Friday, July 06, 2018

Gear Closet: NYA-EVO Fjord 36 Photography Backpack Review

As a frequent traveler who often needs to bring a lot of camera gear with him on his adventures, finding the right backpack for a trip can be a real challenge. My natural inclination is to always go light and fast, carrying as little as possible. But since I need to capture photos of my journey to share in my stories later, bringing heavy camera gear works counter to those instincts. Lugging around a camera body, a couple of lenses, extra batteries, a charger, and possibly even a drone can really slow you down, particularly if you don't have the proper bag to carry all of that equipment – not to mention your laptop, tablet, water, food, snacks, and other gear you need to survive on the go. After years of searching however, I think I may have found exactly what I've been looking for at last in the form to the new Fjord 36 from a company called NYA-EVO.

What separates the Fjord 36 from most other camera packs that I've tested over the years is that it was truly built from the ground up with adventurer photographers in mind. The bag is the result of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $30,000 to get the backpack into production. Now, the Fjord 36 is available to purchase, along with some very handy accessories.

After using the pack on a few recent travels, it is easy to see why it was so appealing to the active photographer. For starters, it is made of very durable fabrics that are water resistant and pair nicely with high quality zippers to keep all but the worst downpours from soaking the interior of the bag. Should a monsoon hit while on the trail however, a built-in rainfly will is ready to pick up the slack. The pack also features 36 liters of total storage space, making it easy to fill-up with all of your important gear for an adventure, whether that is camera equipment or anything else you want to carry with you. In fact, the Fjord is a fantastic daypack for just about any outdoor adventure where extra gear is needed, whether you're using it as camera bag or not.

As you would expect, the Fjord 36 is hydration ready and comes with a variety of external attachment points. Naturally, these are great for carrying a tripod, but they actually work equally well for trekking poles, backcountry skis, climbing rope, or just about anything else you need to carry with you. There is even a dedicated loop for attaching a helmet, as well as ice axes, avalanche probes, and more. This is the level of versatility that you don't find in just any type of backpack and it is a welcome addition to be sure.

No less care was taken with the organizing the internal storage options for the backpack either. Inside you'll find space for a 15" laptop, a tablet, and other devices. The designers and NYA-EVO also have included a document pocket for passports and travel papers, a secure valuables pocket for smartphones and other important items, and even a memory card pocket for keeping your extra cards safe and organized too. Hipbelt pouches keep other important items close at hand at all times, while a handy compartment separator helps to keep the camera equipment separated from the other adventure gear in terms of keeping everything well organized.

One of my favorite features on backpacks that I've been testing lately is back panel access to the interior of the bag. This really makes it easy to locate and remove important items that may be at the bottom or middle of the pack without needing to sort through everything else. Did you accentually bury your rain jacket under a bunch of other gear? No problem, you can still get to it quickly and easily. This convenient feature is fond on the Fjord 36 too, making your life easier whether you're just out for a hike or need to access your photography equipment.

When designing the Fjord, the team at NYA-EVO knew they wanted to make the most versatile camera bag ever. To that end, they also offer a series of different sized "removable camera inserts" (RCI) that allow photographers to design their own organizational system using Velcro-backed dividers, creating a system that works specifically for their needs. For instance, you can create spaces for your different camera bodies, lenses, or even a small drone, then simply place the RCI into the interior of the backpack when needed. This keeps all of the camera gear well organized at all times, allowing the photographer to function more efficiently while in the field. And when the camera gear isn't needed, you simply pull the RCI out and leave it behind.

The RCI's come in three sizes – small ($79), medium ($99), and large ($119) – and each is designed to integrated directly with the pack. These extra-padded, easy to use organizational sub-packs are incredibly useful for staying organized while on the go and can even be accessed through the back panel of the pack without having to take it off. Simply keep the hipbelt locked in place, slide the shoulder straps off, and spin the bag around to retrieve what you need.

Everything about the Fjord 36 screams quality. I've already mentioned the durable fabrics, but all of the straps, buckles, and zippers are really impressive too. These features help to carry a heavy load more comfortably as well, making it easy for the wearer to adjust to fit their own body. Chances are, you'll forget you're wearing a photography-specific pack at all, even when it is filled to the brim with gear.

But that's the whole point of this backpack. It is an adventure bag first and foremost, built for use in the outdoors and with active adventures in mind. It also just so happens to be a top-notch way to carry your camera, video equipment, laptop, drone, and other important electronics too. For mobile professionals, dedicated photographers, and frequent travelers alike, this is pretty much the Holy Grail of camera bags in my opinion.

Priced at $279, the Fjord 36 is an investment for those just looking for a spacious, well featured daypack. Obviously, for those individuals there are other options that cost less and are smaller and lighter. That said, this pack serves as a great daypack in its own right and is worth consideration on those merits alone, particularly if you use it as your main travel bag, carrying everything you need to take with you. But for photographers, it is hard to deny just how impressive this bag truly is. If you've been looking for a good option for hauling all of your precious equipment with you on demanding excursions, this is certainly the best option I've ever tested.

Find out more and order your own on the NYA-EVO website.

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