Vanguard VEO Active 53 backpack review

The Vanguard VEO Active 53 is an innovative backpack that has just about everything covered, for you and your camera

5 Star Rating
Vanguard VEO Active 53
(Image: © Vanguard)

Digital Camera World Verdict

It’s a big backpack with a wealth of features, not to mention zips. It can take a while to find your way around but once you’re up to speed, there’s quick and easy access to everything. One particularly neat trick is that the main camera compartment is quickly and easily removable, and has its own zippered lid.

Pros

  • +

    Removable camera compartment

  • +

    Hydration and USB charging systems

  • +

    Excellent versatility

Cons

  • -

    Hefty at nearly 3kg

  • -

    Very chunky waist strap, but it’s removable

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The Vanguard VEO Active 53 is the largest edition in a range of four different sizes. The width, depth and height measure 33x25x55cm, rising to 68cm in height with the elevating top section extended. It’s particularly feature-rich and versatile for a split photo/daypack, but quite weighty at 2.9kg when empty.

Specifications

External dimensions (WxDxH): 33 x 25 x 55-68 cm
Main camera compartment (WxDxH): 28 x 16 x 38 cm
Sizes options in range: 42, 46, 49 or 53
Color options: Gray or khaki
Backpack type: Split photo/daypack
Camera access: Rear
Laptop compartment: 16-inch
Tripod fastener: Yes
Chest / waist strap: Yes / Yes (removable)
Baggage trolley strap: Yes
Rain-proof cover: Included
Weight: 2.9kg

As well as the main camera compartment pictured, the additional top section is extendable and large enough to hold a second small photo outfit or drone. (Image credit: Vanguard)

Key features

Instead of the usual black, the Veo Active 53 is available in grey or khaki green. The largest in the range, it has a 45 liter capacity. It’s a split photo/daypack, the camera compartment being accessed through the rear zippered side of the backpack, which also plays host to the padded harness, baggage trolley strap and removable padded waist strap. That’s not the whole story though, as the camera compartment itself is a self-contained semi-rigid box with its own zippered cover. This lifts out to form a perfectly serviceable container for your camera kit, complete with a handle on the top.

Further attractions include a separate upper compartment with an expanding top in case you need extra capacity. As well as the top zipper, a full-length side zipper enables you to use the entire bag as a large backpack without the camera insert. There are also inner sleeves for a 16-inch laptop and 10-inch tablet.

Other pockets include a sealed section for a 2-litre hydration pouch and outgoing tube slot, plus a power bank pocket complete with a USB charging port and cable, for recharging gadgets on the go. A large-capacity side pocket doubles as a tripod holder with fold-away securing strap, and there’s a concealed pocket at the top rear for a passport or wallet.

The main compartment holds a self-contained camera case with a zippered lid that can be easily removed and  used in its own right. (Image credit: Vanguard)

Performance

(Image credit: Vanguard )

It’s easy to get at everything you need, in whatever configuration you choose to use the backpack. Not missing a trick, the shoulder straps have additional Velcro-sealed pull-out pockets and sturdy metal attachment hoops. Extra straps are also supplied for securing items to the front of the backpack, via the elasticated loops.

Verdict

It’s a big backpack with a wealth of features, not to mention zips. It can take a while to find your way around but once you’re up to speed, there’s quick and easy access to everything. One particularly neat trick is that the main camera compartment is quickly and easily removable, and has its own zippered lid.

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.