Manfrotto NX Backpack Review: Could this be the perfect travel photography backpack?
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To kick this Manfrotto NX Backpack review off I just want to say that neither myself nor WTP are sponsored by Manfrotto, we aren’t being paid for this review and have never been sent anything for free by Manfrotto in exchange for a review. I bought this backpack with my own money so everything I’m about to say is completely impartial.
A lot of thought has to go into choosing a camera bag for travel photography. More than for other types of photography because not only does it have to protect your camera gear but it also needs to be light, compact, comfortable to carry for long periods of time and airline carry-on compliant.
You’ll also most likely need to be able to carry more than just camera gear in it. Think laptop, water bottle, guide book or a jacket because you won’t be going back to your hotel during the day to pick stuff up. When you’re travelling, once you go out for the day you probably won’t be retuning until that evening.
The Manfrotto NX Backpack gives you the best of both worlds. You get a camera bag capable of keeping your gear safe in its own dedicated compartment, whilst also giving you the flexibility of having three other compartments for general items.
The three compartments for general items are: one small pocket on the front of the bag for things like keys and coins, one large internal compartment (the top half of the inside of the bag) for anything else, and a dedicated laptop sleeve inside that can easily fit a 15-inch laptop.
The dedicated camera compartment has an insert in it which is well padded and comes with two standard dividers giving you a total of three sections within the insert to store your gear in. As the Manfrotto NX is a travel camera bag designed to be compact and also accommodate other items, you are compromising on space for camera gear a little.
Overall the camera insert is well padded and provides as much protection as you’d expect, the fact that it’s at the bottom of the bag really isn’t an issue since the bag is pretty sturdy and everything sits nicely in place and doesn’t bounce around. The items in the compartment above are well supported by the internal divider so they won’t be putting any pressure on your gear below.
If you’re looking to travel with more than three lenses, or with telephoto lenses, then this probably isn’t the bag for you.
What can easily fit in the camera compartment of the Manfrotto NX Backpack:
- 1 DSLR + 2 lenses
- 1 APS-C sized mirrorless camera + 3 lenses (with one attached to the camera body)
- 1 full frame mirrorless camera + 2 lenses
As well as one of the options above, you can also fit all of the below in the camera compartment:
- A filter pouch and filters
- Lens and sensor cleaning equipment
- Extra batteries
- Other small accessories
- A tripod (mounted on the outside of the bag)
Build quality and comfort
As you would expect from a Manfrotto camera bag (or anything from Manfrotto really) the build quality is excellent. The zippers feel solid, the material is thick and water resistant and the camera insert padding feels firm but spongy enough to absorb any bumps and knocks.
The best part about the Manfrotto NX Backpack is the price. You can pick one up for well under $100. In fact, I paid about £45 in the UK which is roughly $60. Considering it’s from a well known brand and the quality is as good as it is, I think that’s a bargain.
The only real downside I’ve found with this backpack, and it’s not a huge deal for me, is the level of comfort it provides. I’ve walked around cities from sunrise to sunset with this bag on my back and after a few hours it can become a little uncomfortable. Especially on a hot day as there is no netting or breathable material on the back or shoulder straps so it can make your back feel a bit clammy. However, those features are normally only present on bags at least twice the price of this one so not a huge complaint really.
Also, it has the longest excess straps I’ve ever seen on any backpack in my life for some reason. You know the bits you pull on to tighten the shoulder straps when it’s on your back? Again, not a big deal you can just tuck them in somewhere or cut them if they really bother you that much. I don’t bother I just let them hang.
I’m not sure why, but it really is like Manfrotto made the bag with the tallest person in the world in mind. Just in case.
Another small negative about the straps is that they are a little loose for my liking. They don’t come loose by themselves, but it really doesn’t take much at all to loosen them. You can do it easily with just your little finger and minimal pressure on the fasteners. I wouldn’t mind them being a little stiffer if I’m being honest.
Ease of use while travelling
The bag can be taken on a plane as your piece of carry-on luggage easily so you don’t have worry about checking-in any of your gear which is probably the most important thing. Your tripod will probably have to be checked-in, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most people.
Additionally, the internal divider that separates the camera compartment from the general compartment can be unzipped and removed. Which means it can be used as a normal daypack if you don’t plan on carrying around any camera equipment.
To sum up this Manfrotto NX Backpack review…
This bag IS for you if:
- You’re looking for a lightweight travel bag which you can also use to carry around general items
- You don’t plan on carrying around a ton of gear
- You need to be able to carry it on a plane as hand luggage
- You’re extremely tall…
This bag ISN’T for you if:
- You have a lot of bulky camera gear
- Have no need to carry around general items in addition to your camera gear
- Plan on carrying around even one long telephoto lens (full frame 70-200mm for example)
For me it’s the perfect travel bag as it covers all of my needs and in general is made out of great quality materials which I’m pretty sure will last for quite a while.
You just need to think about what your own needs are, and if you think this bag covers them then I highly recommend going for it.