Billingham Hadley One Snap Verdict
- 370 x 140 x 280mm (WDH)
- 8.75 litres capacity
- Three pockets
Type: Shoulder bag
£265 / $399
Every photographer should own a decent shoulder bag, and few are more attuned to the exacting needs of a photographer than the Billingham Hadley One. Designed for cameras from CSC to medium weight SLRs this shoulder bag features quality and space that’s pretty much unrivaled, but it does come with a hefty price tag.
- Quality materials and construction
- Stylish looks
- Plenty of space
- Limited to CSC and Medium SLRs
Billingham is a UK based heritage brand, known for its quality bags that have had vast appeal to photographers for over 40 years.
The Hadley series is a staple of the Billingham shoulder bag range. The Hadley design was also my first serious bag, one that I was given 20 years ago, and it’s still going strong.
The Hadley One is Billingham’s latest incarnation of the range and follows the same design principles as previous generations.
Initially the styling looks unchanged but take a closer look at some of the features of the new Hadley One and you quickly realise that this is a camera bag that although traditionally styled is bang up-to-date.
Billingham Hadley One Specifications and Features
The traditional styling is instantly recognisable as Billingham, the outer heavyweight canvas and leather straps give a high quality, robust feel.
The exterior of the bag is all beautifully finished with the edging finished with a quality leather trim.
As ever the buckles to hold down the top flap are made of leather and these click into some very beautifully designed brass studs.
The leather and canvas design will last you a lifetime as so many Billingham bags have proven in the past. All this material does mean that the bag weighs in slightly more than bags of a similar capacity at 1.38kg.
Before looking under the flap and into the main cavity of the bag, the back has a couple of interesting features, a slim pocket that stretches over the entire area of the back of the bag and measures a width of 330mm the depth is nominal and height 200mm. This is sealed with a watertight zip which will keep anything you need to keep dry safe.
Also on the back is a loop of material that stretches from left to right and will enable you to quickly pop the bag over a bag trolley. Handy if you’re travelling with lots of other kit or baggage.
On the top of the bag is a an almost briefcase like fabric handle.
Looking back at front of the bag and releasing the two leather buckles reveals two large pockets ideal for popping in Lee filters and few other bits and bobs. These are sizable 140mm width, 30mm depth and 210mm in height.
Open up the main section and you can see it’s just a large cavity, 8.75 liters without inserts.
This internal cavity can be filled with specially designs inserts, one of which comes with the bag to fill half the cavity and a further insert can be purchased to fill the other side. These are held in place by heavy duty button push studs.
In our review sample we popped in two of these inserts, and this is more than enough to comfortably hold my cameras, these inserts are designed to hold pretty much any CSC or medium sized SLR.
During the test I carried around Panasonic GH5 Sony Alpha 7R and Olympus OMD-EM5 mark II, all of which fitted absolutely perfectly
Trying to fit in a Nikon D810 or Canon 5D Mark II did prove that both of these cameras were just a touch too large.
Using the bag with just one insert and the rest of the bag open left plenty of space for a few additional items alongside a camera with lens fitted, such as jacket.
Also inside the internal cavity is a slot pocket which has been designed to comfortably fit a 13-inch laptop, again this section is well padded.
Billingham Hadley One Build and Handling
There is no doubting that the Hadley One is a premium product, and you can see this reflected in the price.
The money doesn’t just go on the Billingham name, it really does go into the materials, design and quality of finish for the bag.
Looking around the bag you can see the quality of the stitching and each seam is sealed and every edge topped off with leather trim to maximum lifespan.
At every point Billingham really does go that extra mile when it comes to finish, and this attention to detail becomes apparent when you start to use it.
Picking the bag up and slinging it over your shoulder, the simple canvas strap is study enough to take considerable weight and the width of the strap is just enough to sit comfortably on your shoulder without digging in.
This strap is held in place on the bag by two leather lugs, which the strap attaches to with a small bolt that lays flush with the leather. There’s a quick release just encase you want to remove the strap and exchange for another.
Accessories like the shoulder pad for the webbing strap and additional inserts are all an additional cost, but really in the grand scheme of things this is a bag that’s going to last for years.
Looking at the canvas exterior, this is a medium-heavy weight canvas and this been treated to ensure that it’s weather resistant. Although the bag itself isn’t waterproof it has enough protection when caught in a heavy rain shower to keep the kit inside safe and dry. I tried this at least twice during the test period.
The base of the bag is flat and has enough width for it to sit comfortably vertical when placed on the ground. The lid of the bag is designed to completely seal the top of the bag, so although not waterproof it will stop rain from getting in, within reason.
The weather seals section at the back of the bank enables you to store maps safely without the worry of it getting damaged from inclement weather.
Flip the lid open and on the inside of the bag everything is double lined and this just gives that extra sense of quality, again all the stitching fixtures are beautifully finished
Popping the inserts in and clipping into place secures them quickly and firmly.
Adding a second insert and the two inserts will sit back to back perfectly filling the entire cavity of the bag ready to take your kit.
There really is only one way to sum up the Billingham Hadley one when it comes to build quality, the manufacture is second to none, the materials are as good as they get, balancing high-quality canvas with weight and durability. This is a bag that is has been designed to last a lifetime.
Billingham Hadley One Performance
Of course let’s not forget that the Hadly One is a fully functional camera bag and whilst its looks and finish are important, it really comes down to how it functions on a day’s shoot.
With the bag laden down, packing in a Panasonic GH5 along along with a couple of lenses, Tascam DR-40 and small waterproof, the bag was comfortably filled.
Even with the bag laden it was still comfortable to carry, with the strap taking and spreading the additional weight. I did add the shoulder pad which is a worthy additional purchase.
The weather this year has been pretty mixed, with few really hot patches and the obligatory rainstorm. In all conditions the Hadley One functions to keep your kit protected.
Down on the beach on a blustery day the top lid fits securely over the body of the bag and prevents any dust or sand from getting in.
On a rainy day, even when caught in a storm, that lid keeps the weather out and the heavy canvas also provides protect despite it not being 100% waterproof.
Using the Hadley One with the GH5 the camera sits within the insert absolutely perfectly with the lens facing down, and if you want to walk around with the bag open for quick access the lid is designed in such a way that it flips completely open.
The two front pockets are held closed by poppers and these are easily released to gain access to kit, such as your set of 100mm Lee filters.
When out shooting landscapes having a shoulder bag is essential, as having the bag by your side means that you can quickly reach in to change filters or lenses when required.
When using the Hadley One on a shoot you really do forget that you’re using the bag, everything just works, and everything that you need from within is instantly available.
The Hadley One as you may have noticed has many plus points, it really is almost perfect for any CSC or medium size DSLR owner, there are however a couple of features that I would like to have seen.
As I’ve mentioned during the test period the weather is best described as changeable, it rained, it was sunny, windy and managed to do everything but snow. And for all this the Hadley One protected my kit.
The only thing is that when I stopped to take a photograph I’ll often remove my bag and place it is directly on the floor. The Hadley One is wide enough to sit upright so you don’t have to find something to lean it against like my small Hadley, however the base of the bag is canvas.
Although the bag proved to be weather resistant it was not weather proof and putting the bag on a wet ground didn’t seem like an option, instead it alway was placed into a jacket.
I know from experience that that canvas will last for years even when dragged along concrete, left on payments and sat on beaches, so the likelihood that the canvas will wear through is pretty remote.
However it is still canvas and I would’ve liked to seen either a tough watertight material or additional protection on the base of the bag.
The only other addition that I’d like to see is a small zipped section inside the bag just to keep memory cards, money and other small valuables safe.
The size of the insert provided is perfectly adequate but it would be nice to see a slightly larger insert for the D810 or 5D series cameras.
Billingham Hadley One Verdict
The Hadley One is an ideal shoulder bag for anyone with a CSC or small to medium size DSLR.
The quality of finish is unrivalled by any other manufacturer and the attention to detail, from the brass locks to the leather straps through to the inserts show that the company has taken feedback and designed the bag that many photographers are asking for.
The Billingham Hadley One shoulder bag is undoubtedly very traditional in looks and style. Years of design experience and = catering for the photography market definitely shows, and there really is little to fault with the design if you’re a fan of shoulder bags.
I am a shoulder bag fan, more so that I’ve been using a Hadley as my everyday bag for 20 years, and will almost always opt for this over a backpack just for the ease of access that it gives you.
Owners with cameras such as the Canon EOS 80D or Nikon D7500 will find that there’s more than enough room with additional Linsert to carry a 24-70 attached to the camera and 100-400 zoom lens packed just encase.
Those two front pockets are ideal for fitting in your Lee Filters and holder with enough space still left to slot in a 1.4 extender.
The Hadley One is an everyday bag with more than enough space to keep your CSC or medium size DSLR comfortably along with plenty of space for a few personal items. When it comes to quality there are few other bags that can match it for pure quality.
Should I buy a Billingham Hadley One?
Anyone who is a passionate photography enthusiast and is looking for a bag that will last a lifetime, or any pro in need of a quality shoulder bag, would be well-served by the Hadley One.
Will I buy one? Probably once my original Hadley finally wears through.