35 L Day Chaser Camera Backpack. It’s being billed as “rugged, versatile and extremely comfortable” and “built to hold everything”. I was able to try it out and put it through its paces on my most recent travels through Europe.
First, let’s see what this bag has to offer. At first glance, it’s a very nice piece of luggage. The backpack comes in two color combinations: either plain black or an eye-catching midnight blue with gold trim. It looks like a quality device that hasn’t skimped on features.
The bag is 53 cm (21 inches) in height and 28 cm (13 inches) wide. Empty the bag weighs 2.3 kilograms (5 lb 2 oz), reassuringly enough weight to reassure you that your camera equipment will be well protected. The camera compartment fits 16 liters of clothing and an additional expandable compartment on the top easily fits an additional 14 liters of just about anything you can think of that you might want to bring. There is also a side pocket that fits a medium-sized laptop.
The other unique selling point of this particular bag is that it’s designed to fit “traveling photographers of all shapes and sizes.” The bag uses a military-grade harness design with four adjustment points and should be comfortable for all heights and genders, according to the Kickstarter page.
The bag is made from 500D DWR-impregnated “super rugged” hill fabric with a two-layer waterproof backing. The bag also includes an additional rain cover for particularly inclement weather encounters.
The camera compartment is a classic side access feature. This allows photographers to access their gear without having to remove their backpack. The idea is that you can just slide it around. A flap and double buckles prevent people from unzipping this compartment without the user knowing.
In practice, this side-opening system is quite practical, although I usually end up removing the backpack anyway to access the camera gear.
The compartment is very wide, much larger than I would ever need. It’s also very deep which means you can place your longer lenses vertically. It easily fits two camera bodies plus a few lenses, and likely a small drone or gimbal as well. It’s very well padded and your device feels secure and comfortable. Any knocks or knocks and your gear will be safe from damage in this bag.
Behind the camera compartment is a laptop pocket built into the side. This is designed to fit a mid-sized Mac Book Pro or equivalent. I easily fit my iPad pro and laptop in this compartment. It’s fully protected by the harness and back padding, and yet you can’t feel it when you’re wearing the backpack.
Adding a laptop, although it makes the bag heavier, does not affect the interior space at all. It’s a very clever design, especially since most photographers can’t travel without their laptops these days when traveling and working at the same time.
The top of the bag is divided into 3 separate zippered pocket sections. Each pocket also has small compartments inside which is very useful for keeping things organized. The largest pocket fits 14 liters of extra gear. The Kickstarter page says it should easily fit 2 pairs of pants, 2 tops, underwear and a small toiletry kit. Depending on the size and nature of your clothes, I think this is a viable claim if you pack extremely light.
If you’re going away for a weekend, you can easily get away with just this bag for all your gear. Longer than that and you may want an extra bag or small suitcase. But the concept is solid: put everything you need for a short trip in this bag. It will be cumbersome, but it somehow simplifies everything.
The side pocket easily fits a small tripod or a large water bottle. There’s plenty of room and no sense of forcing anything to fit.
Now, as we know, backpacks need to be comfortable, and I was keen to see how the Daychaser did in this regard and lived up to its claims.
I am 5 feet 5 inches tall. This backpack is quite large on my frame. However, the four different adjustment points on the harness definitely fit well to make it comfortable. Even fully loaded with travel gear, it felt well balanced. However, she needed the waist and chest straps to take the strain off her shoulders.
Of course, this comes down to personal preference, but it was comfortable enough to carry the backpack around the airport all day. Having said that though, if you were to carry this full pack for days on end, it would feel heavy quickly.
My only real complaint about this bag is that the size (height) is only 5cm above the maximum height for European airlines under seat cabin bag restrictions. Bigger than that and you have to pay extra for the overhead bin. As it was, I managed to smuggle the bag onto an Easyjet flight without anyone stopping me. However, it was definitely too big to easily fit under the seat. This may be a consideration for people taking budget flights and trying to keep costs down. You really don’t want to risk your camera gear getting under the plane in the hold if they don’t let you board.
This is an incredibly well-made camera backpack that uses clever design to not only make it comfortable, but also incredibly roomy and versatile. With this bag, you don’t have to choose between taking all the camera equipment you want and other items like extra clothes, laptop, food and drinks.
It is also very good in bad weather. I took it out for a walk in a fairly heavy rain without using the rain cover and everything stayed dry inside. It can survive a typical British summer, that’s high praise indeed!
The day tracker is not small and it is not easy. But if you like to bring everything with you, or need to pack a ton of camera gear with a few extra items and want everything on your back in one bag, this is perfect. Great for digital nomads, the laptop sleeves are a particularly nice touch. Everything feels very secure and nicely padded. I wouldn’t worry about items getting damaged or stolen in this bag.
I would use this backpack primarily for multi-stop trips. It’s perfect for multiple cities or taking a train or flight, as long as you can smuggle it on board without paying hefty fees. It would hold up well in the outdoors, however, if you’re a serious wilderness photographer or doing a multi-day trip, there are better options out there, such as the Strohl Mountain Light Backpack.
But for most travel photographers, this is a very strong and durable backpack that really lives up to its claims of comfort and capacity.
The DayChaser Backpack is available for purchase now starting at $199 on Kickstarter and will begin shipping in January 2023.