One of the biggest concerns for photographers travelling abroad is how to ensure your gear gets to your destination with you in one piece. I’ve been using the Alta Fly 55T trolley/backpack bag for a while now, including a recent assignment to the Far East, and I’ve found what I think is the perfect solution for travelling photographers. I can see why Vanguard have won numerous awards for the design of the 55T, most notably the 2018 TIPA award for “Best Bag”.
Like every photographer, I’d never want to have to check my camera bag into the hold so I need a bag that meets all the airline size restrictions. If, like me, you sometimes travel using budget airlines, there is also the worry that your camera bag will exceed weight restrictions so that has to be a consideration too.
The Alta Fly 55T is a 4-wheeled trolley bag that meets the airline size restrictions for carry-on luggage (though Vanguard always recommend you check as airlines have an annoying habit of changing the rules without warning) which deals with the first challenge and makes it easy to move through crowded terminals.
It can also be used as a rucksack, as the bag has padded shoulder straps and a waist strap that can be discretely tucked away when in trolley mode. The Alta Fly 55T is amazingly light and strong and it holds a surprising amount of kit. Whilst this is great news for us photographers wanting to take as much as we can with us, it can mean that your bag can be quite heavy. I've found whenever I check in, if the bag is up on my back like a backpack then nobody bats an eye lid and I’ve never been asked to have the bag weighed, whilst my travelling companions with trolleys have been asked and ended up paying hefty penalties for exceeding weight allowances. It’s also great to have the bag up on your back as you board the aircraft as when the air stewards realise the plane is really busy and come looking for trolleys to check into the hold, they mostly ignore backpacks. You can avoid that awkward conversation where you have to explain you are carrying camera equipment and could you keep your bag with you, and I’ve read horror stories of airline staff refusing to let photographers take on their bags in similar circumstances.
Anyway, more about the bag.
The Alta Fly 55T is almost Tardis like and holds a lot of kit for its size.
You can see from the photos here that I can carry a large DSLR, 6 lenses (including a large 70-200mm, a 105mm F1.4 and a 20mm prime), a couple of flashes, a trigger and a MacBook. That’s all I’d need for most purposes and if I wanted to take a second body I could easily replace one of the lenses in the photo.
Inside the bag comes with a zipped internal net flap cover that adds a little bit of security in case you open your bag whilst it’s standing up, as the net will stop everything falling out and stop any prying eyes from seeing what’s inside when you need to get access.
Whilst I didn’t take a tripod in the cabin, the 55T has a tripod holder on the side, and straps on the front for other attachments which are great for carrying on the assignment itself.
The internal organised storage system is great for all your travel needs. Separately padded compartments can be arranged to suit a multitude of layouts and the lining is light orange, making it easy to find your gear even in the dark. Large external front pockets with organisers inside will store you need close at hand when travelling, like a tablet, chargers, smartphone, travel documents, wallet, sunglasses, etc.
The bag is an agile four-wheel trolley, with a single bar handle and sturdy top and side grips. As I noted, it also sports an advanced backpack harness with shoulder and waist straps that tuck out of the way when not in use, and pull out wheel rear covers to be used when carrying it on your back to avoid getting your clothes dirty.
Having the option of the back pack or trolley gives you lots of flexibility, you can be hands free when you need to be, organising boarding passes or passports, or when the terrain gets tougher you can throw the bag onto your back. There is plenty padding and it’s really comfortable with added waist straps to ensure everything stays secure.
The bag is constructed from durable water/scratch resistant material along the bottom and includes a rain cover.
As with all Vanguard products the quality is outstanding and everything feels robust and well made from top quality materials. The bag also comes with a limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind.
The bag is packed with smart little features, nooks, crannies and other innovative little touches that all add up to making this a winner. When ‘m flying with my equipment I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure it arrives with me and the Alta Fly 55T ticks every box.
To see the full range of Alta Fly Roller Cases click here
About the Author
Michael Carver is a Vanguard Pro who specialises in outstanding wedding photography and Scottish landscapes.