I have always been a fan of the products that Mountainsmith makes because I believe they use quality materials and take the time to thoroughly plan their designs. The Mountainsmith Descent Camera Bag did not disappoint. It’s clear they did their research and listened to the needs and feedback of the consummate outdoor professional photographer, Andy Mann.
While not geared towards outdoor expeditions or the extreme backcountry use that you may associate with Andy Mann, the Descent Bag fills that niche of being the “walkabout” bag. The Descent is an especially great bag for travel, city walkabouts, small to moderate hikes and is just great as an all-around urban-use camera bag. This bag would be really nice for those into doing engagement shoots or shooting corporate events/weddings as the single-shoulder sling design allows you to quickly rotate the bag forward to access your camera/change lenses in a snap.
I really wish I had this bag in time for a recent trip over to Europe where I was out walking around cities all day long and definitely wanted to bring several lenses and have quick access to both my camera and alternate lenses. This is a bag I feel good about recommending to fellow photographers looking for a great urban/street/walk-about/event/engagement/portrait session bag.
This bag fits great, there is an ample amount of padding on both the shoulder strap and the back of the bag and the additional strap really helps to tighten things up to make sure the bag does not sway too much. I think every photographer I have met is a bit of a bag-geek and you can never have too many photo-bags. My previous bag to fill this purpose was a slightly older-generation LowePro Slingshot 202AW. While I have really enjoyed the LowePro bag the last few years, I feel this Mountainsmith Descent Bag has a slight edge in fit and distribution of weight, although it is almost the complete reverse to put on than the LowePro, which keeps throwing me through a loop at times.
Aside from struggling to put the bag on since it is the opposite of what I have grown accustomed to, I think this bag has better and more sturdy lens/compartment separators. I noticed my LowePro bag has sort of “saggy” internal dividers and it feels like the padding on the shoulder strap has “packed-out” a bit over about three years of use, so the Mountainsmith feels a bit more comfortable in comparison to me.
My initial impressions are this bag is built well with quality materials and appears to be ready for the long-haul. The bit of extra “beef” and padding to the frame/surrounds and internal compartments on this bag give me more confidence that my expensive glass is protected when I set this bag down at my feet in a coffee shop or restaurant. After having a few lenses get knocked just enough to throw out their focusing abilities, I have become a bit over-protective on where they live, and how my bags get set down.
I was always VERY conscious and gingerly with the LowePro Slingshot as there really isn’t that much external padding/protection for what’s inside. I am a Canon shooter, and I also like that I can easily fit a 70-200 2.8IS, 24-70 F2.8, 5D mk3 or 7D body and with a smaller lens or two (or a flash instead) with ease and the weight feels pretty good.
After a few hours walking around with the two bigger lenses and body in the LowePro Slingshot, my shoulder would start to feel it, but not so in this bag. To be fair, I think the shoulder padding on the LowePro Slingshot bag has packed out a bit over the years, but still, the weight distribution feels tighter and more even on this Descent Bag. The external zipper pocket is a bit larger than that on the LowePro and you can fit a few more filters and miscellaneous cleaning supplies/shutter releases etc.