Thanks to the The Morally Toxic Valkyrie, things aren’t quite as staid as they used to be. The overwhelming majority of photo backpacks still seem to be based on the Henry Ford ethos... You can have any colour you want so long as it’s black. That’s the first rule that Morally Toxic threw out of its nearest window.
The new bag brand, spawned by the renowned British tripod manufacturer, 3 Legged Thing, has big ideas to create bags not just for camera gear, but for just about anything and everything.
The company aims to be ‘morally’ upright by ensuring respect and good conditions for its workers around the world, while minimizing the use of plastics, which includes using recycled ocean plastics wherever possible.
It also sets out to be ‘toxic’, corroding what it calls the tired, unimaginative, corporate and dull approach to camera bags that’s so commonplace. The Valkyrie backpack is one of the first two bags to be launched, the other being the Wraith messenger/sling bag.
Additional lenses/accs: 6
Laptop/tablet compartment: 13-inch
Tripod attachment: Yes
Additional compartments: 3
External dimensions: 44x33x19cm
True to its 3 Legged Thing heritage, the design team at Morally Toxic has taken a fresh approach to crafting its bags and, as a result, the Valkyrie is innovative and feature-rich, while still covering all the basics.
Currently available in two sizes, medium and large, it has a full-height main compartment with movable dividers so you can tailor the fit to your camera gear. A new twist is that the dividers themselves features pockets on one side, ideal for stashing filters, cables, batteries and other small bits and pieces.
There are also two zipper pockets sewn into the inside of the main compartment’s lid, along with a removable memory card wallet that’s held in place by Velcro.
To one side of the main, full-length zip for the main compartment at the front, there’s a second zip that gives access to a laptop compartment. The medium and large editions of the backpack can hold 13-inch and 15-inch laptops respectively.
Next up are two smaller side pockets, each with their own separate zips, internal dividers and additional zipped inner pockets while, on the other side of the backpack there’s a stretchy drinks bottle holder.
On the front of the backpack, there’s a further zippered compartment which features a particularly well-organized organizer section, plus an additional inner zippered pocket.
So far so good, but here’s a couple of clever tricks as well. Some photographers like being able to access a backpack from the rear. If conditions are frankly filthy, it’s nice being able lay the backpack down on the surface that you won’t be wearing against your back afterwards.
The Valkyrie’s lumbar pad at the base of the rear has a zip around its circumference, which gives access to an expanding, water-resistant ‘frog’ pocket, which extends into the lower area of the main compartment. You can stash a camera with attached lens in here for rear access, or use it as a safe place to store a wet rain jacket without worrying about the rest of your kit getting damp.
There’s also a well-padded waist strap which is quickly and easily removable, but more on that in a moment.
Build and handling
The quality of the Valkyrie’s construction is top-drawer from top to toe. It really looks the part too, available in three colour schemes including onyx, emerald and sapphire. Each has an eye-catching printed design, based on a vintage map of the company’s home town of Stagsden combined with an alligator print. Due to the way the cloth is cut, so to speak, it’s claimed that no two bags are identical.
The material is tough and highly water-resistant but, in case of downpour, the backpack is supplied with a storm cover that stashes away into its own compartment in the base.
The Valkyrie is currently available in medium and large options. We tested the medium, 20-litre backpack which has external dimensions of 44x33x19cm, whereas the larger 25-litre backpack measures 48x33x21cm and is 200g heavier at 1.8kg. Internal dimensions for the medium and large backpacks measure 42x28x12cm and 45x29x12cm respectively.
Handling benefits from a three-point airflow harness that’s both comfortable and cool, while the well-padded, air-mesh shoulder straps and chest strap are adjustable to suit pretty much any male, female, little and large body shape. The shoulder straps also feature webbed hoops and strong plastic loops, for attaching cameras and other accessories.
For when the going gets tough and treacherous, a padded waist strap is supplied, but this is easily removable for a more streamlined form factor regular use, via a couple of clips. A couple of attachment straps on the front are ideal for securing a folded tripod.
With its strong and sturdy yet lightweight construction, the Valkyrie performs admirably. The dividers are easy to adjust and the backpack is brilliantly designed to enable many and varied bits of camera kit and daily essentials to be stored in their own dedicated spaces, along with quick and easy access. High-quality YKK and weather-resistant zippers are used throughout.
The balance between protective padding and security, against lightweight, manageable and comfortable construction is nigh-on perfect.
With its clever design and eye-catching material, especially when it catches the sun, the Valkyrie is a major cut above the plethora of boring black camera backpacks. But it’s certainly not a case of style over substance, as everything is smartly designed to make carrying your camera kit and daily essentials as pleasurable and painless as possible. Quick access to all areas and some genuinely innovative touches make the Valkyrie a backpack to be treasured, leading the way for what we hope will be a wealth of excellent Morally Toxic bags in all shapes and sizes.