The Maxpedition Solstice Camera bag is a tough bag designed for photographers that really put their gear through its paces.
You’ll struggle to find anything as tough as this to keep your camera gear safe and you know where your money has gone as soon as you open the box.
This bag was a bit of a treat if I’m honest, a 50th birthday gift from my good old Mum. This is also my first Maxpedition product as their bags were always out of budget. Until now I’ve been using a Lowepro Protactic backpack and a DIY adpated 5.11 bag for the Fuji and EDC.
Now we all know that there is no perfect camera bag, never has been, never will be but for me and the way I shoot now the Maxpedition Solstice camera bag is as near to perfect as I can get. It ticks a lot of boxes and it was a bag I’d looked at in the past but could not justify until Heinnie Haynes had one for £117,00 down from the usual £196,00 [or even more on Amazon] so I pulled the trigger and a day or two later it arrived.
In this post I’ll try to be as realistic as possible with the images because for some reason the existing images on the net make this bag look bigger than it is.
Why is this bag not more popular?
The Maxpedition Solstice camera bag may be one that has slipped under the radar. Maxpedition are not known for manufacturing camera bags like Lowepro or Think Tank for example so this could be one reason you won’t find many [if any] reviews about the Solstice online. In fact it’s hard to find much at all about this bag out there but it certainly isn’t anything to do with quality or functionality as this bag has them both in bucketloads.
I did take a punt on the Solstice given the lack of info but I’m glad I did as overall I’m very impressed. There is no way on this earth that my X100v is going to get damaged while in this bag, the padding is exceptional.
- YKK® Zippers with Positive Grip Pulls
- Dual Nylon Fabric Construction – 500D Hex Ripstop & 1000D Plain Weave
- Laser Cut ATLAS™ Attachment Lattice System
- 840D Nylon-TPU Composite 840D Nylon-TPU Composite Tapered Pull Tab
- Lightweight Duraflex® Shorty Cam Buckle
- Fray-Resistant Gossamer™ Mesh
- Anti-Counterfeit Logo Embossed 420D Nylon Liner
- Very Visible Grayscale Interior
- Skin Friendly Nylon Seatbelt Webbing
- Teflon® fabric protector for grime resistance and easy maintenance
What I like:
The Solstice feels premium as soon as you get it out the box and this is not just because of the 1000d ballistic nylon either. Everything about it feels right from large YKK zippers, the grip pulls, the rigidity and the lines – no loose threads here and the top handle as well as the strap feel comfortable and the right proportions.
Inside the bag you get a total of four dividers, the two largest which also fold over can be used to divide the bag into three sections. The two smaller dividers are curved to help protect your lenses, this is a nice feature as Maxpedition say you can get a 70-200mm in there too.
The Solstice has a nice height about it being a smidge over 30cm tall, this allows a nice amount of space inside the bag at the top, enough to get some additional kit in there if you don’t mind it being on top of your gear perhaps until you get on location. The side pockets for example are also deep, I have a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 in one and it fits perfectly with room to spare on each side.
You don’t get a million pockets so never end up unzipping a dozen of them to find that illusive ND filter
I’ve owned no less than six dedicated camera bags over the years and it’s fair to say that the Solstice is fairly basic when it comes to features which is something I like. You don’t get a million pockets so never end up unzipping a dozen of them to find that illusive ND filter, the Solstice has six pockets in total – 2 internally and 4 externally including one [29cm x 23cm] for concealed carry.
Arranging the dividers
As photographers know, arranging the dividers is a whole load of fun and usually takes the best part of an afternoon to get right – either that or you simply hate it. The dividers in the Solistice are different to what I have seen before, the two main dividers are foldable near the top, this is for accomodating longer lenses, as said above the bag is quite deep so long dividers are handy have.
Curved dividers are a nice feature but with my set up I have simply used them for additional padding on the sides of the bag, not that I need it as you get the impression you could drop your gear from a great height and it would be fine anyway. The velcro is strong and you get the usual problems getting your dividers in the right spot without something sticking. You will also notice the walls of the bag are semi rigid too meaning that once you have your configuration nailed it stays that way.
Single hand-operated magnetic closure
This is a good feature of the Solstice showing just how well thought out this bag is. When the top of the bag is fully unzipped the top opens out allowing access inside the bag – mountains of room to clearly see your gear but not the best for quick access as you’re zipping/unzipping all the time.
If you need your gear covered but still want to quick access inside the bag then the magnetic closure holds the top of the bag back over the top leaving enough room to slip your hand in when you need to.
|1000-D water and abrasion resistant light-weight ballistic nylon
|40.6cm x 22.9cm x 30.5cm [LxWxH]
|13.5 ltrs [824 cu. inches]
Wearing the Maxpedition Solstice [strap]
Camera bag straps vary considerably and I love this one due to it’s chunky design. The removable padded shoulder strap is super comfortable and sits really well. The seatbelt webbing strap is also adjustable: minimum length: 45 in | 114.3 cm / maximum length: 67 in | 170.2 cm using release tags and Duraflex nylon buckles meaning you can adjust the shoulder strap while on the move – this is best quick release adjustable camera bag strap I have come across to date and I can’t stress how easy it is to use and get it dialled in just right.
Another feature of the Maxpedition Solstice camera bag is it’s waist strap, this is something I rarely use but it is there if needed. The waist strap tucks away out of sight nice and snug. The type of situation where you will need this is when you are covering rough terrain, anything to do with bending over and the waist strap keeps the bag positioned safely preventing it from falling forward and essentially becoming an obsticle swinging from your neck and shoulder.
What Maxpedition say…
The Maxpedition Solstice CCW Camera Bag is designed for photographers in need of a tough and well-built camera bag with quick gear access. It has easy mobility, offers equipment protection, and has concealed carry capability. The Sosltice is large enough to carry necessary equipment, but still compact and roomy so that it is comfortable and easy to carry.– Maxpedition
Yeah, it’s well built
As mentioned above you can feel the quality when you get the bag in your hands, at £196,00 [full price] it’s a premium piece of kit and you can tell. Would I pay full whack on a bag like this? Not personaly no but when one comes up for nearly half that price then it’s a no brainer as this is the type of bag that is going to last you years – and a lot of them.
The Solstice feels semi rigid, Maxpedition say that it’s more of a case than a bag but it feels and wears like a camera bag that you could take anywhere. Maxpedition have a huge amount of specs detailed on their website and it was interesting to see: “Stress points double stitched, bartacked, circular bartacked or “Box-and-X” stitched for added strength”. All of the internal seems are taped and finished too.
Other features you’ll find on this bag are a Teflon coating making it water resistant it also has four hard wearing nylon feet on the base to help prevent wear on the bottom of the bag and zipper flaps to prevent water ingress, the flaps cover the entire zip lines.
What I don’t like
To be honest there’s not much to not like about the Maxpedition Solstice camera bag but nothing is perfect… On the inside of the bag on the opposite side of the CCW pocket there is a space which is screaming for a couple of small pockets for SD cards/batteries and a cable or two.
Zippers expecially on the side pockets are a little stiff and awkward but I’m guessing this will improve as the bag gets used and loosens up a bit. The zipper rain flaps are a nuisance at times as they don’t always pull over the large YKK zips. The thing you need to appreciate though is that the bag is solid, tight and tough so niggles like this are actually a performance feature to help protect your gear.
The Maxpedition Solstice camera bag is a superb bag in my opinion, it boasts all the features you need from a bag at this price point and being Maxpedition you know you are getting quality. For my own requirements the Solstice fits the bill for a camera/EDC crossover and is a comfortable carry no matter where you are lugging your gear. Versatile enough for street photography or out in the desert the Solstice delivers.
It may be a ‘camera bag’ you’ve never heard of, it’s not featured on any ‘best’ lists having somehow stayed under the radar but it is highly underrated and well worth consideration if you’re looking for something tough.
This post is not sponsored by Maxpedition and the product was purchased by myself