Outdoor photography and my adventurous tendencies have been slowly melding together and I have been in need of a good backpack that I could lug my camera gear in. The catch is that the backpack I am in need of should be designed specifically for camera gear as well as be able to handle hauling a computer laptop along too. The backpack also needs to be able to grow with me as I slowly collect new camera gear such as lenses, flashes and perhaps even a second camera body, but it also needs to be small enough not to hamper my travels. Is this too much to ask? Well, perhaps the Zion 525 camera backpack by M-Rock will satisfy all my needs.
Features and Specifications
The M-Rock Zion 525 camera backpack is a decent sized bag measuring 13W x 11.75D x 18.5H inches (32.5 x 29.4 x 46.5 cm). M-Rock claims that it is ‘Carry-On Compatible’ but checking the carry-on dimensions on various airline websites can be a bit confusing. However, it does comply with standard regulations. I have seen people try and cram bags into the overhead compartments that clearly did not fit and were much larger than the Zion 525.
The interior measurements, which have a maximum size of 12W x 6.25D x 17H (30 x 15.6 x 42.5 cm) is roomy enough to allow 3 configurations when storing your gear. There is enough room to get a full-frame camera such as the Canon 5D with an attached 70-200mm lens and still have room for other lenses, filters and whatever else you might have or need.
Running at about $230 at the M-Rock Website, the bag is definitely priced with comparable products from other manufacturers. Let's see if it can stay with the pack.
When I first looked at the M-Rock Zion 525, the first thing I noticed was the large amount of pockets and compartments. You can access the interior compartments two different ways. The first is the ability to fit your camera body in with an attached wide-angle zoom lens (such as the 24-70mm), while still allowing room for other lenses. The second way allows you to access the interior through an Accessory Bag filled with whatever gear you may need to store. Both work independently of each other and have straps to ensure things do not fall out accidentally.
Included with the Zion 525 is this Accessory Bag which measures 11W x 5D x 7H (28 x 12.7 x 17.8 cm). The Accessory Bag can either be used to store more gear or a change of clothes. It secures to the inside of the bag with Velcro. The Accessory Bag can be left inside the interior compartment, or be attached to the top of the bag allowing for more room inside the backpack.
The rear laptop compartment is large enough to fit up to a 15” laptop. Measuring in at 12W x 2.5 x 17H (30 x 6 x 42.5 cm) it is also well padded and will ensure that your laptop stays safe. You can also get the optional accessory Hydration Bladder (1.3L - #550 Great Lakes Bladder) that is insulated with Neoprene which would go in place of the laptop, keeping you hydrated on a long hike. A slit on the side of the laptop compartment allows you to route the tube for the bladder out of the bag.
It is too bad you cannot remove the laptop compartment when not in use; a major drawback is that I find that with my camera gear and laptop the backpack is fairly heavy and awkward to have on my back. This to me is a major comfort issue when wanting to have both camera gear and laptop in the back on outdoor adventures. I’ve worn the backpack with just the camera gear and it was comfortable but I find that I would not be able to tolerate both items at the same time.