Vanguard Sedona Wanderlust rucksack review
Vanguard Sedona Wanderlust
launches in the UK
To celebrate the release we have come together to give you an exclusive discount for one month only.
Use code: NEWWANDER20 on the Vanguard Photo UK website to get 20% off.
Valid until 11.30pm on 30th June 2019.
Continue scrolling to read my full review and why this rucksack has become my go-to for outdoor photography.
“A strong desire to travel.”
Sedona bags are a range I’ve previously owned and used before and loved the size, material and quality of the range at a good price. The Sedona bags were a half and half bag between photography kit and the outdoors, being much lighter compared to other ranges by Vanguard at the time. However, the largest Sedona wasn’t big enough to fit a laptop which I needed for everyday use with work. In fact, the Sedona 45, the largest of the range didn’t have a laptop sleeve but did have a removeable insert so you could remove to create an everyday bag or mix between outdoor kit vs photographic kit when required. Further to this neither Sedona rucksacks look like camera rucksacks and more outdoor packs, especially the Sedona Wanderlust with no obvious branding on the exterior shouting camera brand. In fact there is nothing to suggest it’s Vanguard related or marked until you see the inserts on the inside.
What is the difference between the old Sedona range and this larger Sedona Wanderlust?
Immediately when you see the two bags together the exterior is vastly different with the Wanderlust made up with a canvas material which is a tougher but slightly heavier material. The next obvious difference is the size, not by much however. The Wanderlust is closer to a 30-35L pack whereas the Sedona 45 was a 25-30L. Both have top and rear access to the contents of the bag, both have side and front tripod/monopod mount options and a top and front zipper pockets with additional accessory hanging loops, walking pole D rings and hydration compatible.
The Wanderlust has a few additional zipper pockets around the exterior which found be found on the sides. Large enough to fit a power bank or smaller smart phone inside, I found better use for them as lens cap, filters or cloth holders.
Moving to the interior of the bags, the Wanderlust has a 15” laptop sleeve which doubles up as the 2L hydration bladder holder, as you will have read above the Sedona 45 didn’t have this sleeve as the rear access was only a small door on the bottom half of the bag. Whereas the Wanderlust has a complete rear opening door, opening up the entire contents of the bag, furthermore the Wanderlust has two inserts to mould to your requirements. A larger pouch which is suited to larger DSLRs and FX lens and can comfortable hold the 70-200mm f/2.8. The smaller insert is suited to smaller DSLR or mirrorless systems and this is the insert I typically use. With my Olympus OM-D EM-5 mkII body, M.Zuiko 12-40mm and 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens with various accessories slotted in around the edges. Both inserts have removeable Velcro inserts to customise.
Review of the Wanderlust
The Sedona Wanderlust is a much better size for the outdoors and day use in for hill and mountain walking with plenty more room to fit outdoor clothing, food and accessories you will need in the field but without the compromise of reducing photographic kit. I can leave my insert full of my kit and place at the bottom or top of the bag for quick access with plenty of room inside (60/40 split) to outdoor kit ratio. In fact, during Summer I could likely use this bag for camping, using a bivvi bag, tarp and small stove for one night. Winter you simply couldn’t use it for camping needs but certainly for Winter walks where additional fleeces or jackets may be needed if you plan on venturing out for the day.
The canvas exterior maybe a heavier option to the old Sedona 45 which weighed 1.2kg vs the 1.5kg of the Wanderlust* however, with the harness system on the Wanderlust you won’t notice much of a difference between the two. The canvas itself is much tougher, making it longer lasting and durable to the elements, meaning it has better weatherproofing, but both are supplied with rain covers for longer periods and are handy when you want a seat cover when it’s not raining.
(*Depending on number of inserts used, can be heavier with max weight = 1.8kg.)
The Wanderlust has a very good harness system which allows plenty of options and give to fit to your back and make it comfortable to wear all day. Starting with shoulder straps have plenty of strong padding inside despite the appearance of looking thin. The straps have a sternum clip lower down which can be adjusted and has a plastic whistler built in. However, anyone who has used an emergency whistle will know these plastic ones are pretty useless. This isn’t a fault with the Vanguard bag but with bags fitted with these as a whole.
Moving on, the rear of the bag has three large padded sections which allows the rear of the pack to sit away from the back and give air flow to reduce sweat and rubbing which I found to work well whilst hill climbing and several layers on. Last but not least, the hip belts which are a little less padded compared to the shoulders and this is to reduce rubbing as the belt takes the weight of the Wanderlust. The hip belt can be tightened by pulling the cords forward and has further adjustments to help pull the bottom of the pack in, meaning you could comfortable run with the Sedona Wanderlust on without it bouncing around and being uncomfortable.
My one issue with the harness system. The shoulder straps have Velcro tabs on the cords to reduce the length, so they are not flapping around, a feature I find very useful! However, the hip belts do not have this same feature on, elastic cords are supplied around the straps to tuck in but in practise the cord falls out over time. I just wished the Velcro tabs were used across the bag.
The Sedona Wanderlust doesn’t have shoulder adjustment points to bring the top of the bag in to help balance and weight distribution. However, having used the Wanderlust extensively over the past month in a variety of situations and weights, found the bag isn’t large enough to warrant them and even fully loaded found it was comfort on the back and didn’t feel off centre or as if it was dropping backwards and unbalanced.
Lastly the shoulder straps have hydration tube access points on either shoulder which work but can be a little fiddly if you have a larger mouth point on the hydration tube, like mine the tube has a guard making the end rather big and I’ve found this can be annoying to feed through these points across a number of bags. On that note I should buy a new hydration pack.
The exterior zipper pockets on the Wanderlust offer plenty of sizes and access to various smaller items you don’t want to lose on the inside. The largest pocket on the front is perfect for a small tablet or storing maps, notebook, pens, mobile phone, filters and snacks at a quick access on a large opening zipper.
On the top of the lid the zipper pocket may seem small but surprisingly fits a lot inside. I could fit my woolly hat and winter gloves inside. As previously mentioned, the side zipper pockets are small and I opted to use these for smaller items like lens caps, circular filters or a power bank.
The Sedona Wanderlust has a number of tripod mount options with the best being on the side with the deep elasticated pockets to hold the feet with a cinch point on the top to loop around the head. You can use the plastic clips supplied from the front of the bag and loop through here again to give further support of the tripod. The Wanderlust is better suited to travel tripods such as the Vanguard Veo range. Larger tripods such as the Vanguard Alta Pro can be fitted but I found they were on the larger side and made the bag feel off.
You can hang a monopod or again a smaller travel tripod on the rear, but I wouldn’t recommend hanging a large tripod here as it will pull the pack down making it uncomfortable for walking with. As the Sedona Wanderlust is made for travel its perfect companion is the Veo travel tripod. The two elasticated pockets on the side of the Wanderlust can be used for storing not only tripods but also water bottles.
All the rear exterior zippers have large loops which make them easier to pull with one hand. I’ve used and owned the Sedona 45 and smaller Sedona 21 packs before and used extensively over the year and never had an issue with the zippers. On the rear top access to the inside of the pack are two large plastic clips which provide further security to the rear of the pack. I often just leave these unclipped, so I have quick access to the rear door where my camera is often stored in the smaller insert.
On the base of the Wanderlust is two walking pole D rings and the 10 accessories loops on the rear which you could loop bungy cord through to make a holder for a water bottle or further support to the tripod. Further to the base, it is reinforced with plastic to provide protection when sat on the floor and this is also where you will find the waterproof cover which again provides further protection.
The interior of the bag is vast and offers a good 30L option day back when you remove the inserts. Once you remove the inserts the bag can be compressed down as it doesn’t have a ridged shell, meaning it’s easier to store or pack away when going away in a larger holdall or boot of the car when camping for example.
It’s suitable for everyday use and I now use this as my everyday bag for work too, allowing me to carry cameras and have quick access. Space for a spare jacket if required or belongings for the studio when out shooting and allows me to carry a 15” laptop on the rear. Storing a laptop in the Wanderlust does make the rear ridged and keeps the back flat where the laptop is of course which can make it feel a little odd on the back, but comfort isn’t compromised where the thicker padding sits to protect your back.
As previously stated, the Sedona Wanderlust uses two inserts with two sizes, a larger and smaller both of which can adjusted. The smaller of the two can be used to access the top of the lip or only from the rear. The larger is best suited at the bottom of the pack and can only be accessed for the rear. In terms of size when you only use one of the inserts. The small insert will give you a 60/40 split whereas the large is the opposite so you may not get as much extra space for additional belongings with larger systems but it’s nice you still have this as an option.
Of-course when using both inserts you won’t have any extra capacity inside the bag for extra belongings. In addition, both inserts have a webbed door so you can see inside each which is helpful if you are looking for something quick and can grab it immediately. With this webbing it does mean some padding and security is compromised but the Sedona Wanderlust has plenty of padding around the shell to protect these now more exposed areas.
What I love about the use of inserts is I can grab my little insert from the Sedona Wanderlust, knowing it has everything I need inside for my photography and can place it inside my much larger Snugpak camping bag. The same can be done with the larger insert. Both of which I have used in this manner and not been concerned about the webbed door on either. However, if this is an issue for you, you could use the Bag in Bags or Divider inserts from Vanguard which have padded access points. It’s worth noting the Divider inserts are designed for Supreme cases so will be a lot heavier and won’t be a perfect fit in the Sedona Wanderlust.
For wildlife photographers the insert system might not be to your liking. The larger of the two inserts can fit a Sigma 150-600mm lens inside but no camera attached so if you typically carry large lens like this then I suggest looking at the Alta Sky 66 or even the Alta Sky 53 rucksacks. Unfortunately, as you will have seen from above with suggestions of other inserts, no other inserts exist for the Sedona Wanderlust other than the two currently provided. Could other inserts be designed to fill the whole bag or smaller ones again? Certainly, could and would be a question for Vanguard Photo to answer.
If you are like me and like to have a split between kit and often outdoors then the insert system is helpful, especially if you are chopping and changing bags. The inserts can be taken out with ease from the rear of the Sedona Wanderlust giving rear and top access. I often use only the top access for camera kit and if I need a jacket or food, I use the rear access to get kit further down. Unlike traditional rucksacks where you end up digging in to a void and often have to empty all the contents to find what you are looking for.
Having the flexibility of both these access points gives you unlimited options and suit your kit requirements. The rear access does give full access to the inside but doesn’t open completely as with the Alta Sky and Alta Rise ranges where the rear flap lays flat so this could be annoying for some users. On the flip side this does mean kit can be accessed without the bag lying flat on the ground and I can sit it up right and open the rear partially to grab a jacket for example without exposing the inside of the bag.
This bag isn’t for everyone, it is a little niche and aimed at the outdoors and travelling. As I previously detailed any wildlife photographers who typically use 400mm+ sized lens won’t get on with this pack as the inserts aren’t big enough to carry the lens with camera on. Also inserts aren’t for everyone and might find this irritating to work with, such as if you use two FX bodies and a number of larger lens, in order to fit all the contents in you are split across the two inserts and this could slow you down which you don’t need for a wedding or portrait set up, meaning this pack isn’t for you.
The Sedona Wanderlust is the camera rucksack I’ve been looking for which brings in the strength, size and some of the qualities of the Alta Sky but is in a lightweight rucksack for the outdoors. Unlike most photographic rucksacks which typically weigh a lot and aren’t all that suited for hiking or life in the outdoors. With the main contents of the rucksack designed to be heavily padded and protect camera equipment you have no extra room for additional belongings like jackets, clothing or food. This is where the Sedona Wanderlust stands out with the inserts allowing you to customise the contents to the user’s needs.
As I have with a 60/40 split, with the small insert packed with all my camera kit I need with plenty of room for a stove, gas, food, water, jackets and winter essentials for a day’s walk.
When I need to go to my larger camping rucksack, I don’t have to open up my bag to check I have all my photographic kit, I can just grab the insert and put straight in to another bag. Complete! I know it will have the camera, lens, batteries, filters and all what I need. In addition, when I don’t need any photographic kit, I can have just a lightweight yet large rucksack for hiking with which is comfortable and secure. I could also fit several days’ worth of cloths inside when away over the festive period and still had room to fit a camera inside but using the camera wrap inside.
My only two issues with the bag are the lack of Velcro tabs across all the straps and lack of larger tripod support. It can be done but I found the Veo a much better fit and more comfortable in use during hikes. However, typically when hiking I do pack the Veo over the Alta Pro to keep weight down.
Transparency Notice: Please note that I am a Vanguard Photo UK brand ambassador and have received the Wanderlust Sedona bag for free to review from Vanguard Photo España and Vanguard Photo UK for market research. The review is no guarantee of endorsement. I receive no monetary gain from Vanguard Photo from the reviews or discount codes. I have been gifted this bag to keep after completing the review. I receive a commission for each sale of the Sedona Wanderlust in the UK post this review.