Aktualisiert: 18. Nov 2020
The Billingham Hadley One Bag - A Timeless Classic
When I first encountered Billingham Bags a few year ago, I have already gained experience with bags and backpacks from other brands like Tom Bihn, F-Stop, Peak Design, Oberwerth, FOGG Bags, Mindshift Gear so to name a few of them.
So the products that the company Billingham has been offering for years has been always appealing as a very handsome, classical looking bag. So I always tended to buy bags that looked a bit more modern, urban so to say, since my taste in looking and preference in function tended to be more modern in aspects of design.
Despite loving to use bags from companies like Tom Bihn, Peak Design and F-Stop it happened that many times I had to reapply the DWR coating to make the surface of the bag impermeable to water/rain, since the DWR tended to wear off with time, because I am someone to wash and rinse his bags regularly after a trip.
So many bags tended to show signs of wear and tear, some revealed themselves to be not as sturdy or rugged to protect my gear, when I happened to make my trip to Greece, France, Iceland and to the United States all within one year.
After making those experiences until summer 2019, it got apparent to me that I needed to try something new, something which I hadn’t given a try because all my bags wore off or they failed to provide the protection needed for my precious camera gear. That meant, that all camera backpacks and bags needed to be replaced by something new and hopefully better in terms of reliablity.
It happened that I decided to trust in the British based company called Billingham, a company which has been producing bags since 1973 and constantly innovating and finding new ways and improvements in making bags for photographers in mind, so the website says.
But believing and actual facts are of different kinds, so I needed to try it, why not I thought, since all bags of mine needed replacement and I have always been loving the skilled traditional British craftmanship and style.
When it came to the ordering process I had to decide between the so called FibreNyte Material and the traditional Canvas Material.
The main difference is that FibreNyte is more hard to the touch but a little bit more intense in color, also it has a higher abrasion resistance compared to the traditional canvas material.
The advantage of the canvas material is, that it feels more soft like cotton fabric, also it is more soft to the touch and it ages beautifully with time. So if you need more abrasion resistance and color which stays much the same over time, I would go with the more stronger FibreNyte material. But more on that later.
In my case I only wanted to have the beautiful Imperial Blue color and this color is only available in Canvas material. Also some models are not always available to order through the online store, so they have to be custom build. So in my case I contacted Billingham directly through e-mail and phone and I was pleased how incredible friendly they are.
First of all I would like to point out how brilliant and reliable their customer service is.
Their customer service is really one of the best I know, they are fast, reliable, polite and very kind.
So Billingham Customer Service Crew, if you read this, thank you very much for your assistance I am very grateful and I will never forget this. It’s a big difference when I compare this delightful experience with an awful experience I had with a small french based company which I should not name here.
When I began my conversation and e-mail correspondance, I was really impressed how attentive and patient they are. In my case it took some e-mails and phone calls to find the right bag for me, but in the end I have been successful to find a bag which fits all of my equipment. So I decided to order the so called Billingham Hadley One Bag which was the most suited bag for my equipment and usage.
After a few days my custom made bag arrived and I was impressed how well made it is.
Everything on this bag exudes a sublime beauty, its materials are very well chosen.
One can certainly describe the materials being used on this bag as being of highest quality.
It is needed quality which indeed can be seen as pure luxury when compared to other bags which are not as well equipped.
When I first looked and touched the thick and dense leather applications of this bag, I immediately felt that probably no bag I have had so far is so well build to last and to be functional like the Bags from Billingham, if you search for a bag which is specifically designed for photography equipment.
The biggest plus or advantage of all Billingham Bags is, that those bags are impermeable to rain without the need of DWR or raincovers. You can trust it also in the most heaviest downpours, because the outer material is a fabric which consists of 3 layers. Between the face and backing fabric is butyl rubber, that means that the material is naturally impermeable to water.
So even it rains cat's and dogs, the inside of your bag and also your gear is going to be bone dry.
And the best thing is, that without the need of raincovers your gear is always accessible without the need to take the raincover from your bag or without the need of applying DWR.
When I first visited England with this bag I experienced heavy downpours, but I had no problems thanks to this bag, it's that ingenious!
Most of the outdoor equipment and bags that are made for outdoor use are either very light but need the application of a non permanent DWR or they are made with fabrics with characteristics that are i. e. impermeablity to water but they often tend to be too rugged and too heavy.
Fabrics from Billingham Bags in this respect offer the best of both worlds, water impermeability and protection for your gear. Both the standard Canvas Fabric and the new and more robust FibreNyte Material the one that has a higher abrasion resistance, offer those characteristics and are made of three compound layers.
So both fabrics are rugged and light, so it seems that Billingham found the sweet spot on this.
To try both fabrics, I have ordered some bags in both Canvas and FibreNyte material. As I explained before FibreNyte really feels more dense, and the colors look more intense.
It has a nylon shine to be more specific, but Canvas has a more soft touch and it looks and feels more natural and soft like cotton textile.
I got quite deep in this matter but I couldn’t decide for one fabric despite Billingham recommending FibreNyte as the material of choice, if you carry heavy stuff, or if l you look for improved abrasion resistance also if you look for a bag which holds its colors a little bit longer than Canvas.
So in the end I ended up with buying the bag with color that I wanted and that was the Imperial Blue color which is still only available in Canvas.
So I don’t know if the Canvas material is really gong to age very beautifully and hopefully gracefully with time. Only time will prove if this applies.
So at the moment I carry following equipment within the Billingham Hadley One bag:
1x Leica SL Camera
1x Leica M-Summilux-M 50mm Asph.
1x Leica SL 16-35mm or Zeiss Milvus 15mm
1x Leica SL 90-280mm
1x Novoflex Adapter for Leica T/Nikon F Mount
1x Charger, some Batteries, 1x Blower, some Microfibercloths
The inner padded compartment can be exchanged and it is enough space to carry all of the equipment listed above.
The bags volume can also be expanded with a so called AVEA Pouch (green small ouch which can be seen attached on the side of the bag) that can be securely clipped in with buttons on the exterior of the bag.
There are two outer pockets which can be clipped on the sides of the bag, and they come in very handy since, they are indeed very spacey.
I decided to go with the Hadley One because the Hadley Pro was to small to contain my Leica SL 90-280mm lens, and the Hadley Large was too big and it‘s shoulder strap could not be removed.
If you consider to buy a shoulder bag from Billingham I would strongly recommend you to buy a shoulder strap pad. because it makes a world of difference if you work with heavy loads on your shoulders.
When it comes to bags, I would always recommend to buy a bag one size bigger than you think you need, when you are new to this topic.
I would take bag as small as possible if you are already experienced and your experience with bags and camera equipment has condensed to a point that you know what kind of gear you prefer to use most of the time. That means that your own habit/preference of workflow to use your equipment should be very clear for yourself.
In this regard it’s very important to know with what you feel comfortable with when you use your gear.
For example if you already now which cameras or lenses you work with most of the time, and this equipment is sufficient for you all the time you work with it, then I would recommend to buy the size of bag you need especially sufficient enough to accommodate the equipment of your choice.
If you are someone whose work conditions and amount of used equipment changes a lot, you may need to consider to buy one big bag or many bags each suited for specific usage to adapt to your changing work conditions and needs.
I hope this helps! :-)
Last but not least, great thanks to Mel Suttor, Katie and Harry (Supervisor) from the Billingham Customer Service Crew. It has been already one year since ordered my bags from you and still: Thanks to you finally I have found a superb bag which I still enjoy to use with great joy on every day.
You guys are great!!! Thank you! :-)
All the best,