MountainSmith has been making some of the best outdoor gear for quite some time. I’m no stranger to their tents and have used them on numerous occasions. What excited me is when I was asked to review their Borealis camera bag. I’ve been doing photography for years and have never really settled on just one camera bag to rule them all. I think there is always a need for a few different styles to accommodate different requirements. One common denominator that I’ve noticed across the board is that I never really trusted the bags to fully protect my expensive gear from abuse and the elements.
The Borealis bag is born from their Andy Mann signature series. Andy is an incredibly accomplished photographer that has traveled the world for National Geographic and knows a thing or two about how a bag should be designed. Although I don’t have any crazy trips planned to truly test this bag, I did have one trip to New York that required the large majority of my camera gear. So although this bag wasn’t going to Antarctica, it was going to see the trunks of multiple Taxies and even an unexpected trip to the bowels of my plane. Now if anyone flies with any frequency, you’ll know that TSA operates like a savage colony of baboons, throwing bags across tarmacs and stealing contents on a regular basis. So maybe I was going to be able to test the Borealis’ durability.
At first glance, the bag is big. Like 5lbs 10oz big. But there isn’t a single feature that hasn’t been thought out. Chalk full of unique options like a tucked away rain fly, TPU bottom panel and even a hidden pocket inside the laptop zipper where you can place a GPS tracking device like a Tile. It’s these features that set this bag apart right out of the gate. I truly love that the bag sits upright when placed on the ground, and even has an elevated lip at the edge with waterproofing on the bottom so you can lay this bag down in the mud, wet sand or damp grass without having to worry about the contents getting soaked.
The camera organizer is large enough for a full-on professional setup with multiple SLR bodies and lenses with still more room up top for a RED camera, or like me, a shit ton of GoPro equipment. I even had space for a jacket, two laptops, a Nalgene and the list goes on. I never fully maxed out the space in this bag; something that I’m usually really good at. Internal organization is perfect throughout all compartments. The lower level camera compartment has a plastic, water-resistant pocket that is perfect for SD cards or spare batteries. The top main pocket has your typical layout with sleeves for a portable hard drive, pens, pencils, a stylus, etc.
With years of walking long distances with heavy weight to my name, the Borealis feels like a perfectly worn-in rucksack. The shoulder straps are incredibly comfy, with suspension straps to help keep the weight high and centered. The waist belt is well padded with built-in pockets to hold even more stuff you most likely don’t need. I cannot say enough good things about this camera bag; it’s design and the overall aesthetics. It is the most well thought out, durable and capable bag on the market and I cannot wait to beat this shit out of it on more adventures around the globe.