AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack Review
If you have a dSLR and you take it with you when you travel, I'm sure you don't pack it in your checked luggage. You keep that puppy with you at all times.
I heard a photographer once say, "checking my camera would be like putting my kid under the plane!" and I couldn't agree more. Today I'm reviewing a $139 Rolling Camera Backpack that has changed my travel life and guaranteed a safe ride for ALL of my children haha!
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But that handy fold up luggage cart was left in a rental car by someone who shall remain nameless (coughJOEcough).
Carrying my heavy gear is not an option because my old lady back can't handle it, so after the luggage cart disappeared, I started researching alternatives.
Low and behold, I found another AmazonBasics dSLR backpack option and this one was a roller bag! I didn't hesitate when I ordered AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack because I knew the kids and I would be traveling more this year.
I've used this awesome rolling camera backpack on eight flights now and can give it a proper review. There are a lot of "pros" that I've highlight below, but I've also pointed out some things that I don't love.
It's nothing that would stop me from recommending it, or from repurchasing it if the time came, but there are things I figured you'd want to know if you're reading this before you buy it.
Pros of the Amazon Basics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack
It's a Roller Bag (duh)
Roller bags are better than non-roller bags. Period. I simply could not use the backpack feature of this bag while traveling (especially with kids). Traveling puts enough stress on me physically and my chiropractor bills would be through the roof if I used a backpack with my heavy camera gear.
You Can Unzip it for Straps to Convert it Into a True Backpack
If you don't have back issues, you have the option to use this bag as a true backpack. I guess if you were on an outdoor photo shoot where a rolling bag would be difficult, that's when you could bust out the straps.
For me? I'll never use them. I've never even seen the straps on this bag because I've never unzipped the compartment! No need :)
All of My dSLR Gear Feels Perfectly Protected
The ability to configure this dSLR laptop backpack to your exact specifications is heavenly. The 11 padded velcro inserts are very easy to work with and I love the pop-over straps that you can use to secure things into a specific section (without disturbing your gear in its designated section.
The velcro is very "sticky" (technical term) and the padded inserts are thick and strong.
It has Handy Tripod Carrying Straps
The AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack comes with functional tripod loops. I would use this feature if I were still doing professional shoots, but my tripod generally stays in my house these days. The tripod straps help make this camera backpack complete.
There is a High Quality/Strong Feel to it
This camera backpack isn't what I'd call inexpensive at $139, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at how sturdy, yet lightweight, it is. And again, it's a rolling carryon backpack, not a regular ol' nubby backpack ;)
It's very well-made and feels like it will last a long time. It's been through eight flights and, aside from dog hair from my house, still looks brand new!
It has a Sleek and Professional Design
This bag looks more expensive than it is. It rolls beautifully even with my purse on top and the telescoping handle works very well.
There are the Perfect Amount of Outside Pockets
There are three outside pockets with plenty of room for SD cards, external hard drives, pens, phones, small notebooks, and more!
When I travel with the kids I use the side pockets to hold baby wipes and headphones--anything that I need to grab quickly goes there.
The Laptop Sleeve Holds a 17" Laptop
The laptop area is large enough for a 17" laptop and stays secure with a strong velcro strap. And there's room for more in that padded laptop pocket. I used it for a trip to the library yesterday and I fit in my laptop, a 3-subject notebook, and a magazine with no problem.
The Bright Orange Interior = Nothing is Lost
Home Depot orange wouldn't be my first choice for an interior backpack color, but it definitely makes this a unisex bag. For now, the orange is the only interior option.
I like it because most of my camera gear (and let's face it, my wardrobe) is black. The orange makes everything pop--nothing gets lost in this backpack!
It Fits Perfectly in the Overhead Bin (and it's light enough to pop it up there)
This carry-on rolling backpack converts quickly with the telescoping handle. I usually prop it on my seat and quickly grab my laptop before easily putting it in the overhead bin. It takes seconds to do which is all you want while people are waiting to get to their seat behind you!
It Easily Rolls Down the Plane Aisle
Have you ever struggled with your rolling carry-on bag as you walk down the aisle of the plane? It's just another annoyance that you don't need while traveling. This backpack rolls like a dream and doesn't get caught in the seats as you walk down the aisle.
You Can Easily Change the Configuration to Meet Your Specific Needs
This backpack easily converts to a carry-on backpack that you can use for your non-dSLR travel. It truly keeps everything organized (unlike the dark abyss of a "regular" backpack). (See photos for my recent no-camera use of this carry-on bag!)
There is a Luggage Tag
I only noticed this luggage tag feature while editing the photos for this post! I had tied a blue and starred scarf to the tripod loops to easily recognize my bag. No lie: the first time I used this, Joe said there was an identical bag in the overhead and he panicked because the person in front of ours grabbed one of them first. (I got the correct bag!)
That's when I added the scarf. And now I can add in my contact information to the luggage tag area.
Cons of the AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack
I'm not sure there is such a thing of a perfect rolling camera backpack. While this AmazonBasics Convertible Rolling Camera Backpack comes close, it does have room for improvement:
You Have to Unzip the Bag the Entire Way to Access the Main Compartment
Unlike regular backpacks that you can open at the top and reach in to find what you need, this one requires you to set it down and open it.
You can just unzip the top and unhook the laptop pretty easily without unzipping the entire backpack, but not if you want to retrieve something from the main compartment.
To me, this is a pain. One that I'm accepting because I love it so much otherwise. And what's the alternative?
You Can Unzip Straps to Make it a Backpack
I listed this in the "pro" section, as well, since I realize some people might need/use this feature. I won't. So for me, I wish the pocket used to store the convertible straps could be used for paperwork, notebooks, etc.
Maybe I need to unzip those puppies and just cut them out?! Hmmm. An idea...
It's a Roller, Not a Spinner
If this rolling camera backpack had the fancy spinning wheels, none of these other "cons" would even register. It's hard when all of your other bags are spinners and so versatile--this bag kind of trips me up because I expect it to be as versatile (#firstworldproblems).
I'm not sure what kind of cost spinners would be, but I'd be willing to pay extra for that feature.
The Padded Laptop Sleeve is in the "Door" or Front of the Backpack vs. the Interior Back
As mentioned, If you need to get something out of the main compartment, you have to unzip and set the front "door" part of the backpack down while you get what you need (see photos for reference).
In most camera backpacks, the laptop sleeve is in the back of the backpack. Here, it's in the front which can leave you feeling a little insecure when you open up the backpack all the way.
I've done this often and the laptop has never come out, but I thought I'd mention it if you're skittish about your laptop. Mine is over three years old, so I'm not as crazy about protecting it anymore LOL
Plus, it has a protective cover that actually works (I think it's from Speck.). It has fallen many times on the floor (from my carelessness, not from this backpack) and I've never had a problem.
Again, just trying to think of everything you should consider before purchasing!
Bright Orange Interior
This was also mentioned above in the "pros" section, but I thought I'd list it here. In case it's not blazingly obvious, the interior orange is very bright and very Home Depot Orange.
It could be a deal breaker for some, but Amazon keeps design costs low by keeping most of the AmazonBasics lines the same color (at least, they've been the same for the three bags I've purchased).
NOTE: I noticed while writing this post that the regular AmazonBasics dSLR Camera and Laptop backpack now comes with a grey interior. Who knew?
Which Bag Should I Buy?
To me, this is an easy decision: buy the roller bag. Your back will thank you!
Are you familiar with the AmazonBasics line? Amazon launched it in 2009 starting out with generic electronics items. It has since grown to about 1,500 products! I had no idea they had that many offerings.
I fell into their products while researching camera bags about 3-4 years ago. At first I was like: NOPE! This sounds like cheap generic garbage.
But I came around after reading all of the positive reviews. I'm so glad I took a chance on a smaller camera bag years ago because I think their stuff is really good---and affordable!
Amazon wins again. They are taking over the world ;)
So if you're a professional, or an amateur photographer and you travel, this one is a winner!
I absolutely love that it's a roller bag and you can fit SO MUCH into the padded, main compartment of the bag.
I recently took it with me to Hawaii and I left my dSLR at home (gasp!) and just used this as my carryon. It worked beautifully--so much better than a regular backpack that inevitably turns into an abyss of jumbled up snacks, earplugs, and extra sweaters.
I hope this review helped you make a decision! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.