Vanguard alta rise 48 camera bag review
The title of the bag is a bit of a mouthful isn't it!
Up for review we have the Alta rise 48 camera backpack from Vanguard. The Alta Rise 48 is the largest in the range of backpacks, designed to hold two DSLRs, along with 3-5 lenses a flash and smaller accessories.
Vanguard Alta Rise 48 camera backpack
Here's the specs from Vanguard's website:
The ALTA RISE 48 is a backpack that fits a 1-2 Pro DSLRs, 3-5 lenses (up to 24-70mm f/2.8), a flash, accessories, a 15” laptop and it carries a tripod. The unique +6 expansion system will allow you to add 6cm storage width with one simple zipper motion, offering storage for additional tablet, while still keeping gear protected.
- +6 - expand or contract with one simple zipper
- Quick-action - side access in split seconds
- ‘Magic’ pocket – full length, padded internal pocket with easy and discreet external access
- Safe storage - concealed pocket on back panel to secure travel document and wallet
- Comfortable carrying - ergonomic Air System back and harness
- Always protected - well-padded all round
- No fumbling - bright colored interior makes finding things easy
- Well organized - dedicated pockets for all essentials
- Business oriented - holds a 15" laptop and 9.7" tablet
- Stay steady - optimal balance tripod carrying system
- ALTA LINK - Alta Action Tripod Bag (Not Included) connection for ultimate Vanguard ALTA EXPERIENCE
- Keep dry - total coverage rain cover
Organisational skills I don't possess
This image above is a depiction from Vanguard themselves. The other is mine... Not as neat, but I fit everything in!
I was able to fit my Nikon D700 with a battery grip and 70 - 200mm 2.8, my D7000 also with grip and 17 - 50mm 2.8, a separate 50mm 1.8 and another separate 20 - 35mm lens with relative ease. There was still space for my 3 flashes! In all fairness, the 50mm and 20 - 35mm are pretty small lenses, but they could have easily been two different lenses. It can also fit a laptop, tablet and a tripod too.
Fitting all this inside the bag wasn't a problem with hoods removed. I personally always leave lens hoods on and never cap my lenses. I see it as a waste of time. But, I had to reverse the hoods and cap the lenses on my bodies for them to fit. It's probably the first time in around 3 years either lens has been capped!
One of the key features with this camera backpack is it's "+6". I wasn't sure what this was at first.. I thought it was just a random zip. Turn's out, with these zips undone you create an extra 6cm of space. The expanding capability is awesome for cameras with battery grips. My setup had my gripped D7000 on an edge that at first made it a little awkward to close the bag, but +6 fixed that perfectly!
The very top pocket/shelf is huge! Before rearranging everything, I had my 3 flashed sitting on it. For smaller equipment though, it is a little too big and it very quickly becomes cluttered as there isn't too much in the way of small equipment storage pockets. I would have also liked to have seen an extra couple of dividers included with the bag. This would have allowed a little more freedom in creating the perfect bag layout. The included amount was sufficient after I changed my layout preference a few times.
The straps and back panel are chunky as hell! Mesh backing helps prevent sweat on warm days and long walks. An ergonomic waist belt and strap system helps spread the weight of all the gear you're inevitably going to be carrying. I found that even with a full camera bag and tripod, I could comfortably walk around for a good few hours with next to zero fatigue and no 'digging in' or strap burns over the shoulders. The chest strap was a little low for me, but I am short... so...
My favourite feature of this backpack is the side zipper. This large zipper allows users to remove one strap and gives full access to a camera body with lens attached, without completely removing the backpack. With a full bag and tripod though, the offset weight is a little awkward. I imagine this feature really shines on a smaller bag and shooting an event.
I didn't get a chance to test the rain cover out though as we had no rain. A 'throw it under the shower' test would have been a decent test, but I don't think Vanguard would have appreciated it as this was on loan.. But it's an external rain cover, and provided you put them on properly, they're usually perfect.
In conclusion, I really liked this camera backpack. I'm a messenger bag user, so this was a different experience for me. It hasn't converted me, but if I get a backpack bag, this would be the one. It's definitely a comfortable and versatile that can hold a tonne of gear and is perfect for long walks, or hiking. While I'd have liked to have seen a little more storage space for smaller items, the build quality and relative price more than makes this a solid choice for anyone in the market for a new backpack bag.
I have heard back from Vanguard and they sell the velcro dividers separately for a small fee. Also, I've have been told to feel free to test the rain cover in the shower in the future!
With the Alta Rise 48 camera bag, I also got sent an Action 70 tripod bag too. I was going to do separate reviews of them, but the Action 70 shouldn’t really be reviewed as a separate item. It’s purpose/benefit is that Rise, Sky and Fly camera bag users follow the hexagonal Alta link icon and attach the action bags securely to them. The Alta action 70 can be used as a standalone product too however.