Equipment Review – Crumpler’s Whickey and Cox

Last year I had back-to-back trips to Seattle and London. I had the Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack 200EG, and though it holds gear very well, it is totally conspicuous, opens too easily and provides only limited protection for the camera gear. Having lenses worth hundreds of dollars almost fall out on several occasions, I knew I needed something better. For the money, the Canon bag is quite the value, but does it seem reasonable to expect high end protection for thousands of dollars worth of equipment from a $40.00 bag?

For traveling, my goal was to find a bag that would hold one Canon 30D body and several small travel lenses, a super-zoom (Tamron 18-250mm), one wide-angle (Canon 10-22mm) and one prime (Canon 50mm 1.4). The bag also had to hold a small laptop, camcorder, cables, power supplies, had to hold all the equipment I could stand to carry, fit international carry-on specifications, protect memory cards, batteries, chargers, a card reader, and at least one backup hard drive. Basically, it all the equipment from damage, and be secure, inconspicuous, and comfortable.  Oh yeah, it would also serve as a seat while my two year old was hitching a ride on my back.

I searched and searched for an affordable (somewhat) backpack. At the time, reviews were limited, and it was difficult decision. I could not find the Crumpler bags locally, so trying it before I bought it was not an option. I did not care so much about style, as long as the bag was not hideous, which considering the color of some of the Crumpler’s bags, could have been a deal breaker.  I finally broke down and ordered a Whickey and Cox.

Crumpler - Whickey and Cox - Click to jump to gallery.

Click the photo to jump to a gallery that will give you an idea of the size compared to the Canon bag, how it does with a tripod attached, and how well it works as a saddle.  The bag is the most comfortable pack I have and fits very well.  However, I am not an avid hiker or backpacker, and after several days of walking a few miles a day with the Crumpler (and a 25lb two year old) hanging on my back much of the time, my back was still in pain.

There are several good reviews available on the net which go into quite extensive detail about the backpack, capacities, protection, build quality, et cetera.  Therefore, I won’t rehash those details here.

Several of the sites listed about have pretty good lists of the pros and cons of the Whickey and Cox.  The two biggest negatives of the bag are the tightness of the side pockets and the time it takes to get to your gear.  If you have big hands, prepare to lose the skin on the back of them as you put them into and out of the pockets.  Regarding access to the central compartment, take a look at the quick video showing the one significant change I would make to the bag to help ease access to gear.

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As of yet, nothing has broken on the bag so I cannot speak for Crumpler product support.  One thing is clear though, something must be in the water over there because they are not conventional.   For one, generally their bags are different.  Second, check out their web sites and download product catalogs; you will see that the US site has been tamed significantly compared to their German site.  I have little doubt that many Americans would easily be offended by some of their marketing material.  I find it refreshing finally to come across a company that breaks with the typical “pretty smiling face” marketing mold to which we are so accustomed.   I’m betting the guy works for Crumpler, but you can even find a Blog, Crumplerfried!, that follows every Crumpler move.

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