- Well-built, durable and stylish
- Flexible, plenty of padding to protect all your tech
- Water-repellent with poncho
- Supremely comfortable
- Zips stick on occasion
- Tripod straps awkward to use
- Review Price: £224.00
- Ballistic, water-repellent nylon exterior
- SLR and lens compartments with customisable dividers
- 15in laptop compartment
- Tablet compartment
- Ergonomic support system including waist strap
People often spend a lot on gadgets and tech gear, but not nearly as much on protecting it – and themselves. Like with most accessories, not all bags are created equal. Ideally, you want not only a bag that can fit and protect your kit, but one that will let you carry it all in as much comfort and with as little strain as possible. When you have a DSLR with a few lenses, and a laptop or tablet (or both), your backpack options become a little limited. We’re looking at the Booq Python, a backpack designed to fit your SLR, lens collection, up to a 15in laptop, tablet, and a selection of other bits and bobs.
The Python is stylish and streamlined, with a distinct sloped-top look that differentiates it from your average backpack. Its grey exterior with black highlights creates a restrained look that goes with most outfits, especially formal. And though the Booq Python backpack’s inner red lining can be a bit garish, this does make it easy to see when you’ve accidentally left a compartment open.
Branding is kept subtle, and the backpack’s shape and size mean you’ll never look ridiculous wearing it. Its sloped top and sides also make it easier to slide smoothly past obstacles.
The bag weighs 2.7kg, which is about average for a large, heavily padded backpack with a semi-rigid frame. It’s 457mm high and 294mm wide.
As usual for a premium bag, the Booq Python uses ballistic nylon to give it a hard-wearing exterior. Throughout a few weeks of daily use, the bag still looks as good as new – at least, on the outside, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Materials throughout are thick with strong seams and plenty of padding. The frame is rigid enough to protect your gear.
Weatherproofing is excellent. The outer nylon is coated with a water-repellent finish while all top-facing zips are also liquid-repellent. The compartment on the far right even holds a detachable rain poncho, though we’re not sure red was the best choice here.
Zippers are ‘self-repairing’ with strong metal tags, seams are frequently double-sown and usually worked in to be invisible, and straps are thick with solid plastic buckles. It’s a shame that amongst all this obvious quality (which you would expect for the £220-plus price) the inner lining of the zippers often got caught in the zips themselves, leading to a laborious effort to try and open them all the way.
This wasn’t just restricted to one compartment either, as we came across the issue on both the laptop and top camera compartments on infrequent but regular occasions. While this might be easy enough to solve with a pair of scissors, it just doesn’t inspire confidence. However, it’s worth keeping in mind this was the only quality blemish.
Ergonomics & Comfort
The Booq Python is definitely one of the more comfortable laptop/camera backpacks we’ve worn. It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into everything from the strap placement to the materials to give a pleasant and ergonomic experience.
The bag’s rear is very thickly padded, with contoured mesh material and broad air channels to keep things as breathable as possible. Shoulder straps are very wide and again have plenty of padding.
There’s a thin chest strap but, more importantly, a thicker waist strap with very comfy ‘hip flaps’ to ensure the pack never digs in noticeably. We happily wore a fully loaded Booq Python all day with no discomfort aside from the inevitable hot back. Our one criticism here is that the somewhat short chest/sternum strap doesn’t give too much leeway for those with a broad chest.
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.
Score in detail
Build Quality 9