Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crumpler Review: 4 Million Dollar Home Camera Bag, A New Tweak of an Old Reliable

Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home Back Pocket Zipper Detail
Quality is in the details
I've been a Crumpler user for some time now, long enough to know a thing or two about the durability of its products.  Case in point: my Four Million Dollar Home is now five years old and going on strong.  Save for some stains (evidence of abuse), it's barely showing its age.  I would like to believe it's been used and abused on so many trips and could stand more years of the same.  Having been given the opportunity to preview and review the 2013 iteration of the bag, I would not pass up the chance to compare my vintage model to the new one.   Of course, I expect the bag to have a new (better?) design.  But I also expect the changes to be more than just cosmetic.

Design.  Crumpler is known for styles and color combinations as funky / witty/ silly / kooky as the names of its bags.  My grey vintage bag looked very conservative sitting next to its 2013 sibling which is red with orange accent.  Even from afar and without seeing the logo, the color combination is very Crumpler-esque (other color combinations are purple with yellow trim and navy with rust red).  The padding inside the main compartment is rendered in orange (instead of the usual yellow of other camera bags) for better visibility of and contrast with black lenses.  I do noticed and liked the small touches -- the 4M$H logo on the inside flap, the rubber orange logo in front, the orange zipper head and even the nylon divider top flaps embossed with the Crumpler logo.
Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Homes Side by Side
Sibling Rivalry:  Vintage vs. 2013 model
Functionality.  The inside of the main compartment appears as roomy as before, fitting a Nikon DSLR body and two compact lenses (in this case, an ultrawide and 60mm macro) rather nicely.   The main compartment is customizable/configurable with the adjustable padded nylon dividers with top flaps.  The dividers are thinner and sleeker now which perhaps help accommodate lenses slightly bigger in diameter though I feel more secure with the thicker padding of the older model.  The wide adjustable strap is same as before.

Nitpicks.  Front pocket/compartment.  The front pocket is shallower in the new model, losing a few features I find useful in the older one:  a large one-piece velcro-secured mesh (vs. two smaller mesh pocket secured with elastic) and two velcro strips at the edges which help keep small stuff from spilling (the newer model has a single velcro strip near the strap).  Curiously, there's a small pocket near the strap that I found odd and useless; if you use this itty-bitty pocket, you lose the extra security provided by the velcro strip (Crumpler calls it the Velcro Silencer so maybe it serves a purpose after all).
Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home Open Side by Side with Labels
The inside story (click to see larger image)
Top flap.  My biggest beef with the current model is the loss of the compartment/pocket on the top flap.  The older model has a zippered mesh pocket which I used for items easily dropped or misplaced like CF cards and even an extra battery.  Instead, the 2013 model has a back pocket which I find too slim for anything much other than memory cards and  a broadband stick  (an extra battery will bulge).  Oh, maybe for a lens cap or two or a slim ND filter.  The compression strap is more or less the same as before, easily adjustable and worry-free.

Adjustable strap.  Same as before and as I can attest to, easy-to-adjust, durable and snag-proof.  my only wish is that it has some sort of rubber gripping material in the middle so it wouldn't keep on slipping and sliding around my neck and shoulders. 

Dual accessory loops.  The newer model also has dual accessory loops at the sides which I find little use for (the straps too wide for hanging a small carabiner; when the compartment is full, the loops will be too taut to hang or insert anything much).  Nice design element though and I think it helps keep the bag's profile/shape even when filled to capacity.
Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home Close Up with CF Cards with Labels
More of the inside story
Material and workmanship.  I had no qualms about the material of my vintage bag and I have no reason to doubt the 900D nylon polypropylene webbing of the 2013 model is any different.  Even getting caught in a light rain is little cause for alarm with the generous use of the nylon webbing which repels most of the raindrops.  The stitching is first-rate (no fray yet; zipper works without a hitch for my vintage model).

Padding.  I have two main uses for my vintage 4 Million Dollar Home:  as a standalone bag when shooting with just a camera body and one or two lenses; and as camera protection when I want to go on an extended trip without lugging a separate bag for the camera -- it goes into my main backpack when mobile and I pull it out as my hand carried luggage when flying.  I feel confident about the wraparound padding of the bag, I use it as a bag within a bag.
Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home with 1 Body and 2 Lenses
Room for two (lenses that is, and a DSLR body)
Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home Back Pocket with Broadband Stick II
Back pocket feature
Verdict.  I like the design, color combinations (admittedly, orange is my favorite color) and some of the tweaks (the back pocket for example, for hiding a lens cap in a hurry) enough to consider it if only my vintage model isn't much too durable to merit an upgrade.

As far as quality is concerned, I have full confidence in this bag because I've used its sibling for five years.  I would like to think that getting a Crumpler bag is more than just buying into the brand's prestige and/or hype; it's more of investing in a good pack that will really last and one that will protect your gear well.  That it looks good is extra icing on the cake for me.

Product info:   Available at Crumpler Philippines stores in Bonifacio Global City, Trinoma, Robinsons Magnolia and the flagship store at the East Wing of ShangriLa Mall.  Also available at the ff. stores: Beyond the Box, Canon, DigiHub, Digital Arena, Digital Hub, Digital Walker, Digital Walker Zoom, District 32, G-Stop, GBX, F8 Photoshop, iCenter, Islands and More, iStudio, Macy's Camera, Mobile1, Nikon Store, PRG Photoshop, Rustan's, SM Department Store, Toby's Arena, Trilogy, Urbanathletics • Retail price: P3,250 • Visit www.crumpler.com or the Crumpler Philippines Facebook page.  

Disclaimer:  Product provided by Crumpler Philippines for testing and reviewing purposes; however, views expressed here are solely the author's own.


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