Off-road, on your back.
Photographer? If so, you've definitely heard about Manfrotto and their range of camera accessories (we've reviewed some, here). However, you might not know that they also make bags and backpacks, and some are designed for slightly more action that lugging your point and shoot about. We test the Manfrotto Off-road Stunt Backpack.
No, before you ask, this doesn't include a parachute or a jetpack or wheels as the name might suggest; it does in fact refer to the backpack's use for fans of action cam photography. That is because the whole set up has been geared toward those of us who use GoPros (and the like) to capture exciting scenes and adventures, and it also does more than just stow them safely.
The Manfrotto Off-road Stunt Backpack looks pretty unique, and it is certainly an eye-catching pack. For a start, the top most section is rigid and opens from the inside; a tough and protected space intended to carry smartphones and other small precious things. Below that the main compartment opens via three separate zips, allowing you peel back the fabric to get fully inside to the hold.
And on the inside you get two little treats. Removable divider bags sit comfortably at the bottom, perfect for stowing two action cams in one, and an actual camera in the other. The bags are well padded, to keep your kit safe, and also fairly rigid, meaning that when they are slotted down into the base of the pack (while still being accessibly from that front-side zipper) they create a sort of firm platform onto which other bits can be placed.
And, as you might have guessed, if you just want all the room of the main hold, simply remove the camera bags. There is additional;storage space either side, with external zipped pockets, and a dedicated tablet/document section against your back. Which, thanks to the handy hole at the top, can also be used to carry a water pouch, for extended adventures.
Speaking of which, here's where the Manfrotto Off-road Stunt Backpack stops being just a bag and starts being an actual filming aid. Attached to the left shoulder strap is a mount for an action cam, similar to the ones you'll find on helmets and skateboards. There you can fix one of your cams to capture what action you're up to while wearing the backpack, be it steadily trudging up a hill, or even snowboarding down it.
And hot damn, is it comfortable. Waist and chest straps are also included, which help a lot if your cargo is weighty. The chest strap also helps to keep the shoulder strap-mounted action cam steady, so if you're after smooth POV shots from the cam, use it. In use we found that having just one of the removable pod-like bags was enough for our kit, with the rest of the space given over to the usual stuff.
In terms of when and where you might use this, we'd say it isn't really a commuters pack. The waist strap can't be taken off and the lack of a cushioned laptop compartment won't be much use if you're thinking of lugging this to the office and back each day. However, if you're a film maker, pro or amateur, or just wanting to capture a hike or an extreme sport you're taking part in, this is the bee's knees.