Review Crumpler: The Big Cheese (a photo/laptop bag for 2 cameras and 7 lenses/accessories)

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The Crumpler, The Big Cheese

What a Great name.

  • Quite large
  • Doesn't look too much like a camera bag
  • 4 Different colours available
  • Theoretically, quick access to the camera
  • Relatively comfortable with 10kg of kit in it.
  • Comes with a waterproof cover

  • Quite large, but not quite large enough :)
  • If someone knows the crumpler brand, they could guess what is in it
  • The name, but you don't have to tell anyone about that
  • Possibly the colour
  • Chest strap too high? If you want to use it
Optional extras: Waistband

, 4.5 out of 5, but no bag is ever going to be perfect. :clap:
Manufacturers website:

It can take apparently: 2 Bodies, up to 7 lenses and accessories, + laptop
External Dimensions: 40x80x28

The thumbnails will pull up larger images
My reason for buying it: I am going on a 2 week cruise and stay in America. I needed something to take through as hand luggage, with all my precious camera gear in it. This just about fitted (I hope). Dimensions allowed, 55x45x25. This was one of the few bags which took a laptop, and had half a chance of fitting my gear, and getting through customs. The closest I could see in the lowepro range, was the fastpack 350, however the amount of storage space seemed much smaller.

First impressions, it looks a lot smaller than it did in the photos on the website. Inside that is. My kit is a 400d, 50mm/1.8, 10-22, 18-55, 28-135, 70-300, 100-400 and speedlight 580. That is 7 items + camera. It only just fits!
Ok, so if you do buy this bag. Take a photo once you have it, of the inside. I have no idea how it all goes back together again. Crumpler have been very generous with padded items and straps.
Picture 4890 shows a lot of my kit in the bag. Missing is the 400D and the 28-135. As I travel, I usually have nothing on the camera, so there is a clear space for the lens, and the camera goes inside the odd boxy bit you can see. The fact that the speedlight 580 stands up in the bag gives some idea of the depth you can get. On the right, you can see a couple of extra padding bits that I cannot get in in this configuration. Beneath them is the webbing which zips into place stopping any items from falling out if you open the bag, and underneath that, are some pockets suitable for filters etc. and pens, and then, the laptop part of the bag!

So this brings me to one of the pros. At the left hand side to the image, you can see that I have left a large gap. This is the quick access part of the bag. It can be used in two ways. I intend to travel with this area of the bag having a book, and probably some sweets for the plane. When using the bag, there is a flap which pops up, allowing access to the odd box bit, and the two compartments to either side. The intention is to put the camera with a lens on in this part, and the next two likely lenses next door. 4891 and 4892 show the area for a book. 4893 shows the bit where a camera might go, but as I only have one at the moment, I would have had to have moved it extremely fast to get it in the picture.

In addition to the main pocket(s) there are two side pockets. If you have fully padded out the inside with kit, these are a bit smaller. In one of these pockets is another of the possible pros. Attached via a standard clip, is a small plastic 'bag', turn the bag inside out and it becomes much larger. It is the waterproof pouch. This attaches to the top two handles, and has an elasticated rim, so grabs the bag. 4894 shows the bag in place. I wouldn't have bought the bag for the sole reason of an extra waterproof cover, but it is a nice extra, seeing as I am going in hurricane season. The clip to make sure that the cover cannot fall out and get lost, makes me think they have actually thought about the bag.

Next a Pro and an Con. The bags come in 4 different colours. Anthracite, Esspresso, Black, and Mahogany. A Pro that you have a choice of colours. This is actually the Esspresso version. The Con is that I have no idea what colour the inside of the Anthracite or Black would be. This is the esspresso/warm grey. Didn't mention the mustard green inside. The mahogony has a pumpkin orange inside!

So I have bought and attached the optional waitband to the bag. I don't really know how it is meant to attach, I have put the normal straps through the loops on the waistband. With all this kit in it, it weighs 10Kg. I couldn't do a 25mile hike with the bag on, but I reckon I could stand a whole day going through Disney.
The bag of the bag is nicely padded, I cannot feel the laptop through it like I could with some bags. The outside padding of the bag is good enough, the inside inserts are very strong.
So the last Con. The chest strap on the bag, meant to connect the two straps so they don't fall off of your shoulders. Seems a bit too high for me. However, I rarely (once) use one, so I will just tuck it out of the way. Doh, I have literally just realised you can adjust the height!!!
There are two loops on the side straps, which you could probably attach some other carriers to, if you needed more room!
Img 4895 shows the back of the bag.

The laptop pouch is OK. Didn't know quite what to expect here. The idea is that the back of the bag, (against your bag), is well padded, and the laptop is held against this. Then the laptop is held away from the lenses/photo compartment by the external padding of the bag. It works well. My laptop is an old, and large, 15.4". It fits, just. As my intention was to have the laptop in the bag for the airplane and boat, then this is enough for me.

Overall I am happy with the bag, so long as I manage to squeze it through security, I will be very happy (already have a letter from the airline that they will accept hand luggage up to 15kg).

There are two smaller versions of the bag, The Pony Box, and the Italian Connection
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Nice bag, I like the way the crumplers use different colours for the internal part, keeps it interesting! The rain cover looks cool too.

You'll have to let us know how you get on with the quick access after your trip..

Thanks for the review :)
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The chest strap can be slid up and down. DOH!

Also, the waistband, I had to ask crumpler how it went on. There is a 'hidden' loop at the back of the bag. You can barely see it. However, with the waistband in place, it fits snugly, and could be used as a decent hiking bag.

The bag was comfortable all around the parks. All in, it weighed 15kg whilst going through the airport security. No problem with size. It was comfortable even with this weight, but I wouldn't advise it if you can avoid it (stability whilst taking pictures minimally compromised!).

In the end I could arrange quick access with the 7d, 10-22, 28-135, 70-300, 100-400 and the 580EX (the lenses could be on the camera). Seems decent enough!
You can just about get a can of pringles along the bottom of the bag (side to side), so good for a snack later on (sandwiches tended to get a tad squashed though).
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Any of you know whether the Italian Connection or Big Cheese have some sort of tripod attachment straps ?? doesn't describe anything like it. Although when I wrote to crumpler, I got a reply saying that that is the "loops for accessory attachment" that is supposed to be a tripod attachment device.

I'm very skeptical about that though. Can anyone clarify for me ?
Greatly appreciated!