My very first camera bag was a Tamrac Model 602 top-loader that could be carried over the shoulder or worn as a waist pack. It had room for a camera body and a couple of smaller lenses, with nice details like a suede leather handle. As my gear collection expanded, I outgrew the bag, but I always liked its look and organization features.
Over the years, Tamrac’s style evolved along with the current trends in camera pack design, departing from the iconic look of the bags that I had grown up with. Aesthetics are admittedly not the most important consideration when choosing a pack, but I was pleasantly surprised when Tamrac introduced its “Traditions” line of packs that recall the classic details of the brand’s early packs.
The first two bags in the new line are the Tamrac Runyon and Tamrac Pasadena. The smaller Runyon ($99) looks like the backpack you lugged around in high school and is best suited for a mirrorless or smaller DSLR camera, a few lenses and a tablet. The roomier Pasadena, which retails for $125, can accommodate more and larger gear, plus a 13-inch laptop.
Tamrac sent me the Pasadena model to try out, and spoiler—I really like it. Part of my affinity is nostalgia for the design, but it’s more than just the clean good looks. It’s a lightweight, versatile bag that’s customizable and has thoughtful storage for the accessories most photographers are likely to carry in to the field.
If you’re especially hard on your gear or headed to a very harsh environment, the Traditions line may not be the best choice—Tamrac’s Anvil models are perhaps a better match. But for everyday use, the Pasadena is a very versatile bag, and it’s not without protective features. Details like weather-resistant fabric and a flap that covers the main compartment’s zipper provide moderate protection from the elements.
The bag’s main compartment includes two long, padded dividers and ten smaller ones that attach with Velcro and can be repositioned to suit your system. I removed six of the smaller dividers entirely and moved a few of the others to accommodate a hefty pro DSLR, a mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm zoom attached, a large 80-400mm zoom, plus three additional zoom lenses and a mount adapter. That’s an ample selection of gear for most purposes.
The interior of the main compartment’s cover incorporates a padded pocket that easily fit my 13-inch MacBook Pro. (Note that the product page on Tamrac’s website states that the bag can accommodate “Tablets and laptops up to 15-inches,” and while that may be true for some laptop models, my older 15-inch MacBook Pro wouldn’t fit.) The cover panel also includes two see-through zippered pockets ideal for holding filters, memory card wallets, camera manuals or other similarly flat objects. A smaller compartment on the front of the bag has a clip to secure your keys, along with additional pockets for pens, chargers, batteries and personal items.
On either side of the pack are two lash tabs (also called “pig snouts”) to thread with straps for attaching a tripod. The Pasadena includes two straps which feature a snap lock that makes them smooth to use. The pack is a good match for a medium-size tripod.
With exterior dimensions of 12x17x10 inches when fully loaded, the Tamrac Pasadena will pass most airlines’ carry-on restrictions. In actual use, with the gear I listed above, it was closer to 8 inches front-to-back, so if you don’t completely overstuff the pack, you should be fine.
Overall, the Tamrac Pasadena is a solid bag and a good value. It’s larger than what I’d carry when I’m trying to keep my gear to an absolute minimum, and not the one I’d choose for extreme weather, but it’s a great option as an “everyday” bag when I want to carry multiple bodies and lenses—plus accessories—in retro style.