Not perfect, but a decent backpack for the money. If you need a versatile lifestyle bag for a mirrorless or small DSLR camera, this won’t disappoint.
Accessible pockets and easy to use
Small and lightweight
Appealing looks and good functionality
Smaller size might limit some people
Roll top area at the top too small
Can be fiddly
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This offering from Vanguard, the VEO Select 43 Roll Top, adds to the brand’s increasing line of slimmer, more subtle lifestyle bags for photographers. Well suited to a growing population of camera owners with a smaller amount of gear, the VEO Select bags have recently been updated with the 'roll top' design.
Internal/ external dimensions: Internal - 230 × 125 × 420mm, External - 310 × 205 × 470mm
Laptop compartment dimensions: 10.5” Laptop/Tablet
Number of lenses that can be stored: 4 to 6 lenses
Compatibility: DSLR/Mirrorless Cameras
Based in Dorset in the UK, Vanguard is a relatively small operation but have excellent worldwide presence, and have won many design awards for their clever cases that range from small body bags to full-on roller bags suitable for flying. With the needs of photographers changing frequently, these roll top bags are intended to add versatility to Vanguard’s range, operating as daily lifestyle bags but with the capacity, security and flexibility to work as go-to camera bags too.
Below is our full hands-on review of the bag. There's a lot that we really rate on this model — its versatility, its portability — but we did think it was lacking in space. For this reason, you won't find it right at the top of our list of the best camera backpacks, although it does still feature in it.
Looking for more guidance on picking the best camera gear? Have a look through our round-ups of the best tripods and the best cameras for astrophotography — or read on to see what we made of the Vanguard Veo Select 43 RB.
Vanguard VEO Select 43RB review: Design
- Attractive compact design
- Sturdy material
- Well-built zips and fasteners
The first impression of the Vanguard VEO Select 43RB is that it has been well thought-out, with an attractive design available in either a pleasant green colour or a more standard black. We especially liked the compact feel of the bag in the hand — its appearance is fairly diminutive and without anything in it, it’s surprisingly lightweight, too.
On the front of the bag, underneath the metal ‘Vanguard’ badge, there’s a soft touch waterproof fabric that matches the heavy-duty material on the bag’s outer. There’s also a well-thought out base to the bag, with thicker, heavier fabric that not only protects the contents of the bag but allows it to stand up of its own accord too, which is a nice touch. There’s two side pockets and a smaller front zipped pocket, which we found to be perfect for wallets, keys and phones.
The strap at the top of the bag hides the roll top element, which then unfurls once the strap is undone to reveal a further internal pocket. We were slightly disappointed by the relatively small size of this roll top element, and thought a deeper pocket here would be more useful, but it is both easy to get to and well-placed if you’re putting things in it you need in a hurry. All the straps, fasteners, buckles and zips feel of very good quality, and the elasticated side pockets are a good feature, which means you can put smaller items in here without the fear of them falling out.
All in all, a useful bag but not one that boasts the versatility and size of something like the LowePro Photosport 24L. But this model is (arguably) a lot better looking.
Vanguard VEO Select 43RB review: Features
- Easy-access front camera compartment
- Velcro tablet pocket and mesh memory card pockets
- Roll top element feels slightly gimmicky
When testing the bag, our first port of call was the front opening camera compartment, which is the main area of the bag and the nicest space to use when transporting equipment. Inside, you’re faced with fabric dividers, which are easy to remove if you’d like to turn the bag into a day or travel sack. There’s space here for a medium size DSLR, a couple of lenses, a flash and even your best drone and its controller. Each fabric divider is independent of itself too, so if you need more space, just break free one of the walls and move it further up.
There’s space on the flap of the compartment to store a tablet-sized device such as an iPad, but owners of larger laptops might be disappointed as there’s limited room to put a full-sized computer. That being said, we really liked using this element and the little touches are sometimes what makes a bag like this nice to use. The zippered memory card pockets are especially useful!
At the top of the bag the roll top element hides a small compartment which is useful for hard drives, camera accessories, lens caps and other miscellany when out and about. We did think however that it was quite a tiny area — the floor of the pocket can be removed to extend the space into the main area of the bag — but to keep things divided can sometimes mean compromising on volume here. The roll top element adds expansion, so it’s not all bad news, but we wondered if there were any significant benefits to using the roll top over a normal clasp. There’s nothing wrong with it, but questions may be raised as to whether Vanguard are just following the fashion here.
Vanguard VEO Select 43RB review: Performance
- Daily performance one of the bag’s strengths
- Sturdy and hard-wearing materials
- Straps can be a little fiddly
Everyday quality performance is one of the areas that Vanguard have concentrated on when it comes to the VEO Select 43RB, and in this area, the bag impresses. We’d have no qualms strapping the bag on each day when out on shoots, or on the commute, and the levels of comfort Vanguard have achieved with the strong, padded rear mesh are impressive.
We’ve managed to configure the main compartment to fit 6 lenses, which is great for a bag of this size, and we like that the bag itself can be configured to be set up for top loading and camera access, too. It’s comfortable enough to be worn for longer periods of time and the breathable, soft straps do their best to avoid digging in on the shoulders too much. Like many smaller bags we see, we perhaps would have liked to have seen larger waist straps for additional support.
Performance wise in terms of the material, there’s excellent equipment protection and the fabric does a good job of being weather-resistant. Even snags on wires, trees and brambles are easy to navigate as the bag does a very good job of not ripping or tearing.
Should you buy the Vanguard VEO Select 43RB?
We’d really recommend the VEO Select 43RB if you’re in need of a good, sturdy daily bag that has the versatility to turn in a good camera lugger and doesn’t break the bank. If you have modern mirrorless or compact equipment, all the better, as this bag doesn’t really suit larger camera setups or those wanting to extensively expand their equipment. That said, it is a cleverly designed bag which makes use of Vanguard’s extensive prowess in creating award-winning rucksacks. If you’re after a discreet bag that doesn’t shout ‘professional photographer,’ then this would be an excellent choice.
If this product isn't for you
If you’re after a bigger option, or have more equipment, we’d recommend Vanguard’s Alta Sky range. The Vanguard Alta Sky 51D backpack comes with some excellent reviews. If you’re looking more down the lifestyle route, we’d also recommend taking a close look at Peak Design, or for more traditional professional equipment, Manfrotto has a large range that offer premium, well-built gear like the PRO Light Flexloader Backpack.
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.