The Vanguard Skyborne 53 is a large camera backpack that’s designed to carry a large load and do it comfortably – or as comfortable as you can carry a big load of DSLRs and lenses.
The Skyborne 53 is currently the largest of the Skyborne series. You can pack in a DSLR with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached to the body and still have room left over for additional bodies and lenses.
In addition to the storage space for your cameras and lenses, the Skyborne 53 has a separate compartment for a 17″ laptop and an adjustable attachment for packing different-sized tripods. The laptop storage area includes a separate laptop bag that has an adjustable shoulder strap, which is a nice touch for this kit. It also has a roomy front compartment and zippered side pouch with dedicated slots for memory cards and lens caps.
The Skyborne 53 has a very robust feel to it. You’re not going to rip the material and it looks and feels like it will withstand some serious abuse. It also includes a rain cover that will completely cover the bag so you don’t have to worry about getting caught out in the elements with the Skyborne 53.
The backpack has a harness system that’s designed with comfort in mind. The waist belt takes a lot of the strain off your shoulders when you really load the bag down. It also conveniences like a cell phone case on the shoulder harness that puts your phone in easy reach when you’ve got the bag on your back. It looked a little small at first blush, but because of the neoprene design, I was even able to fit my HTC EVO inside of it – so any other phone shouldn’t be a problem.
You can see the full specs for the Skyborne 53 on Vanguard’s website.
I did come away with a couple of gripes though. It seems to me that Vanguard missed out on the opportunity to added some storage pockets on the inside of the main compartment’s lid. I’m not sure if that would have messed up their “air-infused” cushioning, but it just seems like this is wasted space.
Additionally, the zippers in the accessory areas don’t have the robust feel of the main compartment zipper. I would have preferred to have the big, tough zippers on the accessory pouches and the additional laptop bag as well. While none of the other zippers failed during my test, they didn’t exactly exude confidence when using them.
All in all, the Vanguard Skyborne 53 is a big, solid camera bag that will do a great job at carrying loads of gear on long treks – and maintain as much comfort as is possible with all that gear.
It’s not a day pack by any means. However, if you need to carry lots of gear, or some big lenses, the Skyborne 53 may very well be your bag.
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