Is a classic backpack the ideal choice for carrying a laptop and small camera kit? Nigel Atherton finds out

National-Geograhic-Africa-medium-backack-openNational Geographic Africa medium backpack at a glance:

  • Sturdy backpack made from traditional canvas, leather and brass
  • Room for a DSLR and two lenses plus a laptop
  • Lots of small, hidden pockets for bits and bobs
  • Price: £147
  • Website: www.geographicbags.com

This National Geographic Africa (A5290) backpack is designed for a modest camera kit and 15in laptop, with room for a few other items. The camera section is accessed via a catflap-style opening at the front, hinged at the bottom. Inside, a removable cradle holds your camera with a lens, flanked by two more padded sections for extra lenses, or a lens and flash. The flap itself houses a mesh pocket for your media cards, batteries and so on. Although the camera section is a little smaller than in previous models, I carried a Nikon D700 and two lenses with ease.

The pack’s most distinctive feature is a leather top flap that protects the zips below from the elements and unwelcome fingers. Opening the main section, the laptop compartment is sandwiched between two smaller pockets – one for pens and so on, and a larger one for personal effects that can be detached, enabling the camera section to be accessed from the top. Pockets on the front and sides enable storage of small items, and one of the side pockets conceals a pull-out elasticated mesh pouch. A breathable, padded panel on the back and cushioned shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry when fully laden, and there’s a trolley strap too.

National Geographic Africa medium backpack – key features

Side straps

Adjustable straps down both sides can hold a tripod or be used to expand or contract the interior space.

Pull-out mesh pocket

This pocket remains hidden behind a zip when not required but, when pulled out, can hold a drink or accessory.

Adaptable

The removable camera cradle is fixed in place using Velcro and can hold a mid-sized DSLR and lens with ease.

National-Geographic-Africa-medium-backpack-closedNational Geographic Africa medium backpack – verdict

The NG A5290 improves upon previous backpacks. Noisy Velcro fasteners have been mostly replaced by zips, while the top laptop access makes it more secure. I’ve been using it virtually daily, in all weathers, for the past six months and it still looks and feels like new.

SCORE: 4.5 out of 5

African-Collection-bagThe African Collection

National Geographic bags are aimed at the kind of person who prefers classic materials such as canvas,
brass and leather to lighter, more hi-tech fabrics. The NG A5290 backpack is part of the Africa Collection, which features a brown canvas exterior with brown leather flaps and straps, while the ochre-coloured interior lining is complemented by Massai-inspired accents. A small brass plate on the front carries the iconic yellow rectangle logo. National Geographic’s other bag collections include the grey Walkabout and pale-green Earth Explorer ranges.