*The link for the Kickstarter campaign for the range of Xennec CityScape bags is here.
This review comes in 3 parts.
1. Introduction to the brand Xennec.
2. The top 10 characteristics a top end Camera backpack should have.
3. User experience of the Xennec Cityscape Daypack 15 and Conclusions.
For starters, even though I’ve reviewed gear from the Fujifilm medium format and X-mount system to the Leica M system, there is a side to me that only those who know me in real life know about,
that I am kinda obsessed with camera bags too.
From the uber-expensive hand stitched Oberwerth to the time tested Wotancraft, Think Tank, Billingham to the modern commuter type Peak Design and Vinta and even unique one of-a-kind camera bags from luxury bag makers like Goyard and yes, even once off collaborations between Ming Thein and Falcon, the journey to bag happiness hasn’t been short and yes, and with this comes a serious amount of accumulated experience in identifying the camera bag.
The Vinta Type II (the one that I thought would be the last but alas…)
And today, I am going to share my personal user experiences with the just announced on Kickstarter Xennec Cityscape Daypack 15 backpack.
1st question you might ask is “Wut? Xennec?” and that’s perfectly fine as the Xennec line of photography-oriented bags was just announced in a KickStarter campaign in Nov 2018. The Xennac team comes packed with decades of experience not just in designing, but also in making and yes, using these bags as real world photographers. For example James, InEok and Aeran from the team alone adds up to a pretty good 30+ years of experience working in Thinktank and related brands.
So why review the Xennec Citycape Daypack 15 now?
All of us here love photography and I guess are obsessed about having a great looking and high-quality bag that carries NOT ONLY our camera gear, but also help organize our daily necessities and electronic gadgets without a design that screams ‘this is a camera bag!“, and here is where the design team behind the Cityscape Daypack 15 comes in nicely.
*Note: A total of 3 designs were released, the Cityscape Daypack 15, the Cityscape Backpack 15 and the Cityscape Messenger 13 but I only review what I’ve experience with and thus this sharing will focus solely on the Daypack 15. (see below)
2nd question I guess will be what will the excellent camera backpack have?
Personally, its a “simple” list of 10 “its“:
- It has to double up as an everyday commuter bag for work or even a hike , heck! It needs to be able to do a 1D trip.
- It must have separated sections for my Macbook Pro 13/ iPad 10.5 and daily life necessities like a water bottle, wallet, and in some cases, even a change of clothes.
- It has to be designed to be user-friendly and yes, definitely at least 2 points of access (front/side or front/back).
- It must be weather proof, in fact I expect the zippers to be weather proof too.
- It needs small but good sized compartments/pockets for stuff like straps/batteries etc
- It has to be comfortable enough for me to carry a full load for at least 1/2 a day of shooting.
- It must fit a minimal of a Fujifilm X-T3 body, a XF100-400mm and a prime for me, or in more general sense, a good sized DSLR like the D850 with a 24-70/2.8 equivalent plus a few primes AND my daily barang barang.
- It must have good cushioning, I don’t know about you but I do place my bags on the ground. I use my bags, not baby them.
- It cannot be heavy, never more than 2kg empty. it doesn’t make sense to torture my back further.
- It doesn’t scream ‘camera bag’.
Bonus: It shouldn’t cost an arm or a leg.
That’s the Macbook Pro 13 with the Xennec CityScape Daypack 15.
and now, officially from Xennec we have:
“The CityScape Daypack 15 is a minimalist style camera/everyday backpack crafted to be functional while ensuring your equipment is well protected”.
– Weather-proof zippers for laptop pocket and upper compartment.
– Magnetic side pockets for tripod and water bottle
– Twiz-lock zipper pullers for theft prevention
– Bottom half compartment for secure access to gear
– Can be converted to a normal everyday backpack
– Internal separation panel for fitting a small travel tripod
– Luggage pass-through
– Carbonate-coated fabric bottom
– Seam-sealed Raincover provided
What it holds:
– 1 standard size DSLR or Mirrorless with 3-4 lenses and accessories
– 15” laptop fits inside the laptop compartment
– 12” tablet fits inside the tablet pocket
– A4 sized document folder
– Tripod/Monopod (you can actually stuff one inside the backpack instead if that’s your liking)
External Dimensions (W x D x H): 12.6” x 6.3″ x 17.3” (32 x 16 x 44cm)
Weight : 2.73 lbs / 1.24kg (~12% lighter than the Peak Design 20L)
Volume : 17.5 L
My Cheat sheet.
3rd question to answer should be: SO what’s it feeling like to use the Daypack 15 in real life?
*As much as it is my personal standard to use product photos shot by myself, I have included official product photos from the KickStarter page in instances where I felt this would be easier for you, the reader.
*The Daypack 15 I tested for 2 weeks is a prototype model, and the final product will only be better. Like all my reviews, to maintain a neutral stand the bag was returned to Xennec at the end of the review (I hope they do wash it before putting it up as a demo model though)
Before today, I’ve been using the prototype for a full 2 weeks, and the Daypack 15 is comfortable to carry for extended periods with its good cushioning aided by an ergonomic design and more importantly, the Daypack 15 hits the right sizing spot for the typical sized user of around 1.5-1.8m tall.
The cushioning layers and materials used for this daypack is a perfect mix of breathability, comfort and yes, durability – with materials similar to the Peak Design line of backpacks.
A personal habit for years is that I carry a camera along whenever I am out even for work, and having 2 separate compartments for camera access is great as it allows me the quick access for the daily cam (which can be a X-T3, X-Pro2, X100F or even the occasional Leica M6 or GFX50S ) while the back access compartment provides the space for more equipment when I am out for a more serious shoot.
The top access compartment is a myriad of possibilities with its good depth, I can easily fit a GFX50S with a GF45mm setup there with space for other items easily, and this compartment comes with a zipped compartment flat against the inner layer too.
Packing the Daypack 15 was a fun process, yes, FUN, because the full myriad of possible ways to pack this backpack certainly leaves the user in full control to pack it in whichever way is most personable to you. This bag easily swallows my standard MacBook Pro 13, iPad 10.5, camera (and accessories) plus water bottle, wallet, umbrella (for this one it comes with a rain pouch) yet still ensures a comfortable carry.
The Daypack 15 easily swallows up my Macbook Pro 13 and iPad 10.5 even in the front slip pockets, and there’s another dedicated laptop slip compartment in the main compartment, for the users who may want to carry around monster laptops like the Asus ROG.
The design and the quality of Twiz-lock Zipper locks alone deserves a paragraph. I am very particular about how my zippers work (pun intended). They must be smooth, and catch nicely, with zero room for error and any hiccups is never tolerated.
And man, I will easily give a 9.5/10 for the zipper system of this backpack, for the smoothness of using it, the Twiz-lock system and that the designers made the zippers weather-proof; no 10/10 obviously because nothing can ever be perfect.
Though this sounds weird, the zipper system alone is what I love most about the Daypack 15.
(and now I implore you to think, how many times have we missed how important zippers are in any camera bag?)
The Daypack 15 easily allows me to pack along even a birding load of the Fujifilm XF100-400mm and a tripod which ties up securely to the side with still loads of space to spare.
Another unique to the Cityscape line of bags feature is the smart use of magnets to secure the side water bottle/tripod slots or in the case of the Messenger, the front flap.
In a nicest way, all around the Daypack 15, I can feel the parts all makes up the sum of quality, unassuming in their looks but yet clear in they way they work seamlessly, down to minute details like a small catch for the tripod clip to secure the strap length snugly.
As always with any product, there’s a long list of purported features but let’s be honest and cut it down to the crux, and here’s the 4 main key features I really like in this backpack, especially the Twiz-lock Zipper pulls which easily alone can be the feature I would get this bag for. (gifs from Xennec’s official Kickstarter site)
All this said, no bag should ever be perfect but the Cityscape Daypack 15 comes very close to doing and achieving everything I can ask for in a camera bag.
Taking a step back and looking at how spoilt for choices we are, and if we compare against the category of backpacks that the Daypack 15 is designed to eke out a spot for, a Vinta Type II backpack retails at USD264 (close to SGD500+ locally) , the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L at USD259.95 (SGD419), and immediately the USD141 (SGD 194) Kickstarter early bird price tag of the Daypack 15 stands out.
In a nutshell, if we focus on design, usability and price wise I can see how this Singapore grown, well-designed yet discrete looking camera backpack will be making its way to the photographer who cares more about practicality and comfort.
*The link for the Kickstarter campaign for the range of CityScape bags is here. Remember, is a team of experienced cameras bag makers making their first debut and if this bag suits your palate, do support them as I have heard shops prices after the campaign should be at least 20% higher for this unassuming looking yet packed with quality features bag for the photographer’s daily commute.
For more information, it’s really good to drop by http://www.xennec.com too.
Thank you for reading.