Nomatic McKinnon Camera Backpack 25L backpack review

The Nomatic/Gomatic McKinnon Camera Backpack 25L is an endlessly adjustable bag for life

Nomatic/Gomatic McKinnon Camera Backpack 25L
(Image: © Nomatic/Gomatic)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Thanks to its ladder system and optional dividers and cubes, this backpack works equally well as a photo backpack and a straightforward bag for daily life, or any mix of the two. It’s durable and really nicely made, comfortable to wear and looks neat and stylish. However, once you add in optional extras, it works out a bit pricey compared to most competing backpacks of a similar size.

Pros

  • +

    Clever ladder system

  • +

    Optional cubes

  • +

    Stylish but tough

Cons

  • -

    Not supplied with waist strap

  • -

    Works out pricey with extras

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The McKinnon Camera Backpack 25L was designed in collaboration with Canadian photographer Peter McKinnon. It’s the smaller of two backpacks branded as Nomatic in the US and Gomatic in the UK, the larger being the 35L edition. A bag for all reasons and seasons, it’s endlessly customizable and made from a blend of durable, water-resistant materials.

Specifications

External dimensions (WxDxH): 33 x 19 x 48 cm
Main camera compartment (WxDxH): 28 x 14 x 28 cm
Sizes options in range: 25L, 35L
Backpack type: Split photo/daypack
Camera access: Top, front
Laptop compartment: 16-inch
Tripod fastener: Yes
Chest / Waist strap: Yes / No
Baggage trolley strap: Yes
Rain-proof cover: Optional extra
Weight: 1.4kg

Key features

This backpack’s key to customization is a ‘ladder’ system that enables you to extend the top compartment of the split photo/daypack, giving more or less space to photo kit or daily essentials. For camera kit, there’s the option of adding a set of typical padded dividers with Velcro fasteners. You can also buy either one or two small ‘cubes’, which are customizable with their own set of dividers, or one large cube that takes up the whole of the main lower compartment.

Nomatic/Gomatic McKinnon Camera Backpack 25L

The ladder system enables you to assign more or less space to the main camera compartment. (Image credit: Nomatic/Gomatic)

The cubes fit into the main compartment, which is accessed from the rear via a zippered flap that also contains two mesh pockets. However, the dividers or cubes add to the price of the basic backpack, costing around $45/£45 or $70/£70 for small or large cubes respectively. Additional accessories sold separately include organizer cases for batteries, filters and memory cards. Unusually, the backpack is supplied without a waist belt or slip-over rain cover, these items again being sold as optional extras.

Performance

As well as a pack of regular dividers, small and large cubes are available, which you can keep permanently configured to cameras and lenses. The back can hold either two small cubes (left) or one large cube (right). (Image credit: Nomatic/Gomatic)

Ultimately, while the build quality is excellent and the McKinnon is immensely versatile, the modular approach makes it rather more expensive than most competing photo/daypacks of a similar size, once you start adding extras that are typically supplied with competing bags.

A bonus of the modular system is that you can buy multiple large and small cubes and tailor them to different collections of cameras, lenses and other accessories that you often use. It’s then easy to slip the appropriate cube into the backpack for any given scenario, or to leave them out when you simply want to use the bag as a regular backpack.

Verdict

(Image credit: Nomatic)

Thanks to its ladder system and optional dividers and cubes, this backpack works equally well as a photo backpack and a straightforward bag for daily life, or any mix of the two. It’s durable and really nicely made, comfortable to wear and looks neat and stylish. However, once you add in optional extras, it works out a bit pricey compared to most competing backpacks of a similar size.

Read more:

• Best messenger/shoulder bags (opens in new tab)
• Best camera backpacks (opens in new tab)
• Best camera sling bags (opens in new tab)
• Best camera holsters/pouches (opens in new tab)
• Best roller bags (opens in new tab)
• Best hard cases for camera kit (opens in new tab)

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.