It’s tempting to try to carry every last bit of kit with you when you go out on a shoot. But when you’re travelling on foot, that can really limit the distance you cover and the time that you actually spend shooting.
Like Ali, I’m a fan of the Manfrotto Pro Light RedBee-310, but I find the RedBee-110 a better choice for everyday trips out with my camera because it’s smaller and lighter yet has the same technology and very comfortable straps. I’d reserve the 310 for when I need to take a bit more kit for some reason.
The Manfrotto RedBee-110 has external dimensions of 30 x 24 x 47cm and a capacity of 15L. That’s 7L smaller than the RedBee-310. And at 1.4Kg, it’s almost 0.5Kg lighter.
And 15L is still plenty of space. You can fit in a large full-frame camera like the Panasonic Lumix S1R and two or three lenses and a few accessories. Of course, it can also house something a little smaller like the Sony A7III.
Crucially, it’s still small enough for the 110 to be allowed as carry-on luggage on most airlines – although it’s advisable to check as the rules change occasionally. Helpfully, there’s a strap on the back of the RedBee-110 that allows it to be slipped onto a trolley or luggage handle so there’s less to carry around the airport.
Manfrotto has given the RedBee-110 its Camera Protection System (CPS) which is designed to ensure your gear survives the bumps, knock and drops of everyday use.
There’s also an external tripod connection to make it easy to carry a travel tripod like a Manfrotto BeFree Advanced. A zip section at the bottom of one side of the backpack opens to support the weight of the tripod while a strap with a clip keeps it close to the bag.
Inside the backpack, there’s a collection of dividers, including some Flexi Dividers that can be folded and bent into shape to fit your kit. As a result, the inside of the RedBee-110 can be customised to fit a camera with a 70-200mm lens mounted, along with a couple of other lenses, or a folding drone kits complete with spare batteries and controller.
A separate compartment in the back can house a 13-inch laptop. Meanwhile, the front has a slim pocket that can take your purse and memory card wallet.
The fabric of the RedBee-110 has a water-repellent coating that keeps light rain away. However, there’s also a fold-out rain protector that can be fitted over the bag to keep it dry.
This oversized shower cap has a silver side that can be used to reflect sunshine and help keep your gear cool in sunny weather.
- Weight: 1400g
- Tripod Connection: Yes
- Material: Nylon, RipStop, Synthetic Fabric
- Camera Insert Dimensions: 26 x 13 x 43cm
- External Dimensions: 30 x 24 x 47cm
- Internal Dimensions: 28 x 15 x 44cm
- Laptop Compartment Dimensions: 27.5 x 3 x 41cm
Like the 310’s, the Manfrotto RedBee-110’s straps are broad and thickly padded. This makes it incredibly comfortable to carry, even when it’s full. In fact, the straps are some of the most comfortable I have used. And I’ve tested a few backpacks!
As is becoming more common, the primary access for the main section is from the rear. This means that you have to remove the pack from your back to open up the main compartment fully.
However, there’s also a small side access point so you can get at some of your gear quickly. What’s more, you can do so without putting the bag down, which is handy in muddy or wet conditions.
There’s a neat security trick for this access point. The zip pull can be threaded through a small loop, which stops opportunist thieves from opening it quickly. I’m surprised that Manfrotto hasn’t done the same thing for the zip at the top of the backpack – especially as this is where your camera would be if it was stored with a long lens attached.
It’s worth spending some time playing around with the dividers and thinking about how you want to access your kit. For example, do you want to grab your camera from the side pocket, or stash a spare lens there to make a quick optic swap?
Over the few weeks that I’ve been testing the Manfrotto Pro Lite RedBee-110 I’ve managed to wedge in quite a bit of gear and range of loads. I’ve carried a single camera kit with three lenses, three different cameras and a few bits and bobs. And on some occasions, I’ve added a tripod and/or a laptop. On each occasion, I’ve found the backpack comfortable. The 15L capacity is just about enough for what I need without weighing me down too much.
Obviously adding more weight takes its toll, but those straps really are comfortable. This means that I tend to get tired by the weight but sore or achy from carrying the bag.
I also like the big loops that are easy to grab and pull the zips open. I just wish that Manfrotto had added that little security loop to the top opening.