In hushed tones, I admit that I am a photographer who is not addicted to bags. At least…that used to be true.
Unfortunately for me, I had to replace my go-to day bag recently, forcing me into uncharted waters. What I found there is the best camera bag I have ever encountered: the Wotancraft Scout.
Setting the Stage
Before I talk about the Scout, I want to explain where I’m coming from with this review.
For the past six years or so, I have used one bag: the Think Tank Retrospective. It’s kind of drab looking, if I’m being honest, but it’s sturdy, comfortable, weather-proof, versatile, and unobtrusive. When I got more camera gear and needed more space, I surveyed the bag landscape, shrugged…and bought a bigger version of the same bag.
Everything began to unravel when I bought the iPad Pro. My iPad goes with me everywhere, and now that it’s bigger it can no longer fit into my Retrospective 10. This meant carrying the much larger Retrospective 50 with me as my daily carry, but with only an iPad Pro, my X100T, and some cables in it most of the time, the bag was more empty than not.
Having a massive messenger flopping around like a sad blimp is not a great experience.
Instead of defaulting to the intermediary Retrospective size, I decided it was time to make a more informed decision. At around the same time, an opportunity arose to try the Wotancraft Scout, a bag I had never seen from a company I had never heard of before. Serendipity to the rescue, once again!
That was a couple of months ago, and I’ve been carrying the Scout with me every day since. It’s magnificent. It’s annoying. It’s time to explain why.
Let’s start at my first baseline criteria for bag usage: it has to be well made.
From the moment I pulled it out of its canvas bag shipping clothes, I felt the difference that buying a premium bag gets you. Mottled grey waxed canvas meets vegetable tanned leather in a bond sealed by tight, precise stitching.
Sheepskin trim on the bottom edges match the cowhide strap and fasteners. The main compartment is sealed with bronzed YKK zippers with a rust-proof coating, and the interior microfibre lining is soft and free from lint-gathering fuzz.
And there’s not a trace of velcro on it.
I notice an attention to detail in its construction that’s very encouraging; it feels like the kind of bag that will last for years.
The Scout is not one of those bags that has inserts and pockets jammed into every nook. It’s almost minimal in its layout, focused on uncomplicated utility.
The main compartment holds either a standard microfibre-lined insert, or an optional fully waterproof and shock-resistant one with removable pockets. Both include customizable dividers to help separate cameras and lenses in the compartment.
If you remove the insert entirely, you’re left with a comfortable amount of space for whatever non-camera gear you need to take with you, making the Scout more versatile than some dedicated camera bags.
The back edge of the interior also features a padded pocket for your tablet, which can fit an iPad Air or smaller quite easily. The iPad Pro does not fit into this pocket, but I realized that it fits perfectly into the main compartment space, which is where I’ve been keeping it.
The front features two relatively compact pockets for cables, chargers, notebooks, smartphones, or other similarly sized items. These pockets expand a bit to contain larger items, and are held closed by strong snap buttons.
The only other storage area is a basic sleeve on the back that can hold some documents or other thin items. Instead of a zipper, this pocket is closed by pulling the leather belt out and tucking the canvas underneath. This covers the opening entirely and is surprisingly snug.
There are no side pockets, tripod holders, or pen slots. Wotancraft is clearly more aligned with ONA than with Lowepro and the like as far as their bag design philosophy, and having experienced both I have come to appreciate the simpler structure of the Scout.
While it’s not an especially large bag, the Scout is still capable of carrying a surprising amount of stuff.
My usual loadout of X100T + iPad Pro + accessories fits effortlessly with room to spare, as you’d expect, but I also experimented with some heavier payloads.
With the 24-105mm ƒ/4L mounted, I was able to fit a Canon 5D MKIII in the insert with enough space left over for my card wallet, a 50mm ƒ/1.4, and my Kenko macro extension tubes as well. I could probably squeeze a Speedlight in as well, but it would start to get a little uncomfortable trying to squish the iPad Pro in behind the insert.
For basic setups, mirrorless kits, and your normal accessories, this is perfectly adequate, but by no means should you expect this to fit a complicated DSLR setup.
The Way You Look Tonight
Left to my own devices, my awareness of fashion is limited to whether or not it’s comfortable and covers the right bits.
Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things and try to look sharp, but in this context I’ve never given much thought to the way a camera bag looks. The Wotancraft has opened my eyes to the world of bags that not only function well but also look stylish, and it’s a world I’m happy to become a citizen of.
I used to think it was a joke or marketing maneuver when reviews claimed that people on the street asked about a product. This notion was shattered some weeks ago when I had someone on the street ask me about the Wotancraft. For real.
It’s flattering, and it speaks to the obvious aesthetic appeal of the Scout, but I was kind of annoyed. I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with a bag that’s so…noticeable. I don’t mind it so much here at home, but it’s definitely not a selling point for the kind of shooting I like to do when I’m traveling.
Maybe it’s just something I have to get used to carrying a nicer bag.
The Great Outdoors
Speaking of traveling, one of the most important things I consider when looking at gear, including bags, is how resistant it is to the elements. I don’t often shoot in difficult conditions, but it happens, and I’d rather not have to worry about my equipment when it does.
The Wotancraft Scout isn’t explicitly designed for heavy-duty weatherproofing, but the waxed canvas does repel rain and the optional shock-resistant insert is fully waterproof up to the zipper. Of course, that doesn’t do much for anything not housed in the insert (i.e. my iPad) but it’s good to know that this bag has a way to tackle adverse conditions if need be.
Having said that, I miss the rain cover that comes with my Think Tank bags. It’s not very stylish, but the fact that it envelops the entire bag means that you can rest easy even in a heavy downpour.
Realistically, that level of durability isn’t a reasonable expectation for a bag like the Scout. It’s intended as a daily carry, versatile bag that’s got just enough weather resistance to handle the odd bit of rain or snow.
Over the past couple of months, mine has faced heavy snow, freezing rain, ice, dirt, and sleet with no issues whatsoever—my equipment stayed snug and dry and the bag’s exterior looks almost new. I say almost because any fabric will show some signs of aging, and the Wotancraft Scout’s is no exception. The canvas and leather combo ages gracefully though, revealing itself as character rather than wear.
The only problem I encountered was the disappearance of one of the metallic fastening nubs that the front Y straps attach to.
After the first few days, I mostly stopped fastening the front flap, allowing easier access to the main compartment (which I do keep zipped, for safety) so I have no idea how it fell off or when, but one day I realized it was gone. Ironically, I prefer the bag without it so I’m tempted to remove the second one as well.
With the little bump gone, the end of the Y strap slots much more easily into the leather loop, and while it’s not fastened there I didn’t find it problematic, especially since the interior stays zipped shut anyway so nothing can fall out. Either way, I reached out to let Wotancraft know about the damage and they had a replacement stud (and some glue) in the mail almost immediately—that’s quality support.
After years of familiarity, I expected to miss my usual Retrospective.
To Wotancraft’s great credit, I didn’t.
The Scout not only fits everything I need it to on a daily basis, including the iPad Pro, but it does so while being more compact, more versatile, and infinitely more fashionable.
If I know I’m going to be caught in the rain, I can switch out the normal insert for the shock-resistant, waterproof one. Between the front pockets, the inner ones, the back sleeve, and the insert I have enough compartments to organize my things sensibly.
Setting aside obvious things like carrying more gear, I have yet to encounter a set of circumstances where I need something the Scout doesn’t provide.
After carrying it almost literally every day for months, I feel confident recommending the Wotancraft Scout to anyone who’s after something comfortable, flexible, and fashionable. It has effortlessly become my favourite bag — the one I reach for first when I’m walking out the door.
Each bag comes with a 3-year free repair guarantee, and while it doesn’t come cheap, you certainly get what you pay for with Wotancraft. The Scout’s handcrafted build, top-notch materials, and stylish design set it firmly in the top tier of bags.