Product Review: M-Rock 671 ♦ McKinley Photo Backpack
Article & Photos By Kristin Reimer
With the newly arrived M-Rock 671 McKinley bag filled with gear and packed into the truck, we set off on our expedition and drove into the wild. The temperatures were in the single digits, the blizzard blinding us as our truck veered precariously on the icy road. The rapids of the river below us was roaring. Would the McKinley’s “water resistant exterior zippers” withstand the maelstrom and protect my gear? As we made our way I had confidence my equipment was tucked away safely thanks to the reinforced interior of my new M-Rock bag.
Okay. Well, the reality of it is, coming from Brooklyn, Pennsylvania is indeed wild country and the Delaware River can get some um, well, mild rapids. And there was snow! That I was on my way for a holiday family reunion, can that be counted as an expedition?
In any event, I had the perfect opportunity to test out a new camera bag. Like many others, I love camera bags, so I was excited that this would be my first review here on Picture-Soup.com.
As a wedding photographer, I rely most heavily upon my roller bag. My typical kit consists of three camera bodies, three Speedlights, and about five lenses. I usually have a smaller bag to carry various accessories. My current bag tends to stay packed and it’s always ready to go. In the frenetic pace of the day, this bag will receive a nice beating as I rush from place to place. So when applying for the job of the Photomuse (my studio’s name) gear bag, your qualities had better be: spacious, portable, easy and strong. Good looking is always a bonus.
The McKinley was a hopeful player. I received a large number of dividers, a removable accessory bag that could be tied around my waist if desired, in addition to multiple compartments both inside and out. I could fit a 15” laptop in a soft pouch in the bag (or an optional hydration pack for those extra special weddings!) and there was a nifty little “wire port” that would allow headphones to pass through should I decide to turn this bag into a backpack.
The McKinley was a charm to customize to my tastes. The bag seems to be constructed very well (though I lost several of the nylon zipper pulls quickly), the size was decent and I managed to get in most of my gear. Once I began to fill in the outside compartments (batteries, chargers, card wallet and cords) I found that I was pretty stuffed and use of the inside compartments would not happen.
This bag is designed to be flexible which is a great thing. Its portability is from the added trolley that you can remove and thus turn it into a backpack when desired. The removable accessory bag can further be added onto a modular belt system. The concept is brilliant. The M-Rock’s interior is fantastic, the cushioning is thick. The flaw I found in it is because the bag is not a part of the trolley, once I had it filled up, the bag itself would slip away slightly from the trolley and I could not get it to stand upright, it kept tilting forward and almost falling on top of itself. The trolley aspect needs to be more sturdy and secure to support the weight inside of the bag.
Overall, this bag wouldn’t work for me on my wedding jobs, due to the way I like to work. The quick access to the lenses is nice, but I find myself switching between camera bodies and lenses often and I like to have quick access to the entire bag’s contents by opening one zippered compartment, not multiple ones. For a travel photographer, it might be your fit. It’s flexible and tough. When you are no longer in transit, remove your trolley, slip it onto your back, slide your tripod into the bungee cords on front and head on out! You can drink from a hydration pack while hiking with it on your back and you can hook into your tunes. What a way to tune out and focus in.
For specs and more information, be sure to check out M-Rock’s website at: www.m-rock.com.
♦ Upon graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Kristin went on to become the studio manager for the esteemed Magnum photojournalist, Elliot Erwitt. Under the tutelage of Elliott, Kristin acquired a more capacious understanding of the history of photography and of the unique and diverse contributions of those who define the field. Her work with Elliott also provided a forum from which to create and develop her own artistic style.
In 2002 Kristin founded Photomuse (www.photomuse.com), a fine art/documentary style wedding company. Kristin is an award-winning member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), a professional organization composed of photojournalists and wedding photographers from around the world as well as the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photography (AGWPJA) and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP).
Look for more articles from Kristin here on Picture-soup in the future.