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Review Tamrac Anvil Pro Series Backpacks
Camera backpacks are abused, and I mean seriously mistreated.
We need them to be tough; want them to be comfortable; need them to be light; we want them to be dependable; want them to handle heavy loads (often worth thousands), we need them to offer security; we want them to adapt, and, we want to forget they’re there, and we don’t want them to complain.
It seems, on the surface, this is a rather one-sided relationship. But, in fact, it can be a rather nice love affair.
Ok, that’s a tad mushy, I know! The point is, camera backpacks are some of the hardest working bags in the world. When you need the shot, and the light is fading, they are dumped to one side, no matter what the surface, with zips ripped open. The last thing any of us think about is the poor backpack. And, that’s the way it should be. That’s the whole point. Their role is that of the consistently reliable silent partner.
After owning numerous backpacks over the years and always disappointed with their performance, I had a chance encounter with an old friend three years ago. They steered me in the direction of Tamrac, and more specifically, their range of six pro backpacks known as ‘Anvil.’
Now, I had heard of Tamrac because I also own an older style Gura Gear bag. But I hadn’t realized just how influential they have been in camera backpack development over the last 40 years. A bunch of outdoor enthusiasts established the company in Southern California in 1977. They had a mission to design products that could withstand the day-to-day challenges of photographers in the world’s most testing and demanding environments and conditions. They stuck to that conviction and they continue to innovate and enhance – based on customer reviews they are getting.
Tamrac has sized the Anvil to fit us, and our gear. Whether we shoot pro-DSLR with battery grip, have a big fast glass or have been enlightened by the mirror-less movement. With six sizes, multiple heights and depths, any set-ups have an Anvil to suit.
I decided to invest in the ‘Anvil 23,’ as it is appropriate to my particular set of requirements. That said, all six Anvils are designed and built alike, with capacity being the only real difference.
Now, when it comes to handing over hard-earned cash for a backpack, I have some basic criteria to meet. Albeit, I would have to take a punt based on existing customer reviews and previous experience. Three years on, and I can now add my own real-world experience to this set of standards.
Backpacks need to be fully customizable and to adapt with you as your gear evolves.
The Anvil has certainly delivered on this front. It features a large main padded compartment designed to protect and carry multiple pro-sized DSLR bodies with lenses attached. Along with a full range of lenses, flashes, and accessories.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve reconfigured the internal compartment over the years to cater for my varying needs!
While keeping my bag light is extremely important, there is also the need for it to stand up to some serious long-term abuse.
Anvil backpacks utilize over ten different optimized foams for the perfect balance of weight and protection. The fabric used is ‘Cordura 500D’ with a PU coating. It is super-rugged and has excellent abrasion resistance. It’s also incredibly strong with outstanding tear strength and water repellent capabilities.
My Anvil 23 is now three years old. Although it shows signs of use (extreme abuse) and its showroom shine has gone, everything is still in working order. There’s no evidence to suggest material degradation.
Of course, when your backpack is dragged down a wet pebble beach by a German Shepherd, it has to be tough, right?
Wider, flexible waist-straps and shoulder straps are a must to ensure I can manage all my gear comfortably over long periods of time.
Furthermore, I transit through plenty of airports each year and climb many a mountain. The Anvil’s comfortable airflow harness and removable belt system (which you can use independently) has made any amount of gear easy to carry.
I’ve also been able to fit the Anvil in the overhead compartment of most commercial aircraft, but please check with your own carrier’s carry-on restrictions.
Due to the fact that I work predominately outdoors, there are few things worse than missing a shot because I couldn’t get access to my gear on time.
Except for the Anvil Super 25 (designed to carry up to an 800mm lens or up to a 500mm attached to a pro DSLR), all Anvils have a handy front padded pocket that holds most 15” laptops. There are also many other exterior pockets for carrying accessories. These are where I tend to keep memory cards, phone, etc.
I lead worldwide wildlife photo safaris to some extremely inhospitable places, and dust can be a constant concern. Past backpacks I’ve used have been dust magnets, especially ones with air-mesh type materials.
Thankfully, the Tamrac Anvil Pro Series Backpacks are completely seam-sealed and have a weather protective rain fly. Both have been critical components in my gear’s welfare.
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m a big fan of the Tamrac Anvil Pro backpack. That’s down to the fact that it has delivered against my set of expectations and requirements. So, it’s certainly not the cheapest backpack on the market, with prices ranging from around $170 – $270 (approx. £130 – £210). Although, if I had to choose a backpack again, I would most certainly go for an Anvil.