By Vanguard Ambassador Dave Brightwell
When you first set your eyes on the VEO Active 53 you will notice how good this bag looks.
The material Vanguard have used looks beautiful with a kind of grid pattern on it that really sets it apart from their other bags that just use a plain black finish.
The material and zippers are waterproof, not sure if they are 100 percent waterproof but it looks like they can take a good shower or two. The material feels tough and should protect your equipment really well. This bag looks a good size too, stood next to my Alta Sky 51D it looks about the same size.
Looking round the outside of the bag there are a wealth of pockets.
Starting on the main body you have a large compartment for a water bladder, I have put my 3-litre bladder in there and it fits ok and the tube and mouthpiece fit through the available hole nicely so when you are out hiking your water supply is easy to get. Of course, you don’t have to use a water bladder, you could easily fit a water bottle in there or some food or even waterproofs. It’s up to you.
On the other side of the bag you have a large pouch type pocket that can be adjusted and in here you could put in a water bottle or, like me, a flask. You could even fit a travel size tripod in there if you have one.
Above this pouch is another nice addition. It’s a zipped pocket that houses a USB connecter so if you have a battery pack, you can connect this in the back of the pack and then you can plug your phone or whatever you want charging into the connecter and put it in the pocket, so you have mobile charging all whilst keeping your gadgets clean and dry.
The top of the bag has a large compartment that zips open and inside here is where you would put your battery pack with the lead coming through from the USB connecter in the side pocket. Inside here there is also a mesh zipped pocket to stow stuff away into. Now this compartment is fairly large so in here you could store more camera gear like your filter kit bag, batteries, or lens hoods maybe. Or if you are on hike, you could store your food or extra clothes in here. I like to store my down jacket or my waterproof jacket and over trousers in here.
There is also a zipped pocket on the bag that when you have the bag on your back nobody can access it so this would be ideal for keeping your valuables, money, phone or even your passport safe.
Moving off the main body of the bag and you have the shoulder straps, and these each have a foldable pocket built in which can house things like a water bottle, action camera or torch, and are easily reached.
Moving down to the waist strap and on here, there is another pocket/pouch and this can be unfolded to make it larger so it can hold stuff like your phone, snacks or, like me, camera remote, cloths and a spare filter holder, very handy!
On the rear of the bag there are a couple of adjustable straps that can be moved around anyway you want them by using the loops that line the back of the bag so you can arrange them to hold your tripod, drone or even a sleeping bag or mat. They can also be removed if you don’t need them.
Now inside the bag is where it gets interesting.
When you unzip the backflap there are two pouches on there so you can fit in Your laptop/tablet or both. Nothing new there.
Now the main compartment where you keep your camera and lenses looks pretty normal, but on closer inspection you will find it is now removable. The whole compartment can be zipped up and taken out, so if you just wanted the bag to go hiking or camping you can remove the camera compartment leaving you ample space to use as a normal backpack. Again very handy and a great idea! Its spacious too, I managed to fit the following in the main compartment and still had a bit of room to play with.
- Canon Eos R with 24-105L attached
- Canon 6D with 70-200 attached
- Canon RF 16mm lens
- Terrascape Filter Pouch + Filters
- Vanguard Large battery Pouch
- PGYtech Gloves
The compartment has the usual removable dividers so you can configure it just the way you like it, but these are a new, slimmer design so they leave more space for your camera kit.
When it comes to wearing the bag I have to say it is really comfortable, with fully adjustable straps to fit different body sizes. When adjusted for my size, it really does fit well. I have to say it is even more comfy than my Alta Sky. I’ve wore it a few times now and walked maybe 4-5 miles a time without taking it off my back and it really is a pleasure to wear, and did I also mention it looks great too!!
Now for me, the VEO Active 53 seems to be the perfect bag - light, tough, spacious, very configurable and looks good, although I did miss the side opening access that I have on my Alta Sky, but that is just a minor drawback and I soon got used to it not being there. I had this bag on loan from Vanguard as it is not released yet, but you can be sure when they are released it will be my next bag, and I have to say I was gutted when my time with the bag was up.
Click here to see the full range of VEO Active