The Billingham Hadley Pro – Love at first and last sight.

I have had so many camera bags of all shapes and sizes and materials over a very long period of time and I shall not list the brands because for this article they just are not important enough to mention.

I am not sure when I got my Hadley Pro camera bag but I do know that the when was a very very long time ago.  It has survived sand storms, rain storms, mud, river crossings, natures ocean tides to mention a few things and it has always not only carried my gear no matter what that gear was or is but it also stood up to the task of protecting my expensive camera gear.  Besides the fact that the Hadley Pro is so well made, it is also one of the few bags that I have carried across my chest, over my shoulder and by handle in complete comfort because it simply and softly molds to my body.  As for gear configuration all I can say is have at it.  Getting to everything I need is a breeze and is always at my finger tips.

The Hadley Pro is a premium camera bag made by Billingham and is available in most market places. I used to say that while the bag was pricey compared to lessor bags, it was worth every red cent I spent on it.  That was then when I first got the Hadley Pro.  Today their are a great many bags that surpass the Hadley price tag and they only offer either handsome or pretty bags but not necessarily functional in the way a Hadley Pro was and is.  These current market bags scream look at me.  Would you not like to rip this off my shoulder and run away with me?

The Hadley Pro remains as it was. Simple, quiet, and amazingly functional as well as being very stealth.

The bag comes in several colors and can be had in two different materials.  Fully water proof and durable cotton canvas or FibreNyte which is a man-made material and also water proof.  I have bags in both these materials and much prefer the canvas to the FibreNyte but there is nothing wrong with the FibreNyte especially if you want a bag that is a bit lighter in weight. The canvas is a tiny bit heavier but wraps itself to the body in sheer comfort.

From the very moment you remove it from the fabric bag that it comes in you are immediately struck by the quality of this bag.  The feel of the soft and pliable canvas and the leather closures to the beautiful and simple fully adjustable shoulder strap.  You know right away that your investment in this high quality product was truly worth it.

Depending on which bag you choose the details are slightly different – some are nickel, some are brass. On this version the zipper and press-studs are nickel.

Inside you have an assortment of soft dividers that let you configure your own compartments.  There is just enough insert and dividers to protect all your gear, but not over stuff the bag which eats up a quarter of the space.

The main compartment can be removed entirely so that the Hadley Pro can be used as a regular messenger bag. The padded insert which I consider minimal really give structure to the bag but still allows the bag to nicely embrace the curves of your body.

This is what my basic set up consists of.

  • Fuji Xt1 with a 35mm 2.0 mounted on the body.
  • A flash
  • Two primes stacked 14mm 2.8, 56mm 1.2 both with hoods extended and a 105mm 2.8 Micro Nikkor,
  • The two front pockets,  which are bellows pockets, rear zip pockets and space between the padding on the inside of the bag provide ample room for multiple filters, memory cards, spare batteries etc.
  • 6 batteries
  • 8 cards
  • A filter case with a 62mm variable ND, 62mm 10 stop ND and 3 stop ND.  62mm Polarizer, adapter rings and a miggo splat table top pod.

This bag  makes a great travel option for those with a smaller camera setup. If you have a micro four thirds camera or similar you could keep it protected and also have room for a water bottle, map, mp3 player etc. and other sundries in a discreet messenger-style bag.  It will also be super for a Sony AR7 II and a couple of lenses or any system around the same size.  It is also possible to attach accessory Billingham bags securely to the sides of the bag for additional storage as needed.  The opening and closing of the bag is handled by two leather straps with either brass or nickel lugs.  NO VELCRO AT ALL.  That means getting in and out of the bag is smooth and easy.  At the back of the bag there is a zipper compartment protected by its own weather flap for additional accessories.  The top of the bag has a very strong handle for carrying the bag down, at your side if you want to.

My preferred way to carry the Hadley Pro is across my chest with the bag hanging on my left side.  It is just so very comfortable compared to the many other bags I have in my basement storage area.

So is it worth the price?  You bet it is.  Unfortunately for Billingham, my Hadley Pro has held up so well after a great many years and adventures that I would only get another one to keep it company.  Maybe Orange and Blue one. Hmmmmm.  At around 250.00 US dollars, this extremely high quality and incredibly functional bag is an absolute must for anyone wanting to carry their gear close by, hugging their body, and providing outstanding product safety for your VERY EXPENSIVE CAMERA GEAR.

 

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