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Review: Shimoda Explore V2 35 – the bag you grow to love

At first I wasn't convinced by the Shimoda Explore V2 but the more I used it, the more I realized it's a really well-designed bag

(Image: © Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

I'm a female photographer with a small stature (I'm 5ft4) and when I first pulled the Shimoda Explore V2 35 from the box I couldn't get over how big and heavy it was – and that was without any kit in the bag. Just the thought of filling it with everything I needed for a full day of walking and shooting made my back ache, but I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it was and how evenly the weight was distributed across my torso. It feels really well made, has a nice finish, plus a lot of useful straps and pockets.

Pros

  • +

    Plenty of pockets

  • +

    Comfortable, adjustable straps

  • +

    Easy access side pocket

  • +

    Can order women's straps for it

Cons

  • -

    Big and heavy

The Shimoda Explore V2 35L is truly a bag for the adventurist photographer. With its comfortable, adjustable straps and breathable mesh fabric, it's perfect for hiking and has two separate compartments – one for personal items and snacks and one for your camera gear with solid dividers to keep it safe.

Shimoda Designs unveiled its Action X Series of camera bags (opens in new tab) several years ago. While the X series is designed to be rugged and sport-focused, the Explore series here is billed as a "refined travel and landscape adventure camera bag system."

Like many of the best camera backpacks (opens in new tab), there are lots of pockets on the outside so you can carry a tripod or water bottle and smaller pockets are really useful for storing things like spare batteries, memory cards or even a compass if you're a serious hiker.

 • You might also like the Shimoda Action X50 backpack (opens in new tab)

Considering how big the Shimoda Explore V2 35L camera bag is, you can actually fit less kit in it than I thought you might be able to, but on the flip side of that, I wouldn't want to carry that bag for an entire day if it was full of camera gear. It comes with a waterproof cover which fits snuggly over the bag (even when a tripod is attached to the exterior).

(Image credit: Liam Dunkley - Artefact Studios)

Shimoda Explore V2 35 specifications

Weight: 5.8lb / 2.61kg
Outside dimensions (cm): 29.5W x 54H x 20D
Inside dimensions (cm): 28.5W x 53H x 19D
Laptop compartment dimensions (cm): 25.5W x 38H x 2D

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)

Shimoda Explore V2 35 Build and Handling

There is no denying the Shimoda Explore V2 is an incredibly well-made bag, catered towards landscape photographers who may need to hike a long way. Everything from the zips to the straps to the exterior material feels of a high quality. It also includes some nice aesthetic touches such as tan leather zip tags, a smooth leather look finish and unlike most bags, the inside lining is a bright blue color which, although I don't love, makes a nice change from grey.

While I initially thought the bag was way too big for me, you can actually change the position of the straps to 3 different sizes: small, medium and large. It's also worth noting that if you're a woman, when ordering the bag online you can opt for a women's shoulder strap in three different styles for no extra cost. 

(Image credit: Liam Dunkley - Artefact Studios)

Shimoda Explore V2 35 Performance

This really is an intuitive bag designed to be used while hiking or in the outdoors. It has a lot of conveniently placed secure pockets, straps that are easily adjustable and an easy-access side pocket so you don't have to take off completely the bag every time you want to take your camera out.

You can open the back of this bag all the way so that you can easily pack it and both the divider sections and top compartment can be removed should you want to use it as a normal rucksack. There are multiple ways you can attach things such as a tripod or a drinks bottle depending on how you want to configure the bag and for those serious hikers, there's even space to attach a very small tent, roll mat or sleeping bag if you needed to.

(Image credit: Hannah Rooke / Digital Camera World)

Shimoda Explore V2 35 Verdict

Despite my initial apprehensions about this bag, it's actually really grown on me. It has a lot of incredibly useful and intuitive features such as an easy-access pouch on the shoulder strap for your water bottle, plenty of pockets to keep small items, multiple ways of attaching a tripod to the exterior and an easy-access zip so you can get to your equipment without taking the bag off completely. 

At 2.6KG before it's even got anything it is heavy and for someone of my size, it's pretty big. It does, however, fit a lot in it and you can get it in a 25-liter version if you don't need to carry as much stuff. I also really loved the fact that when buying it directly from, the Shimoda store it gave you the option to upgrade the straps to ones designed for women for free. I often find that camera rucksacks are geared towards men in how they look and how they fit so it's refreshing to find one that looks stylish but is also comfortable and adapted for a woman too!

It's not a cheap camera bag but I do think it's worth the money. It feels incredibly well made, it has a lot of stylish but functional features, it's extremely comfortable, fully adjustable and your kit feels really safe in it. If you're looking for a bag to take around the city with you, this is probably overkill but for landscape photographers who end up hiking for hours at a time, it's absolutely perfect. 

(Image credit: Liam Dunkley - Artefact Studios)

Do you need help choosing the best camera bag (opens in new tab)? If you're not looking for a backpack this roomy, you could try the best messenger bags (opens in new tab), or if you're after a touch of luxury, check out the best leather camera bags (opens in new tab).

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Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.