These new camera backpacks from Manfrotto offer more than just a minimalist design.

In the latter part of 2021, Manfrotto has done a massive refresh to its camera bag collection. In recent years, the brand has produced camera carry solutions that offer more subtle designs and modular options compatible with a wide range of applications. Among the renewed collections of camera bags are the Manfrotto Street Bags which include backpack, tote bag, tech organizer and shoulder pouch, the Manfrotto Advanced Bags which include backpacks, shoulder bags and messenger bags, the Prolight collection which consists of five different backpacks, and the Pro Light Tough Hard Case which we reviewed a month ago with a larger luggage-sized case.

Pro Light backpacks include the Pro Light Multi-charger, Flexloader, Frontloader and two Backloader sizes. In this review we examine and compare the Pro Light M front loader and M Backhoe Loader variants.

External design and material

Manfrotto Pro Light backpacks all share major external features. The outer fabric is a dark gray, matte, textured surface made of ripstop and nylon that offers a balance of lightweight material, moisture resistance, and tear and abrasion resistance. The structure of the backpacks is reinforced with viscoelastic memory foam which contributes to both shock protection and carrying comfort.

Back panels are lined with breathable memory foam topped with mesh fabric that provides cushioning and airflow when carrying backpacks. Shoulder straps are thick and padded with no height adjustment straps. All backpacks include an adjustable sternum strap for better weight distribution and comfort, and a side handle/strap that doubles as a luggage handle attachment.

Another common feature across all five Pro Light backpacks is the TSA-approved 3-digit code padlocks attached to the side with dedicated pockets. These steel wire padlocks easily insert into the loops at the ends of the zipper pulls and secure all major compartments and accessory pockets, making the backpacks protective against physical and security threats .

The Pro Light Backloader, as the name suggests, has a rear-access camera compartment. Its most distinctive feature is the presence of rubber protectors on the front surface to act as contact points when you put the backpack on the ground to open the compartment. The back flap that opens to reveal the compartment also features additional mesh pockets as well as a padded 15” laptop compartment. The Backloading has a pair of tripod attachment straps and flexible pockets on both sides for carrying travel tripods, water bottles and other long accessories.

The Pro Light Frontloader uses a full front panel flap that opens the main camera compartment. The outer side of the flap also includes a front pocket for small accessories.

Secondary side access is also an option for accessing the lower third of the camera compartment for commonly used pieces of equipment. While one side is occupied by the side access door, the other side has a tripod attachment strap and a flexible pocket. The top of the back panel is opened by zippers to reveal a padded 15-inch laptop compartment, while the inside of the front flap has only mesh pockets for small accessories. With the new Pro Light backpacks, Manfrotto has also introduced a new internal separation system called M-Guard padding. These new dividers feature a more versatile folding pattern that resembles the letter M. With the ability to bend the dividers, the user can make the compartments thinner or have the dividers have a slight bulge. This new shape adds more options for adjusting gear inside the bag and reducing extra space to prevent contents from bumping into each other during transport. The fully removable internal padding can of course accommodate larger contents which are also perfect for dividing the compartment for non-photographic items in case the space needed for equipment is minimal.

Capacity

Both Pro Light backpack variants have approximately the same capacity. The main camera compartment can hold one or two DSLR or mirrorless camera bodies with four to six standard size lenses. The long axis of the bag can hold a full frame body with a 70-200mm telephoto lens attached. Alternatively, a foldable camera drone can replace two or three lenses inside the compartment.

Mesh pockets on the flaps can hold memory cards, batteries, keys and other small items. The front panel can hold a standard tablet and also has small mesh pockets for additional accessories. Laptop compartments can hold 15-inch laptops; however, the back pocket of the Pro Light Frontloader has a bit more room for thicker laptops.

Accessories

Both bags include the mentioned TSA-approved padlocks that secure all major camera compartments and accessory pockets. This is a thoughtful feature, especially for the Pro Light Frontloader, where exposed access to the front camera compartment can be a cause for concern. Being able to lock the bag through the padlock eliminates this risk, and having the padlock attached to the bag reduces the risk of misplacing the padlock, which is a familiar experience for many travelers.

Both bags also include double-sided all-weather covers. This uniquely designed rain cover doubles as a heat reflector. The black surface protects against moisture and dust like any rain cover would, while the reflective side is best used to repel heat and reduce heat entry into the bag itself.

Conclusion

Looking at the collection in general, the Pro Light collection offers options for photographers and filmmakers with nearly every compartment access point and extra feature they could want. The Pro Light Frontloader and Backloader backpacks are pretty much the go-to camera backpack styles with added features for security, gear fit, and comfort. The Multiloader which offers front, side and top access is a versatile option, and the Flexloader has a collapsible secondary compartment which can hold large accessories like a gimbal stabilizer provides an adaptive carrying solution. With the abundance of options, these camera bags can be a long term companion for any professional or hobbyist.

What I liked :

  • Minimalist aesthetic
  • Several options in access points
  • Able to lock the whole bag with the included padlock
  • Versatile padding and dividers

What can be improved:

  • No modular accessories
  • Limited number of attachment point options for pouches/hooks
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