ippere dFor more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.
The most wonderful thing about the Sunny 16 Voyager is that it ends up being incredibly comfortable. Your gear inside may be a hot mess, getting a camera out through the side will be puzzling, the hardware is oddly constructed, and the waist straps may end up falling off by accident. But despite all of this, the Sunny 16 Voyager is like an awkward hug filled with love and comfort if you’re open to it. Think of a teenager that’s close to you in your life before the stage of them being too cool to hug their adult peers. It’s awkward. It’s weird. But the Sunny 16 Voyager is also the new kid on the block. And they have yet to grow into their own skin. It’s lovable nonetheless.
Too Long, Didn’t Read
The Sunny 16 Voyager backpack attempts to address lots of concerns about the modern-day camera bag. But it only addresses them partially, without full commitment. In the end, it feels like it was designed with too many cooks in the kitchen. I’m really hoping the second version does a better job. The biggest problem we have is with the weak divider system that can’t keep your cameras and lenses in place effectively.
The Sunny 16 Voyager doesn’t do anything special or different for the genre of camera bags. It’s very modifiable and has some cool features like USB device charging, solid hardware, and various entry points. But it’s not doing anything different or new.
Pros and Cons
Comes with optional waist straps
Can hold a ton of gear.
I legitimately don’t feel fat enough for these waist straps
Configuring the bag’s interior to their product photos is a pain
The dividers aren’t strong
The multiple strap and flap set up is nice, but impractical
Dividers and Velcro are very weak
Organization is lacking
The waist straps can come off too easily
We tested the Sunny 16 Voyager with the Leica SL2s, various L mount lenses, Fujifilm X Pro 3, various Fujifilm lenses, Canon EOS R, various Canon RF lenses, and the Sony a7r III with various FE mount lenses. At times we threw a flash in there. Sometimes there was a Macbook Pro from 2015.
Takes from the Sunny 16 official listing.
Durable waxed canvas and waterproof tarpaulin version that can withstand harsh weather conditions
This quick side access camera backpack helps you never miss another shot
Trolley passthrough for easier traveling when you’re at the airport
Hidden zipper pocket for your most important items
Anti-theft camera backpack opens from the back so it’s easy to open while also keeping your gear safe
Laptop and tablet sleeve fits a 16″ Macbook Pro and is checkpoint friendly
Upper storage for personal items and clothes (with the customizable dividers)
Highly breathable mesh padding for complete comfort
The Sunny 16 Voyager looks nothing like a camera bag. In fact, it feels a bit like a bag that Kenneth Cole would’ve made in the early 2000s. And that’s pretty cool if you’re into the retro look! This version doesn’t seem to be waxed canvas. It’s an odd material I can’t put my finger on.
The front of the bag is really characterized by this area. It’s a thin pocket area. I shoved a book in here along with hand sanitizer, eye drops, beard oil, a passport, a wallet, and that’s about it. It can’t hold too much. Overpack it, and it will begin to bulge open.
To get to the top section, you have to undo the leather belt and then open up the bag. I’m still not sure how I feel about that.
After undoing the flap, you’ve got another zippered panel. This works just fine, although it’s an annoyance. However, I see why it’s needed.
Here are a few of the front pockets again with a book inside. Again, you’re not going to use it for much.
The Sunny 16 Voyager has straps galore. There are straps and pockets on the side of the bag. It has a tripod strap area on the bottom (albeit not a very good one). The waist straps are connected using a hook system. And there’s a sternum strap. Like I said, the Sunny 16 Voyager gives you an awkward hug that’s very comfortable.
Despite some weirdness about the Sunny 16 Voyager, it’s built pretty sturdy on the outside. The backpack straps are surprisingly comfortable. The zippers are very high quality. And the buckles are even built well. I can see this bag lasting me a few years for sure. However, I don’t really think this is a camera bag for a working photographer with lots of gear. The more gear I packed into this bag, the weaker the dividers became. I even tried working with Sunny 16 on various configurations.
In the end, the Sunny 16 Voyager remains to be one of the most frustrating bags I’ve ever had to configure. No matter what, I kept feeling like I was failing. That’s because the dividers are built awfully. That’s one of the most unfortunate things because, on the outside, the Sunny 16 Voyager is built very well.
For what it’s worth, the Sunny 16 Voyager stood up to the rain with no issues at all.
Because of the build quality, I think this is a camera bag for a photographer who uses one camera and a small lens at best. The rest of your bag will be packed with stuff like clothing, essentials, etc. This, in all truthfulness, shouldn’t be used as a primary camera bag.
Ease of Use
Here’s the bizarre thing about the layout. This screenshot is from Sunny 16’s own website and listing. They configured it so that the camera comes out from the top of the bag. If you do this, the weight can push down on the contents inside and mess with the dividers. In the photo above, the drone is at the zippable side access pocket. In our tests, we tried putting a camera there. Getting various cameras in and out of that spot felt consistently awkward. And when the camera was removed from there, everything seemed to collapse because of the divider system.
The best way to use the Sunny 16 Voyager is to just ignore the fact that you’ve got side access. And that’s sad because it’s such a great feature of any camera bag. But they didn’t get it right here. If you ignore the side access, you can place the dividers to take up more room and make the camera section smaller. Then all the space up top can be used for whatever you’d like.
Despite my qualms with the interior, the exterior of the Sunny 16 Voyager is built well. The buckles, zippers, and straps all function exactly how they should.
The Sunny 16 Voyager has two waist straps. You can put these on yourself using a hook system. And believe it or not, they’re very comfortable, if not large. I never thought that I, at 5’6″ and 175lbs, would be too thin for this bag. But yes, you need to tighten the waist straps a lot. Because the straps can be removed fairly easily, swinging the bag around to access your gear is difficult. You’ll need to undo the sternum strap, tighten the waist straps, sling it around, and open the bag up. It’s nowhere near as comfortable or useful as Lowepro’s options. In fact, it’s just plain annoying.
One thing some of you may like is USB charging. If you connect a battery at one end, you can charge your devices at the other end. Personally, I didn’t care much for this.
Very disappointing interior design
So tough to get a camera out of it
To be frank, the Sunny 16 Voyager feels incomplete. They need to go back to the drawing board and fix a lot of big things. Your waist straps shouldn’t fall off. It shouldn’t be this difficult to get your camera out of a side access panel. And the dividers shouldn’t just come apart. Maybe they should use WANDRD’s system with cubes. Alternatively, they could use TENBA’s system with fully divided areas.
Either way, I can’t recommend the Sunny 16 Voyager to photographers. Skip it.
The Sunny 16 Voyager receives two out of five stars.