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Timbuk2 Snoop XS Review

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from Disney Photography Blog friend Alan Rappaport (@AlanRappa on Twitter).  Alan was a frequent contributor in the past and we are glad that he’s returned for today’s gear review.  You can find more of Alan’s writing here and see his pictures on Flickr here. On with the review……

 

Finding the perfect camera bag is a holy grail quest that every photographer explores. For us Disney photographers, there’s the additional challenge of not only finding the perfect bag, but finding one that can also perform under the conditions of a Disney theme park.

 

To me, this means a bag that’s comfortable for extended periods of use, easy to access, easy to travel with and doesn’t get in the way while enjoying Disney’s attractions. I’m not saying the Snoop is the holy grail, but to echo the sentiment of the Knight from The Last Crusade, I feel I have chosen wisely.

SmallMickey

The Snoop Camera bag is a messenger style bag that comes in three sizes and retails from $130 –  $170 (though it can frequently be found on sale at Timbuk2.com).  (Editor’s note: The bag Alan is reviewing is currently on sale at Amazon for $84.99 and free shipping)

 

For this review, I am going to be focusing on the XS size which is perfect for anyone shooting with compact or mirrorless camera system.

 

Starting with the outside of the bag, one of my favorite things about the Snoop is that it doesn’t scream ‘camera bag’ when you look at it. This is essential for me when I’m traveling as prefer to keep my gear as incognito as possible. The Snoop is stylish, while remaining understated. It’s currently available in two styles – Black and Diablo, though I do hope Timbuk2 adds it to their custom bag builder at some point.

 

The exterior is constructed of ‘bomb proof’ Codura fabric backed with a waterproof TPU liner on the inside. While I can’t vouch for the bag’s ‘bomb-proof’ effectiveness, I have been caught out in inclement weather  a few times with it.

 

The outside of the bag got completely drenched, but my gear remained snug & dry on the inside. To help keep the elements away from your gear, the Snoop features extra fabric at the top corners that fold in like origami when the bag is closed.

TopBag

 

On the top of the Snoop you’ll find a sturdy hand strap which is great for managing the bag while getting on or off attractions. To make life even easier when loading/unloading rides is the single-handed shoulder strap adjustment.

 

This is a unique feature that makes adjusting the length of the shoulder strap a breeze which is fantastic when you’re trying to expedite your exit from a ride vehicle or speed you way through bag check.

TimbukMemCard

Directly under the front flap you have two storage pockets. The first being a clear, zippered pouch that is great for smaller items such as memory cards or spare batteries. Behind that, you’ll find a stash pocket with an anchor for your keys, or in my case, a microfiber cloth.

 

Flanking the zippered pouch are two Velcro strips which do a great job keeping the flap closed when not buckled. There’s a large strip of Velcro on the underside of the flap, which makes it easy to seal the bag without precisely lining up opposing Velcro sides.

 

The Velcro can be loud when opening the bag, but Timbuk2 includes Velcro ‘silencers’ along with the Snoop for when stealth shooting is a must.

 

Below the Velcro straps are two buckles to lock down and cinch up your bag when you’re on the move.

 

Ok, now on to the main event, the interior of this bag. The Snoop includes a cushy, padded interior with Velcro dividers for you to customize to fit your gear. The bottom of this comportment is well padded, giving your gear a nice soft bed to rest on while protecting it from bumps and bruises.

TimbukInterior

The camera compartment can easily carry my Sony A7 with one lens attached along with two additional lenses (in my case a 24-70mm & 55mm). There isn’t room for much else, however you can get creative with the dividers to maximize the internal space. No matter how you slice it though, if you travel ‘gear-intensive’ then this may not be the right bag for you. It’s best for shooters who prefer to stick to a streamlined or ‘daily’ kit.

 

Best part about the camera compartment is that it is completely removable. This makes the bag even more versatile for traveling as it can double as a regular messenger bag when you don’t need to carry your gear along with you.

TimbukSleeve

In additional to the camera compartment, on the inside there is an internal divider that houses a zippered pouch along with two organizational pockets

 

The Snoop is comfortable on the shoulder, however I wouldn’t  more padding on the strap – especially since the pad is non-removable. You’re mileage may vary here, but as long as you pack a sensible load the Snoop will carry it in stride while going easy on your shoulder.

 

There’s no magic button to getting at your gear. Like any messenger bag, just swing the bag to your front, open the flap and grab what you need. While the velcro was strong on it’s own, I preferred to keep the buckles engaged to minimize the risk of the bag opening when not intended.

 

The small profile of the XS makes it easy to swing the bag around to your back and navigate crowds without having to worry about bumping you gear into other guests. It’s also easy to fit the bag between your legs on tight attractions such as Space Mountain or Expedition Everest.

Timbuk2XS

As far as Disney Photography goes, The Snoop is an easy recommendation for shooting around the parks as it meets all the criteria I stated at the beginning of this post. The XS suffers from a few shortcomings when compared to it’s larger siblings – namely the lack of a tripod attachment and no Napoleon pocket on the front. Aside from those two items (and the lack of a custom bag option) I have zero complaints with this bag.

 

Those of you who travel light in the parks, and are looking for a bag that likes to play as much as you do will be well served checking out the Snoop. Not only is it a comfortable, durable bag, but Timbuk2 is a great company, and stands behind their products offering a lifetime warranty.

 

Feel free to sound off in the comments if you have any questions. I’d love to hear what everyone’s current ‘holy grail’ camera bag is.

 

The Snoop Messenger Camera Bag is available directly from Timbuk2, or can be found at Amazon, B&H Photo, and wherever fine bags are sold.  

 

Pros

Removable camera compartment

Easy to adjust shoulder strap

Waterproof liner

Velcro silencers

‘Incognito’ appearance

 

Cons

No tripod attachment (on xs)

No Napoleon pocket for quick access (on xs)

Strap pad could use more padding

No custom options (at least not yet)

 

MeFoto RoadTrip Travel Tripod

On my first couple of trips to Walt Disney World, I didn’t really have a tripod.  Sure I had one of those cheap tripods that you can find at BestBuy or Target, but the head wasn’t very stable and to be honest, I didn’t feel like trusting my Canon 60D to a the $39 tripod that came free with my video camera years ago.  But after seeing the wonderful fireworks and empty park shots that Cory, Ryan, and the rest of the Disney Photography Community takes, I knew I had to upgrade my gear with a good tripod.  Enter the MeFoto RoadTrip.

roadtrip-colors-red

The aluminum MeFoto RoadTrip comes in a 12 different colors at the time of this post (I think it was fewer when I bought my red one back in 2013) so you can choose the one that bests suits your personal sense of style.  Weighing 3.6lbs this isn’t the lightest tripod but it is by no means heavy.  It is extremely well put together.  Everything just feels right when you use it.  The controls for the included ball head are solid and hold your camera level when they are tightened down, and the twist locks on the legs keep your camera at the height you want.  There is even a hook on the end of the center column for attaching an additional counterweight on windy days.  I have hung my camera back there when I want to make sure my camera is steady.   The RoadTrip has a max rated load of 17.6 lbs, so with my Canon 60D (1.7 lbs) that means (in theory) the tripod could support the big Canon 400 f/2.8 lens (8.5lbs) with no issue – although having shot that lens before I’m not so sure I would push the tripod that far.  The RoadTrip has a maximum height of 61.6″ with the center column fully extended so it’s tall enough when trying to get a good fireworks shot in on Main Street. The RoadTrip can also be converted into a monopod with a little bit of work, which I’ve been able to use when shooting some of the stage shows in the parks when setting up a full tripod is impractical.

The only downside to the RoadTrip is the individual twist and lock leg extensions.  The folks at MeFoto were thoughtful enough to include four separate leg extensions for each of the the tripod’s legs.  This allows the RoadTrip to fold up into an extremely small package when you are done.  But this means you have to twist and lock the legs a lot when you are either setting up or shutting down after an evening of photography.

The photo for this post was shot right at the hump on Main Street during my last trip to Walt Disney World, Spring Break of 2014.  I love shooting Wishes – the fireworks show holds a special place in my family’s heart – and the RoadTrip has helped me get some great shots.

So that’s what I’m using?  What tripod are you using?  Put it in the comments?