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For travel and adventure photography, comfortably carrying a load is everything - we put the Shimoda Action X30 to the test.

Shimodo Action X30
Best for...
Adventurous photographers and filmmakers
Overall Score

There isn't enough space to adequately praise every aspect of the Shimoda Action X30, so let's get straight into it. The harness is superb, and everything stems from that. Pack features are irrelevant if the bag is uncomfortable to begin with. The Action X30 performs like a really good hiking backpack, and that's probably the least we should expect from a photography pack. Sadly, it's not always the case.

Shimoda deserves huge kudos for offering female-friendly straps to be swapped out at no extra cost. And on the subject of adjustability, the back length system is very cleverly minimal and effective. The consequence of that is no extraneous weight or - crucially - bulk. The supportive hip belt and the wide shoulder straps fold closely and neatly to the pack for stowing in overhead lockers, or just storing at home.

The pack is available in 30, 50 and 70 litre versions, but even the baby of the bunch has Mary-Poppins-levels of internal space. The divide between the lower camera compartment and the upper section varies its position at your slightest whim, and the expandability of the upper is superb (apparently an additional 7 litres). There are also benefits to the roll top design, in that the bag doesn't feel weird and saggy when half empty, which really add to its versatility: load it up for an overnighter, or keep it light for a day trip.

Fold-out bottle pockets lie neatly alongside slotty-type pockets for tripod legs and the various front zippers allow access to myriad organisation, meaning you won't miss the pockets of a floating lid. There are endless clever little features that will impress even the most jaded photographer, but what we really like is the modularity that Shimoda offers.

The Core Unit inserts can be configured in many different ways and Shimoda's bags (various packs, plus rolling luggage) all use the same basic dimensions in order that the inserts are easily transferable. There are accessory pouches that attach perfectly onto the waist belt and the brand's toploader can be mounted onto the harness of the pack (any ski photographer will know how useful a securely held chest-mounted toploader can be - the fact it can integrate onto a pack is a very welcome feature).

This kind of eco-system approach takes seriously clever design, and to build such a feature rich, durable pack at 1.7kg takes witchcraft. The price is high, but it's in line with similar products from other brands, and the value should be clear by this point.

We could write another 500 words on additional features, but then there would be less magic for you to uncover for yourself. Suffice to say this is probably the best adventure photography pack we've ever used.

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