Travelling with Camera Gear: A Billingham-Swissgear Combination

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The Billingham Hadley Pro, with the optional leather shoulder strap.

For many years I travelled with my camera gear in a Lowepro Mini Trekker and my laptop, books, and so on in a briefcase. More recently I have switched things around and carry my (now mirrorless) camera gear in a Billingham shoulder bag, with my laptop and other items in a general-purpose rucksack.

I usually travel with a rollaboard suitcase and wondered if there was some way of carrying this and the two other bags aboard a flight with me. Another question, for a short trip requiring a minimum of clothes, is how to travel with just one bag.

There is a way to do both these things. The trick is to combine the Billingham Hadley Pro and the Wenger Swissgear Synergy backpack.

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One of the great things about the Billingham Hadley Pro is that the green padded insert, which holds the camera and lenses, is removable: simply undo the press stud located at the front and the insert comes out. The insert can then be placed in the capacious main compartment of the Synergy, after putting the padded flap (the “stabilizing platform”) in the down position. The Hadley Pro insert fits comfortably and leaves plenty of space for items to be placed on top of it, which is best done after closing the insert’s lid to provide a firm foundation.

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The Billingham Hadley Pro insert.


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The Billingham insert in the main compartment of the Wenger Synergy.

The outer part of the Hadley Pro, which is soft and floppy without the insert, folds very flat and can be placed in the rollaboard, in which it takes very little space.

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Without the green insert.

I have travelled this way on several long-haul trips, with the Hadley Pro containing a Fuji XT-1 with 18-55 lens and an X100S, along with a 19 inch rollaboard holding the Hadley Pro shell, and am very pleased with how it worked. The Wenger Swissgear Synergy is an excellent backpack, with a laptop pocket and all the features I want. The only minor drawback is that with the Hadley Pro insert in place, the Synergy side pockets are severely restricted in what they can hold. No such problem arises if the narrower Hadley Small insert is used instead.

For the one bag secanario it is possible to travel with just the Synergy and the Hadley Pro insert (leaving the Hadley Pro outer part at home), working out of the Synergy.

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The Synergy zipped up, with the Hadley Pro insert inside it.

Overall, these are two excellent bags and they make a great combination.

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