I’ve developed this nasty habit. I try to adapt every bag I see into a camera bag. My latest victim: the Code of Bell X-Pak One.
I’ve been slowly switching to the Fuji X system for the last few years… although it’s been painful to let some pieces of my Canon gear go. Part of the reason for my switch is to use the a smaller body and lenses for travel and with that, I’ve been searching for a smaller bag. I’ve been using an older CourierBags.com and really enjoyed that. But then I thought about going to an even smaller sling style bag which led me to…
CODE OF BELL — an interesting company based in Los Angeles. The bags so far have only been produced in very limited numbers and the information for them online is equally as thin. So, I thought I’d post my findings and first impressions of the X-PAK ONE gen 2… in case you stumble upon one.
Here are the bags Code of Bell have produced so far (all sling-style).FIRST KICKSTARTER RUN
– Dimension (in): 16 x 8 x 8
– Volume: 10L / 17L
– Dimension (in): 12.5 x 6 x 3 (10 expanded)
– Volume: 4L / 9L
* the removable compression straps, sternum strap, and the handle did not come standard in the first kickstarter but they did have an exclusive zipper pocket on the front.
SECOND KICKSTARTER RUN
– Dimension (in): 10 x 5 x 3 (4 expanded)
– Volume: 2.3L / 4.5L
X-Pak Pro (Gen 2) – an updated version
– Dimension (in): 17.5 x 10 x 4 (10.5 expanded)
– Volume: 11L / 23L
SOMEWHERE, THEY ALSO SNUCK IN…
X-Pak One (Gen 2) – this is what I got
(same size as the Gen 1 X-Pak One)
X-Pak Pro & One Tourer Edition
– Minimal versions of the Gen 1 X-Pak Pro & One
Originally, I wanted the X-Pod but, after a little more research combined with the fact they’re out of stock, I went with the X-Pak One — a hard pill to swallow at twice the price of it’s Tourer version.
Ultimately, I’m happy I did.
HOW I’M GOING TO USE
The padded compartment designed for the iPad Mini is perfect for 2 medium sized Fuji lenses. I’m rotating between the 10-24 f/4, the 18-55mm, and the 23mm f/1.4. The strap that comes down is elastic and does a great job of holding the lenses in place. It’s almost designed for this purpose. It’s too small for full frame Canon lenses (tried the 35mm f/1.4 L and that didn’t fit).
It will also fit one lens at the bottom of the padded sleeve section and my Fuji X-T3 with RRS plate + lens on the top. THAT’S kinda perfect.
WHAT I LIKE
It’s a neat bag. It looks great (imo). I wasn’t sure about the deep moss color when I ordered it (black was sold out) but I LOVE it. It’s similar to Ranger Green. Very handsome.
It’s a good size. I haven’t seen the X-Pod in person but for an EDC, this mid-size is perfect. The X-Pod is starting to feel more along the lines of a pure fanny pack.
ADDRESSING SOME ISSUES
I read almost every comment and online review — they’re sparse. And now having the bag in my hands, here are my thoughts:
- Yes, there are errant threads (I counted about 6). The stitching doesn’t look sloppy but probably not as neat as it should be for a bag this price. It doesn’t look like it effects the durability of the bag but only time will tell.
- There’s a lot of padding. A bit overbuilt and adds weight / stiffness to the bag. Maybe this will soften up a bit.
- There were complaints that the Gen 1 bag’s webbing on the back of the bag would pill your clothes. The Gen 2 have switched to a smooth fabric that’s very nice and I don’t expect any problems. This was honestly one of the main reasons I didn’t go with the Tourer which appears to use the older webbing. Something to note if you are looking at buying a used Gen 1 bag.
- The rolltop has been criticized as unusable if you load it up as designed because it would stick straight out from your back. That’s probably true. But I think the only way I’d personally use this is for unplanned storage and emergency. I would attach the handle and carry it briefcase style. For that, seems great.
MAKING IT WORK
- This bag has LOTS of options. Too many probably (do you need TWO secret zipper pockets on the back?). But realizing you don’t have to use every single option I think helps you utilize the bag better. It’s there if you need it. One thing I’m going to try to do is mark the top of the bag by hanging a HeroClip at the top and only the zippers for the main compartment. If I want to put something inside the rolltop compartment, I’ll use the front facing zipper, never going into the bottom zippers.
- An unusual thing is the bag doesn’t fully unzip — only halfway for each compartment. This takes a little getting used to. I’ll have to use it a bit more to see if it gets annoying.
- The buckles on the top and bottom that hold the roll top down must be unsnapped to access the main zipper compartment. Not sure how tedious this is going to be in use but we’ll see.
All in all, I really like this bag. It’s expensive but I love the way it looks and it’s pretty functional. Yeah, you can find more for less but I don’t think there’s a single sling bag that’s more uniquely designed. I looked at all the usual suspects… Aer, Bellroy, DSPTCH, Road Runner Lil Guy, Mystery Ranch, Chrome, Mission Workshop, Timkuk2. In the end, Code of Bell got my money. Definitely will be keeping a better eye on what they offer in the future.
the Kickstarter pages have a lot more info than the website