Thule Covert DSLR Camera Backpack Review
The Thule Covert DSLR camera backpack is a unique rolltop backpack that is great for traveling photographers. It has ample room for a DSLR camera and a few extra lenses, it has a dedicated compartment for your laptop or tablet, and it has lots of extra pockets for your accessories or other belongings. Most importantly, the backpack itself, as its name would suggest, does not look like your average camera backpack. This is especially useful if you are traveling to areas where carrying an expensive camera could make you a target.
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Thule Covert Backpack Review
As a Swedish company, functional design is core to Thule’s products. The Covert DSLR camera backpack is no exception to this. The backpack itself has 12 pockets designed to fit pretty much anything you could imagine.
Thule Covert Camera Compartment
One of the largest sections of the backpack is the camera compartment. Located at the bottom of the backpack, this compartment is protected by a lunchbox style removable padded sleeve. The camera sleeve is able to hold a full-sized DSLR along with a few lenses. I tend to bring along my Nikon 18-200mm lens attached to my camera body as it is arguable one of the best all around travel lenses (here is the Cannon version: Cannon EF-S 18-200mm). I’ll then add a smaller lens in case I need something light and fast (the Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8 is my current favorite). This leaves plenty of room to throw in a few GoPro cameras or another lens in the protected sleeve.
One of the unique aspects of the Thule Covert camera backpack is the access point for the camera sleeve. Instead of being in the back panel or from the top, it is from the left side of the backpack. This allows the photographer to sling the backpack around to their front and gain access to the compartment. I found this movement to be much more natural and quicker than the camera bags that force you to access your gear through the back panel.
Thule Covert Camera Accessory Compartment
Moving up from the camera sleeve, there is a large main compartment. This area is big enough to whatever else you might be carrying for the day–a rain jacket or sweater, snacks, or other items. I find myself throwing my Goby tripod and GoPro gimbal in this section. There is a divider between the top pocket, which is accessed via the roll-top, and the bottom section where the camera sleeve lives. Unzip this divider and the main pocked is transformed into one large section.
On the outside of the main compartment there are a handful of individual pockets under the top flap that are perfect for storing your camera batteries, passport, or memory card cases like the Pelican 0915. The zip pocket along the top is well sized for easy access to a book, a small tablet, or a notebook. The best part about these pockets is that they are under the front flap, protecting them from sticky fingers while you’re exploring your destination.
Flip the bag around, and you’ll find a full length laptop pocket and a dedicated tablet pocket. The beauty of this pocket is that you don’t need to open anything else to gain access to your laptop. This makes going through security lines at the airport a breeze. My initial concern with this pocket would be that it didn’t give enough padding for a laptop. My worst nightmare would be a bent computer or tablet. After having the bag for over a year, that hasn’t been the case. There is ample padding, and the laptop is well protected.
The final pocket worth noting is the side pocket on the right of the Thule Covert backpack. This is a standard side pocket that you can throw a water bottle into, but it was designed to carry a tripod. There is a strap at the top that allows you to secure you’re favorite tripod with one leg hanging out of the pocket. Here is my MeFOTO Globetrotter tripod attached to the bag:
Durability and Comfort
The Thule Covert camera backpack is made with a thick grey nylon fabric that has a rubberized coating on the inside. The backpack isn’t water proof (not many are), but it is water resistant. The roll-top of the bag does a nice job securing whatever is in the main compartment. The zipper along the roll-top along with the velcro on the pockets feels sturdy.
I don’t have any worries about the Thule Covert camera backpack standing up to the test of time.
The shoulder straps of the backpack have some foam padding in them. When the backpack is adjusted properly it is comfortable to wear all day. If it is not adjusted properly it can start to hurt if you are carrying a heavy load. Using the chest strap, along with the load lifters at the top, balances the weight nicely.
At just under $200, the Thule Covert camera backpack is not the cheapest camera bag on the market. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of less expensive bags to be found. If you’re looking for a bag to simply cary your camera and gear, this is probably not the bag for you. If you’re looking for a backpack that is well laid out, sturdy, comfortable, and will last for years, then the Thule Covert is worth looking at.
For me, value in a camera backpack is derived through two factors: can it keep my camera gear safe while carrying my other travel items, and is it built with quality materials in a well designed configuration. The Thule Covert camera backpack delivers on both tests. Whenever I load up my Covert I know that adventure will soon ensue.
My only concern is that, in 20 years time, when I’m looking for a new bag for my photography gear, there won’t be anything as well designed and constructed available on the market.