Vanguard Quovio 41 – Review

I’ve used my fair share of standard photography shoulder bags. Bags from all sorts of companies that are known for their top notch relationships with photographers and videographers. More recently, Vanguard has found my gear in one of their bags, and although I enjoy my smaller, more accessible “pit bags” the Vanguard Quovio 41 has a real chance at catching on with many photographers in the pit and out.

There are pit bags and there are non-pit bags, and yes there is a very big difference. As many music photographers know, there is very limited space in the photo pit. Of course the bigger shows have more room to play with, but more often than not that extra space is to accommodate a slew of photographers.

Some music photographers use belts with lens holders; others use shoulder bags to hold the few lenses they like to switch among during the course of the short time in the pit. But music photographers all agree that there is little to zero space in the pit once all our fellow shooters arrive.

That said, space is not only important inside a bag in terms of how much gear we can toss in it, but also the amount of space the bag takes up on our shoulder and at our side. Trust me, if you’re taking up too much space with your bag in the photo pit, someone is going to give you a very angry look. As for backpacks, well, you can forget it; those are pretty much taboo in the photo pit. The only thing moderately allowed is a shoulder bag and even sometimes that pushes the limits.

Vanguard has come up with a relatively new camera bag called the Quovio 41. It’s a nicely built and very functional shoulder bag that, in my opinion, takes the best features from photographer and videographer bags and fuses them into one borderline large bag.

Given that Vanguard took the best of both photographer’s and videographer’s worlds, this bag is naturally a little bigger than you’d expect for a highly mobile shoulder bag. The Vanguard Quovio 41 is very spacious, easily accommodating a professional dSLR setup along with extra space for a 14″ laptop or tablet.

Your pro dSLR and collection of lenses will easily fit in the main compartment. I’d recommend that you leave one lens attached to your camera body and place it in the bag lens down. That way you save some extra space and set your camera up to be ready when you need it.

Speaking of accessible, the Quovio 41 has adequate access when you need it. The two zippers that open the main compartment of the bag are connected by a plastic bar the width of the bag. With this, access is speedy since you can just pull on the plastic piece, simultaneously moving both zippers to the open position. You don’t always have to use the zippers though. On the closing end of the bag there is some Velcro that will secure the top flap if you don’t feel like unzipping and re-zipping all the time.

Once inside the Quovio 41 the large main compartment dominates the interior. All the dividers are totally customizable and removable. On one side of the bag is room for a laptop or iPad and the other a zipper that unzips the inside of the compartment revealing the protective wall.

Upon removal of the wall I discovered that it was surprisingly sturdy. It is made up of a flexible piece of solid plastic, sandwiched by one thick and one thin piece of foam. This may not sound like much, but it’s significantly more than I’ve seen in other shoulder bags. The foam-plastic wall insert coupled with the external wall makes this bag one of the sturdiest I’ve seen and used.

On the top flap, there are compartments for small things like memory cards and such. This is also a nice spot for a mobile hard drive, your wallet, or various credentials and other printed media.


The exterior of the bag also features some convenient storage. On the front of the bag there is a small side pocket that can hold a few things like keys, credentials, and miscellaneous toys. The side of the bag (the side where the top closes) there’s another pocket, again for small stuff. You’re not going to fit a lens in there nor would you want to. Keep that stuff protected in the main compartment.

The backside of the bag is rather innovative. There’s another pocket, similar to the front, which holds the rain cover for the bag. The pocket wall serves a dual purpose. One to close off the rain cover pocket, and the other to provide a slot so you can slide it over the rods and handle of your rolling luggage. This is a nice feature giving you the freedom to not have to carry a shoulder bag through an airport, or by any travel means for that matter.

On the top of the bag there is also a system for securing a tripod. This is useful for videographers at concerts that would like to carry a tripod, monopod, or even a Glidecam.

All these features are nice, but as we discussed before, there are limits to live music photographer’s bags. There’s really not a lot of room for bigger bags so the Quovio 41 would probably get a few mean glares if one were to wear it in a photo pit, so I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Though that does not make this bag useless for music photographers, not at all.

There are some large festivals that I go to where many photographers don’t even use bags in the pit. They carry their gear in larger shoulder bags and backpacks and when it’s show time they strap on their gear with BlackRapid straps and go from there. No bags required. That is how I see this bag being used.

There’s room for lots of gear, and even a laptop and all the accessories required for mobile computing. Photographers will take a liking to being able to carry their laptop and camera gear with them all in one bag so they can work in between band’s sets and be more efficient when publishing material.

Although I wouldn’t approve this bag for “pit use” I think it is a fantastic option for a professional photographer covering larger festivals and concerts where there is a safe place to stow a bag while photographers shoot the first three songs. In the Quovio 41 photographers can fit a day worth of gear safely and securely making it useful for those big music festivals.

This bag is approved for live music photographers, but due to size, not for active pit use.

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