ONA Hamilton Rolling Camera Bag and Duffle :: Review

ONA Hamilton Rolling Camera Bag and Duffle

Will Hartl is a freelance photographer whose photography experience extends across a range of countries and niches. Get a close-up of his thoughts on the ONA Hamilton Rolling Camera Bag and Duffle in the guest post below…

Who doesn’t like nice bags? Universally and culturally nice bags are ‘a thing’. Be it backpacks, work messengers, carry-on, check in, hand bag, tote bag, camera bag. We, as consumers, know what we like and premium bags are a constant.

Photographers as consumers are a funny bunch. We are arguably the top of the food chain for endlessly consuming gear, accessories, and growing ‘kit’. We own far too many gear bags, and unapologetically justify new purchases, “I know they’re both black babe, but this one is a carry on roller 30L, the backpack is only 28.5L and can’t fit all my gear. They’re totally different!”

The Hamilton Rolling Camera Bag and Duffle by ONA comes to the table with a premium offering suited to the style-conscious photographer. This bag gives you the ability to fit gear and an outfit / rain jacket into the one item; you’ll never be caught out in the rain, literally.

ONA Hamilton Rolling Camera Bag and Duffle

The brand name comes from the Swahili word ona (pronounced ō’na) which means, “to feel,” “to believe,” and “to experience with the eyes.” Part of the ‘black collection’ ONA has created a premium series of camera bags for the modern, trend-driven photographer.

Who It Suits 

– This is a perfect bag for the style-conscious photographer who is looking for a premium bag built with premium materials that can fit a change of clothes.

– The photographer who doesn’t need to fly with a large kit or worry about a carry-on weight limit.

– Fashion photographers: Studio / Location shoots

– Anyone who shoots with Sony A7 / A9 range

– Blogger / Photographer

Who It Doesn’t

– Photographers wanting to carry their gear on board a plane.

– Photographers who need to cram a lot of gear into one bag.

– Owners of large camera bodies (Canon 1D, Nikon D5)

– Adventure photographers

– Anyone who wants to be mobile beyond the concrete jungle.

– Price competitive buyers

“This is a perfect bag for the style-conscious photographer who is looking for a premium bag built with premium materials that can fit a change of clothes.”

Design

Too often we pack and re-pack. Fit the last little item into the perfect little pocket. “I want to take this, but need to also fit that”. The Hamilton offers a premium rolling camera duffle bag, with a dual compartment design and a reinforced protective case with a padded removable insert for camera gear. The additional slim duffle compartment is large enough to pack personal items for an overnight trip or change of clothes.

The concept of the bag is ingenious – a high-end bag suited for urban photographers. Mobile, beautifully simple features and the premium finishing touches. There is an intelligent removable camera compartment which lives within the lower interior of the bag. This allows for optimal protection of gear, whilst also holding a 13″ laptop and small accessories in the internal upper zip compartment.

Value For Money

Traditionally you pay extra for value for money and in this case the Hamilton delivers, for $589. Built with a premium ballistic nylon, premium leather zips, and leather handles the Hamilton happily sits alongside the likes of KILLSPENCER, Tanner Goods, and Filson.

“There is an intelligent removable camera compartment which lives within the lower interior of the bag.”

Unlike most camera bags, this bag includes an additional duffle compartment suited for those extra couple items of clothing. Perfect for the fashion photographer or photo blogger, needing to mix gear and fashion ensembles. The Hamilton is a high-end option in the photo gear travel genre.

The bag includes:

– Interior 13″ laptop compartment

– Handcrafted with premium 1050D ballistic nylon

– Full-grain Italian leather accents

– Swiss-Italian made zippers from Riri

– Solid brass hardware in a gunmetal finish

– Dual compartment design, for both camera and personal gear

– Includes a TSA-approved combination lock

– Exterior Dimensions: 22”H x 13.5”W x 9”D

– Interior Dimensions (Camera Compartment): 21.5”H x 12.5”W x 5.5”D

– Weight: 11.0 lbs

“Unlike most camera bags, this bag includes an additional duffle compartment suited for those extra couple items of clothing.”

Performance

Negotiating life, transport, a wedding, or even a city with a heavy roller bag is challenging; ask anyone who’s dealt with a roller and a set of stairs at a train station. Great roller bags are nimble, robust and fluid. This bag is aimed at travel photographers, or even photographers on the move; sadly, the bag falls short in this department, lacking general agility. The wheels are too close together. Accidentally tap the back of a foot and the whole bag wobbles uncontrollably. Hard tap a foot or mistime a curb drop and expect the bag to completely topple over. The wheels are stiff and don’t run with a sense of ease. The carry handles feel solid in hand, but the leather trims are beginning to fray and weather.

“The wheels are too close together. Accidentally tap the back of a foot and the whole bag wobbles uncontrollably. Hard tap a foot or mistime a curb drop and expect the bag to completely topple over.”

Weight

The Hamilton is “designed to meet most airline carry-on requirements”. Size-wise this is totally accurate, sadly this is 100% wrong when you put gear in. In Australia, airline carry-on allowance is 7kgs; the Hamilton weighs in at 4.98kgs when empty. This leaves very little room for gear, if any.

Some people may not like or know this, but Tiger Australia offers extra carry-on (up to 12kgs) for an additional fee. This is very, very handy when not wanting to part with expensive, fragile camera gear. Even with this, the bag is too heavy. So when negotiating transit and airports to accommodate heavy gear and clothing I ended up using this bag as a clothes-only check-in.

Space

Inside the bag you find space for a 13” laptop and an accessories pocket. The laptop sleeve offers maximum protection for one of your most precious devices. With a full bag of gear and clothes, this leaves your laptop between a rock and a hard place. The accessories pocket is suitable for keys, phone, and a wallet, although not easily accessible unless the bag is largely unzipped. I feel the bag lacks intuitive carry. It lacks easy-access pockets for things like wallets or phones. Sadly the bag weighs 5 kgs with nothing in it, and fits very little even when you fill it.

“It lacks easy-access pockets for things like wallets or phones. Sadly the bag weighs 5 kgs with nothing in it, and fits very little even when you fill it.”

The lower compartment is the largest of the two, which fits the removable gear insert. The internal dimensions of the bag are 21.5”H x 12.5”W x 5.5”D. Confusingly this is not the actual size of the camera gear insert and on closer inspection feels quite shallow and lacks the space for larger lens hoods, battery packs, and a broad range of gear. Laying pro camera bodies flat is the only option.

The website mentions that the bag fits:

– 2-3 DSLR camera bodies

– 7-9 lenses

– 1 x 13-inch laptop

– Other small camera accessories, like speedlights, radio triggers, and memory cards

– An outfit or two, and toiletries for a weekend trip

What I can actually fit in the gear compartment:

2x 5d bodies, 50mm f1.2, 35mm f1.4, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8 minus the lens hood, 2 x 600EX RT, 13″ MBPro

What doesn’t fit into the gear compartment:

– Flash Trigger

– Hard drive

– MBP charger.

– +accessories.

– Hold Fast Gear – Camera Straps.

After using the bag with my own gear and realistically comparing the list to the photos online, I don’t see how the list on the website is accurate.

The gear compartment is all or nothing. There is no mini kit option; once you opt for gear it takes up the whole lower compartment. This is dysfunctional if you’re only needing a half kit for a weekend away, more clothes, or an extra large something.

My recommendations – the gear compartments could be two parts rather than one large. If you choose to fill the lower compartment with gear then add 12kgs+ of gear, then flying is not an option unless you’re happy to check in your equipment.

Duffle compartment

The duffle compartment is a great addition to a camera bag. Who doesn’t need space for a jumper, small jacket or a change of clothes. Prepare for the worst and nothing can go wrong.

(Sadly the day I received the bag, the zip snapped off this part of the bag. Fixable, yes, but for $589 I was not impressed.)

Verdict

When you pay $589 for a bag you expect a premium item with value for money. Premium, Yes. Practical, No.

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