src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons Review of the Porteen Gear 'Rambler' Bag for Mirrorless Cameras - MirrorLessons - The Best Mirrorless Camera Reviews
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Date: 24/06/2016 | By: Heather

Review of the Porteen Gear ‘Rambler’ Bag for Mirrorless Cameras

porteen gear rambler camera bag-1

Review of the Porteen Gear ‘Rambler’ Bag for Mirrorless Cameras

A couple of years ago, whilst browsing Etsy for handmade photography products, I clearly remember coming across the Porteen Gear store and stopping dead in my tracks. The handsome leather camera bags displayed in the virtual storefront were much more colourful and stylish than other bags I’d seen from the larger manufacturers, and I was compelled to find out more.

It turned out that the Etsy store was only the tip of the iceberg; by visiting the official Porteen Gear website, I discovered that you could actually build your own custom bag using Porteen Gear’s Bag Builder with choices between different leathers, fabrics, wax canvases, and colours.

After exchanging a few emails with artisan and president Robyn Porteen, she kindly agreed to send us a sample of the Compact Camera Bag to review on MirrorLessons. It became my primary bag for my smaller mirrorless camera gear, as well as my everyday carry around bag when I wasn’t shooting, and I still use it to this day.

sony a6000 bag
The Porteen Gear Compact Camera Bag

Today, we’ll be reviewing a prototype of the newest mirrorless product in the Porteen Gear catalog called the Rambler. Robyn was inspired to create the Rambler when she made the migration from Canon to the Fujifilm X-T1. She wanted a bag that she could use to carry around her new mirrorless gear, especially on her astrophotography outings which she plans to chronicle on her upcoming blog, Skies and Coffee.


Design and Ease of Use

Like all the other bags in the collection, the Rambler is handmade in Grand Rapids, MI. There will be 5-8 standard Rambler bags in the series with a tweed colour (currently four but it will expand to six), top leather (black or brown), wax canvas (black or brown), strap (black or brown) and a unique one-of-a-kind distressed leather. Customisation by the customer will be limited to the colour of the interior fabric.

porteen gear

It has a classic design that suits both male and female photographers. I’m glad to see that Robyn went with a unisex design in this case because many of her bags primarily target female photographers.

Measuring 38 x 22 x 19 cm, it is a good size for mirrorless gear if you plan on carrying 3-4 lenses and some accessories, and even if you don’t decide to carry a lot of gear, you can always use the extra space to carry your wallet, phone, or water bottle for example. I’d generally use it for day-long photography outings or studio work because there is lots of room to fit all the essentials.

Porteen-bag-1
The Rambler is good for a full day of shooting with a body and 3-4 lenses

Unlike some other bags I’ve tested, the Rambler keeps its shape regardless of whether or not it is packed with gear and does not roll forward when packed to the brim.

The front flap is divided into three sections: a strip of coloured tweed sandwiched between two high-quality leather layers of differing textures. The lower layer is one of the focal points of the Rambler series; it is made of a unique one-of-a-kind piece of distressed leather. This means that no two bags are exactly the same.

The front flap is made of a unique piece of distressed leather.

At the centre of the main flap is a small flat pocket bearing the Porteen Gear logo. Although I like the easy access this pocket gives you to essential accessories like lens cloths or lens caps, I do find that they have the tendency to slip out when you lift the flap. I’m sure this is something that can be remedied with a tighter closure. (Note: Robyn has since stated that the final version of the pocket will have a small magnet to keep it closed.)

The small pocket on the front flap would be more useful were it tighter
The small pocket on the front flap would be more useful if it were tighter

The rest of the bag comprises a mix of wax canvas for the outer shell, soft material for the interior, and the same tweed used for the front flap. The body of the bag is light yet thickly padded, protecting your gear from bumps. All the materials are well-made, durable, and expertly stitched together. The wax does attract some dust but a quick wipe with a damp cloth is enough to make it disappear.

The bag is well-padded to protect your gear in all conditions.
The bag is well-padded to protect your gear in all conditions.

Around the bag are a number of useful pockets. There is one large flat pocket on the rear for documents, another on the front that closes with a brass zipper, a third internal pocket for a tablet, and three additional flat pockets on the front for other accessories such as pens, lens cloths, memory card holders and more.

The main pocket closes with a brass zip
The main pocket closes with a brass zipper

On my prototype, the internal pocket has a velcro closure but since you cannot close the pocket with a 10” tablet inside, Robyn plans to replace this with a flat velcro strap on the final version to give it more height.

The inner pocket fits a 10-inch tablet
The inner pocket will fit a 10-inch tablet

The only pockets I miss, and hope will be included on the final version, are two on either side of the bag’s exterior. It is here that I often keep accessories that I want to access quickly when I use other bags such as the ThinkTank Lily Deanne.

The sides of the bag could benefit from pockets
The sides of the bag could benefit from pockets

To protect your gear, there are two dust flaps that you fold inward when you close the bag. As the name suggests, these flaps keep dust and water out of the bag’s interior. Overall, they work very well, though I admit I occasionally forget to fold them inside!

The dust flaps do what they claim: they keep dust and moisture out!
The dust flaps do what they claim: they keep dust and moisture out!

The strap is attached to the bag via a brass buckle. It is wide, robust and easy to adjust, and comes with a comfy leather pad that sits nicely on the shoulder without moving around too much.

The strap is long, robust and comes with a comfortable shoulder pad
The strap is long, robust and comes with a comfortable shoulder pad

Moving to the inside of the bag, you’ll notice that Robyn has sewn the two padded dividers to either side of the interior instead of defaulting to the standard velcro dividers that come with most bags. Since they are mobile, you can flatten them against the side of the bag to make more room for larger gear if you wish.

The soft dividers are mobile: you can either use them to store your gear or fold them flat against the walls of the bag
The soft dividers are mobile: you can either use them to store your gear or fold them flat against the walls of the bag

However, because the compartments are quite roomy, I do feel that an extra loose divider or two could be beneficial, especially for those who carry around small primes. Alternatively, a couple of small leather lens bags could be a nice touch.

Finally, we come to the buckle that closes the front flap. I have something of a love-hate relationship with this buckle because although it keeps your gear safe and secure, it isn’t easy to open or close with one hand. The bottom half also makes some noise if you leave the bag unbuckled because it slaps against the base of the bag as you walk.

The buckle is secure but it can bounce around when not locked, creating some noise as you walk
The buckle is secure but it can bounce around when not buckled, creating some noise as you walk

Included with the bag is a nice little pouch you can use to hold business cards and other objects of the same size.

It comes with a small pouch to store business cards or memory cards.
A small pouch to store business cards or memory cards.

How much gear can I carry? A practical example

An example of what you can carry inside the Rambler
An example of what you can carry inside the Rambler

The Rambler is on the large end of the spectrum, meaning that you should be able to fit lots of mirrorless gear with some room to spare for accessories and personal belongings.

Since we own more Micro Four Thirds gear than anything else, this is what I’ll be using for our practical example:

Main Compartment

  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 (professional body) with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO attached
  • M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8
  • M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8
  • Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8

Back Pocket

  • documents

Internal Pocket

  • 10” iPad tablet

Zip Pocket

  • memory cards (inside provided pouch)
  • business cards (inside provided pouch)
  • cleaning cloth

Front Pockets 3x

  • pen
  • batteries

Conclusion

What I love about the Rambler, and Porteen Gear bags in general, is that they are a perfect blend of two creative visions – that of Robyn Porteen herself, who designs the basic template for the bags and hand-crafts them in her studio, and that of the photographer, who is given the freedom to modify the bag’s appearance.

The Rambler may not permit the level of customisation the other bags in the Porteen Gear catalog do, but it remains an excellent product and I have no doubt that it will be one of her best-sellers!

To find out more about the Porteen Gear catalog, be sure to check out the official website.


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About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Heather Broster

    Hi KB, this bag is larger than both the Cooper Slim and Peak Design 13″. You can slide an X-Pro2 in sideways with a lens no longer than the 35mm f/1.4 with the lens hood. (See attached image) As for the green fabric, you can’t attach velcro to it https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1edb7a5b8e5342e7b811942c10c08093d6668ed2e64157b256a916433019ff21.jpg . Hope this helps!

  • kb

    Hi, thanks for the great review. How would you say this compares in size and weight to the Tenba Cooper Slim and Peakdesign 13″? Would a X-Pro2 with the 18-55 or 23mm fit into one of the side compartments (rather than in the middle)? Could you attach velcro hook to the green fabric? I have velrco pockets that I like to stick in my larger bags for additional organisation :)

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