After a year of using the Sidekick, what’s the verdict? I bought my Sidekick bag – the full-sized khaki one – about a year ago. And I’ve used it almost daily ever since.
It’s been my main bag for university, for travel, for walking, for parties – and, of course, for cameras. I even took it to work on a farm every day last summer, so I think I’m pretty qualified to weigh in on how good it is – or isn’t, as the case may be.
Firstly, let’s look at why I bought it originally. Simply put, there are very few good looking camera bags. Also, there’s not many that I’d be happy using for other things; most modern camera bags are horrible black heavily padded nylon things that really don’t do it for me. And in the Lomography line-up, you’ve got the leather one – wayyy too expensive for my budget – and the TPE one, with the writing at the bottom that really turned me off. So canvas it was.
In terms of functionality, it’s pretty much got it sorted. The idea of having a bag that could be broken into two sections is, frankly, genius. Sometimes – particularly on a night out – the smaller section is an ideal size where the bigger half would have been too awkward and bulky. And the pocket arrangement is (almost) perfect; the big section can hold a laptop (although it is a bit tight), and has a small inner pocket near the top (perfect for film), a zippered pocket on the lower half of the front, and an extra velcro-fastened flapped pocket on top of that. The zippered pocket is ideal for the larger gorillapod and a cable release, and as such, that’s where that lives. My one gripe with this, however, is that the front pocket is kind of tight, and if you want to put anything bulky in there, it ends up obstructing the main, large pocket.
The smaller half, meanwhile, works really well. Really, really well. There’s a small, zippered, concealed pocket – perfect for keys and cash – underneath the left hand flap. And the main section itself is surprisingly adequate; while Lomography state that it can hold two LC-A sized cameras, I often squeeze much more in. A common arrangement is a Fed 2 in one side, and either a Supersampler/Smena etc. in the other or a spare lens, flash and filters. I’ve even managed to fit a Fed 5 in just one half before, which is no mean feat (to those unfamiliar with the Feds, the 5 is an unnecessarily large beast). Of dubious use are the netted pockets behind the cameras; While they prove useful for storing filters, finished films, etc, if you’ve got a camera with lots of sticky-out bits, they can get caught on the netting, making removing them a bit problematic. This is largely my fault, though, for cramming large cameras into too small an area. And, of course, the two pockets can be joined into one large pocket, big enough for a moderately-sized SLR or even an Instax Wide (again, unnecessarily large). I do, however, wish that the middle divider was completely removable (as having it flapping about can get annoying), and perhaps that it was zipped instead of velcro’d. Speaking of which, the size of the velcro patches on the flaps is somewhat small. It’s never posed a real problem, but it might be worth considering replacing it with something more substantial. I’ve considered it for a while.
So, functionally, a great bag. And like I say, I’ve ran it into the ground, and miraculously, it’s still going, despite overfilling it at every possible point; the only thing I ever had break was the central strap holding the two sections together (the stitching came apart – easily fixed with some superglue). However, it is showing some wear and tear. The constant abrasion of having it rubbing against my hip has worn a small hole at the top of the back, but I guess that’s to be expected when you’re using something made of canvas this much.
Would I buy another, when this one dies? Probably. I love the form and the design, and I still haven’t seen a design that works better for day-to-day life with a camera at your side. I just wish I could afford the leather one…