Andy Westlake reviews a camera bag by tripod maker Manfrotto

Manfrotto Advanced Befree Messenger at a glance:

  • Messenger bag for camera gear, 15in laptop and personal items
  • Front holder for travel tripod
  • Top zip for easy access to kit
  • Rain cover
  • Website: www.manfrotto.co.uk
  • Price: £99.95

Manfrotto is best known for its tripods, but recently it has taken to producing bags in all shapes and sizes. Its latest design aims to solve a common conundrum: how do you carry a tripod as well as your camera kit and other bits and bobs?

The Advanced Befree Messenger has a unique answer, in the shape of a foldaway compartment that unzips from the front of the bag. It can accommodate tripods with a folded length of up to 12in, held in place by draw-cord enclosures at each end.

On the back is a separate laptop compartment for screen sizes up to 15in, while on the inside is a similar-sized pocket for A4 documents or magazines. Numerous other pockets are dotted around the bag, including a large organiser compartment at the front.

Padded dividers partition the inside of the bag, but can only be attached to one side, as mesh pockets cover the other side. The dividers can be arranged to hold a DSLR with a couple of lenses, and perhaps a flash, in a space that’s 9in tall but only about 6in wide. Another padded circular divider can hold an additional lens or a water bottle, and a zipped opening in the lid gives easy access.

Manfrotto Advanced Befree Messenger – Key features

Securing buckles

Oddly placed clips on either side of the bag secure the lid closed.

Suitcase strap

This can be attached over the handle of a wheeled suitcase and is secured in place by Velcro.

Adjustable webbing strap

This has a sliding buckle to set the length, and a grippy shoulder pad.

Manfrotto Advanced Befree Messenger – Verdict

The Advanced Befree Messenger is cleverly designed and capacious, although the space designed for holding a camera is limited. With no padding between your back and the laptop, it can also be uncomfortable to carry when fully loaded. The quality of finish isn’t quite what I’d expect for the price, either. However, the tripod holder is neat, and there’s plenty of space for your personal items.

SCORE: 4 out of 5

You may also consider:

Vanguard-Veo-37

Vanguard Veo 37

Price: £89.99

Website: www.vanguardworld.co.uk

This neat shoulder bag includes a compartment in the base to hold a travel tripod, with space for camera kit above.

Manfrotto-Unica-V

Manfrotto Unica V

Price: £74.95

Website: www.manfrotto.co.uk

Like the Vanguard Veo 37, this has an internal compartment for a tripod. It can also take a 15in laptop.

Manfrotto-Advanced-backpack

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack

Price: £109.95

Website: www.manfrotto.co.uk

This backpack will take camera kit and a 13in laptop. It also has an external zip-out tripod pocket.