We live a fairly minimalist lifestyle. When it comes to owning stuff, we truly believe that less is more. The fewer things we own, the less we have to tie us down and, as such, the more flexibility of movement we get to enjoy. But we’re not monks wearing a simple robe and carrying a cloth bag around every day either. We like having practical accessories that make our life more comfortable. One of the things we can’t go without is a good backpack!
During most days on the road, we need to take our daily essentials with us (wallet, documents, phone, keys, bottle of water, etc), as well as the equipment we use to make this blog look nicer from a visual point of view (photo camera, video camera, cables, etc). After researching the different backpacks and camera bags available on the market, we came across a pretty little thing called Vanguard Havana 41, which has now become an integral part of our gear.
The Havana backpack by Vanguard is a hybrid between a camera bag and a good ‘ol backpack. We knew we didn’t want a bag that looked too obviously like a camera bag. We like traveling in places where displaying wealth may not always be a good idea, so we instantly fell for the premise of the Havana, which is extremely discreet, while still doing the job it’s meant to do in an efficient way.
The Havana bags comes in two sizes, 41 and 48. I chose the Havana 41 because limiting the space I have in my bag trains me to be more selective about the stuff I carry during our trips. Once again, less weight equals more freedom! In any case, the Havana 41 is organized in such a well planned manner that one can fit in way more things than you would think possible. There is space for:
- a laptop up to 13”
- a DSLR camera with an attached lens
- a couple of other lenses and / or flash
- a tripod
- 1 bottle of water in the side pocket (or 2 if you don’t have a tripod!)
- bigger items, such as clothes or snacks in the main top compartment
- extra smaller items, divided among 2 zipped front pockets
In my case, I normally pack my laptop, a DSLR camera, a compact video camera, a GoPro, all their respective chargers, accessories and assorted cables. Besides these, I still have space for other basic items like my money, documents, sunglasses case, a bottle of water and a scarf or jacket.
I love the fact that the aesthetics of this bag are rather classic while still looking good. It is very well stitched and looks durable. Personally, I am not a big fan of futuristic bags that scream “I am a tourist carrying around an expensive camera… do you wanna come and get me?!” The Havana 41 is also very comfy to carry around. Both the back and the harness of the bag are well padded and you can easily transport it attached to your carry on luggage during trips.
When you use a Vanguard Havana no one will suspect that this is a camera bag and that you may be handling expensive equipment. At the same time, you will enjoy all the advantages of a well organized camera bag which to me stands out greatly thanks to its super easy to reach front opening camera compartment.
This pouch, along with a divider inserted from the top pocket, split the main space of the camera into two: the front pocket would be reserved for the camera, while the top pocket, reached by the upper zip, works great to store other personal items. But if for some reason you want to organize the space differently, you can remove the divider that is attached to the inside of the backpack with velcro, and re-organize the space in any other way that suits you better.
If it rains, you can take advantage of the inbuilt rain cover that folds up nicely and is stored in one of the front pockets.
For most travelers who are also into photography, but who don’t like to carry around extra weight, this is a beautiful 2 in 1 backpack option. Why would you need a backpack or purse plus a camera bag, when the Vanguard Havana does everything you need?!