The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter camera bag has certainly caught the attention of photographers and creators on social media thanks to the bag’s well-funded Kickstarter campaign; however, does the camera bag live up to the hype? Find out in our full review.
Editor’s note: Gura Gear sent us the Kiboko City Commuter 18L to review and keep; however, all opinions about this product are our own. We have not been told what to say. We tell you this as we always want to be upfront and honest with you.
- Stylish roll-top design
- Durable materials
- Plenty of storage space
- Great access to gear
- Too many costly ‘upgrades’ needed to complete the bag
Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter — Technical specifications
All technical specifications for this bag have been provided by Gura Gear:
- Roll-top design
- Weighs 3.68lbs (1.67kg)
- Side camera access
- Designed for mirrorless cameras
- Depth of 4-inches
- Dimension Polyant VX21 material
- Reflective taping, Fidlock magnetic closures, AirTag pocket
- Four small and four large zip pockets
- RFID pocket, key carabiner, memory card lanyard
- 16-inch laptop and 12.9-inch tablet pockets
- Exterior dimensions: 18.5 x 12 x 8 inches
- Side access dimensions: 6.5 x 4.5 inches
- Rear panel dimensions: 11 x11 x 4 inches
- Roll top dimensions: 11 x 4.5x 5 inches
Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter — Ergonomics
The Kiboko City Commuter, which weighs 3.68lbs out of the box and has dimensions of 18.5 x 12 x 8, looks just like a regular backpack. This is honestly high praise. For me, having a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag is a huge plus, especially when in the city and urban environments. The less attention I can bring to myself and the high-priced gear I carry, the better. Still, the bag looks very nice thanks to its flat black finish, generously sized zipper pulls, roll top, and the two butterfly-style pockets on the front.
On the right side of the bag, you’ll encounter the first of many magnets on this bag. The water bottle/tripod pouch is secured with pretty powerful magnets. Pull it out, and you’ll find a pocket that can house a medium-sized water bottle. At the top of the right side is a standard clip that can secure the end of a tripod. The left-hand side of the bag is home to the quick access compartment. I love this feature as it makes it easy to get to your camera with an attached lens.
So many magnets
The front of the Kiboko City Commuter is home to two butterfly-style compartments that can house many accessories. Open them, and you’re greeted with ample pouches, hooks and compartments — including an RFID pouch and a dedicated AirTag pocket. The top of the bag features a carrying handle and a roll top compartment, which, when open, effectively turns this 18L camera bag into a 22L one. Inside the roll top, which is secured with more Fidlock magnets, you’ll find ample padding and more mesh storage compartments.
The back of the bag is where you’ll find the main gear compartment. Before you get into the back of the bag, you’ll be amazed by the amount of padding on the back of this bag. The padding is thick and creates airflow channels, which help keep you cool. You’ll also see a handle in the middle of the bag that can slide over most rolling luggage handles. Open the back panel, and you’re greeted by the main compartment filled with plenty of dividers.
There’s even more storage space, including dedicated pockets for both a laptop and a large tablet in the lid of the main compartment. The thick back straps feature a sternum strap, which is secured by Fidlock magnets. Ergonomically, the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is excellent. The design is minimalistic, and there are plenty of pockets and access points that are placed logically. Weight-wise the bag feels good, and the overall dimensions make this an ideal bag for city life and Urbexing.
The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is fantastic from a build quality perspective. I have used the bag extensively during the review period and have subjected it to multiple trips to the city where it has been bumped, banged, scraped and dropped. The bag still looks new. The interior padding is nice and thick too. I had no concerns when it came to the safety of my gear. The Dimension Polyant VX21 material is rugged and offers protection from rain for short periods, too.
You won’t have any issues with the Fidlock magnetic clasps. All the magnets are strong and snap together with a satisfying clunk. The YKK zippers are nice and smooth for the most part, although I did encounter a few times where the zips would get snagged or caught up. However, I regularly encounter this with any bag that uses YKK zippers. I love how Gura Gear has stitched the main straps to the bag as well as this should eliminate the problem of straps coming loose.
Overall, the build quality of the Kiboko City Commuter from Gura Gear is fantastic. Therefore, it should hold up very well to the demands of most modern creators.
Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter — What can it hold?
You can fit a surprising amount of gear into the Kiboko City Commuter. I had no problems loading the camera bag with multiple cameras, lenses, and many accessories. Off the bat, it’s worth noting that this bag has been designed with mirrorless camera users in mind. Those with bulky DSLRs need not apply. While I could fit a smaller Pentax APS-C DSLR (K-S2) into the bag, a larger camera like the Pentax K-1 II, a Nikon D850, or Canon 5D IV would be problematic.
Needless to say, don’t bother with gripped cameras. While my Olympus E-M1X fit inside the bag, it was tall enough to create issues when trying to remove the camera through the quick access panel on the side. Those with standard mirrorless cameras from Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, OM SYSTEM, Panasonic, etc., will have no problems.
When it comes to lenses, your mileage will vary based on what you use, but there’s plenty of room for large telephoto, standard zooms and primes. The bag can be configured in seemingly limitless ways thanks to the number of dividers that Gura Gear provides. I had no issues fitting two cameras and multiple lenses into the main compartment. You can even use the padded roll top compartment to house another camera and lens, a large lens, or even lighting equipment. This bag gives you plenty of storage and configuration options.
You’re not going to be left wanting more when it comes to accessory storage, either. The top panel allowed me to carry a MacBook Air and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro easily. The laptop sleeve can house a 16-inch laptop if needed. However, carrying a laptop and a tablet limited what could fit into the lid pockets. Still, I ran out of accessories to slide into all of the mesh pockets this Kiboko City Commuter has throughout, which is a nice problem to have.
Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter 18L — In the field
I have used and reviewed many camera bags in my life, and I can say that the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is one of the most comfortable bags I have ever used. Everything from the straps to the plush padding on the back of the bag makes this backpack shine. The straps have a generous amount of padding, which goes a long way when you have the City Commuter loaded. The sternum strap is easy to use thanks to the magnetic clasp, and it helps keep the bag in place. While the straps don’t offer many ways to adjust them, I had no problem making this bag fit my large frame.
Earlier, I mentioned that the padding protrudes from the back of the bag and that it creates airflow channels. What might seem like a minor detail to some significantly impacts how comfortable this bag makes you feel. Even on a sweltering summer’s day in Oklahoma, my back didn’t become a sweaty mess. Also, no matter how much gear I had in the bag, the padding made carrying the City Commuter a pleasant experience.
Accessing your camera is easy as well, thanks to the side panel. Slip the bag off one shoulder, swing it around to your front and boom, you can get to your gear quickly and easily. Little features like the key chain and the memory card lanyard might seem insignificant, but they play a significant role in what makes this bag so user-friendly. The RFID pocket is a nice touch for those who worry about that, and while I don’t have an AirTag, knowing that there is a dedicated space for one is reassuring.
Nickel and diming
As good as the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is, though, there’s room for improvement on the base model. Fortunately, Gura Gear knows this, and they have fixed the problems. However, unfortunately, instead of making the camera bag the killer option it could have been right off the bat, Gura Gear has taken a page out of a game developer’s handbook and has decided to charge more for extras that make the bag complete.
The bag is an excellent value with an Early Bird Special price of $229 on Kickstarter. Buy the bag when it goes on general sale, and it will set you back $299, which is still reasonable. However, If you want a rain cover, you need to pay more. If you want waist straps, you need to pay more. Do you want straps that will attach a tripod to the front of the bag? You guessed it; you need to pay more. According to the Kickstarter page, if you want the Kiboko City Commuter Pro Bundle with all of the ‘DLC,’ it will cost you $399 if you don’t snag the Early Bird Special price of $269! Ouch.
This trend of nickel and diming is worrying. The extras were my least favorite thing about the Peter McKinnon line of bags from Nomatic. The ‘pay more for items that should come with a bag in this price range’ aspect of the Kiboko City Commuter also leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a shame. It’s a great bag, and I recommend it, but it could have and should have been an incredible bag with the extras included at that $299 price point.