Billingham Hadley One: the full review!

It’s been one month now since I received the Billingham Hadley One. After a week, I published my first impression review here and since then I have used it on a daily basis for my work, some events and family time. Now, as promised, I will share with you my experience with this splendid bag.

As said previously, my choice brought me towards the Sage/Chocolate color. Classy, it does not get dirty easily and it’s really discreet. I’m really satisfied with this combination on my Hadley Pro that I reviewed here one year ago.

The Hadley One is made only in Fibrenyte. For those who do not know, this synthetic material is only made by Billingham. It has an excellent abrasion resistance and it is totally weatherproof thanks to the StormBlock butyl rubber structure. Under heavy rains, you might get wet while your expensive camera and equipment will remain totally dry.

The leather which is used for the clasps and the finishing is really durable and becomes suppler with time. It definitely contributes to the look and style of the bag.

After a month of intensive use, the stitching is still perfect as well as the general aspect. Seeing how my Hadley Pro stood up after one year, I have no doubt that the Hadley One is made to last your entire life and more.

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For those who know or who have already used the Hadley Pro, you are in known terrain, but with more room and even more flexibility. The key features are still there, with some improvement.

The carrying handle was customized with a bottom in leather. It is really efficient and my hand never suffers even with the bag fully loaded (up to 7kgs!). There is still a fiberglass plate under the tissue to ensure a perfect weight distribution and rigidity. At no moment, was I afraid to hold the bag with this handle and the flap could open easily and totally without any obstruction. Clever and effective.

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The back pocket gains a fully weatherproof famous YKK zipper.

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The leather band which covers the zipper provides an additional protection as well as a nice visual touch. I find always amazing the attention that Billingham gives to the details but also the usefulness of what they are doing. Everything makes sense.

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The front pockets are still there, ample and practical. Here also a nice touch with the pen holder. The good thing about this design is that you can easily drop or pickup anything in the pocket when needed and you still get the maximum security and protection when the buckle is locked with the brass quick release system.

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Last, but not least, the fully adjustable shoulder sling is now removable. It could become practicle to have the bag with a sharp form in public transport or in restrained spaces. The leather loop with a quick release system around a brass buckle is effective and beautiful.

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A few centimeters in all directions make the Hadley One more “roomy” than the Hadley Pro without losing in portability and practicality. Taking out your camera or anything else from the bag when on the shoulder remains quick and easy.

The visual comparison in between the Hadley Pro and the Hadley One shows the increase in size. Fully loaded, the Hadley One could become heavy, but remain comfortable.

You can see below what I generally carry with me every day in my professional life.

Personal stuff

  1. Canon eos 6D
  2. Canon ef 35mm f/2IS
  3. Canon ef 135mm f/2L
  4. Extra battery (sometimes 2)
  5. Extra SD cards
  6. Cleaning cloth
  7. Microsoft Surface pro 3 (12 inches) + attached keyboard
  8. Bluetooth Mouse
  9. 2TB external hardrive + USB cable
  10. 16Gb USB stick
  11. Lowepro Deluxe Media Case 30 (contain chargers and cables)
  12. iPad mini 2 64Gb
  13. Notebook “Rhodia”
  14. Samsung X cover 3 smartphone
  15. Wallet
  16. Leatherman Skeletool CX
  17. Keys
  18. Headphone
  19. Pen and pencil in the dedicated location of the front pocket

The entire list of equipment above can fit either in the Hadley Pro or in the Hadley One. However, the Hadley One can easily take an additional full A4 document folder due to the additional 4 cm in height. My Canon ef 135mm f/2L can also be placed with the lens hood in shooting position. For the DSLR owners, it’s the perfect size to receive a camera like any Canon or Nikon models due to the extra 2cm in width.

The improvement in flexibility is primarily due to the different insert organization possibilities that this new bag offers.

Originally with one half-size insert provided with the bag…

… With a second optional half-size insert…

… Or with the prototype full size insert.

This is just awesome!!!

You can note that the flap on top of each insert offers a full protection for your equipment against any shock coming eventually from the top of the bag but also could be folded in the back to provide a maximum access to the inside.

I cannot imagine anybody who will not find a solution for his own style and need with the Hadley One. Here are some cases where this bag stands out with only the half-size insert which is included. I leave you to imagine with the second half-size or the full size insert:

  • Every day carry (EDC) for photographer on the move or city worker passionate about photography.

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You can view my check list above to know what I have inside. A notebook A4 was added in the laptop section for information. You can see that there is still room for extra if necessary.

  • Photographers travelling or commuting with his computer and camera equipment will definitely enjoy being able to carry everything in a beautiful, secure and really comfortable bag. Also, the luggage trolley strap retainer in the back is a great addition to use with your suitcase on wheels.

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Ready for a comfortable and safe trip.

  • A portrait or fashion photographer on assignment with a laptop, camera and an f/2.8 lenses trinity or with a nice fast prime lenses collection will be able to organize everything in the bag while still assuring security and quick access. All the inserts are provided with a Velcro divider which helps you stack the equipment vertically if needed.

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Half-size insert with its divider.

  • Below you can see my configuration for landscape photography, with the half-size insert and the camera and lens inside on one side. On the other side, the Lee Filters pouch (with foundation kit, polarizer 105mm, 2 graduated ND filters and the Little Stopper ND filter in it with still some room for additional filters). Also, a bottle of water, a white balance disc, head lamp and storm jacket for the camera and lens in case of rain. In the front pocket I was able to put the Canon remote control TC-80N3, extra batteries and SD cards, cleaning cloth, wallet, keys and smartphone. Easy access, comfortable, secure and weatherproof… What else a landscape photographer on the field could need?

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Here in situation during a landscape cession.

I have no doubt that you will find your style and answer to your need with this really versatile and protective system.

To complete the comparison with the Hadley Pro size, below you can see both full sizes insert; knowing that the model for the Hadley One is still a prototype but that the overall size is the good one.

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The extra depth and height definitely provides the extra room and comfort for a DSLR system or for mirrorless with big glasses. The possibility to carry “non-photographic” stuff is also a big plus for those using a small camera system but bringing filters, pan-head, lunch break pouch or a bottle of water with them. You need it? With the Hadley One you can take it!

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In the city or on the beach. You can go anywhere with everything you need!

It was a great surprise also to discover how comfortable the Hadley One could be for a “mid-size” bag. Certainly the shoulder pad SP50 helped a lot on that, especially with the bag fully loaded. The removable shoulder strap is really wide and I have the feeling that the leather buckles which hold it to the bag provides some shock absorption when on the move. The fact that the bag with a half size insert, weighs only 1.38kg is certainly another good reason. I was able to walk the entire day, with the complete camera set and accessories without feeling any pain or tiredness on my shoulder.

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This papaya tree helps to show you how the Hadley One looks when it is hung by the removable shoulder strap.

An event, an assignment? No problem, the bag looks good, discreet though, and it allows you to bring all your camera and personal stuff securely but with an easy access.

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Here during a party where the Billingham Hadley One did a good job.

The list of the good things that a Billingham bag can bring to you is really long. Protection, security and easy access to your equipment and personal stuff is essential and could be enough for many photographers. However, Billingham goes the extra mile by building its bags with premium material, designing them to be effective with a great look. And all of this in the spirit that the bag might out live you, built to last.  In this era of pure consumption, it is the mark of a spirit oriented towards good workmanship and the satisfaction of the customers.

The Hadley One is the proud heir of this philosophy. It’s really rare to have a bag that wherever and whenever you go, you never get the feeling that it is too big, or too small, or inappropriate. I love my Hadley Pro and will not get rid of it for anything. But the Hadley One has this little extra in size and features which made it special. The design of the Hadley series is fantastic. You have different models from the Hadley Digital to the Hadley Large Pro. Just the size of what you need to carry defines which model you choose. The Hadley One is somewhere in the middle-up of the series. If you never carry anything else than your camera equipment, then certainly the Hadley Pro will serve you properly. But, if you are like me, facing different situations or configurations, then the flexibility of a mid-size package that offers the Billingham Hadley One will be your answer. Whatever your choice will be, you will not regret it!

Additional notes:

The Billingham Hadley One will be available for purchase on July 1st from their website and retailers.

Included with the bag:
– Hadley One
– Half-size insert
– Removable ‘H1’ shoulder sling.
– Drawstring dust cover for storage.

Optional extras pictured in review:
– Second half-size insert.
– SP50 shoulder pad.
– Prototype full size insert.

9 thoughts on “Billingham Hadley One: the full review!

  1. David McGregor

    Looks like a fantastic bag. The reviewer is very professional and obviously enthusiastic about this product. Will have to look into one with a view to making it a bag for my fishing kit.

    Like

  2. Eamon Gallagher

    Hi Philippe, really nice review & lots of well explained details. Maybe one day when Ive had enough of hiking, camping & extensive traveling, I’ll look at one of these.
    For now though Im afraid it might not take the beating I give my gear , I’m not so gentle & kind.

    Like

    1. Philippe Castagna

      Hi Eamon, thank you for your kind word and support. Yeah I understand what you mean. Certainly an “F-Stop like” is doing the job for you actually. However, for travel and assignment, Billingham bags are really strong, well made, and certainly the most important for you, weatherproof. Thanks again mate!

      Like

  3. Pingback: Billingham Hadley One: First impression – Philippe Castagna

  4. Stephen

    I am thinking about buying a Hadley One and am constantly searching the net for good reviews. Thanks for the good write and detailed description. This is certainly one of the better reviews of the Hadley One and so far one amongst few. In your review you write about a prototype full size insert. Do you have any information from Billingham when this will be available? I was told that a Hadley Pro or Packington insert will fit too and I was given no info regarding an upcoming Hadley One full size insert. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

    Like

    1. Philippe Castagna

      Hi Stephen, many thanks for the kind word. I’m glad to read that my work was useful for you. I have also an instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/phcastagna/) where I posted some photos of the Hadley One during a profesionnal trip last week. It’s really a perfect bag for that and more. Regarding the full size insert, the Packington insert is exactly the same size as my prototype insert. The only difference is the placement of the pop-clips (the Packington insert ones won’t match up). In regards to the full size insert final version it is no release date yet. But several newer prototypes was made over the past few weeks so I know that its being worked on. Hope that will help and feel free if you have any other question. Have a great day! Cheers, Philippe

      Like

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