Finding the elusive “perfect” bag is like a never-ending quest. When it comes to computer bags, I’ve settled on the Waterfield Cargo bags for its convenience and durability. The bags are sturdy and the notebook is easily accessible from the top without having to open up any flaps which makes it really convenient when going through airport security scans, but I wouldn’t call this the “perfect” computer bag. The bag can get a little heavy and with it being a messenger style bag it slings over one shoulders so it can put a lot of weight on that one shoulder. When the notebook is inside there aren’t a whole lot of additional room (maybe the large size is better, but I only have the small and medium) for things other then some books, magazines, or papers, but the outside pocket is pretty roomy for smaller accessories. I wish it had the option where I can carry it on both shoulders like a backpack.
For my camera gear, I bought the Canon bag because I wanted one bag that can be used to organize my gears. For that purpose, it works very well, but my recent trip showed me that it isn’t very practical for plane travel. The bag can be very heavy and bulky and having a baby, backpack and camera bag at the airport just makes traveling difficult. For traveling, I also don’t need to bring everything which means with one bag I’d have to leave some gears out loose when I take the bag.
1455 (click to see larger image) Canon camera bag.
2136 (click to see larger image) Inside of Canon bag with my gear.
So I decided what I need is a combination computer and camera backpack that I can use to carry just the camera gears I need along with a notebook and still have room for magazines to read on the plane, accessories and baby’s emergency supplies. There is a surprisingly few number of camera bags for “everyday” use and combinations of notebook+camera bags are even less. One of the first that I was able to find was the Lowepro Compudaypack. This bag seemed to fit the bill as it is designed to be lightweight and has compartments for both a notebook and camera gear. My initial fear was that it didn’t have much room for anything else. A friend of mine went through the same exercise of looking for a combo bag and he chose the Crumpler Sinking Barge.
The Crumpler looked like just what I was looking for and seemed very spacious even after loaded with the computer and camera gears, but at $180-$190 it isn’t cheap. I was at a local store when I saw it had the Compudaypack and I eagerly checked it out. The bag turned out to be roomier then I expected and it did feel very light. At $80, it is less the half the cost of the Crumpler and you can find it on-line for $50. It became a no brainer to get try the Lowepro first.
The Compudaypack looks pretty much like a normal backpack and is basically a notebook backpack with a compartment underneath to hold the camera gears.
2142 (click to see larger image)
The various padding allows it to keep its form, but I didn’t feel it to be bulky when I put it on my back. The camera compartment is large enough to hold a camera (in my case a Canon EOS 30D with battery grip, eyepiece extender, and a 28-105mm zoom lens attached), a couple of lenses and a flash. It comes with pads so you can rearrange the layout of the compartment to fit your needs.
2139 (click to see larger image) Compartment after I changed the configuration around.
2115 (click to see larger image) Holding my gears.
2118 (click to see larger image) Zipper.
Even with everything inside the compartment, I didn’t feel anything poke against my back when I carried the backpack and the bag still felt pretty light. The gears fit in snuggly and the padding is not bad although I would swing it around or just drop it on a hard surface.
The laptop compartment doesn’t have a strap to hold the notebook although a 17” notebook would probably fit pretty tightly anyway. I tried a 15” IBM Thinkpad and it was a good fit although the Thinkpad has that hand grip on the back that make it a little bigger. The compartment also has a pocket for magazines. Overall the compartment is not that big so the lack of a strap to hold down the computer might be ok since there’s not much room for the notebook to slide around anyway. The compartment is padded on all sides to help keep the notebook safe.
The third compartment is for general stuff and contains a number of pockets to help organize small accessories. The flap has a larger pocket for cables and wires.
2121 (click to see larger image)
2124 (click to see larger image)
The base of the compartment is padded since it is the top of the camera compartment. The front of the backpack has a small compartment for a mp3 player. The shoulder straps are padded and each has a Lowepro Sliplock attachment loop to hook a water bottle, lens case, etc. to.
2133 (Click to see larger image) Notice the loop on the shoulder strap to hook accessories to.
So far I like the Compudaypack. The durability seems good although I need to use it awhile to test it. I guess I should try to take another vacation to really get to use the bag!
The dimensions are: 11.4W x 53D x 5.5H (camera compartment), 12.2W x 1.8D x 15.9H (notebook compartment), 12.6W x 5.5D x 11.4H (top daypack department).