One year ago , I reviewed my Billingham Hadley Pro (here). Since then, this incredible bag was always with me, everywhere, almost at any time. I’m actually working on a “One year after” review where I will tell you more about my experience with it. But what I can say now is that during this year, Billingham earned my respect for the quality of their products and their will to respond to the need of photographers on the move.
I follow their social network on facebook, twitter and instagram, making some remarks, giving some feedback, reacting to their post. Nothing more than that. So I was really surprised when they contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I would be interested to review one of their new products, the Hadley One. I was really excited to try the challenge. At this moment, it’s important to say that Billingham is not paying me for this review. I could not even keep the bag after the review, except if I choose to buy it. I accepted to do this review to challenge myself and for fun. But also for you, all of you who are in research of the perfect bag. The one that will comfortably protect your expensive equipment but with the comfort and easy access necessary for your work, travel or assignment.
So, finally, I received the bag with some accessories last week…
Billingham paid attention to the details which gives its customers the feeling of being important to them. The bag and the accessories arrived in a solid brown cardboard box. Three colors are actually available, all in their tough FibreNyte material: Khaki/chocolate leather, Sage/chocolate leather and Black/black leather. I opted for the Sage version which stands out really nice throughout time like my Hadley Pro.
In the box we can find: the Hadley One bag (including standard insert and shoulder sling), an additional Hadley One insert, an SP50 shoulder pad and a prototype full size insert.
The finish, stitching and leather quality are perfect. Billingham set the bar really high.
The full size insert has the same design as the one in the Hadley Pro, using the same type of velcro dividers and a press stud to be fix firmly to the bag. As said, it is still a prototype due to an approximate sizing (for now) but it gives a good idea. Personally I find it pretty well made and was really familiar with it after using the Hadley Pro for a while now.
The Hadley One insert is in fact a half size insert. It has two studs on two sides and a clever design allows to fold it for easier transport when not in use but also keeps some flexibility for the bag. A flap on the top is protecting the equipment from eventual shocks same as the full size insert.
It is delivered also with a velcro divider which can help to organize and stack equipment vertically.
The size is really nice. See below, as an example and to give an idea about the dimension, the Hadley One insert with a Canon 6D and a Canon 135mm f/2L (lens hood reversed) mounted on it. No doubt that a bigger dslr (5DmkIV/D810) will give some stretch but I’m sure that they will still fit in.
Inside the main compartment we can see the internal built in 13 inch laptop holder. It is really well designed, protecting perfectly without adding too much bulk. For people who do not want to carry a laptop, it is a good organizer for tablet, notepad, A4 documents, etc…
We can also see the three press studs part to connect the insert. Large insert, half size insert in the middle, on a side, 2 half size inserts… Did I mention no insert at all? Everything is possible giving a total freedom to use the bag for photography equipment only or mixed with non-photographic stuff.
Because Billingham thinks always about nice details, we find also three studs on the other side to ensure a perfect positioning and fixation of the insert even if you run with some heavy or unstable equipment in the bag.
The most important sales arguments of the Hadley pro was the top handle and the zipped rear pocket. Both were improved on the Hadley One.
The top handle now has a nice band of leather stitched underneath to improve the comfort. And it works great! I was able to test it with the bag fully loaded. No pain on the hand at all. It also adds a visually nice touch. Same as on the Hadley Pro, a fiberglass plate is under the tissue and ensures a perfect weight distribution and also provides some rigidity.
The already good rear zipper present on the Hadley Pro was replaced by an YKK rainproof zipper. A large cord loop helps maneuver the zipper which is protected under a large leather band.
The inside of the rear pocket is ample and easy to access.
Last, but not least, the back of the bag was equipped with a luggage trolley strap retainer. I started this post talking about photographers on the move. Here we go!
The result is efficient and splendid.
Another great element of the Hadley series are the front pockets. Same design as the ones on the Hadley Pro…
…but with a little change. No more press stud to enlarge it. Now we can find an area stitched straight to the bottom of the pocket, creating a nice pen holder. It’s still wide enough to receive an iPad mini…
… or a lens like the Canon 135mm f/2L with hood reversed. Awesome!
The fully adjustable shoulder strap got its improvement also. It is now fully removable thanks to a beautiful piece of leather held by a screwed stud in brass. Simple and efficient. The finish is perfect and ensure a strong attachment to the bag even fully charged.
Everything is possible, anything that can improve your comfort on the field, in an airplane, in a bus… Brilliant really.
The last point I would like to address is the size of the Hadley One. As you can see below, it is slightly bigger than the Hadley Pro.
But it is not enormously bigger and makes this bag perfectly wearable on a daily basis.
What you just read above is only my first finding and impression. For now, I can say that I was really pleased and impressed to see a real Hadley DNA preserved, but with some clever and practical changes. I will use the Hadley One every day, under several conditions and configurations. By the end of May I will be able to provide a full review, with an in depth field experience.
So, stay tuned!