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Vanguard Heralder 38 Messenger Bag Review

We review the brand new Heralder 38 Messenger bag from Vanguard, with removable laptop and camera sections, plus clever features like a removable pouch and tripod holder.

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Vanguard Heralder 38

The Vanguard Heralder Messenger Bag range is a new series of "intelligent" bags (my word, not theirs), and gives you the ability to use it to store your camera gear, laptop, and accessories, all in the one bag, OR (and here's where the intelligent bit starts) you can use the laptop section, and accessories pouch separately. You can also use the messenger bag without the insides, making it much more compact and lightweight, and use it even when you're not out and about photographing things. That's what bags should give you, versatility, and the ability to customise it to your needs, as they change from day to day or trip to trip. Why should you need to buy a specific bag for a specific trip, when with a little ingenuity and clever thinking, with this bag you can simply reconfigure it for whatever you want.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Features

Vanguard Heralder 38 Closed

All of the Heralder messenger bags will hold at least a pro DSLR, at least 3-4 lenses, a laptop (of varying size depending on the model of bag), and all of them come with a laptop sleeve, and accessory pouch. The main camera section can be removed from the bag so you can use the messenger bag with or without the camera gear, without having to take all your lenses and cameras out individually.

Key Features

  • Laptop sleeve can be used separately in another bag
  • Secure Shoulder Strap System
  • Bonus Accessory Pouch
  • Built in Memory Card Holders
  • Trolley Holder
  • Rain Cover
  • Compatible with Vanguard ICS Harness and other accessories
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Weatherproof
The Heralder 38 - this will hold: a 15 inch widescreen laptop, plus 2 DSLR bodies, 5 (Bigger) Lenses, Flash, Charger(s), Light Meter, Phone, Memory Cards, Batteries, Tripod and more. (max load 16kg)

The Heralder 33 - this will hold: a 13 inch laptop, plus 2 DSLR bodies, 5 Lenses, Flash, Charger(s), Light Meter, Phone, Memory Cards, Batteries, Tripod and more. (max load 10.5kg)

The Heralder 28 - this will hold: a 10 inch laptop, plus 1 DSLR body, 3 Lenses, Flash, Charger(s), Light Meter, Phone, Memory Cards, Batteries, Tripod and more. (max load 6.5kg)

Vanguard Heralder 38 Handling

Vanguard Heralder 38

With velcro fastenings holding the laptop sleeve, and camera sections in place, it's easy to reconfigure the bag and remove these parts if needed. The memory card pockets (of which there are 4) are securely fastened with velcro and are quite tight so that when memory cards are in there they shouldn't escape.

The bag also gives you quick access to the memory card pockets, or cameras / lenses through a zip on the top / outside - this should make getting a fresh memory card or changing lenses / camera bodies very quick without the need to open the whole top of the bag.    

Vanguard Heralder 38 Raincover

A rain cover is included in a back zipped section, this has velcro seams on the back and elastic like a fitted blanket, this means you can cover the bag in rain and know that it's on tightly. The bag will also attach to trolley handles, or other travelling suitcases with wheels and handles. If you put your hand under the front pocket, from the bottom, you can then pull out a neatly hidden tripod holder, with tough rubber material to stop the tripod from sliding out, and a central velcro strap wraps around the tripod holding it in position. This can be clipped back onto the bag with adjustable straps to allow for different size tripods. Also very clever - and if you don't want to use this, just slip it back into it's pocket and you'd never know it was there.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Back

An impressive shoulder strap with a curved design and gel filled cushioning attaches to the bag with strong metal clips, and the shoulder padding has a rubberised section to stop the bag slipping from your shoulder. There's also a "hidden" documents section with zip, that is obscured from view by the laptop sleeve, useful for important documents like passport(s), and flight tickets, etc. The front of the bag, on the inside features pockets for pens, and a see through pouch. On the left is holes for attaching to certain trolley bags. On the right is a neoprene stretchy pouch useful for keeping extra things that you want quick access to (such as battery chargers, drinks bottles, etc).

To finish off, the top features a paddled carrying handle, with attached contact information label. The bottom of the bag features a tough waterproof material, and fabric strap running across the middle for additional strength.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Performance

Vangaurd Heralder 38 Insides

The main camera holding section is extremely well padded with three dividing sections held in place with velcro, allowing you to change the position. These are split in half by smaller orange padded dividers that can also be repositioned. We managed to fit in the following: Olympus E-3 Body, Pentax K-7 Body, Kit lens, Olympus 8mm fisheye, 18-180mm, 12-60mm, 50-200mm lenses, plus FL-50 Flash.

A strap will attach to the shoulder strap, with a clip on one end, and a fastener (tough metal clip) at the other end so that you can secure additional items to the bag.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Quick Access

The main opening is clipped to the front, as well as being closed with a zip. Alternatively you can open the top zip for quick access to lenses, memory cards, or whatever else you've decided to put in the camera bag.

The accessory pouch could be used for a Canon Powershot G10 sized camera, or an Olympus PEN with pancake lens. Although I suspect the best use of it would be for battery chargers, as you don't really want the metal prongs on plugs scratching any of your expensive equipment in the bag.

Value For Money

Finding a messenger style bag that holds as much camera equipment is a difficult task. Have a look at our complete guide to camera bags for more ideas of what's available. Priced at £180, the Vanguard Heralder 38 is at the more expensive end for camera bags, but provides excellent versatility, and a number of unique features. The Heralder 28 is available for £120, while The Heralder 33 will be available for £150.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Verdict

When I started this review, I said that this bag was "intelligent" and while it doesn't actually feature A.I like the cars in iRobot, it almost does. It seems to know what you want, and everything just falls into place intuitively, for example, you don't need to read any instructions to know how to use the bag, and opening the top zip gives quick access to what you want, most likely a fresh memory card, or a different lens. The bag knows that you want your laptop to be held in a padded case, but that sometimes you'd like to take your laptop out of your bag, but keep it protected in the padding. The bag also knows that a pouch would be really handy, as you don't want your laptop power or battery charger plugs scratching any of your equipment, and with them being in a pouch, if you do decide to take the laptop or camera out of the bag, then it makes it easy to bring the chargers with you, just in case you need them.
The Vanguard Heralder 38 provides an extremely versatile bag giving you excellent protection for all of your gear.

Vanguard Heralder 38 Pros
Removable laptop sleeve
Useful accessory / camera pouch
Really versatile / clever
High quality fabrics and padding
Stylish / black / orange / grey colours
Gel padded shoulder strap
Holds a lot of gear!

Vanguard Heralder 38 Cons
Inner camera compartment could have featured handles to aid removing it from the bag
High price


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Paul Morgan 18 19.4k 6 England
Who in there right mind is going to want messenger style bag that holds a lot of gear, defeats the object Smile

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Is this the same bag as the "up rise messenger 38" sold in America? The up rise messenger 38 listed on B&H Photo web site does not have the orange stripe or interior, but it looks the same.
No, it's similar but different in how much it can hold:
Have a look at the Tenba messenger bags. Much cheaper and just as good.

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