photographers keep on buying camera bags since they never have the right one, maybe the Heralder 38 is the one?

Heralder 38 – a very clever camera bag

The Vanguard Heralder range of camera bags picked up a TIPA award this year, so have obviously caught the attention of many photo magazine reviewers, I thought it would be good to have a look and see if they had all gone mad or been seduced by it’s combination of black and bright orange colour scheme. In doing so I discovered that the Heralder 38 is a very good bag for a lot of what I do, including travelling on planes with camera kit to deliver training seminars.

Fill your boots bag

Timing was impeccable, the bag arrived a few days before my trip to Photofest in Dublin so it was a chance to test the bag on a fly-away presentation trip. This means I needed to carry an EOS 5D Mark III a pair of Speedlite 600EX-RTs, a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT a couple of lenses, Macbook Pro, cables, chargers, passport and all the other useful stuff we take on our travels. I was surprised it swallowed as much kit so effortlessly, and kept stuff accessible. I’ve travelled with many kinds of bags over the years and often the best bags are the ones that don’t hold much but keep stuff accessible – this one holds a lot and keeps it accessible.

Comfortable to carry

Even full of kit, the well shaped and padded shoulder strap was comfortable while I waited in the inevitable airport queues and went between airport and hotels on shuttle buses. I liked the built-in had strap on the top of the bag it certainly was strong and didn’t cut in to my hands even with the bag fully loaded. I didn’t use the included security strap that fits between the bag and the shoulder strap to stop the bag falling off your shoulder since travel means you are often taking the bag off, putting it through x-ray and so on. It was supplied detached and apart from working out how to fit it I just left it off for the trip. If you are going to walk some distance with the bag then it will probably be helpful.

Easy to use

I found that in use the top zip that runs right across the top flap was the most used feature. I’ve had a similar arrangement on other bags but not used it so much as I did with the Heralder. Maybe this is down to the travel use I put this bag to? Keeping the top zip in place is a small magnetic catch that stops it opening when you are carrying the bag but doesn’t get in the way when you want to dive in and get something out. Also you can keep the contents pretty well concealed from other folks when using the top zip.

For me the dividers in the bag fitted what I needed to carry straight off the bat and the ever taller Speedlites sink well down in the bag which means I can put stuff on top of them, like the ST-E3! Dropping the EOS 5D Mark III in to one of the ‘lens’ bays was secure and when I can get a battery grip for the camera I’ll simply pull the velcro attached divider out of the slot. I soon found that the whole camera section can be removed, this could then turn the bag in to a useful day travelling or overnight bag if needed. Having this kind of multi-purpose ability is good in a bag for travelling. Even the laptop slot is removable – though I wished that it would be possible to remove it and the laptop through the top access zip when going through airport security.

The wettest drought on record

Camera bags have to serve many purposes, not just be the taxi for our kit, but also frequently protect it from the elements. The Heralder has a built-in rain cover to cover the bag for when the weather gets really wet. Once in place it makes it harder to get to stuff in the bag for the photographer and the rain. However if the cover gets wet it can be detached from the bag to dry. This is a genius idea, I hate other bags rain covers that remain attached to the bag since you have to empty the bag out to dry the cover. Not to say you’d need the rain cover in most situations – the bag is pretty weather resistant – but it’s well placed, accessible and detachable.

The bag also has a PVC-type material around the base that means when I’m out on location and put the bag down in a muddy puddle it won’t get the bag wet and the mud will easily wipe off when it dries. One of my older bags is not so well equipped and still has mud from the 1993 RAC rally ingrained in the fabric on the bottom.

The devil is in the details

It’s great to see a small bag for collecting cables, adapter, spare batteries and all that other stuff we include in our bags. I found that this little bag happily fitted on top of the lens slots where I had two lenses already in position.

It was only as I walked through  the airport did I realise there was an exterior pocket on the end of the bag, I could put a bottle of water in there so I did.

One of the small niggles I have is the use of a seemingly cut away quick release buckle, yes it may look more like a V for Vanguard but to me it looks like a potential weak point which is a shame since it’s the only one to hold the top flap down if you carry the bag unzipped.

The front of the bag has a deep space with pen holders, and some zipped compartments where you might want to put travel documents, only thing is they are quite hard to get at if you open the top zip to grab them quickly. This could be a good thing if you are out on the streets, less so if you are in the line for passport checks at the airport.


  • Size – it fits enough kit, yet still is airline luggage carry-on size
  • Layout – kit is easy to access from the top zip so you don’t need to open the whole bag
  • Construction – rugged, durable materials, clever design touches that make me want to keep using it
The photo gear reviewers on the TIPA panel know a good thing, and they have probably travelled with more bags than most so it’s no surprise this bag’s a winner for them and me.

Many thanks to Vanguard for providing a Heralder 38 camera bag for me to review. All they asked was for me to trial it and write up my views here on my site. What’s more they only got to see this review when it went live 🙂



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Vanguard Heralder 38 camera bag
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About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag