Brenthaven BX2 Camera Backpack: Nice Bag, But Too Baggy

It seems a new bag company pops up every week to court the crowded world of products for camera-wielding creative types. Brenthaven has been making laptop bags and luggage since the 1980s, but the name might not be extremely familiar in the realm of camera gear. We gave its BX2 backpack two weeks to show how well it can haul some gear.

What Is It?

Brenthaven's BX2 is a medium-sized backpack designed to fit a DSLR camera, lenses, accessories and a 15-inch laptop.

Who's It For?

Anyone looking for a camera backpack that looks good without trying too hard.

Design

The BX2 Looks terrific. No loud colours, no giant logos. Medium-grey, clean lines and a comfortable overall shape. The compartments are large, unencumbered and distinct.

Using It

You know -- zippers, pouches. It's a backpack. It's deep enough for a pro DSLR body and a few lenses. Access your camera body either on top or through the side without taking your bag off your back. You can strap a small tripod to the side or wrap the bag in a surprisingly easy-to-use included rain cover.

The Best Part

The simplicity. Bags are often mazes of straps, pockets, buckles and zippers. The BX2 has a pared-down design you never have to think about how to use.

Tragic Flaw

The storage compartments. The sections lose their shape. The giant compartment that houses your camera body leaves empty space on all sides, even with a large camera like the Canon EOS 1DX. Reconfiguring the Velcro sections could never make things snug. You open the bag to find the camera and lenses in awkward positions.

This Is Weird...

The BX2 features a tethered LED light for "low light conditions".

Test Notes

  • Some of the zippers aren't so smooth. You sometimes need a second hand on the bag for some resistance to aid the zip.
  • It has a decent amount of storage for non-camera gear, including a well-placed laptop compartment.
  • The abrasion-resistant surface has a really soft, inviting, tactile feel that trumps the stiff ballistic nylon often used on camera bags.
  • Brenthaven makes much ado about the ruggedness of its bags, with abrasion-resistant and water-resistant exteriors, and "Xtreme Protection" foam. We didn't belt-sand the BX2 or toss it off a cliff, but it seems as rugged as advertised.
  • A major contributing factor to the problems with the main camera compartment is that the Velcro is placed on small strips, which severely limits your ability to reshape and customise the layout to fit your particular setup.
  • For side access, the opening is on the right side of the bag. This suits a right-handed person only.
  • The bottom of the bag is durable, but it's not rigid enough. It tips over on flat surfaces.
  • The BX2 could comfortably stow a Canon EOS 7D with an attached lens, two additional lenses, a small hard drive, RODE video mic and other accessories. In the top compartment, we had some Sennheiser headphones and a Zoom H4N audio recorder.

Should You Buy It?

The BX2 is certainly stylish and comfortable, but it just doesn't seem like your gear is being securely stowed. Hold out for a bag that fits your camera just right.

Brenthaven BX2 Backpack • Exterior dimensions: 14 inches (W) x 20 inches (H) x 8 inches (D) • Weight: 1.27kg • Price: $US179.99 + shipping