Ballistix AURA Pro-Tour
In May, I reviewed a tote and laptop sleeve from Slappa which, in spite of a few shortcomings, is a bag that matches my gear-carrying needs. When Slappa sent these items, the AURA Pro-Tour backpack was also included, and it didn’t take me long to recognize that I couldn’t give the Pro-Tour a proper review since it is ideally suited for someone who carries a lot of photo equipment in addition to a laptop computer.
Fortunately, I have a friend who not only is a professional photographer, but was also packing for a photo trip to Montana when I called to ask for his help. He was debating over which of his bags to take in order to travel as lightly as possible. Ben was excited when I showed him the product Web page for this backpack and thought this was the perfect item for his gear.
Pro photographer Ben Tanner wearing the Ballistix AURA Pro-Tour backpack during a photo trip to Montana.
The AURA Pro-Tour is made of water- and tear-resistant ballistic nylon and is available in black or a stylish brown, which Ben stated he liked a lot. The primary compartment holds a removable padded gear bag with customizable dividers. The dividers can be arranged to accommodate most any small- to medium-sized equipment and hold the items securely in place.
The removable gear bag’s dividers are customizable to fit any size camera equipment.
Once the gear bag is configured as desired and the equipment is placed within, the entire bag slides snugly into the top of the backpack. One advantage to the removable gear bag is that a companion can pull it out for quick access to equipment without the wearer having to remove the backpack.
Adjacent to the compartment that holds the gear bag is a slot that holds up to a 15.4″ laptop computer. Then, there is a liberal number of additional compartments and pockets on the front and sides of the backpack.
Ben packed the following items into the gear bag and other compartments of the backpack:
- Apple iBook
- Leica binoculars
- Leica table-top tripod
- Various chargers
- Leica M6
- Leica M8
- Six different lenses at varying sizes
- SD cards
- Camera sensor cleaner
- Camera level
- Travel info literature
Even with this amount of gear, there was room to spare in the 1,700 cubic inches of capacity.
The AURA Pro-Tour held everything Ben needed for his Montana photo trip with room to spare.
Though we give this bag a rating of Excellent, Ben felt there were a few areas that would make the bag even more suited to his needs. His preference is for zippers instead of the hook-and-loop fasteners used on many of the pockets, and he felt accessing the compartments and pockets would be easier if the design were such that the backpack could stand upright on its own, as it has a tendency of rolling over to lie flat on the back when full of gear.
Ben noted that the removable gear bag was ideal for his Leica M series cameras, which are known for their precision construction in spite of their small size. More commonly used are DSLR type cameras, such as the Nikon D700, which would also be at home in the gear bag. Ben feels that two standard DSLRs and perhaps three lenses would fit well. However, the bulky, high-end DSLRs, such as the Nikon D3X, would be something of a challenge to fit. The body of a D3X could lie flat in the gear bag, but it wouldn’t leave much room for additional gear.
While the AURA Pro-Tour isn’t going to replace dedicated cases designed to transport high end photography equipment, any intermediate and professional photographer should appreciate this backpack for a short photo excursion and its ability to contain an impressive amount of gear in a bag that is comfortable to wear and fits most any overhead aircraft storage bin.
Ben is a big fan of the Leica M series cameras, and he is happy for any opportunity to take them on outdoor photo excursions. He feels the AURA Pro-Tour backpack is well-suited as a permanent transportation method of his frequent photo trips.
Just for enjoyment, here are a couple photos from Ben’s recent trip to Montana: