Recently, I decided to purchase a new camera bag. I currently have an Epiphanie Clover in Fuchsia, which was at the time one of the largest bags they offered and after 3 years and 3 full wedding seasons and travelling through about 15 countries with me as a “walk like it’s not heavy” carry on, it was time to retire her and go for something slightly bigger and newer. It was hard to say goodbye to the gorgeous pink, and I honestly would have gotten another pink one had there been one on offer that suited my needs.
My Epiphanie Clover was a superb bag. Sturdy, comfortable and roomy. It avoided getting weighed at the airport (despite weighing WAY over the normal limit thanks to the shitty rules for camera gear on airlines) and safely kept my gear for many years. The only thing that I can fault it with was that the main zipper pull broke and I had to replace it with something else fairly early on. That, and a fair amount of wear in the faux leather. But that’s to be expected when you use a bag as much as this. However, with the Kelly Moore Libby bag, because of the colouring, I get the feeling that it will actually age very well and end up looking a little shabby chic, which I like very much. With a pink bag, you really want it to stay perfectly pink without showing wear, but I guess that’s a hard thing to achieve.
I researched for quite some time and realised that I not only needed something bigger, but also slightly more sturdy. And I definitely needed a new bag to use as a carry on when I fly. I ended up settling on the Kelly Moore Libby bag after going back and forth between that and the Kelly Moore Two Sues. I LOVED that the Two Sues came in pink, which actually almost swayed me but in the end it was just too small and I needed something bigger. So, I ended up with the Libby.
I have to say, I LOVE the Libby. Be warned, though, it is a big bag, and as all us girls know, the bigger the bag, the more we shove into it. So be prepared for it to be HEAVY. Since getting the Libby just over a week ago she’s done two weddings and a bunch of pre-shoots in both sunshine and torrential rain.. okay… as torrential as Sweden gets with rain.. but still.. torrential by Swedish standards… and she’s held up very well.
It’s really convenient that all of the inside compartments can be removed, allowing you to use the bag as a regular bag without camera gear and it’s also nice that the inside of the bag isn’t soft fabric like the Epiphanie, but more of a waterproof type material, so things don’t stick with static to it. I chose the Caramel coloured Libby, which has a purple lining and it goes very nicely together. The extra divider that sits over the top of the main inside space is GREAT for dividing the camera gear from other things you may want to put in the bag when you are travelling, too.
There are 6 outside compartments. One on either end and they are un-zippered and cannot be closed, which I have used for things like headache tablets and business cards. There are also two small zippered pockets on the front of the bag with one non-functional buckle on each, which sit over another zippered compartment which I use for my 6″ kindle, but it is deep and can fit something bigger if needed. The last outside compartment is on the back of the bag and is also zippered and is suitable for an iPad or book or even paper contracts. The two smaller zippered compartments on the front of the bag are ALMOST too small to be of use in any really functional way, so small things like batteries and lipstick can fit nicely, but not much else. They are also quite deep… and really, the only problem I have with these two compartments is that the zipper rips up my hand every time I need to dig for something deep in the pocket… and I have pretty small hands. But at least the zippers are sturdy, which the Epiphanie zipper wasn’t. One great thing about the bag is that it has metal studs on the bottom of the back to protect it from the ground.
The only other gripe I have with the bag is the Kelly Moore logo being EVERYWHERE. On a lovely metal plate attached to the front and embossed into every zipper clip. The only reason this bothers me is that anyone in the know about these bags knows immediately that it’s an expensive camera bag. Unlike Epiphanie, who chose to put their logo on the INSIDE of the bag and attach a removable camera logo keychain.
The cross body strap is quite generous in length and you can easily wear the bag this way with it fully loaded, but it’s slightly hard to walk with it this way. I even managed to fit my little step and a 5 ay foldable reflector in the bag seeing as I don’t carry a laptop on shoots, but it also easily fits my 13″ Macbook Pro. I had one 5D classic body, one 5DMKII body with 50mm lens attached, one external flash, one video light, one FujiInstax Mini camera and one 50mm lensbaby in the main part of the bag on shoots. I use a shootsac to carry my lenses so there was plenty of room left in the Libby for more.
The two shoulder/hand straps look very tough and look like they could take a bit of a beating but as I said, the bag is big, so it will end up heavy, so carrying it this way could hurt your back. But if that doesn’t bother you, it’s quite easy to get that sucker over your shoulder for that “walk like it’s not heavy” walk. The brass looking buckles and fixtures are also very sturdy and the clips are quite thick, which is good considering the weight possibilities.
When I travel, the non-essential items will go in my check-in, like the flashes, the backup body, the Instax, step, reflector etc… and all my main camera gear will be in the Libby. The Epiphanie managed this quite well and I was even able to close it. With the Libby, it’s MUCH easier to close thanks to the extra height of the bag and the ability to block off the main compartment with the divider. It’s a big bag, but it’s perfect as a carry on, and because it looks like a handbag, you don’t actually need to put the laptop in and can carry that separately if you wish. This also means that you don’t usually have to weigh it, where as if you take a rolling suitcase type of bag, you are sure to be over the weight limit with the camera gear and will risk having to check it in. It also fits perfectly into overhead lockers on planes. Sometimes you will have to lay it on its side, but mostly it will be able to stand up freely in the locker. (Just as a side note, don’t travel with your lenses attached to your cameras, you risk damaging the contacts.)
Overall, I really love the Kelly Moore Libby and I’ve even come to love its yummy caramel colour and it certainly fits everything I need it to fit without problem. I think the two front pockets could possibly be merged into one, but that’s a small gripe, only. I LOVE the bag and it has served me well since getting it.