This backpack does what it sets out to do, and provides useful camera storage in all three modes: a handle bag, a backpack or a shoulder bag. Space is at a premium however, and we’d recommend this mainly for people looking for a day bag or lifestyle bag rather than an out-and-out professional load carrier.
Useful and versatile carrying modes
Durable and water-resistant
Padded bag insert adds flexibility and space
Limited space for larger lenses
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Manfrotto is no stranger to creating versatile professional photography equipment. Founded in the mid 20th century and named after Italian photographer Lino Manfrotto, its products were initially created to offer lower cost, lighter weight alternatives to traditional, cumbersome studio equipment.
Weight: 2.6 lbs
Internal dimensions: 27x15x42cm
External dimensions: 28x19x43cm
Camera insert dimensions: 19x11.5x21cm
Laptop compartment: 14”
Max no. of lenses stored: 2
Compatibility: DSLR, Mirrorless and compact camera compatibility with 1 x tripod and accessories
Indeed, one of its latest offerings, the Manfrotto Advanced Hybrid backpack III, looks to put that versatility into action and features in our round-up of the best camera backpacks. It’s a three-in-one system, offering a trio of carrying styles to suit a range of situations, while also offering space for a camera and two lenses, and extra equipment.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Manfrotto Advanced Hybrid backpack III and assessing its suitability for a range of different types of photography and carrying situations — from backcountry astrophotography to urban and street styles.
- Related: Best cameras for astrophotography
Manfrotto Advanced Hybrid review: Design
- Simple design
- Sleek and smart
- Innovative and clever strap system
At first glance, the Advanced Hybrid Backpack is a fairly simple looking design. Unassuming and fairly plain looking, it follows Manfrotto’s simple design aesthetic but perhaps doesn’t quite look the part when you put it up against similar sized bags from the likes of competitors such as Peak Design and Lowe Pro.
That being said, this will favour many people, as the straightforward, all black look has a simplicity and sleekness which is very smart. The fabric itself is most definitely water-repellent, and it has a confidence-inspiring thickness to it which gives the impression of long-lasting durability. We also liked the fact that it comes with a waterproof cover, too.
There’s an additional 14” laptop sleeve, but we’ve seen many reviews that report being able to fit in a 15” device at a push. For reference, this is a fairly decent size for bags of these proportions. When we tested out the slightly smaller Vanguard Veo Select 43RB, we were surprised to find it only came with the capacity to carry a slim 10.5" laptop, despite its roll-top design.
This Manfrotto model also features a side loop for accessories such as small tripods, and we also thought the two side pockets work very well — one is for smaller items but one is more expandable — we were able to fit two medium-sized bottles of water in one side alone.
There is, as you’d expect, additional zippered pockets around the bag for smartphones and extra photography equipment such as memory cards, cleaning devices and spare lens caps.
Manfrotto Advanced Hybrid review: Features
- Strap and carrying system is well thought out and innovative
- Makes traveling with cameras very easy
- Larger kit is a bit of a squeeze
Design aside, it is the innovative features of this bag that really start to make it shine, especially when on the move.
Manfrotto has designed the bag to be as versatile as possible, with three separate carrying styles that are different enough from each other to be useful in their own right. That’s the clever bit — there’s no real overlap between the types of photography or usages, so you’re almost getting three different bags in one.
Firstly, the conventional backpack is as you’d expect, with a nicely padded back panel and adjustable straps. Secondly, there’s the top-handled usage, which we actually found to be the most useful when travelling around, especially through airports, as we often had a larger bag on our back. Thirdly, there’s the shoulder system, which means attaching a larger, wider strap so you can use it as a body bag. This third system is also useful, as there’s a side entrance to the bag that becomes a top entrance in this configuration, allowing quick as easy access to kit on to go.
We’d expect the backpack system to be most useful when carrying a good deal of equipment, whereas the other two systems are made for life on the move, especially when it comes to rapid access of gear. In this context, we’d see this bag working very well for urban or street photographers, or image-makers who need to jump on and off transport, for instance.
One other feature we really liked that’s worth pointing out — there’s a sleeve on the back of the bag that can loop over the handles of roller bags when at the airport - very useful!
Manfrotto Hybrid Advanced review: Performance
- Hybrid carrying styles offer good range of performance
- Durable fabric stands up to heavy use
- All areas work as expected
With so many carrying styles and so much versatility with this bag, we were sceptical at first as to how they would all hold up when it comes to performance and day-to-day usage.
Happily, we can report we weren’t disappointed. As we’ve mentioned, each bag system is unique from each other, and each useful in its own right, with different styles of photography catered for. The more we used the bag, the more we also enjoyed its sleek, understated look, which especially looks the part around town.
The only thing to note which acts as a slight downside about the bag is that it isn’t the largest. If you’re carrying two or three bodies, with a couple of lenses each and some extra equipment, we don’t think this would be the bag for you. Instead, the bag gravitates towards the travelling market — those who need a high-quality bag for moving around without the fuss of some of the more complicated, larger units.
Should you buy the Manfrotto Hybrid Advanced Backpack?
For its size, this bag is towards the top of the pricing spectrum, but its competitors don’t offer quite the same versatility and carrying capabilities. We were impressed with the bag, and if you’re a photographer or content creator that carries smaller equipment and would like a lightweight offering that works best when on the move, we’d highly recommend this offering from Manfrotto.
We were particularly impressed with the sleeve that enables it to be carried on top of roller bags, and the top entrance to the unit when wearing it on the shoulder is well thought-out, too. We also liked the high standard of build and durability of the outer fabric.
It doesn't quite have the same adventure-credentials of something like the LowePro Photosport Outdoor backpack, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with versatility and a slightly smarter aesthetic.
If this product isn't for you
If the hybrid carrying and design style isn’t quite right for you, or you would like more space, then it’s worth looking at these alternatives:
Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L - A premium option, but an award-winning and highly revered one, nonetheless.
Stubble&Co Adventure Bag - Although not strictly a camera bag, we like this option for more serious, rugged travelling ability, and there are plenty of secure spaces for your gear.
Jacob Little is a photographer, writer and communications professional based in Bristol and Cornwall. His main inspirations come from outdoor adventure, travel, rural living and wild ways and crafts. Passionate about weaving the core principles of storytelling into his images, he approaches brand and copywriting work in much the same way. Conveying a compelling narrative is one of the main drivers behind much of his work.