My first impression of the Gura Gear Kiboko 22L+ was that it’s a very well made bag, with good attention to detail, easy access, and rather importantly, lightweight. I’ve had a big bag before where I had to take apart of the back, and then undo another zip, just to access my cameras, which was no good at all. The great thing about the Gura Gear Kiboko 22L+ is that the back opens in two compartments, rather than one.
I’m going to start off the review with a brief summary of the pros and cons that go with this bag.
You can buy the Kibobo 22L+ here on Amazon, or on the Gura Gear website. It retails for $379, which seems like a lot, but I would say it’s worth the money. I’ve made the mistake in the past of buying products over and over again, because I didn’t invest in the best quality equipment to begin with. This is a bag which is going to last me many years. You really do get what you pay for.
Very well made, with strong handles and excellent zips.
Withstands water, even without the included rain cover.
Easy to organise, with plenty of extra separators.
Well ventilated back.
Quality, removable straps.
Plenty of pouches.
Useful ties for excess straps.
Discrete laptop pouch.
The tripod attachement feels like an after thought.
Looks a lot like a camera bag, which is appealing to thieves (although I do like the design, call it a catch 22).
It can be a little fiddly to pack the bag and keep it open at the same time.
A bit big if you’re only carrying an extra lens or two (this bag is not for you).
Before we get started, let me just say that I really like this bag. It’s not cheap, but it’s very well made, easy to organise, has great access, and does everything I need it too. It’s also got the best zipper grips I’ve ever used.
Lets look a little bit further though, shall we?
Gura Gear Kiboko 22L+ Exterior
I don’t know about you, but I really like the design of this bag, and although it looks more like a camera bag than I would like it to, I think it’s actually well thought out. Everything is easy to access, with a solid construction, and the straps are removable. The little pouches on the side are great for small items, like cloths and filters, and the handles make it very easy to carry handheld.
I can’t say that I like the tripod attachement too much (which are those buckles you see on both sides of the bag), because there’s just a single point of attachement where you can strap your tripod in, which doesn’t make it very sturdy. If you have a small tripod this isn’t so bad, because you could probably stick one of the legs into a side pocket, but for a professional tripod, it doesn’t really work, because the legs end up sticking out too much and they swing a little bit.
I personally think it would have worked much better to attach the tripod to the bottom of the bag, much like a backpacker would attach a roll matt, or attach the tripod to the back of the bag, in the center.
You can have your straps in three different configurations. First, with all the straps attached to the bag, like you see above. There’s also little straps to tighten the chest together, and take the pressure off your shoulders a little bit. Second, you can completely remove the waist attachement which you can see below on the right, and third, you can tuck in the shoulder straps behind the back padding, so that they’re out of the way.
This way, you have the option to use all the straps while you’re on a long hike, just the shoulder straps if you’re not going far (the waist straps are Velcro’d in and are easy to remove), or no straps at all, which is good for storage, or laying flat on a table to access the bag.
The straps are well padded, and so is the back of the bag, which has tunnels for air to pass though to cool your back.
For every strap that you tighten, there is always going to be some excess strap hanging out, but fortunately Gura Gear have thought about this, and they’ve added Velco and elastic ties to tidy up the excess.
As you can see from below, they’re are two extra exterior pouches on the front of the bag, which I use to store business cards, memory cards, batteries, pens, torches, and cleaning solutions. They’re useful, but due to the bag opening in a butterfly design, you can’t open the pouch all the way to the bottom, or everything would fall out. This can make it a little bit hard to pack when you’ve got a lot of stuff. Overall though, they’re good to have.
This laptop pouch is very discrete, and definitely secure. To access it, you have to unclip the shoulder straps at the top, and then undo the zip. There’s even a small rain cover to cover the clips, which makes it even hard to see the compartment. Inside, I’ve fitted my 13 inch Macbook Pro, but you can fit up to a 17 inch MBP, and lot of 15 inch windows computers (macs are generally slightly narrower). There’s lot of extra padding between the bag and the back, so it feels safe in there, as it’s also unlikely to get knocked.
The bag feels pretty solid and waterproof, but even so, it’s nice to have a rain cover for the bag. You can pull it out, and easily use the elastic strap to completely cover the bag. The only problem is that if you’re using the tripod attachement, then it’s unlikely that you can get this cover on. I couldn’t.
Below (notice the photo too) is everything that I managed to fit into my bag, which is basically everything I take out with me on a trip, plus a little bit extra. You can fit some very big lenses into the bag, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Inside my bag I included…
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8
Canon 16-40mm f/4
Canon 35mm f/1.4
Canon 430 EX flash
Canon 580 EX flash
Phottix Odin transmitter and two receivers
GoPro head mount strap
Black Rapid RS-5 strap
Two tripod hotshoe mounts
An addition hotshoe mount
Two rolls of film
Pack of batteries
Two lens and body covers/backs
Lens cleaning equipment
Some business cards
Typically if I were to include all of this into one bag, it would end up a complete mess, especially after I’ve taken one or two items out of it, but that didn’t seem to be the case with this bag (excuse the pun).
As you can see inside, it very easily fits my three lenses, a camera, and my strap. I don’t shoot with longer focal lengths too much, so this set up works great for me, but if you did need to fit a longer lens, all of the dividers are completely removable, and they supply you with more than enough of them (no joke, I don’t know where to store them all).
The bag is actually designed with telephoto shooters in mind, because you can fit a 500mm lens in the bag, with no problems whatsoever. This is something that I think most camera bags would struggle with.
Because of the butterfly design, it’s much easier to organise your bag. If you know that half of the bag is filled with a 500mm lens, then you only have to open the other half of the bag. This prevents stuff from falling out, and makes the contents easier to manage.
The sides of the bag are very sturdy and solid, and have withstood taken a good battering from myself (I put it to the test!).
On the other side of the bag, you’ll see that I’ve used more of the small separators to divide up smaller stuff. They’re very useful, and even though it looks as though some of the gear is sticking out, I’ve only done that for the photo. It’s a great fit.
It’s worth noting though that you can stand your lenses up inside the bag, so that they poke out of the top, as there’s plenty of leeway in the pouches. I didn’t do this because I had the room to lay them down.
The divider between the two compartments can also be removed to create one big space, but the compartments still open in a butterfly motion from the center.
The pouch inside the bag has a velcro separator so you can make it one bit pouch, or two smaller ones. It’s nice features like this which show you that they’re really put a lot of thought into the bag.
Everything zips up nicely, and doesn’t open when I walk. Nothing really move around inside either, which is reassuring, because the bag would be pretty useless if it did.
I feel I should emphasise how well made the bag is, because I really do feel safe wearing the bag on my back, while walking through a crowd (it can take a knock or two). It’s not a cheap bag, and it may not be in your price range (certainly not if you’re a beginner), but I feel that it’s worth the money. Like I said, you get what you pay for.
This is not the bag you want if you only carry a couple extra lenses on you when taking photos, as this would be complete overkill, and a shoulder bag would work much better.