Review: Crumpler Bags Whickey and Cox Backpack

A dream bag for photographer with caveats and big lenses. (September 27th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Crumpler Bags

Price: $200.00 US

The Good

  • Removable computer pocket. Plenty of room for camera gear. Customizable. Well constructed. Water resistant.

The Bad

  • Computer sleeve may be too thin for aluminum portables. You may need an external wheel system with a fully loaded bag. Could use thicker waist strap.

My search for a backpack that can accommodate my computer and camera equipment at the same time may be at an end. Until recently most backpacks were only suited for camera equipment or a computer. If you have a general use digital camera or even a normal film camera, there are many bags to meet your needs. The problem is a foot long 500mm lens is not in most hobbyist's camera gear. My present lens case is a behemoth with tabs that are jerry-rigged onto the outside of a small camera backpack. The pack is divided in half, so that a computer can't fit in it. When Crumpler asked MacNN to take a close look at their bags, I was delighted to find some specialty packs. One of which is perfectly suited for the larger MacBooks and a lot of camera gear.

Unique Features

Crumpler's robust Whickey and Cox backpack has some unique features. First, it opens from the back, not the front, and therefore rests on its face. This feature ensures that a dirty pack stays away from your clothes and body. Although you may have to wrestle the straps to unzip the sturdy zipper, this style better protects your gear from the elements.

One long, removable, custom padded computer pocket runs the length of the bag. This pocket rests against your back, with plenty of padding so that neither you nor the computer is compromised. The sleeve has pockets and is easily removed. Behind the computer case is a netted zippered covering that when peeled away reveals ten partitions. The top curved inside pocket has its own zipper for smaller items. The default partition scheme is perfect for any normal SLR-type camera and multiple lenses. One of this pack's best features is for those of you that you don't have a normal camera set up. The customizing options are endless for any type of equipment. Every thick pocket division is secured with strong Velcro. In fact, the whole inner pocket of the pack is made of brushed nylon that secures Velcro, yet is soft enough to not damage or scratch anything. This is the first bag I've seen that actually fits my camera with the lens attached, plus has enough space for my other big lenses too.

Well Padded, but...

While the netted zipper seems strong enough to keep a lens and whatever else you put in from bouncing into your portable, I still don't shake the bag around too much. I'd feel more secure if the computer case was more rigid. I tend to treat the case carefully when my computer is on board. I don't worry about my camera equipment though, because of the thick padding. The computer case lifts out easily too.

Photographic Field Bag

This is definitely a field bag for the photographer who needs to carry everything in one package. Crumpler makes three models for laptops: Keystone fits 12" laptops, the The Karachi Outpost fits 17" laptops, while The Whickey And Cox cradles the 15" laptops. Prices vary accordingly. They are all made similarly; the outside is 1000D water resistant nylon and the lining is 420D ripstop nylon. A carry handle on top makes moving the bag short distances easy, while the well-padded straps and back pad help ease the load while on your back. I'd like a thicker, better-padded waist strap though. An outside loop holds a monopod nicely, but my tripod won't fit easily. Each bag comes in wheat or gray. There are D-rings to handle miscellaneous paraphernalia, and a couple of external zippered pockets too.

I really like The Whickey and Cox because it is comfortable to wear, but find that it is pretty heavy when fully loaded. The empty bag probably weighs under 8 pounds, but loaded I'm topping almost 30 pounds. I wish it had some kind of roller or wheel system for those longer and heavier hauls. Sports arenas aren't known for locating the photographer's press rooms near the entrance, and the half-mile walk through the Gillette Stadium for NE Revolution games is a bit much for me with a fully loaded bag. I resorted to using a foldable-wheeled contraption to push the bag the distance.

A consultant or two has asked me whether the bag is suitable for a lot of computer accessories, and I have to say, it is not a good choice. The main accessory compartment has one zippered cover for all the dividers, which means cords will jump out and smaller items will slip around. You could add a number of small zippered bags into the mix, but I think other better-designed bags exist for the traveling computer maven. The Whickey and Cox is bests suited for lenses and multiple cameras. Its design helps prevents theft too, because the protected zippers can't be slipped open when it is on your back or on the ground. It also looks more elegant than some of the other excuses for cases I've seen on other photographers' backs.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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