Hawkesmill Bags – The Best Luxury Camera Bags?

“A lifetime warrantee against defects”. It says it all. You don’t need to read this review any further.

Alright then, read the juicy bits!

Back in April I heard online of a new company creating quite a buzz in the camera bag / straps game. That company is Hawkesmill and since then the hype hasn’t died down which is pretty impressive for a brand new player.

Here’s what I think explains their success.

Hawkesmill is a British manufacturer of the highest quality camera bags and leather camera straps out there. Absolutely no compromise is made when it comes to producing these beauties. I tried and tried and tried to fault them but I failed miserably.

If you are thinking Billingham already does this, think again. I love Billingham and raved about their excellent bags, but this is on another level.

Many top camera bag brands sell camera bags at top prices but when you look closely at the detail, it’s kind of “meh”. I’ll go as far as saying that ONA, who used to be one of my favourite top end manufacturers, really feels a bit cheap and not so well finished when compared to Hawkesmill. I have an ONA bag with rivets off-centre which looks badly finished to me. It screams bad attention for detail / quality control, yet they’ll still charge you a premium.

Hawkesmill are designed by photographers for photographers and it really shows. It’s got everything you need and some more.

I had a meeting / chat with the two lovely founders of the brand. What immediately struck me was their passion and determination to make it work and their belief that Hawkesmill fills a need. That need is of a superior product which will protect your expensive camera gear and exude luxury and good taste while remaining discrete. After all why spend a few grands on a camera to then buy some cheaply made bag? For the sake of a few hundred pounds?

I bought so many one hundred quid bags which didn’t last or weren’t so great that in my opinion there are much worse ideas than investing in a Hawkesmill bag which should last ten years easily, although my guess is a lot longer.

It’s also good to know these aren’t made by children somewhere in China, whenever possible I like to buy British made and support our industry.

Have I yet expressed how much I love these?

Now onto the bag itself.

It’s a small messenger, nothing particularly new about this. I prefer small messengers as to limit what I carry and therefore the strain on my shoulders.

I do like the fact the strap can be removed and washed. Many bags won’t allow you to do that, the strap gets way more dirty than the rest… what do you do then? Throw it away and buy a new bag?

Another clever thing about the strap is the option to remove the shoulder pad. Some like it with, some without, I prefer without so welcome this option. I would recommend Hawkesmill look at adding rubber lines under the strap for added grip. I saw that on some straps and it really stops it sliding constantly off shoulder.

The bottom of the bag, which touches the ground when you drop it is protected by four metal “feet” (not sure of their name). Well it seems silly but it’s the first time I see that. All other bags are straight to the floor, another risk of wear and tear or getting dirty on a rainy floor.

The bag has as many pockets as you could fit on it. No complain at all, I like pockets, plenty of them.

What I thought is really clever is the back pocket, the safest one, the one that rests against your body when you carry the said bag.

In that pocket you have a money pouch / business card holder. It’s unique and hard to explain but check out this photo:

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I love it.

Inspect the stitching and again, you’ll find it impossible to fault.

If you live in the UK or any country blessed by rain, you’ll be reassured to know Hawkesmill bags have a triple layer of fabric/rubber/fabric made in Scotland, so no rain shall pass.

I particularly love, on my Jermyn Street model, the Harris tweed used for the top of the bag. I love long country side walks and this bag has such a Britishness about it, it’s freaking classy. And yet it also feels perfectly fine in an urban environment.

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Inside, well, it’s a camera bag, so plenty of pockets again, padding, nothing to complain about.

The trim is all Italian leather, it smells expensive and reliable.

The fittings (locks and any metal used) are nickel plated which is kind of a wink to Mulberry fans. For those of you unsure what it looks like, think chrome.

Of course no bag is perfect so I will, for the sake of being hyper critical, list a few things I think can be improved, but I have to be picky to do that and it’s more of a personal taste/preference:

-          Weight: There is nothing Hawkesmill could do about it. They use quality materials and it feels heavier. I prefer that to the opposite if it means my bag will last longer. I find messenger bags to be hard on my back and shoulders if used too much. But again this is all messenger bags, not just this one.

-          Nickel: I think these look great but my personal preference is for something that looks less shiny but instead rather more aged, rustic. I like brass better so maybe two options for the fittings could be a good idea.

And there is nothing else to add as I just love this bag so much, words are missing.

So if you are looking for a camera bag but stop for a second thinking “this is expensive”, think how expensive your camera is and how pricey it gets to buy a cheap camera bag every year again and again and again because you need to replace it.

Your camera deserves better and so do you.

Nico