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Manfrotto NX CSC Backpack and Sling V2 test

Posted on Oct 18, 2018

Changed to a smaller camera system? Then it makes sense to rethink how you carry it about. A bag designed for big DSLRs is not going to carry smaller gear as well as one specifically designed for the job. This Manfrotto NX backpack will take a mirrorless body and several lenses, with space for personal bits and bobs, including a laptop up to 15 inches in size.

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The bag is small and light, and doesn’t feel like much of a burden at just under 1kg. In testing, I stowed a Fujifilm X-Pro2 body with XF50-140mm f/2.8, XF18-55mm f/4-5.6 and XF56mm f/1.2 lenses.

The removable camera pod fitted these easily, with space for another lens, but I couldn’t fit the 50-140mm in when mounted, unless it was lengthways; and while the dividers are highly customisable, the longer ones are too short to fit crossways. You could adapt the fit, but it would be less secure. The NX backpack will also take a small drone, like a DJI Mavic Pro.

Access to gear is easy. Though there’s no quick access feature like a side panel, you can swing it around by one strap and get to your gear one handed if required. The rear-opening design offers a measure of protection from thieves, and allows you to put the bag down on its front, so you won’t transfer any muck to your back. There are three inner pockets on the camera compartment flap, all of a good size, but they can’t be sealed.

The top compartment is roomy, and has some internal pockets, though again there are no fastenings on them.

There’s a map pocket on the front and a ‘hidden’ zippered sleeve by the back panel, as well as mesh pockets on the sides, and straps for a tripod. In motion the bag was comfortable, and while there’s no sternum strap or belt, it’s unlikely the bag will be heavy enough to need them.

The synthetic outer is water repellent up to a point, and the zips have storm flaps, but there’s no waterproof pad on the bottom, or all-weather cover, so that would be a good addition if you’re likely to be caught in serious weather.

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Verdict:
A tidy and well-made backpack, ideal for small systems, or even a medium-sized DSLR with an extra lens. The camera compartment gives plenty of protection, and the additional pockets allow plenty of expansion for lunch, extra clothing and so on.

Pros: Light build, rear opening, lots of storage and good protection
Cons: No all weather cover, belt or sternum strap. No sealing for internal pockets

Price £59.95
Colour Blue or grey
External dimensions 28x19x45cm
Internal dimensions 27x18x44cm
Camera compartment dimensions 27x11x20cm
Tablet compartment dimensions 25x2x20cm
Weight 790g

Sling V2:
Here’s another lightweight solution in Manfrotto’s NX range, the NX Sling V2. Like all slings it’s designed to be small, light and provide quick access to gear. It weighs 680g unloaded and so is barely noticeable on the back, and will take a small DSLR or CSC with a lens and two other lenses within its camera insert. The latter sits inside the main compartment and you can fit other items around it, like a folded jacket. There’s also a 13-inch laptop pocket, two zipped inner pockets and a map pocket on the front. I fitted the same kit as above with no problems, plus an iPad 2.

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The insert itself works well. It’s adaptable to a point, with two dividers that can be moved to grip gear, it’s well padded, and has a zippered mesh lid to stop anything falling out. But it doesn’t fill the length of the bag and is held in by a single Velcro strip. Therefore it wallows around as you tip the bag and doesn’t feel as secure as it would if it had more Velcro, or was stitched in. That’s not to say gear was falling out – it stayed protected, but just felt unsteady as I moved.

The zips have an easy action, and storm flaps to help see off rain; water beaded off the synthetic outer in our splash test, but there’s no rain cover or waterproof pad on the bottom.

The back panel is well cushioned, though a little stiff; you can feel a plastic board within it. The Manfrotto logo-shaped contoured padding on the back looks nice, but isn’t much good as an ergonomic fit. The adjustable main strap is thick, well padded, and was reasonably comfortable during a walk. As I’m tall, though, on bringing the bag around to my side the padding ran out and the nylon strap chafed, but I only noticed this when wearing a T-shirt. For women, sling bags can be a problem, as the strap needs to go across the chest. Opinion was split in the office on whether this one was comfortable, so best to try before you buy.

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Verdict:
Sling bags, by design, will fit some people better than others due to the placement and angle of the strap, so each is worth trying to see what’s comfortable for you. This model is well made, a couple of quibbles aside, and gives quick, easy access to gear.

Pros: Gear is well protected, good build quality
Cons: Won’t fit all body shapes, camera compartment felt a little unsteady in transit.

Price £65.95
Colour Blue or grey
External dimensions 25x13x44cm
Internal dimensions 24x12x40cm
Camera compartment dimensions 24.5x10x16cm
Tablet compartment dimensions 25x2x36cm
Weight 680g

As featured in issue 59 of Photography News. 

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