Vanguard Alta Sky 51D backpack review

The Vanguard Alta Sky 51D is a 3-in-1 photo backpack that’s very versatile, suited to multiple cameras and drones

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D
(Image: © Vanguard)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Alta Sky 51D gives the option of stowing two camera kits, both with their own access points. It also features a Y-shaped front section and both this and the top compartment are ideal for large and small drones respectively. All in all, it’s a sizeable backpack that’s ideal for packing a wide range of camera kit.

Pros

  • +

    Multiple access points

  • +

    Strong, durable construction

  • +

    The range features five sizes

Cons

  • -

    Fairly heavy

  • -

    Waist strap is chunky and not removable

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The Vanguard Alta Sky 51D is the second smallest of five different sizes in the Alta Sky range of backpack. Even so, it’s quite voluminous and measures up to the adage ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’, with a plethora of different compartments and pockets.

Specifications

External dimensions (WxDxH): 37 x 26 x 56.5 cm
Main camera compartment (WxDxH): 32 x 20 x 51 cm
Sizes options in range: 45D, 51D, 53, 66, 68
Backpack type: Split photo/daypack
Camera access: Front, left, rear
Laptop compartment: 15-inch
Tripod fastener: Yes
Chest / Waist strap: Yes / Yes (non-removable)
Baggage trolley strap: Yes
Rain-proof cover: Included
Weight: 2.9kg

Key features

The striking V-shaped front flap of the backpack can be used for securely holding a large drone, or you can easily customize the main inner compartment for one. This compartment also has quick camera access through a large zippered flap on the left-hand side, which itself has a smaller color-coded pocket for fresh and used memory cards within the flap.

The main camera compartment is accessed via a full-length zipper on the rear of the backpack. (Image credit: Vanguard)

Up top, another zippered flap gives access to a separate compartment for daily essentials or more photo kit, plus another internal zippered sleeve. There are yet more zippered pockets and sleeves on the front and right-hand side.

The bottom section of the backpack also has adjustable dividers to hold a camera with an attached lens and extra accessories. (Image credit: Vanguard)

At the bottom, there’s a whole extra fold-out zippered compartment with dividers for a camera and additional lenses or accessories. The dividers between each of the top, middle and lower compartments are removable so you can split the sections to best suit your photo kit and other gear, or use the whole backpack with one extra-large compartment. A separate zippered compartment at the rear can accommodate a 15-inch laptop plus a tablet.

Performance

Direct access to a camera with an attached lens is available through a zippered side flap. (Image credit: Vanguard)

Full access to the backpack is via the rear. The shoulder straps are thickly padded, widely adjustable and very comfortable, as is the rest of the harness. The multitude of compartments, pockets and sleeves will prove ideal for those who like to have a dedicated place for all their individual gadgets. The wide and thickly padded waist strap adds to the secure fit when wearing the backpack but it’s not removable to save space.

Verdict

The Alta Sky 51D gives the option of stowing two camera kits, both with their own access points. It also features a Y-shaped front section and both this and the top compartment are ideal for large and small drones respectively. All in all, it’s a sizeable backpack that’s ideal for packing a wide range of camera kit.

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.