If you’re a frequent visitor to this site, you know I’m somewhat of a big fan of all things Crumpler. They make some of the best bags for carrying all kinds of things like cameras and computers. They came out with a line of luggage a few months ago and I was very curious to check them out.
I was particularly interested in the Cork & Fork which is a carry-on bag with a removable camera backpack inside. It was like getting two bags in one…although they are quite pricey, they are in line with the price of their other bags.
The Cork & Fork is basically the Period Charmer bag plus an innovative backpack (which doesn’t appear to be sold separately) meant for carrying camera gear that can be removed from the main bag.
I actually bought the Cork & Fork awhile ago but didn’t have the opportunity to use it on a trip until recently during the holidays.
Most airlines allow two carry-on bags…usually a ‘proper’ carry-on bag (for the overheard compartment) along with a laptop, camera or similar bag that can be stowed under the seat in front of you. As you can see in the photo to the right, the two bags didn’t quite fit into the guide at the airport but I never had an issue from the flight crew onboard. The main bag easily went into the overhead compartment and the camera backpack fit perfectly under the seat in front.
Thanks to a baggage mishap I had awhile ago, I’ve been extra weary of checking anything in my bags except the basics like clothes. I always try to carry on any gear I want to have on a trip.
As you can see, the camera section can carry a lot of gear. It has a large main section along with a small zippered section with a mesh cover so you can easily see inside. This little section is perfect for batteries, memory cards, cords and other small items. For those curious, this shot contains my Nikon D90 with battery grip and 50mm lens attached, SB-600 speedlight, SB-400 speedlight, Kodak Zi6 HD camera, 18-105mm lens, 10.5mm Fisheye lens, Lensbaby Composer, Rocket blower, Gorillapod and Ultrapod mini-tripods, wide/tele lens adaptors, an Airport Express, Belkin travel power adaptor, Sanyo Eneloop + Nikon battery chargers plus a pile of smaller gear in the mesh compartment.
The larger main section is divided into three areas that can be customized with the included ‘snake’ dividers and removable velcro tabs. Unlike other bags, the fact that the velcro can be moved around makes it really easy to customize the layout of the bag for all your gear. It actually took a number of attempts playing with all the options to find a layout that made the most sense for my stuff. The backpack has a number of external pockets and straps for attaching tripods or whatever to it. One external pocket contains a rain cover for the backpack and the other is large enough to fit my Macbook Air or a magazine or two. Not sure if a regular Macbook would fit.
As the backpack section is meant to fit inside the main bag, I’ve found the backpack straps to be a little on the small side and not as comfortable as the other Crumpler dedicated backpacks are to wear. But for lugging around an airport, they work great. The bag also features some very beefy and sturdy wheels.
This is the first wheeled bag I’ve owned that doesn’t fall over when upright regardless of load inside. This appears to be due to some very well placed rubber feet underneth as well as on the back so that you can lay it flat when you want to get something out of it.
The retractable handle is very strong and I used it many times as a coat holder during my unplanned and extended visit to the airport (thanks to a snowstorm). It extends quite far and never feels like it’s going to break or buckle.
The inside of the main compartment of the carry-on is lined with a number of small pockets for stashing stuff and a full size internal pocket you unfurl to cover and zip over the main cavity which I think is meant for dirtly clothes. Since it’s not removable, it can’t be washed so I didn’t use it for laundry.
The outside of the main bag has a number of slot pockets for things like a laptop (up to a 15″ at least), magazines and large, open pocket that is secured by velcro and the outer buckles. You wouldn’t want to put something like a laptop in this pocket but it’s good for a jacket or some other loose item that can’t fall out.
Overall, I’ve very happy with the Cork & Fork. My only issue with the bag is the cost…there is no denying it’s expensive. I even hesitated at first and then I went and looked at other higher quality carry-on bags and it’s actually pretty comparable for a solid bag plus you get the internal camera backpack. Take a look in any ‘outdoor’ store that carries luggage and you’ll see what I mean.
While not really an issue, I would have also liked some more color options for the luggage….baby blue isn’t my favorite color but I can live with it.
Disclosure: I purchased this luggage at a small discount when the luggage line was launched via a special offer because I’ve bought from Crumpler before.