The quest for the perfect camera backpack continues and the latest bag to arrive is the Vanguard Alta Rise 45.

I’ve already heard a few good things about the updated range, foremost of which are the comfort and capacity as well as the sleek modern look.

I have to admit I was taken with the design when I first saw the Alta Rise and now it’s here I’m still taken with the overall look and style.

 

But this is one of the few backpacks of this size that remains front loading when most other manufacturers now opt for the rear. Why is this an issue?

Some say it’s a security thing, but really for me it’s the case of wet and muddy back or not. If you need to lay the bag straps down in the mud to get your kit then the result’s obvious.

Of course, the Altra Rise has a solution and that’s direct access through the top or side of the bag without the need to fully open. But does this really work when out and about and what if you want to access the full bag?

Only one way to find out and that’s a trek through the forest.

Features

The Alta Rise 45 is a good sized medium backpack which offers plenty of room for camera kit and personal effects.

On the surface, it follows the tradition backpack design with the fully opening front that gives you full access to all the kit inside.

Vanguard Alta Rise 45 review

However, the bag is designed to have multiple points of access, with options that enable you to go through the top into a large top section or quickly through the side in a sling pack style.

The large front flap, once opened gives you full access to the pack and the kit inside. On the inside of the flap there’s a slot for a large tablet or laptop, ideally up to a 13-inch but I did managed to fit my 15-inch in without too much issue.

On the flaps exterior, there are a total of three pockets and the 6+ expansion system which increases the size of the front cavity by an additional 6cm.

On the side access flap, there’s another zipped pocket which contains the waterproof cover, or once that’s removed makes an ideal place for keeping your memory cards.

On the opposite side is the tripod support system which can be quickly unpacked and will safely hold a Veo 2 of any iteration or another travel tripod.

There’s also a large neoprene pocket which is ideal for holding a smaller bottle of water.

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On the back of the bag, there’s a secret zipped pocket for storing passports or other valuable paperwork or money.

For a bag of this size, the shoulder straps are very well padded and feature both chest and waist straps.

Unzipping the bag reveals the bright yellow interior. This yellow has been selected as it creates a good contrast between the camera’s hardware and bag. This makes it easier for you to find the kit you want in lower light conditions.

The large inner section has top access, in the test I used this for personal effects and dog leads. Then below you have the main section.

The main section is configured in such a way that the camera can easily be removed through the side access and then a few lenses and accessories can be placed into the other sections.

These sections have more than enough room for a Sony A73 along with three lenses, a filter system and flash.

The sections are created with removable velcro divides that can be moved and adjusted as needed.

Build quality and Handling

From the outset, it’s very obvious that the 45 has been well thought out with a good choice of materials used throughout the construction.

Looking over the body of the bag and you can see at least four different materials used and blended to create an understated yet stylish look.

Vanguard Alta Rise 45 review

There are few bags of this size that I can put on and feel that they are instantly comfortable. Here with the Alta Rise 45’s shoulder straps the padding and width helps to hold the bag and disperse the weight well.

Loading up the bag and it’s surprising just how much fits in.

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The main section easily takes all of my Sony Kit and full laiden I was able to fit in two Sony 7 series cameras along with four lenses and my MacBook Pro 15-inch squeezed in.

The 15-inch was pushing it slightly and a 13-inch or the suggested tablet would have been a better idea.

For most of the test, I used the bag around half full, one camera and three lenses, with tripod and filter kit.

The ability to carry this amount of kit in a bag of this size is something that has only been made possible by the advent of CSC’s, and this bag compliments their design perfectly.

Out walking and having the sling style side access enabled me to get the camera quickly when needed. The configuration of the bag could be easily adapted to facilitate either the shorter length of the 12-24mm or extended to accommodate the 70-200mm.

Although the pack is front opening, the side flap enabled access to the camera without having to lay the pack down. This is until you need to do a lens change.

Although the top and side access work well, in the British autumn and winter rear access is always preferable in order to avoid a wet or muddy back.

Having to lay the pack down onto the straps to open the bag fully is one of the downsides of a front opening bag. However, for the most part, having the side access was ideal for quickly accessing the camera.

I also used some of the divides to make an area in the top section of the bag for a lens swap. During the test, I mainly swapped between the 12-24mm and 90mm and the design worked well with only the odd occasion when I needed full access to the rest of the kit.

One feature of the bag that really stood out was having all the small pockets around the exterior. This was really handy for keeping spare memory cards, batteries and snacks.

Verdict

The Alta Rise 45 is an impressive camera backpack that is deceptive when it comes to the pure volume of kit it enables you to stash away.

In real terms, you can comfortably carry at least two Sony A7’s with three-four lenses, a 13-Inch MacBook Pro and plenty of food for lunch.

Vanguard Alta Rise 45 review

The design of the bag is excellent and the mix of materials and detailing give the backpack a modern stylish look without taking it down the camera geek route.

The straps are the real winner here as there are few other bags of this size that really think about the comfort of the bag when fully weighted.

Further helping with that weight distribution is the chest and weight strap, which are ideal for taking the strain when you need it. Although neither feature additional padding so are really designed for occasional use.

Adorning the bag are plenty of decent sized pockets which are ideal for stashing a few extras, and I really like the addition of the secret pocket at the back.

The tripod system on the side works well but I did feel that this pushed the weighting of the tripod a little too high. I also always like to carry my tripods head down which isn’t quite possible with the design.

It’s a design choice to go for the front opening rather than rear access and in most situations, this is fine. At least that is until the wet and mud of the British autumn and winter when laying a pack into the mud to get your kit is will result in a wet back.

However, there are plenty of other access options, through the side and top which are used for the majority of the time when out and about.

When I did need to open up the full front of the bag to access a lens or filter system, there was always somewhere safe and moderately dry to lay the bag, so the front opening was really not an issue.

The quality of the materials also ensured that the kit always felt well protected within and although there was the option to use the rain overcoat I have to admit that I didn’t bother, even in quite a heavy downpour without the waterproof cover the kit remained dry and protected.

The Alta Rise is an excellent backpack option, the sling access through the side is handy when out and about and having a decent tripod support system on the side and plenty of storage around the bag makes it very versatile.

What makes the Alta Rise stand out is the amount you can pack in and the comfort of those wide well-padded straps that enable you to carry it all.

The Alta Rise 45 is an ideal backpack for anyone wanting a bag that will withstand the rigours of travel and gives you more than the majority of other small to medium sized camera packs out there.

For more details on the Vanugard Alta Rise 45 check out vanguardworld.co.uk

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