It's rare to have a new bag specifically targeted as the best camera bag for women, but the Action X30 v2 is part of a new range by Shimoda designed specifically with female photographers in mind. We reviewed the medium size bag which can fit in a decent amount of camera gear and has a waterproof, roll top for personal items. It's fully adjustable, has several useful pockets on the straps to keep your camera phone or small items and the starter kit comes with a rain cover which is a must - especially if you live in the UK, like me!
Weight: 5.3lb / 2.4kg
Outside Dimensions (cm): 30W x 51H x 17D
Inside Dimensions (cm): 29.5W x 50.5H x 16D
Laptop Compartment Dimensions - Combined (cm): 24W x 35H x 1.5D
The main feature of the Shimoda Action X30 V2 is it's designed specifically for women - hallelujah! It's so nice to finally wear a bag that fits around your boobs rather than squishing them in all the wrong places. The chest straps sit comfortably above and below while the waist strap is super padded so there's no chance of the bag digging into your hips.
Lots of small pockets on the shoulder straps and waist straps are perfect for storing things like your phone, lip balm, a compass (should you be on a long hike), sunglasses, or even a lens cloth so you can keep your lens clean no matter where you are.
The rucksack itself is split into two sections; the section for your camera kit is accessible from the back and has a zip that allows you to open the pocket like a door. When you buy the starter kit it comes with the Medium mirrorless core unit which is a sturdy box containing dividers for your camera gear. It also has a top access roll and clip section perfect for storing spare clothes, your purse, or a packed lunch.
The back of the rucksack has space for a laptop and is super padded which not only ensures your tablet/laptop is safe but it makes it super comfy to carry - even when it's loaded up with gear!
Build and handling
From the minute you get this bag in your hands you can tell it's made from high-quality materials that are designed to last. The waterproof resistant nylon coating is easy to wipe clean and can withstand a bit of rain. If you get caught in a heavy shower, it also comes with a waterproof cover which can be found in a pouch inside on the bottom of the bag (under where the core unit is).
Durable YKK splashguard zips also help keep water out of your bag as well as provide a smooth and easy glide when opening and closing sections. There's really nothing worse than a zip that gets jammed and stuck in the lining really easily.
The core unit is made of a rigid material and covered in fabric so that it can protect your expensive gear no matter what. It comes with several rigid dividers that can be configured to suit your needs using very strong velcro that attaches to the side and back of the core unit.
The one thing letting this bag down for me is the material used on the underside of the shoulder straps (i.e. the bit that touches your skin). I found it to be quite rough on my sensitive skin and when I was hot and sweaty from hiking, it really started to irritate and itch. If I was to take this bag on a long hike I would have to be wearing a t-shirt rather than a vest top as this would ruin my day. It's a very small thing but a softer strap coating would've made a big difference.
When it comes to useful, exterior pockets this bag has a lot of them; they're on the waistband, shoulder straps, both sides and the front. There are even pockets within the pockets for keeping all your small accessories together so you can be super organized and always know where things are.
This bag is great for separating your personal items and camera kit thanks to the separate section that can be expanded to store 7 liters of stuff thanks to a roll top style closing. Keep spare clothes, purse, keys, and other items in the top section which is also accessible from the front so you don't have to keep undoing the roll top for speed and ease.
If you're using the bag with the core unit supplied in the starter kit accessing your camera gear is actually not that easy. Other than taking the bag off your bag, completely undoing the back panel, and then opening up the cover on the core unit, there doesn't seem to be a way to gain easy entrance. For me, this is a bit of a letdown, I'm a huge fan of side access pockets as it means I can just swing my bag off one shoulder to get to my gear and easily put my camera away when I'm not using it. It doesn't look like there is any way to utilize the side access pockets and the core unit and I wouldn't want to keep my camera gear in the bag without one!
The Shimoda X30 is designed to carry one or two mirrorless camera bodies plus up to 4 lenses or you can swap out some of the lenses for other accessories such as a speed light, battery charger, film camera, or tabletop tripod.
On either side of the bag, there is a pocket that has a hidden pocket within it that can be pulled out and used to store a water bottle and tripod externally. Straps can be used to tightly secure each of these pockets to your bag so it isn't swinging around.
The Shimoda Action X30 is a refreshing addition to some of the current camera backpacks available (which let's be honest are mostly designed for men). The figure-sculpted straps, extra padded waistband, and back all make the bag a really comfortable fit. Chest straps that don't crush your boobs are also a big plus as they sit above and below your boobs and can be easily adjusted depending on chest size.
I loved the color and material of the bag exterior, teal makes a nice contrast from your standard black or grey and I also think it makes it look less like a camera bag and more like a camping rucksack (which could be a benefit if you're traveling as it'll attract less attention). I do wish the material used to line the back and straps was kinder to the skin but someone who's less sensitive than me probably wouldn't find it too uncomfortable.
I'm a big fan of all the pockets as it means you can fit lots of things into this bag which is perfect for a day trip. If it wasn't for the side access pocket being pointless when using the core unit it would've got 5 stars - perhaps designing a core unit cube without one of its sides would be something to think of in the future. You can also get this bag in a 25L or 40L version if you need slightly less/more space.