Langly Alpha Globetrotter backpack
$249 | Langly.co

Langly's Alpha Globetrotter Backpack.

It seems that nostalgia for classic designs continues to be an obsession in the photography world and beyond. Cameras like the Nikon Df and much of Fujifilm's X Series exemplify this. It's no surprise that this same retro-ism has found its way to camera accessories – a perfect example of this is Langly's Alpha Globetrotter backpack (hereafter referred to as "The Alpha")

The Alpha is a bit like if your average front-loading Lowepro backpack had a baby with a classicly-designed Fjallraven backpack – and this cross-over comes with a high price tag. You can pick Forest Green for $249 or Slate Black with either Brown or Black leather trim options for $269.

Key specifications:

  • Dimensions: 18 x 14 x 8in /45 x 29.5 x 20cm
  • Weight: 4lbs / 1814g
  • Water resistant, TPU-coated canvas exterior
  • Waterproof zippers
  • 15in Laptop Sleeve
  • Gear storage for DSLR body and 3-5 lenses (lens size dependent)
  • 3 exterior pockets with pin-buckle snap closures
  • Tripod holding straps on bottom of bag

Compared to Other Bags

The Alpha's price tag puts it in the same bracket as bags like Peak Design's Everyday Backpack and Mindshift's Backlight and Firstlight. Both of Mindshift's bags carry a good deal more gear and have more of an outdoor focus. Despite Langly's outdoor-focused aesthetic, Mindshift's bags win in this category due to similar levels of weather-resistant materials and a harness design more akin to hiking backpacks, including padded hip straps. That said, neither of Mindshift's bags have very solid compartment sections for everyday items.

Alpha's style is really what's going to separate it from other bags

The Alpha's style is really what's going to separate it from other bags. Classic and retro are the ideas here; if that's not your thing and you like a more technical/futuristic design, then look to Peak Design's Everyday Backpack or Tenba's DNA 15 Backpack. The Peak Design bag is essentially the same price and offers a bit more storage between its side panels and expandable top compartment. Meanwhile the Tenba also has an expandable top compartment, but like the Alpha has a front loading gear compartment and for only $199.

Design and Construction

The lower portion of the bag is the gear storage compartment, the upper portion is for personal items. The Alpha's straps are not as padded as we'd like to see in a premium backpack and hip straps offer no padding.

The Alpha looks a lot like Fjallraven's bags, featuring a single color with a leather-like insignia. Its shape also resembles old hiking backpacks a bit. Make no mistake, it looks good. I actually got a compliment or two on the bag when I was out wearing it. Again, the style is definitely a huge selling point here.

I normally go for black in almost everything, but I enjoyed having something with a solid earth tone like the Alpha's forest green.

The TPU-coated canvas exterior feels sturdy and truly weather-resistant. A flap over the top compartment provides an additional barrier to keep water out, though it feels somewhat redundant. The two main zippers (one for the gear compartment and one for the top compartment) are weatherproof, while all the other pockets are enclosed with a pin-buckle system.

The Alpha's pin-buckles snap and lock into place, securing the flaps they're attached to.

The weather-proofing is definitely welcome but while Langly advertises itself as an outdoor-oriented brand, I'm a bit disappointed by the relatively simple nature of the Alpha's harness system. The shoulder straps are only slightly-padded and the hip straps have no padding at all.

Another odd design choice here is the shoulder straps have plastic buckles you can undo, presumably for the purpose of storing them behind the large velcro strap in the middle of the back of the bag. There isn't really any issue here but it seems weird that the shoulder straps are storable but the hip straps really aren't.

Straps, everywhere.

The Alpha also features straps on the bottom to use as a tripod holder (or to hold a sleeping bag – though I'd be surprised if anyone was taking this on extended hiking adventures). They're definitely useful for their intended function, but with all the other straps for the harness, plus the straps used for the pin-buckles, the Alpha feels way too 'strappy' for my taste. Some people like to have a lot of stuff dangling from their bags and that's fine, but I found it to be distracting and annoying more than anything else.

My basic organization for the gear compartment allowed me to fit a DSLR, four lenses and a flash.

The Alpha includes 6 dividers in 3 different sizes. You likely won't need them all at once.

The gear compartment also feels sturdy and the included dividers do their job. There's not much to note here other than the fact that the dividers don't come installed in any way. If you really like a blank slate to start from you might appreciate this but I definitely prefer to have some kind of organization in place that I can build from, mainly because I found getting the dividers to fit was just kind of a hassle. That said, once they were in there they feel snug and secure.

In use

Despite my gripes with the design of the Alpha, I enjoyed using it. Everything felt secure, the zippers were fairly smooth, and I was able to carry a pretty solid kit plus a book, some snacks, an extra sweater, etc. I was convinced I would hate the pin-buckles but actually found them super satisfying to use and had confidence in their staying locked.

I found the weatherproof zipper plus double pin-buckles for the top compartment flap to be a bit confusing. It works just fine and protects everything but the flap just feels unnecessary. It's made of the same weatherproof material that's underneath, so other than giving the zipper a bit of added protection it's just added weight and bulk.

Comfort-wise, I felt good about wearing this bag for a bit, but I doubt it would be all that fun to lug on a hike

The top flap also makes me think that the top compartment would be expandable, but because of the zipper, it isn't. Granted, it is plenty big for carrying your everyday essentials, so no complaint in terms of size. I'm just hung up on some of these odd design choices that feel counter-intuitive to what Langly seems to be aiming to accomplish with its bags.

The non-expandable side pockets are my least favorite aspect of The Alpha.

Comfort-wise, I felt good about wearing this bag for a bit, but I doubt it would be all that fun to lug on a hike. While Langly is clearly trying to carve out an audience in the outdoor photography community, the Alpha feels pretty lacking when it comes to the sorts of things I'd expect to see in a hiking/shooting backpack.

The only thing about the Alpha I strongly dislike is the design of the side pockets - they're fine for carrying additional items that might not fit in the other compartments. But the flap flops about when using them to carry a water bottle – they're also too snug to fit larger containers like a 32oz Nalgene. I definitely would have preferred an expandable mesh pocket or something similar with a breathable bottom.

Bottom line

To sum up the Alpha in a simple phrase, I'd choose: 'style over substance'. This bag looks great and would feel extremely appropriate in any #PNW #GetOutside #Adventure -tagged Instagram post, but anyone that's spent a lot of time in the outdoors would know that this bag isn't really any better-suited for that sort of thing than most other camera bags. It feels like it was designed for people to look like they spend time outdoors, rather than being designed for anyone to actually spend time shooting the outdoors.

With that said, that's not such a bad thing. If you're into the style, it feels perfectly at home as an everyday shooting backpack to use in the city as well. It's probably not applicable to anyone shooting real professional stuff (photojournalism, sports, weddings, etc) but for engagement sessions out in the park? Sure. Actor head-shots downtown? You bet. If you like the style of this bag and your gear-carrying needs are pretty straightforward, then it will probably suit you well.

If you're into the style, it feels perfectly at home as an everyday shooting backpack for the city

The design flaws here aren't really deal breakers, they just feel like crossed wires in regards to what's important in a bag. Assuming you're okay with ~$250 of 'looks cool' on your back, get it, but I would at least consider some of the other options listed above if you're looking for something of a different style.

What we like:

  • Looks stylish
  • Sturdy and made from solid materials that feel truly weather-resistant
  • Lots of space to pack gear, personal items in main compartments

What we don't:

  • Pricey
  • Minimal padding on shoulder straps
  • No padding on hip straps
  • Redundant design elements lead to bulk
  • No convenient way to carry a water bottle
  • Too many straps dangling about