Tamrac Nagano 12L & 16L
These travel backpacks have different designs, but share excellent build, handling and features
TAMRAC’S NEWNAGANO backpack range comes in a 12 and 16 litre version, and we got our hands on both for a test. They’re very different in style. Normally you’d expect bags in a range to simply increase in volume, rather than change shape, but while the Nagano 16L has a pretty regular backpack shape, the 12L is much thinner and taller, with a split compartment, and is almost streamlined, like a cyclist’s pack. Both have body-side opening compartments for security, unlike the previous Nagano line. They’re available in all black or black and charcoal. In its main compartment, Tamrac says the 12L should accept compact DSLRs, CSCs and a number of lenses and accessories, while the 16L also fits full-frame DSLR bodies. In testing, however, I found I could fit a full-frame Nikon D810 into the 12L with a lens mounted by placing it on its side. It was a tight fit though. It’s much easier in the 16L version as there’s a bespoke camera bay at the top of the compartment. You could of course reorder the inner dividers in the 12L, and there are lots of Velcro attachment points, including on the rear of the bag, so the dividers feel secure almost anywhere, unlike some bags where things can get a bit saggy when you deviate from the supply
configuration. I also tried both bags with smaller bodies, including a Fujifilm X-T2, and that was a muchmore comfortable fit in the 12L. The 16L’s greater capacity is handy, but it’s all camera storage and lacks the 12L’s top section. The latter is good, too, coming with dividers for more gear, which can be removed if you want. The bags’ differing sizes alsomean you get a 15in laptop sleeve on the 16L, but only 13in on the 12L. On the 16L the sleeve is on the face of the bag along with some more internal pockets for pads and pens. The sleeve has some decent padding and the laptop is cradled off the bottomof the bag for safety, which is vital, unless it’s fitted with an additional cover. On the 12L, the sleeve is in the compartment door behind pockets, and the opening is sealed by velcro, so if anything it’s even better protected. A common feature to both bags – and others in Tamrac’s range – is transparent pockets on the inner of the bag’s camera compartment door. These really are excellent. Sealed by zips, they let you see exactly what’s in the pocket, and prevent a lot of fumbling about looking for accessories. I’ve got used to opaque bag pockets, but now I wonder why, as these are way better.
On the side of both bags are stretch pockets, and above one of them is strap to attach a tripod. I slung aManfrotto Element travel tripod with ease, so you could definitely fit something larger. But with these being relatively small bags, you’d want to counterbalance a bigger tripod by arranging heavier gear on the opposite side of the bag. There are small loops on the corners of the bags and the shoulder straps for attaching other gear via carabiners or similar. Handling wise, both bags did really well. The both have wide, well padded, adjustable shoulder straps, that proved comfortable during extended use with the bags fully loaded. On the downside, though well made, the waist belts are very thin, and smooth, as
is the grab handle on the 12L. In the case of the belts, that means they slip over clothing, rather than gripping to hold the bag secure, but they do stop backwardmovement. As the bags are small, I think you could remove them to remove trailing straps and not miss out toomuch. The contact points on the bags’ rear are very well padded and had a good, wide airways. All zips run smoothly and have corded pulls. Unlike their design, in terms of materials, the bags are identical. Both have a thick, PU-coated, water- repellent nylon outer, and a proper rubberised base pad if you want to put them down on wet ground, and there’s also a removable all-weather cover included. KS
› Price 12L: £124/16L: £145 › Material Water-repellent fabric, brushed cotton and closed cell foam inner › Weight 1kg /1.2kg › Exterior dimensions (WxHxD) 23x54x17cm/26x44x17cm › Interior dimensions (WxHxD) 21x41x14cm/25x42x14.5cm › Laptop/tablet 13in/15in
› Tripod holder Yes › Sternum strap Yes › Waist belt Yes
Verdict These are really good small- tomedium-sized backpacks. If I had to plump for one, it’d be the 12L,mainly because, on the 16L, when you access gear, the straps need to be folded back to avoid being a nuisance. On the 12L the straps have a bit more clearance, and its tall and thin designmakes it quite good in tight spaces. I’d definitely like to see a 16- or 20-litre version in the style of the 12L, that fitted larger bodies and laptops as well as the 16Ldid.
PROS Great build and handling CONS Waist straps very thin and smooth
ABOVE The 12L has a very usable design with a handy top section
ABOVE The 16L has impressive capacity, including a 15in laptop sleeve
54 Photography News | Issue 71
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