User Review: Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Backpack
|Gura Gear's Kiboko 30L weighs in at only 4 pounds but can accommodate two pro level DSLR bodies and a wide range of lenses and accessories.|
User Review: Gura Gear Kiboko 30L Backpack
- Street price: $429 (US) / €459 (EU) Check Price / Buy Now (link goes to Amazon.com)
Outside of a camera and lens, I'd argue that few things can have as much impact on your photographic travels as your camera bag. And over the years, I've come up with a wish list for the perfect bag. For starters, it needs to be compact and light, yet able to hold a multitude of items in a way that makes each one accessible at a moment's notice. And because I'm often hiking to my destination, it should be comfortable to carry over long distances and be water-resistant.
In my quest for the perfect bag, I've tried most of the big name brands. And while they all touted different features and strengths, I've found many of them to be too bulky and uncomfortable to carry. Another big issue for the locales in which I typically shoot is the amount of dust, dirt and sand that ends up in the bag itself, no matter how careful I am.
Recently though, I had the opportunity to test a bag from a small company you may not be familiar with. The company is Gura Gear. Its founder, Andy Biggs, is himself a wildlife photographer. His background as a seasoned professional shows through in the designs of the Gura Gear bags. They're simple, practical and even ingenious in some respects.
Currently Gura Gear has just three products in its lineup, a shoulder bag and two backpacks. I tested its largest bag the Kiboko 30L backpack. As the name implies, it has a 30 liter volume capacity, which is sufficient to hold just about anything I'd reasonably want to bring on a professional photo expedition.
Upon receiving the Kiboko 30L, I had two conflicting impressions. Its unique design - two separate flaps that open in a butterfly style - immediately won me over (more on their significance in a bit). Yet I must admit that the bag looks quite small and well, cheap.
Fortunately, the Kiboko 30L only looks small. After spending a few weeks using the bag, the word 'compact' seems to be a more suitable description. Indeed, nearly all of the gear I usually pack into my LowePro Trekker 600 – whose footprint is more than twice that of the Kiboko – fits comfortably in the Gura Gear backpack. I can carry two DSLR bodies, 6-8 lenses, filters and the usual bits and pieces. The only point where the bag's two compartment design struggled even a bit was with my Canon 1Ds Mark III with an attached custom L-bracket. It’s a tight fit, but it does go in.
The 'cheap' look that caused initial concern comes down to the use of a highly unusual material for camera bags: sailcloth. High end sailcloth is very light, extremely durable and anything but inexpensive. In my time using the bag it had to endure mud, sand, rock and other unpleasant and sharp surfaces. And the external fabric has come through no worse for the wear. The weight savings you get with this material is an added bonus. The unpacked weight of the Kiboko 30L is only 4 pounds/1.8 kilos which is about half the weight of some competitors' comparably sized offerings. And one actual benefit to a 'cheap-looking' bag is that it doesn't cry out, 'Camera bag! Expensive equipment inside!'.
There are several innovative ideas built into that bag that make a big difference. The rain cover can be retrieved from its compartment and fitted over the bag in seconds (doesn’t sound very sexy, I know, but very important when the need for it suddenly arises). The entire harness can be stowed away, which turns the Kiboko into a handbag with grips on the top and one side. The most ingenious idea however is the butterfly style front flap. The bag is basically divided into two main compartments, each accessible separately.
This means less exposure to the elements for your gear and less dirt, dust and sand in the bag. And the customizable layout of the bag (which comes with a generous supply of Velcro dividers) makes it easy to access any piece of equipment in an instant.
For me, however, all of these features take a back seat to my comfort. Can I carry my gear for hours without ending up with a broken back? The Kiboko 30L is without question the most comfortable backpack I ever used. The bag's compact design coupled with its high quality adjustable harness makes for a great fit and feel.
One glaring omission for me though is the lack of a means to carry a pro level tripod. You can attach a small travel/holiday oriented tripod, but not the more substantial ones a dedicated landscape photographer like me needs to use. At this price - and for the user at which its aimed - I would also like to see security straps (like the ones below) included. It would also be nice to have waterproof seams along the zippers.
|Security straps like the ones shown here are probably not high on most photographers' must-haves lists. But if a zip fails these straps can prevent a major loss of equipment. As such, I would have liked to have seen them included with the Kiboko 30L.|
At a retail price of US$429, the Kiboko 30L is one of the more expensive photo backpacks on the market, but the use of top-grade materials and a five year warranty do help soften the blow. Overall I find the Kiboko 30L to be a fabulous backpack and I highly recommend it to any serious landscape, wildlife or outdoor photographer who travels regularly with a large amount of equipment.
What I like
- Very lightweight
- Comfortable to carry
- Unique 'butterfly' compartment design
- Easy access to equipment
- Compact appearance with impressive capacity
- Retractable harness
- Removable waist belt
What I don't like
- Very expensive
- No harness for pro level tripods
- Lacks waterproofing along zipper seams
- No security straps
Carsten Krieger is a professional landscape and wildlife photographer based in the West of Ireland and author of several books on the Irish landscape and nature. To find out more about his work please visit his website: www.carstenkrieger.com.
|Waffles with fruits by Coolinarka|
from Food photography (desserts)
|Vestrahorn Frozen Reflection by Will B Milner|
from Ice cold
NASA's Juno spacecraft is sending back its first images from Jovean orbit, and they're beautiful. Read more
We got our hands on the first zoom lens available for Fujifim's new digital medium format system. Check out the samples
As summer really gets going over here in the Northern hemisphere, the team at Imaging Resource has put together a list of the best cameras for backpacking.
The Ukrainian Parliament banned statues of Lenin in 2015. Two years later, the monuments no longer adorn public buildings or stand watch over town squares, but they're still there.
If you had to choose one camera to bring along for the ultimate West coast road trip, what would it be? DPR's Sam Spencer choose the X100F. Read more
The a9 boasts impressive capability. As more examples of it in practice pour in, Sony's claims hold up. Watch the a9 track and maintain focus on a rapidly approaching basketball.
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more