Vanguard's new Alta bag range has something to suit any professional or enthusiast photographer's needs when it comes to carrying and transporting large amounts of kit on the go. We've had models from the Alta Fly, Alta Action, Alta Rise and Alta Sky collections in for test, to see how they all perform. In this review, we'll be looking at the following models in detail:
Vanguard Alta Action 70 tripod bag
Vanguard Alta Rise 33 shoulder bag
Vanguard Alta Rise 45 rucksack
Vanguard Alta Sky 51D large rucksack
Vanguard Alta Fly 48T rolling case
Vanguard Alta Action 70
The Alta Action 70 is the middle model in the series, with the Alta Action 60 and Alta Action 80 at either side of it in terms of size. Alta Action bags are advanced carrying tripod bags designed to protect Alta Pro tripods and heads. All Action bags have an Alta Link feature, which enables you to attach them to an Alta model rucksack, making it easy to carry all your kit and keep your hands free.
The Alta Action 70 can hold a 70cm tripod with head and accessories. It features an adjustable shoulder strap, two handles on the top and the Alta Link fixture, which is secured by Velcro. The bag is well padded, with a double zipped opening down the middle. Inside you'll find a velcro pocket which houses 2 straps that further secure the bag to a rucksack when using the Alta Link system.
- Holds up to a 70cm tripod with head and accessories
- Waterproof, heavy duty outer material
- Padded all over
- 3 ways of carrying - handles, shoulder strap and Alta Link fixture system for attaching to Alta rucksack
When unzipped the bag opens really wide and the yellow interior should make finding tripod attachments in the bag really easy. Vanguard say they placed the carrying handles for optimal balance when carrying your tripod around. The handles feel robust and strong enough to cope with heavier tripods. The shoulder strap allows you to carry it either over one shoulder or across the body. This is nice and versatile but a bit of padding might have been a benefit, as it can dig in when fully loaded. If you're intending to mostly carry the bag attached to a rucksack, then this won't be a problem for you.
The Vanguard Alta Action 70 is available for £39.99. This isn't cheap for a tripod bag but if you want to ensure your kit is in a safe, padded environment knowing that it's protected against the elements when not in use then it's worth that bit extra. The ability to attach the bag to an Alta rucksack is great too.
Vanguard Alta Rise 33
The Alta Rise 33 is the medium bag of 3 shoulder bags in the Rise series. The Alta Rise 28 and 38 are at either side of it. The bags feature a '+6' expansion/ contraction system allowing you to add 6cm storage width by using a zipper, whilst still keeping all kit protected. They also have the ability to attach to wheel on luggage handles for ease when traveling.
The Alta Rise 33 can fit a DSLR with up to a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, 3-4 extra lenses. There is also space for a flash, small accessories and a dedicated pocket for a 13-inch laptop.
On top of the closure flap is a zip giving you quick access to kit without having to lift it. On the front is a slimline zipped pocket for small accessories. There's a robust padded carry handle on top, and a padded adjustable shoulder strap that also features a grip, ideal for stopping it slipping. On the back is another slimline zipped pocket and a wide padded strip behind which you can slide the handle of a rolling case for ease.
Underneath the flap, there are a total of 6 padded pockets. In one you'll find the rain cover, and two are marked with a handy used/full and good to use memory card symbol to keep you organised and working smoothly.
In the main compartment, the padded camera section pulls out completely if you want to use the bag for other ventures. This is also handy for organising your equipment. There are 5 padded movable dividers secured by velcro. At the back of the main compartment is the dedicated padded laptop pocket.
Around the side of the bag is the expansion zip, which when fully undone gives you extra room for bulky kit. It's also useful for slimming the bag down when full. The bottom of the bag has a tough waterproof material and 4 chunky rubber feel to minimise wear when it's put down.
- Holds a DSLR with attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, plus 3-4 lenses, flash, 13-inch laptop and accessories
- Expansion system gives you 6cm extra width
- Fully removable padded camera interior
- Handy organisation pockets
- Rain cover
- Easy access zip on closure flap
- Well padded, grippy shoulder strap
- Can be attached to roller case
The padding on the back of the strip adds a layer of comfort when the bag is full and resting on your side, and the strap is really well padded and sits well on the shoulder thanks to the grip. Getting at your kit is made easier by the zip on top of the flap. The flap has elasticated sides, which is a nice touch for ensuring everything is kept dry when closed. The bag feels well made and everything is manufactured well. The expansion zip around the side is a nice touch if you feel like your kit is squeezed in. We also love the feel on the bottom for protecting against wear.
The Vanguard Alta Rise 33 is available for £109.99. The bag has a lot of features to offer and is well made, but this is still a high price that might put the bag out of reach for some. However if you will make use of the innovative features like the expansion zip and top zip for ease of access, it's well worth considering.
Vanguard Alta Rise 45
The Alta Rise 45 is the middle rucksack style bag in the range, between the Rise 43 sling bag and Rise 48 backpack. The bags feature the same +6 expansion system as the Alta Rise 33 shoulder bag above, giving an extra 6cm of room simply by undoing a zipper. There is easy side access for your kit as well as a safe storage concealed pocket on the back for external documents.
The Alta Rise 45 backpack is capable of fitting 2 Pro DSLR bodies, 4-5 extra lenses, flash and accessories. On the side there is an Alta Link system allowing you to attach an Alta Action tripod bag with neoprene pocket for the legs. Behind this there is a small zipped pocket.
The back of the bag has well-padded shoulder straps and back padding with breathing room. There is also a 'secret' zipped pocket for your wallet and other valuables.
On the opposite side is a zipped side pocket that allows you quick access into the main compartment. On the outside of this is a zipped raincover pocket. On the top of the bag is a robust, padded neoprene handle and 2 small zipped pockets for smaller accessories.
On the front there is a vertically zipped pocket that could be used for a tablet. Surrounding this is a u-shaped zip which gives you the extra 6cm of room should you need it.
The main compartment zip goes right the way around the bag, opening like a drawbridge and allowing you maximum access to organise and stow your kit. There are 2 clipped straps at either side to stop it being fully undone while on the move. This is a good security precaution.
On the inside of the flap there is a padded pocket for a tablet and 13 inch laptop. The bottom of the main compartment is reserved for your camera gear while there is a top section ideal for personal effects. There are also 2 elasticated mesh pockets here for used and good to use memory cards.
- Holds up to 2 DSLR bodies, 4-5 lenses, flash, personal effects, laptop and tablet
- Ability to attach tripod to side
- Quick access pocket to main compartment
- 6cm expansion ability
- Fully opening main compartment
- Rain cover included
The bag has a very inconspicuous design and is deceptively spacious. The ability to access the main compartment in a variety of ways is handy, as is the ability to attach a tripod to the side using the Alta Link system. There are plenty of little pockets for your smaller accessories - so many in fact that you might struggle to remember where you put some things!
The ability to expand the bag if needed is a nice touch as are the hidden pocket and clips to stop the main compartment being opened fully - these add peace of mind. The back padding is really comfy making the bag ideal for a day out with lots of pro kit.
The Alta Rise 45 is available for £119.99. For the amount of space you get and quality of padding and movable sections, this is a very good price. It has lots of features that go above and beyond a normal photography rucksack. Lots of zipped pockets might lead you to misplace things but as long as you're organised this shouldn't be a problem.
Vanguard Alta Sky 51D
The Vanguard Alta Sky 51D is the middle bag in a range of 5 rucksacks designed to re-invent the photography rucksack and present max versatility for modern tech. The bag can be transformed to use as a photo backpack or an everyday backpack simply, and there is the ability for the bags to hold a drone, too. No matter what your adventure, the bag should be able to adapt to your needs.
The Alta Sky 51D can fit a max of 2 Pro DSLRs with attached 70-200mm lenses, 3-4 lenses, a flash and accessories, or a drone with all related accessories, and a CSC camera with additional lens. There are several different carrying solutions that can be implemented, depending on the ratio of personal to photography kit you want to acheive.
On the top of the bag there is a large padded carry handle and a zip giving access to the top of the bag. On the inside of the lid there is a large zipped pocket and plastic see through pocket. On top of the lid there is another zipped pocket.
On one side there is a large neoprene pocket ideal for a water bottle and a strip allowing you to attach a tripod bag via the Alta Link system. Behind all this is a zipped side pocket with further pocket inside. On the opposite side there is a zipped flap giving access to the main compartment and featuring used/good to use memory card pockets. There is a zip on the outer flap too for small accessories.
At the back there are 2 well-padded straps and a padded waist belt. It features padded foam sections for breathability and back support. There is also a strip for putting the bag on a rolling case handle. It is from the back that you gain access to the 15 inch zipped laptop/tablet compartment and gain full access to the main compartment via a robust zip. There are lots of movable velcro dividers which are well padded and there are small pockets on the walls for little bits of kit. The bag is split into thirds by large horizontal padded dividers but these can be removed if you wish.
On the front of the bag there is a pouch that unclips from both sides at the top. It houses a rain cover and can be used to house a drone or, when folded down, becomes the pouch for tripod legs - there are straps underneath the flap to secure one. There are also 2 vertical side zipped pockets behind this. Around the bottom is a final zip giving access to the final third of the bag which will be ideal for stowing lenses. This can be secured with 2 clips for extra peace of mind. The bottom is coated in a tough waterproof material.
- Very versatile, can house 2 DSLRs with 70-200mm plus 4-5 extra lenses
- Can house drone
- 3 main access points
- Side access
- 15 inch laptop pocket and tablet pocket
- Adapts to your needs
- Well padded all over
The Alta Sky 51D is a very large bag and care may need to be taken in order not to overload it with kit too heavy to carry. We love the versatility of the bag and the fact that it can be used for other things as well as photography by adapting it. The 3-entry modular design is also great for keeping things organised.
The Alta Sky 51D is available for £249.99. This is a premium price, but you do get a premium bag that's ready for whatever you can throw at it in terms of kit or adventure. If you need a large rucksack then the Alta Sky 51D is a versatile choice.
Vanguard Alta Fly 48T
The Alta Fly 48T is the smallest of 3 rolling cases in the Alta Fly series. They are designes with professional photographers in mind who have to travel from location to location. They are designed to be airline carry-on or check-in friendly and can also be transformed into simple suitcases for your holidays too.
The Alta Fly 48T can hold 1-2 Pro DSLR bodies and 5-7 lenses up to 300mm f/4 as well as accessories, 15 inch laptop, tripod and tablet. It can also be used to carry a drone with all related accessories.
On top there is a robust padded carry handle and on the back you'll find a telescopic pulling handle with rubberised underside for better grip. It has a sturdy plastic surround. There's also a plastic sleeve for personal information in case the case is lost.
On one side you'll find a clip, strip and neoprene pocket enabling you to attach a tripod to the case using the Alta Link system. On the other side there is a robust carrying handle for carrying the case on its side.
On the front are two removable clips to secure accessories to the front of the bag. Behind there are 2 small vertical zipped pockets one of which houses the weatherproof cover. Behind this is a large zipped padded pocket with another zipped pocket and stationery pockets inside. There's also used/good to use memory card pockets.
Behind this is the large double zip giving access to the main compartment. There are clips to stop the flap falling fully open. On the inside fo the flap there is a zipped padded laptop and tablet compartment. Camera kit is shielded by a zipped mesh, stopping lenses falling out when the bag is open. Undo this and you have access to the padded kit compartment with movable padded dividers. The whole padded kit holder comes out, if you want to use the bag as a normal suitcase for travelling.
Vanguard say the bag is carry-on compatible, but do make sure you check your airline's requirements and weigh the bag to make sure it's within the weight restriction before travelling. The bag has two smooth rubber wheels and two plastic rests on the bottom.
- Rolling case holds 1-2 Pro DSLR bodies, up to 7 lenses, accessories and a 15-inch laptop/tablet
- Rain cover included
- Combination lock included
- Fully removable padded camera insert
- Ability ton fasten tripod to side/front
The Alta Fly 48T runs smoothly and the pull handle extends to a good height for taller people. Accessing the bag is simple and the inclusion of a combination lock for peace of mind is a nice touch. The interior is nice and bright and we like how the camera insert can be removed, as well as the layer of mesh infront of the main compartment to stop things falling out when the bag is open. The bag is quite heavy, at over 4kg, which might limit the amount of kit you can pack if you want to take the case on as hand luggage.
The Alta Fly 48T is available for £249.99. This is a considerable investment however if you want a robust case that will protect your gear and has the versatility to be used for other applications, then this is a good choice.