I’ve got a lot of camera bags. Some small, some large. But none that are quite as stylish as the Humboldt 14L backpack. I was sent the bag for review, and I have to say — it’s one of my favorite bags yet.

The Humboldt is on the smaller end in terms of a backpack, but it can hold a surprising amount of gear. It’s a perfect option for a mirrorless or small DSLR photographer.

Photo by Cathy Seaver

First impressions and specs

The Humboldt 14L comes in a stylish black leather exterior, and features an interior that’s surprisingly similar to my ThinkTank roller bag. It comes with several padded dividers, so you can customize the layout of the bag. It has two small pockets for things like batteries and memory cards. And on the opposite side are two larger zipper pockets that sit atop a cushioned sleeve that can hold up to a 13″ laptop or tablet.

The best part? All of this is accessed through the back side … meaning you lessen the risk of theft, or your zippers getting opened. Plus, the bag does not look anything like a normal camera backpack, meaning you’re less likely to see interest from thieves when you’re traveling.

There is a top zippered compartment too, meaning you don’t have to open the entire bag up if you just need to grab your camera. When you do need to open your entire bag, it opens completely flat.

The bag measures 17.5″ H x 10.75″ W on the exterior, and features a depth of 5.75″. The interior is slightly smaller, at 16″ H x 10.25″ W and 4.5″ D. It weighs a mere 2.85 pounds.

The bag was extremely comfortable, both in the padded straps and the back, which features a custom EVA foam back panel, offering comfort and ventilation. I wore this bag for a few hours at a time and it was one of the most comfortable bags I’ve tried out. Everything is very balanced weight-wise.

Added extras

With a leather backpack, I was concerned about the weather. I live in Michigan, and having just gotten done with another “Polar Vortex,” I can attest to the fact that bags are best when they either feature built-in weather protection, or have a cover of sorts.

With the Humboldt 14L, you’re in luck — the bag comes with a rain cover.

The bag also features a hidden tripod pocket, which can store a small travel tripod.

Who is the Humboldt 14L for?

In a nutshell, the Humboldt 14L for is for the everyday photographer. As a person who regularly tries to get out and photograph the city, I can see myself using this bag on my journeys. It’s a great bag for street photographers, as it’s small enough and comfortable where it won’t be a burden.

If you photograph with small zoom or prime lenses, this bag will be perfect. Once you get into the telephoto range, it’ll get a bit tight. While I could technically fit a 300mm f/4 lens in the bag, it would take up almost half of the camera compartment. However, it fit my trifecta” of lenses — the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8, 12-40mm f/2.8 and 40-150mm f/2.8 perfectly, coupled with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II without a battery grip.

If you do use a battery grip, you’ll need to store the grip elsewhere in the bag; the bag isn’t deep enough to hold that attached to the camera.

While I regularly shoot with a battery grip, I can easily store that in the top pocket, along with my camera strap and filters.

The Humboldt 14L retails for $449, and is available in black leather and chestnut leather. There’s a charcoal cotton twill option available, too, for $349. Cecilia also offers a larger Mercator 16L bag, retailing for $398 (charcoal cotton twill) and $489 (leather).

Lead photo by Cathy Seaver