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Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review

We've been putting the rugged but stylish VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack to the test from Vanguard which features space for a hydration wallet, USB-A port and plenty of room for photography gear.


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Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack
 

 

Quick Verdict

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack might make you think of long walks in the countryside but it's also at home in the city or on short walks around woodland closer to home. It's comfortable, camera gear is well protected and there are some clever additions such as a built-in USB-A port, space for a water wallet, a spare accessory pouch and a camera kit compartment that can be removed for times you just want a backpack. 

+ Pros

  • Perfect size for those who walk with not much kit
  • Well constructed
  • Comfortable
  • Secure
  • Removable inner camera kit bag
  • Handy accessories such as the USB-A port and water wallet pocket
  • Extra pouch for accessories 

- Cons

  • We currently don't have any! 

 

The Vanguard VEO Active Series is a range of backpacks from Vanguard which are designed for photographers who trek, enjoy long walks in the landscape or generally spend quite a bit of time outdoors. Depending on your needs, the backpacks are available in a range of sizes and on test, we have the smaller VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack (in grey) that's specifically made with mirrorless cameras in mind. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Features

The VEO Active 42M Backpack is a 17-litre backpack that has room for a mirrorless camera or small DSLR along with 3-4 lenses that can be up to a 70-200mm lens length in size. There's also room for two tripods along with a 13" laptop, 10" tablet and accessories such as SD cards can be stored in a pouch. As we've come to expect from photography backpacks, the top section can be used for everyday items, or to squeeze even more photography gear in, and there are multiple pockets, too. 

Inside one of the pockets, you'll find a USB interface port (also seen on the Vanguard VEO Adaptor R48 GY) so you can charge your electronic devices while walking and there's also somewhere to store a water pouch which you can connect to the long plastic drinking tube that's secured into the bag. 

For times you don't want to use the backpack for photography, you can remove the inner camera kit bag and use the backpack as a day bag and when you are carrying your kit, you won't have a hard time as it features a well-padded ergonomic harness system and a padded back that's designed to circulate air so you don't get too hot. 

As we've come to expect from Vanguard, the VEO Active 42M is constructed from a high-quality, water-resistant material with waterproof zips and a rain cover is supplied, too. 

We have the grey version on test but the backpack is also available in green as well as in 3 other size options. 

VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Features:

  • 17-litre capacity 
  • Room for 1 mirrorless camera and up to 3-4 lenses (70-200mm max length)
  • Space for a 13" laptop and 10" tablet
  • Carry up to two tripods
  • Rear kit access for security
  • Daypack top section
  • Removable kit section for conversion to a day bag
  • USB interface port
  • A water pouch can be added
  • Multiple pockets and an extra pouch for accessories
  • Constructed from water-resistant material
  • Dimensions: 270x190x440mm
  • Weight: 2KG

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Handling & Performance

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack
 

A bit like the wheel, you may think there's not much you can do to a camera bag to improve it but Vanguard seems to be able to do this with every release of a new range. The VEO Active 42M Backpack, and the rest of the range, combine features we've seen on previous Vanguard bags into one design that also features the well-made materials and fasteners we've come to expect from Vanguard. 

Specifically looking at the VEO Active 42M Backpack we have in for review, it's designed for those who enjoy longer photo walks but don't have that much kit to take with them. It's a rather compact bag that will comfortably house a mirrorless camera or small DSLR with a few lenses or you can refigure the interior dividers to make room for different kit. We'll return to looking at the inner part of the main compartment shortly but thought it was worthwhile explaining what else makes the VEO Active 42M great for walking and that's the added extras such as the pocket for a water pouch/reservoir so you can keep hydrated while moving and the USB-A port that allows kit to be charged while out-and-about (power bank and cables not included) that sits tidily in a top/side pocket. There's also top access to a daypack section where you can keep all of your bits you need quick access to that aren't necessarily for photography and the well-padded ergonomic harness system and padded back make the backpack comfortable to carry on long journeys. There are also waist/chest straps (the waist belt can be tucked away when not needed so it won't hang down and annoy you when walking) that just make the backpack more comfortable to wear when it's full of kit and the padded, adjustable shoulder straps mean there's not cutting into your shoulders. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack
 

There are, what looks like, a lot of straps but they all have a purpose and you can tell Vanguard has put a lot of thought into where they should go and why. The same goes for pockets and extra space as Vanguard's worked hard to cram as much usable storage space as possible onto the bag which includes small elasticated pockets on the straps which fit a smartphone or even snacks to keep you fueled while walking. They've even provided a detachable pouch for 200mm lens (or water bottle) and a pouch to organise accessories such as SD cards, cables and batteries. As you have a pouch for a water bottle, you can clip this to one of the many exterior straps and leave the hydration pocket free for even more accessories such as batteries and other things you need to hand. 

You probably won't need two tripods but if you do, there's room to carry one on the side and one on the back of the backpack. Personally, I preferred the side-mounted option but this is just a personal thing. 

As well as trekking/walking, the Vanguard VEO Active 42M would also be great for travel as it will fit in an overhead locker (always check with your airline before travelling) and doesn't weigh that much so won't add to your weight limit too badly. The main access to your camera gear is via the back, too, which means opportunist thieves won't be able to open zips and gain access to your camera as it's safely sat against your back. There's also a rear pocket which would be great for keeping cash and your passport safe while travelling to-and-from your holiday location. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack
 

You can access the main bag compartment from a front/side zip but this is more useful for when you're using the backpack as a daypack rather than a camera bag which you can do by removing the inner camera compartment. The insert bag is a great design feature we are seeing more and more in various camera bags and it keeps your cameras/lenses safe and secure on the move as well as at home when you don't need your equipment in the bag. The top lid of the insert bag folds back so it can tuck under itself so you can have it open for quick access to camera kit or you can zip it up, giving you the peace of mind that your kit is safely stored behind two zipper sections. If you do have a laptop in and a full bag of camera kit, popping the cover back under the inner kit bag can be tight but it is possible. 

Another section that folds is the top part of the bag where day items can be stored when using the backpack for photography. When not in use, you can fold it and secure it in place with a clip making the backpack slightly more compact and much neater then when you need to pack your suncream and spare bananas, you simply unclick the clip and you have more space to play with. 

On top is also a grab handle for when you need to quickly pick up the backpack and a strap on the rear will secure it to a roller case. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack
 

As you can remove the inner camera compartment, commuters whose hobby is photography will also find the bag useful as they can keep the inner case at home during the week and use it to carry their laptop etc. to and from work then put the camera case back in at the weekend. As the main access point is on the rear, it also means the contents are also more secure in busy locations and as it's quite slim, it won't take up too much room on a busy train or bus. 

Comfort-wise, the VEO Active 42M feels well balanced when worn and the padding, as well as the chest/waist straps, definitely help distribute weight. There's also a built-in aluminium frame which is designed to help further protect your kit as well as your spine and it does help keep you upright while walking. 

For wetter days, there's a rain cover to protect the bag but the VEO Active series is made from nylon which Vanguard says is weather and tear-resistant and there are waterproof zips used throughout, too. You can actually feel how well-made the VEO Active 42M is when you pick it up with strong stitching and well-made materials used throughout. It does feel and look like it could take a hammering with the words 'professionally practical' summing its design up quite well. All of the straps, extra pouches and pockets also make the VEO Active 42M a very flexible bag that can be configured to your personal taste which will make it appealing to a wider range of photographers. Want your water bottle on the outside? You can, just attach the provided pouch or you could even use it to house another lens should you need one. 

Overall, the VEO Active 42M is a great photography backpack that will also be useful for commuting and travelling abroad. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Review: Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack

 

Value For Money

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack is priced at £149.99 which, for its size, is on par with others available on the market but we do think you get a lot more features built into the VEO Active 42M when you compare it with its competitors. 

If you want to carry more kit, the VEO Active Range features a range of sizes while backpacks by other manufacturers that are similar in size to the VEO Active 42M include the Tenba Shootout 14L Slim Backpack priced at £175 which has a removable insert and will hold 1-2 mirrorless cameras with 3-5 lenses or there's the Manfrotto Pro Light Backloader Backpack M priced at £144 which has a customisable interior but it's not removable. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Verdict

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack is a multi-functioning camera backpack that offers just enough space to allow you to be versatile with your photography kit without needing to carry a large, bulky camera bag around with you. It's very well made and offers so many pockets, ways of securing accessories to it and pouches that you can really make the bag your own in terms of how you carry your photography kit. You have easy access pouches for water, snacks and your smartphone while your cameras and lenses are securely stored away in a well-made inner bag that can be removed so you can transform the VEO Active 42M into a just as useful day backpack. 

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack is well made, comfortable to wear and, in all honesty, we can't really find anything wrong with it. 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Pros

  • Perfect size for those who walk with not much kit
  • Well constructed
  • Comfortable
  • Secure
  • Removable inner camera kit bag
  • Handy accessories such as the USB-A port and water wallet pocket
  • Extra pouch for accessories 

 

Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Cons

  • We currently don't have any! 

Features 5/5
Handling5/5
Performance5/5
Value4.5/5
Overall Verdict

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Vanguard VEO Active 42M Trekking Backpack Specifications

ManufacturerVanguard
Bag type
StyleBackpack
MaterialNylon
Dimensions
Weight200g
Width270mm
Height440mm
Depth190mm

View Full Product Details

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