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Gura Gear Kiboko Photo Backpack : A First Look At A Fantastic Bag

Web: www.twitter.com/flyingwithfish — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

11/11/2008 – Gura Gear Kiboko Photo Backpack : A First Look At A Fantastic Bag

If you’re a photographer you’ve had at least one day you can recall waiting by the door for the FedEx/UPS/DHL truck to arrive at your door. You spend your morning checking your tracking number online and when the box arrives it feels like the First Night of Chanukah (or Christmas, or your birthday morning, etc etc, etc).

Yesterday was one of those days of anticipation as I awaited the arrival of the Gura Gear Kiboko photo backpack. The Gura Gear web site was just launched a mere 7 days before the bag arrived, on the 7th of November, so if you’re reading this scratching your head saying “What’s Gura Gear?” I’m not surprised.

Gura Gear is the creation of wildlife and safari photographer Andy Biggs. The genesis of this bag was simple: to create a highly functional, extremely comfortable, international airline carry-on compliant and extremely light weight bag to carry Andy’s long glass for travel to and from safaris in Africa.

The weight and size of this bag were really my primary draw to the bag. Weighing in at just under 4-pounds (1.8kg), while still having the maximum international carry-on size dimensions, this bag is more than half-the-weight of the Think Tank Airport Addicted, which is roughly the same dimensions as the Kiboko.

Picking the Kiboko up empty I could immediately feel the difference in weight between it, and my much loved, used, traveled and abused, Think Tank Airport Addicted (which has logged at least 300,000 flying miles with me on three continents). This bag is almost like lifting air.

When you receive a Gura Gear Kiboko bag the first think you notice is that there are no straps. The second think you’ll probably notice is a full-page sheet of instructions telling you were to find the straps and how to use them. They are easy to locate, simple to set up in a few seconds and the bags ingenious design for stowing the straps when not in use is brilliant. The ability to secure the straps in the fashion designed for the Kiboko is great when placing a bag under the seat in front of you, in the overhead, or when tossing it on the baggage trolley walking through the airports.

Once you have the bag open you’ll notice there are two separate main compartments to the bag, rather than one large compartment. For my purposes, this is a great design to separate my gear. Andy designed this bag for use with long lenses in mind, as he places a Canon 500f4, with a body in on compartment, and a handful of other lenses and two bodies in the other compartment. This set up is great for not only wildlife shooters, but also sports photographers.

My use, and interest, in the Kiboko backpack has nothing to do with long lenses, sports or nature. My interest was in having a lightweight bag to pack my cameras/lenses along side a full compact lighting kit that was self-contained. In my set up of the Kiboko bag, the left side contains two bodies, 7 lenses and a set of lens hoods; the right side contains two flashes, two light stands, four Pocket Wizards, a small soft box and other accessories.

The complete break down of how set this bag up, and how I plan to take it on the road is below:

2 – Canon EOS 1D series bodies
4 – Detached/Stacked lens hoods (85f1.2, 50f1.4, 24f1.4, 16-35f2.8)
1 – Canon 28-70f2.8 (with reversed lens hood attached)
1 – Canon 85f1.2 (stacked under 14f2.8)
1 – Canon 14f2.8 (stacked on top of 85f1.2)
1 – Canon 16-25f2.8
1 – Canon 50f1.4 (stacked on top of 70-200f2.8)
1 – Canon EF-12II 12mm extension tub (stacked on top of 70-200f2.8)
1 – Canon 24f1.4 (stacked on top of 70-200f2.8)
1 – Canon 70-200f2.8 (stacked under 50f1.4, 24f1.4, EF12 II)

2 – Manfrotto 3373 compact light stands
4 – Pocket Wizard sender/receiver
2 – Nikon SB-28dx speedlights
1 – Photoflex Q39 small soft box
1 – Photoflex small speed ring
1 – Bogen 3007 mini tripod w/3007 extension pole
1 – 1qt bag containing small part accessories & PC cords
2 – Calumet Swivel adapters

Four additional Canon 1D series batteries, and four packs of 4-AA batteries, and four sets of 2-AA batteries, small roll of Gaffers tape, were placed in the exterior left side flat pocket (not photographed). I envision using the right side flat pocket for basics such as a battery charger, a surge bar and some other basic essentials as needed.

Having placed this bag on my back fully loaded I can safely say that the Kiboko backpack is ergonomic, well thought out (even the asymetrical side carry handle is ergonomically designed to reduce carry-stress!), comfortable and extremely light! I loaded the same gear into my Think Tank Airport Addicted and the weight difference is obvious.

What makes the Gura Gear so light? The bag is manufactured from Dimension Polyant VX-21 fabric, which is roughly 1/3 the weight of other materials used in other bags on the market today . This fabric is frequently used to manufacture the sails of some of the fastest sailboats in the world! So not only is the manufacturing material extremely light it is also extremely durable.

I look forward to taking this bag out on assignments with me and putting it through its paces in the field,……..but my first impressions are that the Gura Gear Kiboko bag is an absolute winner.

For more information on the bag, including it’s full specs, visit www.guragear.com.

For more information on Andy Biggs, his photography and his photo safari workshops, visit www.andybiggs.com

Below are 16 photos of my Gura Gear Kiboko bag

Happy Flying!
-Click Images To Enlarge Them-
a black bag with strapsa brown suitcase with a handle
a brown bag with wheels a black backpack with a star on it
a brown backpack with straps a bag with a grey object in it
instructions on a backpack a brown backpack with straps
a black and tan bag with zippera black bag with a zipper
a brown bag with pockets a bag with pockets inside
a bag with a camera inside a bag with camera equipment inside
a bag with camera lenses inside a black bag with a handle


  1. I was very interested to read your comments on this new bag. I just came across it myself a few days ago, and have been considering it. I especially like the “butterfly” opening and the way it helps to compartmentalize things. Looking forward to your thoughts after you have used the bag.

    Of course, you are costing me more money! My Mountainsmith Parallax should be arriving early next week …

  2. Hi,

    I can’t help but noticing it’s being compared to the Airport Addicted. How about comparing it to Think Tank Photo’s Airport Ultralight, which is meant to be a lightweight carrier, as the Addicted is meant to be a roller bag, hence the extra weight in the rollers themselves?

    IMHO, in Asia, many of us prefer roller bags compared to back packs, as carrying such weight upon our shoulders would end up hurting our backs more often than not.

    What do you think?



  3. John,

    I think you are confusing the Think Tank Airport Addicted with the Airport Security (and Airport International). The Think Tank Airport Addicted, which I have used since 2005, and flown probably 300,000 miles with, is most certainly a backpack.

    Think Tank later released the Airport Security, followed by the Airport International) both of which are excellent rolling bags.

    While I do like, and use, roller bags, my preference is backpacks. In a pinch I am able to wear a backpack and keep shooting on the move. It is very difficult to use a rolling bag and keep shooting on the move. I have come across situations where I have been forced to wear my fully loaded Airport Addicted while shooting a fast moving situation. While not ideal for this, I would have never been able to get the images I created with a roller bag.

    Having had my right shoulder reconstructed after an accident, and recently having had major surgery on my neck, I really do appreciate rolling bags for heavy loads!

    Happy Flying!


  4. Hi Fish,

    Is there any way to put your mbp 15″ in the kiboko bag? I was all sold on it until I didn’t see mention of a laptop slot and read the faq’s on the website.
    I need everything it does size and lightness but need to carry the laptop. 2 cameras, 70-200, 24-70, flash couple of other lenses , batteries cords etc. recommendation’s?
    Your blog has been invaluable to me thanks !

  5. Kerrie,

    The Gura Gear Kiboko bag, which I absolutely love, was not designed to hold a laptop. You can fit a smaller netbook with some creativity, but nothing larger than a 10″ netbook. When I travel with the Gura Gear Kiboko bag I use a Mountainsmith Day for my laptop.

    Happy Flying!


  6. Thanks!
    I did purchase it came in the mail yesterday and still am debating.
    I like it for lugging and it really is light though it is a bit larger (longer) for me to use as a field bag (I’m going to be traveling hiking etc……though I could use my lowepro mini trekker which I’ve been using a long time just won’t hold everything for the airplane.
    I ‘m also now going to take a look at the thinktank shapeshifter which seems nice though I’m not sure how much gear it will hold….

  7. Kerrie,

    For hiking you can’t beat the Gura Gear. The bag is incredibly light and so well designed that its hard to beat in terms of balance and ergonomics, especially if fully and evenly packed. The Think Tank Shape Shifter can comfortably hold 2 full-size pro D-SLR bodies, 3 full-size f2.8 zooms and some random gear and a laptop. Are you hiking with a laptop?

    Try the Gura Gear Kiboko, I think you’ll be glad you did for a day hike. Also check out Andy Biggs’ work, the photo who designed it , it is fantastic!

    Happy Flying!


  8. My thoughts:

    Kiboko – brilliant piece of kit for airplane travel. And carrying the laptop in another bag works. However when hiking or moving around to get to a shoot location, a second bag with the laptop does not work.

    Kerrie, if you don’t have a lot of camera gear, you can fill the gaps with your hiking gear – snacks, extra clothing layers, GPS/maps, binos etc. That’s what I do. Plus packing this way means you don’t need another back when flying for 3-4 day trips.

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