The New Mountainsmith Endeavor : What If Fish Helped Design A Compact Shoulder Bag?

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25/08/2009 – The New Mountainsmith Endeavor : What If Fish Helped Design A Compact Shoulder Bag?

Admittedly I am generally not a ‘shoulder bag’ photographer. I used to love shoulder bags, in fact I’ve previously been featured on the rear cover & inside of the Domke catalogs, but I primarily migrated away from shoulder bags (having major reconstructive shoulder surgery played some part this migration…just a tip, don’t have a fight with a Ford Taurus, you’ll lose).

…this past winter I received a simple request from the folks at Mountainsmith, if I were to design a shoulder bag what would it be? Well, I sat down on my couch, pulled out more than a dozen cameras bags I liked and started to write out what my ideal shoulder bags and satchels might look like. On the 8th of November I decided on what a small shoulder bag and a large shoulder bag might look like…and just over a week ago a UPS package arrived from Mountainsmith

What did I find inside the box? The new Mountainsmith Endeavor, a bag that closely matches the dimensions of my idea small shoulder bag.   Having now spent a few days playing with the Mountainsmith Endeavor I am THRILLED with this bag.

The Mountainsmith Endeavor is an ideal shoulder bag for minimal gear and working in a crowded environment.  Within a moment of tearing the Endeavor from the box I was loading up the bag to take it for a test drive.

A unique feature of the Endeavor is the inclusion of the Mountainsmith Kit Cube. The Kit Cube is the new insert I helped design to transform the Mountainsmith Tour and Mountainsmith Day into more versatile photo packs for photogs. I wrote about the Kit Cube in detail a few days ago here: 17/08/2009 – If Fish Could Improve The Mountainsmith Tour What Would He Do? (Hint: Its Here!)

The interior layout of the Endeavor is simple. The large interior space allows for the insertion of the Kit Cube, I prefer it all the way to one side, which this allows for the placement of a full-sized camera body, such as the Nikon D3 or Canon 1D series bodies. Along the interior (the side closest to your body) wall is a neoprene sleeve that holds up a 15″ laptop, and the opposing interior wall has a slot for papers. This slot is good for travel itineraries, wedding shoot lists, photo assignment sheets, CF card envelopes, etc etc etc.

When Loading up my current kit within the Endeavor it consists of a Canon 1Ds or Canon 5D w/BG-E4 grip; Canon 16-35f2.8, Canon 28-70f2.8; Canon 70-200f2.8; Apple 13″ MacBook.  The size and weight distribution make the bag very comfortable to wear when loaded or when partially unloaded and being worked out of.  For added safety the top lip opens away from the users body, reducing the chances of dropping gear and making theft from the bag more difficult.

On the exterior of the Endeavor is an organizer compartment that holds whatever you need for a day out in the streets. Mine has been loaded with a Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket; Manfrotto 3007 mini-tripod & extension; Pen; Sharpie; business card wallet; Moleskine notebook; CF card reader; USB cord.  On the exterior of the organizer pocket is a ‘slash pocket.’ In this pocket I have been tossing snacks.

On either end of the Endeavor is a pouch for a bottle and a covered flap-pocket. I store my Canon 580ex Speedlight in this pocket (the ETTL off camera cord gets stowed away in the see-thru pocket inside the top flap of the bag).

For travel, the rear of the Endeavor features a handle slot to allow the bag to safely be secured to the top of a rolling suitcase. This is a small subtle feature overlooked by most camera bags, but it is an important one for anyone travelling with this bag and a roll-aboard suitcase.

In terms of ergonomics, I absolutely love the shoulder strap. The shoulder strap on the Endeavor does not go ‘up-and-down,’ it is stitched on at an angle so it follows the natural shape of the body, it also greatly reduces the ‘slip factor’ many shoulder bags have. When the bag is on my shoulder…it stays on my shoulder. This design also increases ergonomics when the bag is worn across the chest like a messenger bag.

An interesting security feature is the securing strap found on the back of the Endeavor.  When out in the streets, in crowded environments, especially high traffic tourist areas, thieves often grab bags and run. The thin unpadded strap on the rear of the Endeavor can be worn loosely around a users waist, ensuring that if a thief snatches the shoulder strap, the bag will stay secured to the user’s body.  I like this feature as it affords photographers a little more security than found with other camera bags, without reducing the easy of use and comfort of using the bag.

So…if Fish designed a small shoulder bag what would it look like?  Well it would look remarkably like The Mountainsmith Endeavor!

For those interested, the interior main compartment dimensions are 14.5″x10.5″x6.5″ (37x27x17cm) and the exterior dimensions are 15″x11″x7″ (38x28x18cm)

Maybe Mountainsmith will also produce the larger bag I designed along with the photo backpack I dreamed up…

Below are a few photos of my Mountainsmith Endeavor loaded up the way I have been using it.

Look for the Endeavor to be readily available to the public in a few months.

Happy Flying!
a black bag with yellow straps a black and yellow bag

a black bag with strap a black bag with yellow straps

a black bag with yellow inside a black and yellow bag

a black and yellow bag with a laptop and other items inside a bag with camera lenses and a camera

a black and yellow bag with tools inside a black and yellow backpack


  1. You nailed it. My wife made me a bag using Domke inserts. It works well.But your design is more versatile. Nice Lick.

  2. Great. Now I have to order another bag, since I’m almost as big a bagaholic as you are. I’ve been using a Domke 3-section insert in my Tour since you first suggested it. My network briefcase should arrive tomorrow. I just got a XL Mountainsmith Reflex as a “keep in the car” shoulder bag. So many bags, so little time.

  3. Neal,

    That’s my plan…keep talking about bags to ensure photographers have a spare bedroom set aside just for their bags!

    Happy Flying


  4. Dave,

    I’ve been using an old (very old) chocolate brown original Domke insert for the F2 bag inside my Tour for years. As soon as the Kit Cube was placed in my Tour I forgot all about the Domke insert!

    Happy Flying!


  5. Reviving an old thread with a question: will the Kit Cube fit inside the Mountainsmith Network bag? In the large middle compartment, maybe? I handled the Network at a local shop last weekend, and really liked it. I’ll probably have to buy that and the new Endeavour, and share the cube among various bags and daypacks.

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