Review: iNrigo waterproof backpack goes to extreme lengths to keep your cameras dry
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the iNrigo waterproof camera backpack is in production and shipping – and when we say waterproof, we mean it. This pressure-equalized bad boy can be totally submerged with a ton of gear on board, and it's even got a Bluetooth humidity monitor to warn you if water's getting in.
It's fun just to turn the iNrigo over in your hands and take a look at all the thought that's gone into making this thing supremely waterproof. There's the tough, double-sided TPU outer material, which looks and feels marine grade. No stitching penetrates the outer shell, everything's stuck on with adhesive and rock solid. It's waterproof to IP78 standards, meaning you can fully submerge it in a meter (3.3 feet) of water for half an hour – and indeed, after giving ours a good dunking and a solid sit under the shower, not a drop got through.
Then there's the weird lip-locking top closure, a multi-layered, oiled-up, interlocking series of grooves that press together like a zip-lock bag to provide a completely waterproof top closure. It actually took us a while to work out how to open the thing, which you do by pulling a pair of tough loops toward each other to cause the seal to buckle and release.
There's the pressure equalization valve, which is handy if you're taking it on a plane – but which can also be used as a valve to pump the bag up and make it floatable if you're out in wading or swimming territory – or just to make it a bit more shockproof.
Then there's the onboard Bluetooth humidity monitor, which constantly checks humidity levels inside the bag and alerts you via a smartphone app if things start getting moist. So even if the tough, super-repellent exterior of the iNrigo fails to completely keep water out, it stands ready to beep at you and warn you that your gear is in jeopardy.
It holds a pretty decent amount of camera gear, too. Our version is the Pro, which comes with two inner camera bags – one that seems to be a basic storage spot for lenses, and the other that comes with a shoulder strap. These inner bags don't match the iNrigo's outer shell for quality as they're a bit haphazardly put together, with some wonky stitching and odd choices like a square lid on the rounded lens storage case. It's odd, in a package that's otherwise so tightly executed, but there's room for plenty of gear. Two full size bodies and three or four extra lenses with a flash and assorted odds and sods should be no problem, plus there's a dedicated large laptop sleeve and a few little zip pockets for batteries, cards and the like.
As a backpack, it's been nicely thought out, with chunky padding to keep the air circulating on your back, adjustable length shoulder straps and a generous padded waistband. There's strapping for tripods, bed rolls and even an X-shaped spot to strap a Phantom-sized drone to the outside of the pack. Which is all fine and good, but not very waterproof. In fact, knowing how sensitive those things can be to moisture, vibration and banging against things, I don't think I'd ever carry a drone that way. Far better to get something smaller like the Mavic 2 Pro and stick it in the lens container.
It's comfy to wear, even loaded up, and since the bag itself doesn't have much of a structure without the inner bags in it, you can pretty much fold it flat for storage.
In terms of complaints, we only have a couple, apart from those cheap-feeling inner bags. Firstly, we're Android users, and the Android app isn't up to scratch yet. On our Pixel XL, there were a lot of botched connections and app crashes. As a result, we couldn't test the humidity or proximity warnings. The MicroNovelty team tells us it's a work in progress and the iPhone app is a lot better.
Secondly, the oiled closure mechanism is the obvious point of failure for this bag's vaunted waterproofing. If you're out there in the wild, pulling cameras in and out of this bag all day, you have to be super careful not to allow any dirt or grit to come anywhere near the opening. Close it with a bit of dirt in between those lips, and you've got a likely leak. Don't leave this bag sitting open. Not indoors, not outdoors, not anywhere. Take care of this seal and it'll take care of you.
Finally, it's very, very yellow. And while that makes sense in the most extreme conditions this thing was designed for, it does look pretty rude when you're just wandering around the street. Some other color options would be welcome!
All in all, we've never dealt with a camera bag that puts such a priority on waterproofing, and the iNrigo's exterior is so well executed that we're happy to recommend it for photography (or other electronics) work in very wet conditions. And if you've already got your own shoulder bags to put inside, you can easily upgrade from the standard inner bags.
The iNrigo sells for US$299. Check out a video below.
Product page: MicroNovelty