The latest edition of this roomy Kiboko stores all your gear in a comfortable pack that’s filled with loads of customization opportunities.
When Gura Gear first approached me about their latest camera bag, I was immediately intrigued by their unique design. Their butterfly opening of the front of the pack struck out as something unique. And while I wasn’t immediately convinced that it would be a user-friendly pack, I decided to try it out for myself to see if it stood up to all the great reviews I’ve seen online.
Over the last few months I had the pleasure of using the latest version of Gura Gear’s V2.0 Kiboko 30L camera bag. With its minimal look and its several customization options, it packs a punch for those looking for a very functional camera bag.
The bag itself looks very minimal without the usual pockets and straps that you see hanging from the outside of other packs; I thought it was quite refreshing to be honest. The bag is made from the same material used in racing yachts and therefore is durable and water repellant. The YKK zippers are easy to pull with their signature aqua blue-coloured zipper pulls, with this blue colour extending into the inner linings of the interior.
Upon receiving the bag, it was actually larger than anticipated. It’s roughly 52cm tall, 32cm wide, and 17cm deep, making these dimensions a little taller, deeper, and slightly thinner than the camera bag that I was using previously—ThinkTank Photo’s StreetWalker HardDrive backpack. This change in dimension may be small, but it makes a big difference when you try and pack all of your gear into the bag.
I really liked the overall functionality of the bag. It has just the right amount of pockets and straps without cluttering the look of the bag itself. The pockets themselves are just the right size too—not too big, not overly small. The butterfly opening means that rather than the bag opening from the top to reveal the entire interior, the bag is divided into two sections allowing you to open each section independently from one another. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing is up to the individual’s liking. I did not mind this division, as long as I packed the bag in a way that allowed me to work with one side at a time. More on this below.
One thing to note is I found myself sometimes forgetting to close the second side when I had both sides open. Traditionally I only needed to zip up one compartment, then I could sling the bag on my shoulder. Once or twice I may have slung the bag on my shoulder with one compartment half open! Fortunately nothing fell out of the bag, but this is one thing that you may need to get used to.
The back of the bag consists of thick foam that is designed with ventilation in mind. This gap between paddings really do make a difference when wearing the bag over an extended period of time. The shoulder straps were well padded and very comfortable upon first use. I had no issues with them while out on hikes, however, I did notice that after a few hours of carrying heavy gear in them, the bag itself did start to feel heavier on me with my shoulders starting to feel the weight more. In this regard, I would have to give ThinkTank Photo’s StreetWalker HardDrive the edge for comfort over a longer period of time.
The butterfly compartment of the Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L provides for plenty of packing alternatives. You can use the two sides for various shooting needs, especially when the bag comes with a large number of extra padded dividers. Here are just some of the many possibilities:
|Camera body 1 with most used lenses
|Camera body 2 with secondary lenses
|Camera body 1 with most used lenses
|Additional accessories, batteries, chargers, cards, etc.
|Camera body 1 and 2, lenses, detached.
|Additional lenses, accessories, batteries, cards, etc.
|Camera body 1, lenses, accessories
|Daypack items including clothing, towels, etc.
|Camera body 1, lenses, accessories
|Travel tripod, accessories, etc.
I always like to carry two bodies—one with a grip, and one without—with lenses already attached to them for quick access to each camera whenever I need them. In addition, I like to carry my accessories, batteries, extra lenses, and so on in the bag.
Because of the size of my Nikon Z 9, when I had a lens attached to it, I had a hard time trying to fit the camera and lens combination in an efficient way so that I could store more lenses in the same side of the bag. I could not fit two bodies with lenses attached to them in one side.
When travelling on airplanes, I carried each camera body (lenses detached) and lenses within each compartment. This allowed me to fit more accessories, batteries, and smaller items within each compartment. When I arrived at my destination, I rearranged it so that I had my most used lenses already attached to my cameras on one side, with most of my other lenses on the other side.
I’m happy to say that the Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L backpack passed as a carry-on when flying Air Canada and Air North. In both cases the bag was stored in the overhead compartment as it likely would not have fit under the seat in front of me because of the height of the bag. The ThinkTank Photo’s StreetWalker HardDrive does fit under the seat in front of me, however, it doesn’t leave much space for my feet—I usually have to find space on the sides for my feet, or just rest it on top of the bag.
The Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L backpack streamlines itself nicely by allowing you to hide the shoulder straps within the back of the bag, which I thought was pretty clever. The waist strap detaches itself completely from the bag, resulting in a camera bag that doesn’t look much like a camera bag. This is ideal in making the bag look smaller than it actually is.
The Side Handle
The extra side handle on the Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko is only available on the 30L version. I never thought I would use this side handle but during my most recent trip, I found myself reaching for it more often than not. It proved quite useful for carrying the bag when in “airplane mode.” Or when I needed to swing my backpack from my back to the inside of the car seat, I also found myself reaching for the side handle to carry it inside the car. Because it was there, I found myself unconsciously reaching for it in various situations, proving it to be more useful than I anticipated.
Having said that the side (and top) handles are a bit bulky as they are sturdy and upright. The handles being upright (ie. do not lose their form) make it easy to grasp at a moment’s time, but I wonder if it could have been made less bulkier by making the handles a little thinner.
The Rain Cover
The Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L comes with its own rain cover. The rain cover itself is stored in its own pouch, and this is stored in a discreet side pocket of the bag. The zipper on this side pocket has a zipper pull that hangs right on top of the zipper line of the side compartment. I found this zipper pull to get in the way quite frequently as it gets tangled up in the zipper as I open and close the side compartment. Moreover, when I go to open or close the side compartment in a hurry without looking (which I often like to do), I sometimes mistaken the zipper pull of this rain cover pocket to be the main zipper.
It’s a minor annoyance that I believe might be solvable by simply removing the zipper pull from this one zipper.
The zippers of each side compartment open half of the bag. This long travel means having a standard sized zipper will take that much longer to open and close the bag. The ThinkTank Photo’s StreetWalker HardDrive, as well as the f-stop Ajna, utilize larger, heavy duty zippers which consists of a larger zipper, and larger teeth for the zipper track itself. This opens and closes the compartments faster as the zipper travels through fewer teeth. This may seem like a small detail, but this makes a big difference.
I mentioned at the start of this post that I wasn’t sure if the butterfly layout would work for me, but after using the Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L bag for the past few weeks, I didn’t mind the layout since the bag still allowed for plenty of customization options given the added dividers that came with the bag. I had to think of the best way to pack both of my cameras in the bag at once, but once I decided on the organization of my gear, it was smooth sailing from there.
Improvements can be made with the zippers and handles, but overall these aren’t dealbreakers. The Gura Gear V2.0 Kiboko 30L is a very functional, well-made bag that is definitely worth your consideration for those looking to store lots of gear in an organized way.
Do you have experience with a Gura Gear bag? Do you want to share your thoughts on what makes a great bag? Let me know in the comments below!
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