Camera bags are not hard to come by. There are hundreds out there, making the choice for the best features and accessibility difficult.
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
What Is a Travel Camera Bag?
As you can imagine, a travel camera bag is a backpack that you take with you, wherever you are going. Some are very specific, meant for small camera systems. This means you don’t need to carry a lot of equipment with you while moving around.
Others are bigger and built to stand the constant testing environments that are thrown our way. After all, we aren’t all street photographers. Some of us like nature, landscape, or timelapse photography.
Some travelers do a city trip for a few days. Others plan to spend months traipsing around foreign areas. For this reason, a bigger travel camera bag lets you take all the other stuff you need, like toiletries, apparel, and other extras.
As a photographer, it’s almost counter-intuitive to have only one bag. Each system has sizes, shapes, designs, and features that are specifically tailored to each type of travel photography.
For our complete round-up, see our 45 Best Travel Camera Bags of 2019 | Review Roundup.
Who Are NYA-EVO?
NYA-EVO is the accumulation of a great idea, passion through design and adventure while bringing a high-quality product to photographers everywhere.
For many years, Jensen Pauwels carried around the idea of designing and creating his own backpack. In the winter of 2016, enough was enough. The time to hesitate was through.
He was looking for a backpack that could meet all of his needs. Durable while creating a minimal environmental footprint. Luckily, he had experience from working as a product designer in the bag industry, with extensive experience in travel.
It was time to put those skills to a personal test.
Jensen’s longtime friend Mario Jutronic joined, bringing with him his Creative Director experience and background in brand development, art direction, photography and film making. Wife Catarina Ek is the one that united everyone into a streamlined task force.
Together they finalized the designs and prepared for the Kickstarter launch. In November 2017 NYA-EVO reached and exceeded its funding goal and this dream became a reality. Since then, their team has grown a little bigger, and seem to be turning heads everywhere.
Their goal was to create camera packs for the adventurers, explorers, and creators – designed to allow freedom to move around freely. They wanted to prove a system you could place your trust in, ensuring you never miss those once in a lifetime shots.
NYA-EVO is a reflection of who they are and what they love; allowing people to experience new adventures and helping them go further.
What Is the FJORD 36 Action?
The FJORD 36 Action is one of two bags that NYA-EVO released through Kickstarter. This version is the 36-liter model, perfect for trips where you don’t need every single piece of gear you own.
It weighs in at 1500 g / 3.30 lbs stripped down, but expect 1700 g / 3.75 lbs without all the extra trimmings.
The dimensions of the bag are 32 W x 50 H x 25 D cm / 12.6 W x 19.7 H x 9.8 D in.
There are many features of this bag that make it special, which we will go into at great depth. Let’s look at a few that you might benefit from greatly.
The main idea is that the bag offers versatility from its fully customizable main compartment. With the range of RCIs (Removable Camera Inserts), this bag can change the ratio of camera gear and travel gear. This means your bag changes with each trip you take.
It is well protected from the weather. From the 210 D rip-stop nylon with a laminate water-resistant coating to the weather-resistant zips. On top of these, you also get an extreme wearing waterproof rubberized fabric (Hypalon) on the base.
It stands up on its own, and through external attachment points, you can add a huge array of extra gear. This allows for personalization due to the type of travel or adventuring you carry out.
You have pockets and well-organized areas galore, all within a very neat and sleek designed shell. First, choose from the four possible colors. Then go for the size of the Removable Camera Insert and you can get started.
A 60-C version is the bigger model, which we covered in a different article, which you can find here.
What Is Included?
- FJORD 36 Action Pack
- Small RCI – 27 W x 18 H x 15.5 D cm / 10.6 W x 7.1 H x 6.1 D in (internal)
- Medium RCI – 27 W x 26 H x 15.5 D cm / 10.6 W x 10.2 H x 6.1 D in (internal)
- Large RCI – 27 W x 36 H x 15.5 D cm / 10.6 W x 14.2 H x 6.1 D in (internal)
Main Features – Inside
The main storage area of the FJORD 36 is a large dual-access compartment. This is where the majority of your camera gear is going to sit inside your chosen RCI. It is accessible from two places.
Note: You’ll need to have at least one RCI to protect your camera equipment.
The back panel is the main area, opened with two zippers that run around the 180° perimeter. The top zipper also allows access to the compartment left-over from the RCI.
A back panel camera bag means that it can’t be accessed while the bag is being worn.
This is beneficial for many reasons. Firstly, thieves have no access to your camera gear while you are distracted by shooting that lifetime shot. Secondly, the gear is all laid out safely in front of you when you open it.
By using the waist straps, there is no need to even put the bag down.
Even better if you have items strapped to the front that you don’t want to dirty on the floor. Your choice between the small, medium or large RCI’s determines how much space there is left in the bag.
The leftover space is separated by a nylon sheet that can be zipped into place.
When you open the back panel, you are presented with two small pockets that you can use to store small, thin items.
This is where I like to keep my cables, memory cards and lens caps. Even a small notebook and microfibre cloth can fit here.
Apart from the main compartment, there is a large pocket at the front of the FJORD 36 action camera bag. This is a really handy organizational section that exists separately to the other areas. This is perfect for quick access items.
Not only can the sleeves and pockets house a 15″ laptop, full-sized notebooks, and any other equipment. The small mesh zipped pocket held my keys or extra batteries, as there is more to play with here than the ones in the back panel.
I was able to use the full-length pocket for my laptop, and smaller adjacent pocket for my external monitor. On top of this, the cables easily fit at the bottom without making the bag too bulky.
This is a great area as it is easily accessible and has ample space for extra items.
Fabric and Zippers
One of the best parts about this camera bag is it’s thought and design concept around weather-proofing. Firstly, the FJORD 36 is made from 210 D rip-stop nylon. On top of this, a 0.1mm TPU laminate water-resistant coating.
What makes this bag great, is its lightweight construction and design. That partly comes from the nylon. Although take note; weather-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. Luckily, NYA-EVO thought of extreme conditions with their wrap-around rain fly.
More water-resistance can be found in the polyurethane-coated YKK® Aquaguard® zippers. Here, you’ll find no water leaks – which should be a standard for any camera bag. Great for peace of mind.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to visit some of the worlds coldest regions to give it a thorough test.
But, the bag was tested in the Nordic region of Finland, where the temperature dropped to below -28°C. For 12 hours a day across 26 consecutive days, the FJORD 36 Action was used without any problems.
The bag isn’t completely waterproof, as heavy downfall can enter and make the inside items damp and wet. The camera gear is protected the most (bag, nylon compartment divider, RCI). Wearing the opening on the back means the carrier gets wet but stops it from hitting your gear.
Luckily, The FJORD 36 comes equipped with a rain fly. This ‘folded-away-in-it’s-own-bag’ allows you to shut off your bag from the worst-case scenarios. Wrap it around and forget about it – you can’t get to any of the front opening areas, however.
This is a failsafe system that wouldn’t protect your bag and gear if items attached to the outside of the bag are too big.
We already mentioned that this backpack has the capacity to free-stand. This is down to the internal aluminum frame. If you did want to add a little more flexibility to the bag, it is possible to remove it.
But, the frame sits under a substantial amount of velcro holding it in place. It is light enough not to add any extra weight, so personally, I wouldn’t touch it. I’m very good at deconstructing and not so good at reconstructing again.
Main Features – Outside
I love this travel camera bag because of is its versatility. The company and team behind the FJORD 36 action pack care about sustainability, which is why they made a very modular system.
One bag covers many different types of travel, with space for any and all hobbies.
They do this through their attachment system. The bag has two wide straps that wrap around the front face. One of these is near the top and the other, near the bottom. By using these straps, you can carry a wide variety of large gear.
I have seen images of people carrying skis (diagonally), snowboards, ice picks, or something a little more boring – a tripod. You will also find four side compression straps; two on the left and on the right. These can carry extra items, or tighten to reduce the size of the bag.
For me, I use them to hold my tripod in place, when using the external pockets as a holder. But clothing items are perfect
Design and security-wise, the buckles are large and well made. This is an advantage if you’re wearing gloves. These areas might be better at carrying the larger, more cumbersome items.
Placing them directly on the front of the bag could change the center of gravity.
If you’re looking to hold a snowboard, there is a way. Without the use of the RCIs, you can compress the bag more, reducing the center of gravity change.
From getting older, and spending more and more time outside photographing, I realize I need more and more equipment. It won’t be too long before I need a mobile stool as the older generations take to picnics.
One of these items is a valuable life source known as water. Nowadays, I look at camera bags with scrutiny if they don’t have some special area to hold my water bottle. Luckily, FJORD 36 action pack is a mind reader and created two of these pockets.
These pockets are substantial and expandable!. They can fit in a bottle of Rum (hey, I’m in the mountains!) or a 2-liter bottle of water if need be. The pockets are very elastic, so they stay flush to the bag when empty.
For me, this is where I place my heaviest tripod. It sits in the elastic while held in place by the compression strap. This way, I don’t need to remove the head, just have it cover the top of the bag.
I wasn’t 100% sure that was a way it could be done. But after using it more than 20 times in this manner, there was no problem with the elasticity.
Zips and Zippers
One of the things I liked about this bag was the zippers. The tabs are oversized and light blue, which contrast perfectly with the Black color choice. They are visible straight away, and every easy to use, even when wearing gloves.
They’re made of a smooth-finish aluminum, making them very durable. It’s just another area that shows great attention to detail the bag has.
Light blue comes with the black and white bags, while the blue and green versions have a complementary orange.
Hip Belt and Sternum Strap
One of the features I look for in a camera bag is a hip belt. If it doesn’t have a hip belt, I’m not interested. I have all the small and medium camera bags I need, so for the bigger travel bags, I need comfort, stability and weight distribution.
Thankfully, the FJORD 36 has a hip belt and a very sturdy one at that. This is helped by the huge 2″ buckle connecting the two sides. I like this, as they kept the same theme across the attachment and compression straps. Again, easily used with gloves.
On the right-hand side strap, there is an elastic, zippered pocket. This is where I kept my smartphone, or sometimes, my memory cardholder. It’s perfectly accessible, safe as I can keep my eye on it and extends to add more items if need be.
You’ll find the same EVA foam found on the back panel, making it comfortable to use, even when tight. All these points to a great outdoor camera backpack. It even allowed me to wear my Manfrotto Lifestyle Waist pack at the same time.
As an everyday bag, you might find that the buckle sticks out a little, but its a compromise for peace of mind. The waist strap needs to be big to hold the weight of the bag when accessing the back panel, when not putting it down.
The bag is an action pack, so you won’t need all the features when going to an from work. Of course, it’s possible due to the versatile and modular concept. Personally, I don’t need a bag this big when hitting the underground or jam-packed buses.
If you don’t use the straps, they turn into wings that flap about. My system was to fold them back and connect them at the front of the bag. Not only does it keep them out of the way (best used in airports) but they also add security to the elastic strap pocket.
On top of the waist strap, there is a smaller sternum strap. Here, you’ll find it connects to the bag via a rail system. The same idea was used in the decade-old Lowepro camera travel bag I used often, and it was one of it’s best features.
It might be an old concept, but it works well, allowing the user to customize the height of the strap. As it isn’t connected, you can remove it out of annoyance. Keep an eye on it, as airport conveyor belts could remove it for you.
The great thing about the buckle here is the whistle. Right?! I didn’t know about it either and came across it by mistake. This is a great idea, and once again, points out the attention to detail and great design by Jens and the team.
There are also loops on the straps for attaching any number of items for quick access. There is nothing you can’t do with this bag.
All camera backpacks and hiking bags have shoulder straps that help to stabilize the bag to your body. But, not all straps are created equal. This is where most of the comfort of a bag resides.
The FJORD 36 action camera bag has comfortable straps that allow you to loosen or tighten, bringing the bag closer or further from your back. Unlike most camera bag straps, these have two jobs instead of the usual one.
Not only do they stabilize the bag, but they also need to move out of the way when you want to access the back panel. I found the straps a little too small to wrap and hide around the bag. This is a sellable feature and has the chance to become annoying.
Don’t get me wrong – they work great when tight. But, if you are constantly opening the back panel, you need to lengthen the straps. Then, when you grab your camera and place the bag back on your back, they need to be tightened again.
Do this more than six times and you’ll lose your mind. If you aren’t planning to take your camera out often, you might not experience this problem.
What is Hypalon? And Why Does it Work as a Bag Base
What is Hypalon? This is something I had to research, as I had no idea what it was. Turns out, it is a chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE) synthetic rubber (CSM) noted for its resistance to chemicals, temperature extremes, and ultraviolet light. Phew.
This is the material they use for inflatable boats and folding kayaks. Needless to say, it is impervious to water. But, we are talking about the base, so don’t expect your equipment to survive a drop in a river or lake.
The bottom of the backpack is coated in this material. It is 1.1mm thick meaning it is tough enough to get dirty and allowing you to be comfortable putting it down anywhere.
For attaching extra stuff to your bag, you have other options that just the attachment and compression straps. You’ll also find a detachable net. This has the capacity to hold a jumper or jacket, or for the more adventurous, a helmet.
This is another design idea that adds to the general versatile and modular concept. As this is now my main and go-to camera travel bag, I will need it as a carry-on. Needless to say, I’m not dropping thousands of dollars of equipment in the hold.
For the flight, this is where I put the clothes (or teddy bears) when I’m queuing for my flight. This area is very accessible – perfect for when you need a cuddly Koala to soothe and calm a three-year-old.
The G-hooks are difficult to unlock when wearing gloves, so think about this before the Piste.
What You Might Not Notice
I’ll get tired of saying this, but they really thought of everything. This company makes me want to take up more extreme sports just so I can use the bag to its full potential.
Another (yes, one more) great detail is the drain hole. This sits at the bottom of the front pocket (where the laptop sits) and lets any water drain out.
This turns the front pocket into an area for wet clothing items when you aren’t holding electronic equipment.
If you are holding expensive items that need to be far from wet items, then place the wet items in the front net, attachment or compression straps. Anything is possible.
Water Canteen/Bladder System
Don’t get too excited. This is not an added feature, or possibly as an add-on to the FJORD 36 camera backpack. But, the addition of this was thought about in the concept and design of the bag.
Above the main compartment, you’ll find an eyelet for a drinking tube. There are even clips to hold such a tube on both shoulder straps. But you won’t find a dedicated area or sleeve to hold a hydration bladder.
I understand this, as the addition of the RCIs means the inner compartment will change. You could place it above the RCI, but the weight would warp the padded insert.
We recommend placing the hydration bladder in the front pocket, where you might place a laptop. This works, as there is another eyelet in the nylon fabric that separates this pocket from the main compartment.
Doing so would add weight closer to the front of the bag, and as it’s further away from your person, it might change your center of balance. Depending on your setup, there are two areas you can use a hydration bladder.
If you’re looking for a hydration bladder, we recommend the CamelBak Crux 2L Reservoir.
Removable Camera Insert system
The FJORD 36 is not a camera backpack until it has the addition of one of the RCIs.
In the modular fashion that follows the NYA-EVO ideas, they come in three sizes.
- Velcro hook and loop system – customizable separator walls
- Zip-away lid – direct access to your camera gear when unzipping the back panel
- Attaches to the FJORD 36 with Velcro
- Collapses flat
- Reinforced carry handle
- Polyester 300 Denier Rip-stop w/ polyurethane coating
- Polyester 200 Denier w/ polyurethane coating
- Fleece-lined interior
Large / RCI-L
This takes up 80% of storage space inside the FJORD 36’s main compartment. This is for the biggest amount of camera gear, with space for a jacket.
- Weight: 810 g / 1.78 lb
- Dimensions (external): 29 W x 38 H x 16.5 D cm / 11.4 W x 15.0 H x 6.5 D in
- Dimensions (internal): 27 W x 36 H x 15.5 D cm / 10.6 W x 14.2 H x 6.1 D in
Medium / RCI-M
This takes up 50% of storage space free storage space inside the FJORD 36’s main compartment. This is for an equal amount of camera gear, and other items.
- Weight: 676 g / 1.5 lb
- Dimensions (external): 29 W x 28 H x 16.5 D cm / 11.4 W x 11.0 H x 6.5 D in
- Dimensions (internal): 27 W x 26 H x 15.5 D cm / 10.6 W x 10.2 H x 6.1 D in
Small / RCI-S
This takes up 20% of storage space free storage space inside the FJORD 36’s main compartment. This is for a small amount of camera gear, with more space for other items.
- Weight: 494 g / 1.1 lb
- Dimensions (external): 29 (W) x 20 (H) x 16.5 (D) cm / 11.4 (W) x 7.9 (H) x 6.5 (D) in
- Dimensions (internal): 27 (W) x 18 (H) x 15.5 (D) cm / 10.6 (W) x 7.1 (H) x 6.1 (D) in
- Hiking/Mountaineering – poles, ski poles, and ice-axes on the front panel by bungee cord and webbing loop system
- Snowboarding – Snowboard or snowshoes on the front panel
- Skiing – Skis with both vertical and diagonal carry options
- Extreme Sports – Helmet attachment system on front or top panel of the bag, skateboard or longboard on the front panel
- Camping – Sleeping bags and mattresses on the sides, front or top of the pack by using a helmet attachment system
NYA-EVO FJORD 36 Action: Review
When I ordered this bag from the Kickstarter campaign, I thought it was too good to be true. I have been burned a few times from failed projects and disappeared creators enough to make me double think every purchase.
I placed my trust in NYA-EVO, and it paid off in a big way. not only did I get an amazing set of bags (the FJORD 60-c Review can be found here), but I no longer need to worry about multiple bag systems for the different types of photography and travel that I do.
Straight away, from removing the FJORD 36 from its packaging, I could tell it was well built with no scrimping on quality from poor materials. It felt rigid, tough and durable as well as beautifully designed.
From opening the bag properly, I quickly understood how the system worked. I was even excited to set up the RCI’s which came separated and flat. From opening the back panel, the RCI fit in well.
To begin with, I only removed the top zip and kept the box-like structure from the RCI bag. I noticed that the RCI wasn’t always flush inside, but I put this down to the bag starting to take shape and form using the RCI bag.
I felt I could easily trust this from elements, especially due to the treated nylon and Hypalon area. From filling the bag with time-lapse equipment, I was surprised how much equipment I could carry.
From a little organization, I was able to create an RCI that specifically fit the equipment I was using. A huge bonus, as a photographers kit is not always going to be the same size or shape.
In terms of comfort, the aluminum frame kept the bag rigid and well sitting on my back. The ergonomically designed shoulder straps made the load feel like much less. The two front straps helped with the weight distribution.
On top of this, the back padding body fabric is quick-drying, soft and non-abrasive. Perfect for hot days, where sweat is a factor.
My first thought was how versatile the bag was. From the three different RCIs to the areas that other items and equipment could be placed. There really is no end to how you use this bag.
Build and Construction
It is well built, from the materials used throughout, to the smaller details, like zippers.
First, weather resistance. This comes from an accumulation of combined ideas. It isn’t waterproof, but it has a high capacity to weather resistance. This comes from the thermoplastic polyurethane coated nylon fabric and polyurethane coated YKK® Aquaguard® zippers.
In extreme conditions, a seam-taped detachable rain cover can be attached. This is for an extra protection barrier. The Hypalon® base is waterproof and long-wearing, keeps the bag dry and dirt free from any situation.
The back comes with a lightweight aluminum T6-6061 tubular frame. Combined with the use of high-density foam, makes it comfortable to use in all conditions.
In terms of space, you would find it difficult to run out of options. A rear-panel zipper provides full access to the main compartment for easy packing. This gives you the extra benefit of having the zipper close to the body for anti-theft security.
It also keeps your shoulder straps out of the dirt when accessing the camera equipment. Inside the main compartment is a removable internal separator. This divides the camera gear from any other gear.
Thankfully, with this, you can prevent unwanted items from sliding into the camera compartment.
- The main compartment is accessible from rear and top.
- Roomy quick access front pocket with inside organizer that serves multiple functions depending on the activity. For backcountry, it fits most snow shovels, avalanche probe, and small tools. For hiking & general travel, it fits travel books (up to A4 in size), extra layers, small accessories and most 15 inch laptops in the padded sleeve. This sleeve doubles up as hydration system compartment.
- Stow-away stretch mesh attachment that can be fixed to loops on the outside of the pack. This system can be used to attach bulky items like helmets, sleeping bag, jackets or extra layers and is stored inside front zip top pocket.
- Stretch fabric side pockets give space even when the bag is fully stuffed.
- Stretch fabric pocket on the waist belt.
- Internal organizational compartments for small camera accessories (memory cards, filters, etc) on the interior rear access panel.
- Two internal zipper mesh pockets for storage of small camera or travel accessories.
What We Like
- Backloading system – great for protection
- Lots of pockets where you need them
- Very stable and keeps it’s shape
- Attention whistle on buckle
What We Don’t Like
- Shoulder straps could be longer
- G-hooks are too big for gloved hands
Where To Buy It From
Currently, NYA-EVO is keeping this bag close to their chest, and away from third-party websites. You can get the bag and RCIs from their website, which you can find here.
There isn’t much to say as a conclusion, except that this is literally one of the best camera bags I had the fortunate chance to try. Thank you to the NYA-EVO team for creating a camera travel bag that many different people will benefit from.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re a photographer or not. This bag has space, organization, weather-proofing and more versatility than you can shake a stick at.
Unlike other bags in the past, it isn’t a dedicated camera bag. Only with the RCI does it carry equipment, meaning you’ll use this bag more than just photography trips.
It’s well built and looks great. This is down to a great idea being followed up with an equally great design. Even the choice of colors works for me.
Currently, the only bag that could beat this for me is the NYA-EVO 60-C. This bigger version has a few extra features, including almost double the amount of space.