Sunday, 31 August 2014

AQUAPAC Medium Stormproof Camera Pouch: The Good. And the Why?

My current camera case is a none waterproof type. It’s fine in the Summer, it will take a light shower. But heavier rain is an issue. If it rains heavily, it gets wet, and eventually the water gets through. The padding holds water and makes the case heavier. And worse than that, my camera gets wet. The advantage is that I can easily access my camera, and the case does a good job of protecting the camera from knocks. So what camera case for the winter. One that protects the camera from knocks and keeps the rain off. But still provides a reasonable time for access. I decided to try an Aquapac Medium Stormproof Camera Pouch which I picked up from a Outdoor Retailer for a little over £10. Firstly the key features, from Aquapac.

Key Features:

•  Foam padding to protect your camera on the trail
•  Protection from rain, splashing and mud with a roll-down seal
•  Supplied with a belt
•  Like most of our cases it'll float if you drop it in the drink.
•  The seams are high-frequency welded to form a super-strong bond.
•  The roll-down seal will keep out any rain or mud, or spray on a kayak.
•  The integral lashtab is perfect for lashing it down to a deck.
•  A camera of 115mm (4.5in) x 165mm (6.5in) x 75mm (3in) will fit in the pouch.

Technical Specs

Waterproof Rating:  Stormproof (Protected against heavy seas/temporary flooding - Water projected at all angles through a 12.5mm nozzle at a flow rate of 100 litres per minute at a pressure of 100kN/m2 for 3 minutes from a distance of 3 metres.)

Colour: Cool Grey and Black with Orange lashtab

Materials: 420D PU-Coated Nylon with welded seams

Weight:  Pouch: 3.7oz / 106g

Belt: 0.7oz / 20g

A couple of videos done by Aquapac.

The YouTube videos do a good job of showing how the belt fits to the pouch. So in my review I will cover the practicalities of the pouch itself.

The Review

The construction of the pouch feels rock solid, it has a feel of quality about it’s construction. The seams are welded and feel very strong. The 420D PU coated nylon the pouch is made from has a plastic feel to it, making it quite noisy when handled. This may not be the best choice for the wildlife photographers out there, it’s not stealthy, unless you only use it as an initial transport pouch. But you may feel using the pouch in this way makes it redundant. There are two tabs on the outside of the pouch, a small one for the supplied belt and a larger lash tab, to tie down to a deck. So it would seem that one of the uses of the pouch is for on a boat, on a Kayak, or similar. One concern would be if used on a canoe or Kayak and it rolled over, the pouch is only stormproof, not immersible. Also, the lash tabs also seem a little flimsy, which seems to be in conflict with the rest of the pouches construction. But they may well be stronger than they seem. They do seem to be made of the same tough nylon the rest of the pouch is constructed from. The four corners of the pouch are home to the four components of the buckle system used to close the pouch. Finally, on the inside of the lid, a couple of centimetres in, there is a Ziploc style seal. This seal will be brought up again further in my review.

The padded foam insert inside the pouch, which can be simply lifted out, seems to offer enough protection for atleast a short fall. Anything beyond a few feet I’d prefer not to test. My Fuji finepix S2980 fits nicely into the padded pocket with very little room for movement. The padding is around a centimetre in thickness. The padding is covered by a slightly slick nylon material, making inserting and removing the camera quite smooth, with no chance of it snagging.

The closure system of the pouch is something I have on other items such as stuffsacks, but I’ve never come across it in this way on a camera pouch. To close the pouch you roll down the led and clip the buckles at the sides. I can see why this system works on dry bags, and this pouch. What I don’t get is the use of the Ziploc style seal inside the lid. If the Ziploc style seal went the full width of the lid, and created a tight seal, as this style of seal normally does, I could understand it’s use. But on the pouch there is an approximately 1.5cm gap at each end. This to me makes this seal redundant. Is it to make a quick seal when putting the camera back in during the presence of precipitation? I would say not as a roll top seal in my eyes is faster. The seal is not mentioned in the features or specification, but is shown in the video. To me it just seems to make the closure of the pouch a whole lot slower for very little gain. I have a few drybags that use the roll top system, and don’t have the extra seal, but they don’t leak. So if anyone knows what it’s intended purpose is, please comment. I ignore the seal and have had no issues with water ingress.

So, would I recommend the pouch? If you are prepared to take a few extra seconds to remove or replace your camera then yes. If you want a well protected camera case that will repel the rain and most knocks then yes. If you want a stealthy camera case, then no. I’m happy with the first two and don’t require the third. So the pouch is great for my use.

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