Review: Crumpler Complete Seed with PhotoBucket

I am a bit of a bag collector.

Not purses. Bags.

I have a slight preference for Crumpler bags since getting my first one several years ago at one of the company’s “Beer for Bags” events – where you bring them beer and they give you a bag. They had a “beer exchange rate” which told you what beers to bring for which bag. This is where I bought two cases of Stella Artois and received my orange Complete Seed. This is how it began.

A brief History of Crumpler is available, but this company is based in australia and was originally a messenger bag company that has expanded to include laptop bags, backpacks, luggage, and accessory pouches.

I tend to wear my bags high on my back, bike messenger style. I find it very comfortable, and the bag doesn’t move around when I walk. This is kind of important when selecting a bag because some bags are ergonomically designed for different wear styles. In terms of a photobag, it has to have the following requirements:

1. it cannot LOOK like a camera bag (re: traditional Tamrac, Lowepro, canon bags)
2. it must allow me to quickly access and put away my camera (I don’t like walking around with it in hand when I’m not shooting)

Starting with the shoulder strap, in my opinion, it is leaps and bounds better than the popular Timbuk2 bags. The Crumpler should strap is sewn in at an angle to the bag, allowing it to articulate better with someone’s back. The Timbuk2 straps go straight up off each side, which is great for picking up and carrying by hand, but doesn’t feel as comfortable over-the-shoulder. Also, Crumpler comes with a detachable shoulder pad, which is a $20 add-on for Timbuk2. The only bag I’ve found that is more comfortable than my Complete Seed is my Chrome messenger bag. This bag has an integrated shoulder pad designed for the wearer to wear the bag high on the back. The addition to the seat belt strap and seat belt buckle make this bag really easy to put on and take off.

The strap release latch is plastic, but is very easy to open and close as necessary to tighten or loosen the bag strap. The plastic design is pretty popular among the big bag names. The only one that really stands out is Reload Bags based in Philadelphia. Their strap latches are made of metal, which provide a lot more peace of mind when constantly opening and closing the latches. Another brand that uses a plastic latch is Freitag, known for their signature tarpaulin materials (is it a fabric?).

The Complete Seed is made of two layers of their ballistic ripstop nylon fabric which is very water resistant. This is actually the only messenger bag I have that is water resistant, the rest are waterproof. The biggest difference is the lining. Crumpler uses two different densities of nylon fabric where my Chrome bag has an outer layer of the ripstop ballistic nylon, but then has a tarpaulin inner layer. These two layers do not share any seams except at the end of the main flap. This essentially makes a “floating” inner waterproof layer. Timbuk2 almost does a good job with waterproofing, except that the inner and outer layers share seams – a potential weak point in heavy rains or if the bag gets dropped in a puddle or something. Reload designs their bags like Chrome, with a floating inner waterproof layer. It is kind of ironic that the bag that carries my expensive equipment isn’t even waterproof – but after travelling with this bag in the rain, I’m confident that it will hold up to the scenarios I’ll be carrying my camera in.

Top flap and main compartment access. What seems to be pretty standard on messenger bags is the combination of velcro underneath the flap and some plastic buckles to secure and tighten down your haul. Some velcros are better than others though. My Reload and Chrome bags have practically non-functioning velcro as it has lost its “sticking” ability over the years. My Crumpler doesn’t appear to have really lost any velcro power – maybe a better quality velcro (?). What I really like about my Reload bag is that there are compression straps across the bottom of the bag as well as a “strap keeper” buckle on the front of the bag. My crumpler doesn’t really stand out except that the velcro seems to have outlasted the other brands.

Pockets/options. The Complete Seed doesn’t have any pen-holders or tiny zippered pockets or any of that frou frou stuff. It has six pockets (three along the length of the front of the bag, doubled up) that are deep and incredibly useful. Timbuk2 kind of outs itself as a students’ bag as it has pen-holders, tons of zippered pockets, and a key lanyard thingie – I’m not a fan. My Chrome bag is kind of an exception though. There is only one zippered pocket and a couple slots to hold things, but none that are dedicated pen holders. Reload is by far the most customizable bag, as their shop will make whatever you want – as long as its within reason. If you can sketch it out, they will make it for you – truly a one-of-a-kind bag.

The Photobucket insert. Crumpler, geniuses as they are, created some photobucket inserts for some of their popular bag sizes. I got the one that fits the Complete Seed, and it is a great size. When fully loaded, my Crumpler holds my macbook 13″, XTi + Tokina f/2.8 11-16mm, 40D + Canon f/2.8L 24-70mm, 430exII flash, Gary Fong Lightsphere II, battery chargers, nikon lens pen kit, and other accessories. In addition to my Hakuba Lightstand/Tripod bag to hold my tripod(s) and lighting equipment, the Complete Seed with Photobucket is my ultimate gig bag. Crumpler gives you tons of those velcro/foam inserts to divide up your bag as much as you want. The 40D body definitely takes up a ton of room, and I may have to rearrange things if I end up getting a battery grip for it.

My take on the Complete Seed with Photobucket is that it works great for me. I don’t have a studio, so I’m constantly having to haul my stuff on-site. It fulfills my two bag requirements, too. I used this bag to haul my stuff for the wedding I shot this past summer, and it couldn’t have worked out better. If you’re ever in NYC, go to the Crumpler stores and try one on yourself!

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2 Comments

  1. Olivia
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    i just bought a complete seed…like..TODAY.. and was looking up reviews of it..yea i do things AFTER i’ve bought something..just for affirmation of my purchase.

    holy crap!

    HOW in the world do you put ALL that stuff in the bag sans the tripods?
    doesn’t the bag weigh a ton after?

  2. Posted May 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    hey! hope you like the purchase! i love how the new crumplers come with the “velcro silencers”! i think the bag was over 25 lbs by the time i got done packing it up – i only brought two bodies for the wedding though. if you have a blog, you should post what you pack in yours!

3 Trackbacks

  • […] out this review for another take on the bag: http://wadechi.swalrus.org/?p=297 (mine is the same stripe design, but the colors are black/gray) E-mail me if you’re […]

  • By Food: The Yelper Phenomenon | Wade Chi on January 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    […] my reviews are for items which don’t have a lot of decent in-depth reviews online (like the Crumpler Complete Seed and the Spider Holster). I feel like its important to provide reviews, photos, and information […]

  • By A Proper Gig Bag | Wade Chi on August 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    […] more professional, specifically when working with actual professionals. as much as I love using my Crumpler Bag for carrying my gear comfortably, it’s bright orange top flap doesn’t exactly scream […]

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