Crumpler Cork & Fork Luggage

Cork & ForkIf 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.

Christmas 2008
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.

Cork & Fork

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.

Cork & Fork

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.

Cork & Fork

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.

Cork & Fork

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.

Cork & Fork

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.
Cork & Fork

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.
Cork & Fork

Christmas 2008The 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.

12 Comments

  1. Tyler says:

    Ahh so that is the other Crumpler! That looks cool and that you can take out the camera portion is really cool! I might look at getting something like that, does it come in any other colour?

    I guess i could look at their website huh? lol

  2. Hey there – awesome review – submitting this for the reviews section on our website and whacking it up on Crumplerfried right now.

    Glad you are happy with the bag so far, we had to do a LOT of custom work on it to get it just right (the wheels especially). I guess the main trade-off for the durability is weight, kinda unavoidable, alas. Cheers, BBB)))

  3. VancityAllie says:

    Wow that looks AMAZING! I want one!

    Ah ha, you also have the fisheye! :) How do you like it?

  4. John says:

    I love my fisheye lens….I don’t use it enough.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/retrocactus/tags/105mm/

  5. Brett says:

    Great review with excellent detailed pictures. The backpack that comes out of the case looks a little flimsy and maybe too easy to open. What do you think about it?

    I use a lowepro for camera gear that I like. It holds a laptop and about as much camera gear and only cost $120. I use a nice baseball bat bag for light stands, umbrellas and speedlights. Seems to work fine for local travel, but I have not tried the bat bag on the plane yet. :)

  6. John says:

    Brett: It’s far from flimsy…it’s very ridgid and solid. I actually returned a Lowepro bag because it was too flimsy so it might be personal preference.

    There is certainly no shortage of bags for gear depending on the usage and how you want to transport them. What I really liked about this one is that they work together and the camera pullout is able to hold a lot more gear than other bags I’ve used and it’s all accessible quickly.

  7. Scott says:

    John,

    I’m looking for a bag that would allow me to carry enough gear for two photographers (my wife and I). Any idea if this would be able to carry three bodies, 2 70-200s, 2 16-35, 2 flashes? Along with some other nicknacks like a 50mm, batteries etc?

    Also any chance it could be locked with a thin cable through the zippers just to keep the possible pesky person who just wants to do a quick snatch and grab out of the bag?

    I own Crumpler bags and really like the company but I’m wondering if it big enough. The Think Tank Airport international measures in at 13” W x 6.5” – 7.5” D x 18.5” H for its internals. Any idea on the dimensions of the Cork?

    Thanks!

  8. paul chiu says:

    hi john,

    i love the size and the 2 in 1 design of the cork & fork.
    the pictures make it look very plush.

    well, i am into rugged stuff and care for only this.

    i need a rolling case or bag to use over the 3 big parks in orlando in a month. last year, i rolled a kata hb-207 with a trolley insert that was not convenient as there were places with rough surfaces where i had to pick it up by the trolley. a bag with built in wheels would be better.

    another issue was the vibration from bad roads. while not many, they did caused my hands to shake and that concerns me over the sony pmw-ex1 pro camcorder i had inside.

    how is the cork and fork’s handling on bad roads or you just use it in airports?

    last question is whether you can stack another small luggage onto the handlebar while rolling in the terminals.

    thanks

    paul

    • John says:

      Paul – The bag looks plush but it’s actually pretty ridged.

      I’ve mostly only used the Cork & Fork in airports…I’m not sure what you mean by rough surfaces…like offroad trails? The wheels are certainly beefier than most rolling bags I’ve used – think big rollerblade wheels. It’s also the most stable while rolling that I’ve used…many bags don’t seem to stay upright when rolling and skip or flip around a lot – doesn’t happen with the Cork & Fork….probably because of the bigger wheels and the clearance they have.

      You can easily stack a smaller piece of luggage on top of the C&F with the handle extended.

  9. kapil says:

    I am contemplating getting one of these bad boys. The only concern I have is will it store my 15″ Macbook Pro safely?

  10. John says:

    There is no padding the front of the luggage but that’s where I put my 15″ MBP – since it’s wheelie luggage, it doesn’t go far from me ever…there are a few layers of pockets in the front or your could just put it inside if you’re really concerned.

  11. amy says:

    woa i want that too. crumple and le sport sac has the best bags i think.

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