This bag has more compartments and pockets than you could shake a very large stick at. At the rear there’s the double-zippered laptop compartment which opens at the top. It can hold a laptop sized 366 x 274 x 25mm.
Parallel to it at the rear we have a flat, almost hidden pocket for a magazine or thin tablet that’s accessed from the side. This pocket is probably one of the more vulnerable found on the bag so we wouldn’t store a £999 Samsung Series 7 Slate in there, but on the other hand with a little care this will protect your tablet adequately.
On the Booq Python’s right you’ll find the aforementioned poncho compartment, and a larger pocket for odds and ends. Inside this pocket is a mesh compartment for memory cards and the like, as well as several sub-pockets. There’s also a key fob.
The sloped top compartment is the ideal size for holding an SLR with lens attached, and can be sub-divided according to taste using the generous complement of Velcro dividers the Booq Python comes with. It’s double-zippered and opens out completely, giving easy access. The ‘lid’ also contains another flat mesh pocket ideal for small documents and memory cards.
On the bag’s left is an identical small outer pocket to the poncho-holding one on the right, but instead of a raincoat for your Booq Python, this one contains a small zippered pouch for pens or other small items. Like the poncho it’s completely detachable, so you can remove it altogether if you prefer.
The larger left pocket, again double-zippered, gives access to the majority of the bag’s interior. An absolute wealth of dividers of various shapes and sizes turns this into a veritable lens haven. There are even dividers with soft-ridged plastic sections that are ideal for organising cables or filters. Or you can just remove all the dividers and keep this compartment for shopping/clothing etc. It will happily fit a few litres of juice/milk or suchlike.
Even the shoulder straps have zippered neoprene pockets, which we found incredibly handy for a phone and/or MP3 player plus slim compact, giving you easy access to your device(s) without needing to take off the backpack. This is the kind of attention to detail that shows where your money is going.
There’s yet another touch that goes a ways towards justifying this bag’s cost. Booq has introduced a barcode tag system it calls Terralinq. You register your unique barcode when you buy the bag, and then if it ends up in lost and found, it can be returned to you through the Terralinq website with no personal information divulged.
Temperamental zips and short chest-strap aside, we do have one serious complaint regarding the Booq Python: the tripod straps at its top and bottom are oriented horizontally.
With a thin tripod (or umbrella) you can simply insert it through the top loop and twist it vertical, keeping it in position with the bottom strap. This doesn’t work as smoothly with larger models though, and could have been alleviated by simply lengthening both straps, the bottom one especially. Moreover, it would have been preferable to just have them positioned like on every other camera backpack to begin with.
Over £200 is a lot to spend on any backpack, and the cheapest we were able to find the Booq Python for at time of writing was £224. So the question is, is it worth it?
There are few other bags that offer the Python’s mix of quality, flexibility and features while maintaining stylish looks, so if this is important to you, you’re going to utilize every bit of what it has to offer and carry around some expensive gear, the answer is probably yes – despite its few flaws. If not, there are plenty of SLR/laptop bags below the £150 mark that will probably do you.
If you’re looking for a multi-talented, weatherproof SLR/laptop/tablet backpack that doesn’t compromise on style, the Booq Python is a great, if rather expensive, candidate. It’s a relatively sleek, well-built bag that provides plenty of pockets, customisable compartments and padding to carry all your gear securely and conveniently, and is supremely comfortable while doing so. There are a few annoyances that shouldn’t be present on a £200-plus bag otherwise so well thought out, but these are easy enough to live with if you like what it has to offer.