New photography bags are made continually, as the way we shoot changes and our kit changes size (either we upgrade to a bigger, more advanced model or upgrade to a, well, smaller, more advanced model).
We know that the best camera bags (opens in new tab) can truly enrich your shooting experience, and most of us have several camera bags for different situations – one day you might need a high-capacity backpack for squeezing everything in, while the next you'll use a smaller sling or shoulder bag for a few bits of gear. And while it makes sense to have a variety of options, there's an environmental cost to constantly buying new bags – a cost that female-founded company GroundTruth hopes to reduce by making products that are truly built to last. A buy well, buy once, sort of philosophy.
GoundTruth was set up by three sisters from the documentary film company GroundTruth Productions, "who saw the opportunity to create travel products such as bags that drive positive change: reducing plastic waste and improving people’s lives". Its RIKR Range includes several technical bags and pouches made from plastic waste, that's turned into a hard-wearing material called GT-RK-001.
I tried out the GroundTruth RIKR camera bag, a 3L shoulder bag that's carbon neutral and manufactured from 25 plastic bottles. As someone who takes the "green-ness" of a product into account when buying it (you should see my bamboo lunchbox), I wanted to see if it could be as rugged and stylish as other camera bags on the market.
Weight empty: 0.7kg
Materials (exterior): Ballistic 1200D recycled PET
Materials (interior): Recycled PET fleece
Holds: mirrorless or small DSLR camera with 1-2 standard lenses
When I was younger, eco-friendly products always felt a little compromised – either they were less powerful, a bit ugly, or prohibitively expensive. That’s no longer the case, and Grountruth is proof of that.
The GroundTruth RIKR camera bag has been so carefully thought out, but the eco-friendly experience starts before you even take it out of the box. The bag's packaging is biodegradable and plastic-free, and there are cardboard labels attached to tell you exactly what it's made from – 100% recycled materials make up the main bag material, the padding, the linings, and even the zips.
According to the GroundTruth website, each product is ethically manufactured by Global Recycled Standard manufacturers, and every product is carbon neutral. So far, so good, but how will the bag fare in real life?
When I packed it up for a day at The Photography Show, I started to notice just how many details have gone into it. Neat touches include how many bottles went into making the bag (25), a reminder that serves to make you feel somewhat smug. As for the build quality, it’s stunning. The outer material is tough and thick and feels like it would be incredibly waterproof in a shower, while internally there's a soft fleecy lining to keep your camera free from scratches. An internal lens hammock sling serves to keep your camera from moving around inside, but you can detach it if you find it less of a hindrance than a help for your particular gear setup.
You access the main compartment (and there is only one) via a top zip which opens up all the way around so that you can really get your hand in. Two side mesh pockets can hold extras like a phone, umbrella or water bottle, while an inside pocket at the top holds memory cards or items like keys securely.
Capacity & usability(opens in new tab)
Moving onto the capacity of the RIKR camera bag, it's not massive – but then it's not meant to be. The main 3L compartment could probably hold a small DSLR or standard mirrorless camera with a modest lens attached, plus one extra lens or a few accessories. I was able to carry a Nikon D800 (opens in new tab) (with kit lenses attached) but this was definitely a squeeze. Fortunately, my new Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab) fit inside much more easily.
While the RIKR 3L camera bag is quite obviously very small (and it's meant to be) it also fits perfectly into the side access of GroundTruth's RIKR 24L backpack (opens in new tab), which I also loved and will be sharing a review for very soon. The space is ample for holding a few essential personal items, alongside one main camera and lens setup.
The GroundTruth RIKR camera bag was a joy to carry around at a photography event all day, and more importantly, it had the advantage of making me feel stylish. Designed by women, GroundTruth products aren't just for women, but the padded straps are comfortable if you're a female shooter with a smaller frame.
The padded shoulder strap is incredibly comfortable, but this can be removed if you want to use the bag as a carrier only, or want to insert it into a larger camera backpack.(opens in new tab)
The GroundTruth RIKR 3L camera bag will suit photographers who need a stylish yet sturdy carrier for on-the-go shooting – say exploring a city or taking on a small portrait shoot. And of course, it's the ideal choice for those (myself included) who want to be more eco-friendly and don't mind paying a bit more for something that will last. The bag is beautifully constructed and rugged, yet aesthetically pleasing. We've written a guide on camera bags that don't scream "I'm a photographer" (opens in new tab), and GroundTruth's RIKR could easily be in there.
Practically speaking, the internal padding provides protection for one camera and an attached lens. And while that's about as roomy as the capacity gets, there are also pockets inside and out for camera accessories and personal bits. In short, this isn't a camera bag suitable for carrying every lens and filter you own, but a convenient (and stylish) option for on-the-move photography. I tend to shoot with one camera and lens setup for the majority of the day, so this was no problem for me, and I found the camera easy to access in a hurry. But if you like or need to have everything with you, check out the best camera backpacks (opens in new tab), as this is where you'll get the most storage. I've also tested the GroundTruth RIKR 24L Backpack – which the RIKR camera bag fits into – and found it to be a fantastic eco-friendly backpack.
Overall, the GroundTruth RIKR 3L camera bag is a premium product with a price to reflect that. Still, to my mind, you get what you pay for – with the knowledge that you're buying a camera bag that's incredibly environmentally conscious and built to last.