There are three main qualities that I need from a camera backpack, it needs to be tough, comfortable and easy to access. The Manfrotto Pro Light MiniBee-120 backpack has joined me on recent trips to Menorca, the Scottish Highlands and Iceland, so it’s already been had a fairly stiff examination.
So far, I’m generally impressed, it’s fairly light, with comfortable padded shoulder straps, a waist belt and chest retaining strap, so carrying it even filled with gear doesn’t become a test of endurance.
Made from durable nylon, which is hardwearing and moisture resistant, it’s capable of taking a fair amount of abuse. Mine regularly gets bashed by trees and rocks when I’m clambering around to get the best vantage point. It also gets shoved into the back of vehicles, crammed into small places.
It also comes provided with a rain cover for when the elements are against you, but I like that one side is silver, providing some protection from UV rays. A nice touch, which will suit those that often travel to hot, sunny climates.
There’s a surprising amount of storage for a relatively small backpack. As my partner will attest, I like to be prepared, carrying everything, making the most of every possible space. The Minibee seems capable of swallowing it all up, putting my packing skills to the test. The dividers are interchangeable, or totally removable, making it pretty versatile and also has a removable, padded mesh case.
The main compartment is accessed by two pairs of twin zips, one at the top of the pack and another at the bottom. Here is my only real gripe, it means there is a point at the middle of the pack where access is slightly more problematic, especially when using the removable case in the pack. The case zip often getting stuffed down the side, making it awkward to reach and close. It’s a relatively small matter, more frustrating than a real issue.
There are a couple of useful pockets for handy storing of frequently used accessories and tripod fittings on the front and side. This allows greater flexibility in transporting your tripod or, of course the facility to carry two if required. The Minibee comes supplied with a tripod pouch and retaining strap.
The pack is one of the pro-light series, meaning it employs Manfrotto’s camera protection system CPS, which means it has additional protection for your gear where it’s needed.
It also has a well-padded and relatively spacious laptop compartment, easily taking a 15-inch laptop and providing adequate protection. As a travel photographer that needs to store and edit images when on the road, I really appreciate this feature.
Another nice touch for travellers is the trolley strap, which means it can be slid over the handle of a trolley case or wheeled duffle, saving having to carry it all the time. It seems to meet with carry-on restrictions for all airlines and easily slips into overhead storage lockers on all planes I’ve travelled on to date.
As a recent convert to Fujifilm CSC camera systems and lenses, this pack is ideal for my requirements. I’m certain DSLR users will find it useful too, but it will comfortably fit two camera bodies and several lenses with accessories in the smaller format, which I now use.
The Minibee has been integrated almost seamlessly into my camera equipment, it’s an easy pack to live with. It now serves as my first choice pack, and expect this tough, little sack to remain so for many years to come.