I’ve intended to put together a detailed review of my new camera bag but I wanted to give it a thorough evaluation first. The Top Shelf Camera Bag by Bevisgear allows you to instantly access almost all of your gear with the push of a button. The bag is currently selling directly from their official website and if you’re interested, you can get your hands on one by using the link above.
The World’s Fastest, Open-Layout Camera Bag System
After having used The Top Shelf for a couple of weeks, as a travel photographer, I can say that it’s pretty much ideal for my photography storage needs. This bag is a great option also for shooting at events and for wildlife photographers, from amateur to professional.
More specific to my situation, I do a lot of walking on my travels and needed something that was compact but also spacious enough to carry around my primary three camera bodies and lenses. Since this bag gives me almost instant access to all of my gear, it negates the need to use a strap or walk around with my camera(s) in hand (and a magnet to thieves, certainly).
A Better Layout Option for me
My dilemma as a photographer has always been: “how much gear do I have to leave behind and how do I get to all my gear quickly without having to constantly carry?”
I’ve had a few weeks now to field-test the bag. I’ve easily managed to fit all my main gear into it with easily enough room for some more if I want!
Loads of room for my main gear and more…
The Top Shelf comes with plenty of dividers of various sizes, which makes it easy to reconfigure the bag to suit my needs. There’s also a side storage pocket, that contains a laptop pouch (up to 15″/38cm) and two front pockets for small/thin accessories. While it isn’t a 50L travel backpack, I think it will accommodate most photographers’ storage needs.
Field-Testing the Top Shelf
The main, and in my brutally honest opinion, best feature of The Top Shelf, is the ability to use it as a sling bag that has an open layout. This is done with a metal push button and a rigid lid. I tried out the security of the lid/latch with an upside-down shake test, and can verify my gear is still intact! As you all know, I often shoot breaking news images and need to get a hold of gear quickly to get that key shot. After a little practice with my new bag, I can now have the camera stored away, sling the bag, and have it in hand within a few seconds. It is also worth noting that the bag will quickly convert into a regular backpack for those longer walks.
For a demonstration of how the bag works in sling mode, check out their video tutorial series.
What I would like to see in the next version, hopefully
I reached out directly to Bevisgear recently to share my feedback. They were more than happy to listen, especially since they plan to release another version in time.
I’ve calculated that if I were to put all of my gear into the bag at once, it would amount to approximately $5,000, not to mention the value in emotional capital. It would absolutely kill me to have all my gear stolen at once, which was a real possibility when I traveled to more dangerous locales. Or, however unlikely in my case, if the bag and gear was somehow misplaced.
Therefore, even though the safety of my gear isn’t Bevisgear’s responsibility, it would be nice if they included a GPS tracker in the bag to recover a stolen bag, nicely locked in with the gear inside. That being said, they recommended for the time being something like the Tile device may do the job nicely.
As for protecting yourself against those petty pick pocketers while out and about, the bag is fairly impervious since the main compartment sits against your back when worn.
Value and Quality
Admittedly, this piece of kit was a bit of an expenditure for me, especially considering the current sad state of affairs in Microstock-land.
However, the fit and finish were excellent and of a quality that is comparable to other high-end camera bags that I’ve researched (Nomatic/Peak Design). This is not to mention the functional utility of the bag is like nothing else on the market. Taking those considerations into account, I feel that USD 349 is a good value to both professional and enthusiast photographers.
Three other reviews on YouTube
Speed, Versatility and Storage
The Top Shelf is a perfect marriage between speed, versatility, and storage. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to any photographer looking for a new bag that will minimize time spent searching for gear and maximize efficiency, usability, and versatility in the field.
Hope you’ve found this review useful and I trust that if you decide to invest into this excellent bag you won’t be disappointed. Get yours today!
I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Madrid, Spain, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage, when my current corporate job ends (soon!). I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.
I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography