It’s a brave company that tries to do something different in the photography bag market. Most of us have been carting the same basic designs around for years. There’s a reason for that though: if they stop your kit from getting smashed to pieces, or soaking wet, and if the zips work, most of us are happy, right?
The Wolffepack Capture uses ‘orbital trapeze technology’ to solve a perennial problem: how do you reach your kit without taking your bag off? Its solution is to split the design into a separate harness and bag.
The bag is attached to the harness with three cords, and when released from the harness it drops off your back, stopping at the end of its tether. You then grab it and swing it around to your front, where you can access your gear. If you want to use both hands, say for changing lenses, you hook the bag onto the harness using two clips.
The system looks eccentric, but it actually works, although it feels odd at first. On the right shoulder strap is a handle with a red button; press this and pull the handle down to release the bag. As the bag lowers, the handle moves up, finally reaching a ‘hood’ on the shoulder, when you can let go and grab the bag.
It’s arguably more fluid for righties; if you’re a southpaw, you’ll have to release your grip on the handle before bringing the bag around, but it can be done from either side of the body. You pull on the handle again to lift the bag up and it locks back into place. The handle then clips to the right-hand strap to keep it still in transit.
The first thing I wondered was: won’t the bag hit the ground if you’re short? The second was: will it still be easy to lift when packed with gear?
I tried it with a 5ft4in person, and when the bag reached the end of its cords, there was still six inches between it and the ground. Obviously, there will be a user height where the bag does make contact, but it’s more likely you’d catch it on a rock or other obstruction. That said, gear is placed in the protected pod at the top of the bag, which wouldn’t be the first part to come into contact with an object.
This pod is well made with two adjustable dividers, and an elasticated memory card pocket, as well as a zipped pocket for small accessories, but it’s not large. The bag has a quoted capacity of 26 litres, but that’s based on the whole inner. The camera section measures 18x25x14cm; all I could fit in was a Nikon D850 with 85mm lens attached and a 24-70mm. It’s therefore much better suited to smaller cameras and lenses. The camera pod is attached by Velcro into the top section, so can be removed.
Behind the pod is a laptop sleeve taking up to a 15in model. On the front is zippered access to a pocket which curls under the pod – a good spot for a waterproof, food and other supplies as these sit under the camera gear and won’t drip on it.
So, the second question: how does it work when full? Basically, every bit of weight you add is going to make it harder to use the bag’s lifting mechanism. With the previously mentioned kit (weighing roughly 2.2kg), the over-the-shoulder action was manageable for me, but my 5ft4in test subject could not lift it back into position. Increasing the load with a 15in Macbook Pro (another 2kg), it got harder still. Despite the bag feeling fine on the shoulders, I needed two hands to lift it back into position. Now, imagine adding water, clothing, a tripod, even spare batteries. At that point, although the cords attaching bag to harness are rated holding 300kg, the design loses function.
The bag’s outer is good, and made from thick PU-coated fabric, so it’s slightly water repellent. And there’s an all-weather cover at the very bottom. There’s no waterproof pad on the bottom, but that would sort of miss the point of the design.
In carrying, the bag is fine. The harness is not the most comfortable, and, because of the way the bag attaches, it tends to wobble in transit. A deep airflow system improves comfort though and the shoulder straps are wide and adjustable. There’s a sternum strap, but no waist strap; again, due to the design, this might not be all that effective even if it were there. All the zips worked well with no snagging or dragging, which aids one-handed operation. The side pockets are reasonably big, but they’re not elasticated, so don’t grip objects or expand when required. Style wise, in a mid-tone grey with black details, the Capture looks pretty tidy.
The idea of getting to your gear without removing your bag has been tried in lots of forms: sling bags, bags that rotate around your waist, backpacks with a side opening that can be hung from a one shoulder… or you could just use a shoulder bag. Personally, I like a bag with a waterproof bottom pad or outer that you can just put down anywhere. The Wolffepack Capture is a well made bag and innovative; the system is clever and functions well up to a point in weight. I’d use it for small, light DSLRs and CSCs only.
Pros: Well made, functional up to a point
Cons: Design only works if bag is lightly filled
|Material||450Dx300D Melange Polyester with PUx2 coating|
|Tripod holder||Yes (on webbing)|
|Laptop pocket||Yes, 15in|
|Dimensions (wxlxd)||Exterior: 31x46x18cm; camera compartment: 25x18x14cm|
As featured in issue 58 of Photography News.