March 17, 2008

Petrol Caboose Backpack

PBPC-1 - $259.00

Review by Steve Douglas

I travel a lot. I've spent upwards of 40 hours at a time combining both flights and extended layovers in some of the worlds' worst, and best, airports from Singapore to Nairobi to Amsterdam to Phuket. It's not fun. I, like several, have had my underwater housings, diving equipment, and personal effects wind up in Mt. Kilimanjaro when I was nowhere near the place. I've had my belongings lost in Singapore while I was waiting desperately for them to find me in Thailand.

Don't I wish I could carry all this stuff on the planes with me? Not really, it is hard on this aging body just to have to carry a heavy camera bag, my batteries, lights, laptop and other more delicate equipment. Eventually my shoulders ache and my back begins to crumble leaving me longing for a nice massage in Bali.

Petrol has not sent me to Bali, but they did send a Petrol Caboose Backpack to try and test out. The PBPC-1 measures out at: lengh -16.5", width-11.81", and height-5.31" with a total weight of 10.8 lbs. This would fit just fine in the overhead of most any plane. The front section has room for the Sony PD-100/150/170, Panasonic DVC-15, DVX-100A, JVC JYD 300E, Canon Xl1S or any similar sized camcorder. In addition, there is a cushioned rear pocket which easily holds my 15" Mac Book Pro but would hold a 17" laptop as well. The bag's lower compartment comes equipped with 5 removable dividers, which can be reconfigured to hold and protect plenty of other equipment and accessories.

In addition, there are zippered side pockets for even more storage, and an exterior front pocket with personal organizer. The Petrol Caboose has padded straps so that the Caboose can be used as a backpack. I doubt I would use the backpack option too often as the Petrol's trolly comes with smooth moving wheels and a rubber padded handle making that my option of choice.


The Petrol Caboose is made from a heavy duty blue and black Cordura and ballistic nylon. I don't know one material from the other but in just handling the Caboose you get a feel of confidence in its construction and the materials used. The padded dividers are firm and thick. You just know they will protect your equipment for a long time to come. In addition, the compartment meant for your camcorder has an extra section of padding which crosses over the camcorder to provide extra protection. I was able to put both my camcorder in one compartment and my Nikon D-200 in another with plenty of room left over for lens, batteries and all my other accessories. The external pockets are just as well padded and provide even more room for gear. You could put a lot of weight in this bag and with the external handle and wheels feel no strain transporting it from one place to the next.

It's not perfect however. The Laptop bag that fits into a separated and well padded section of the Caboose has but one carry strap. Thus, should you carry it by this strap, the laptop will be unevenly balanced. Never the less, it is just fine if all you are doing is pulling it out of the Caboose to place on a table or your lap.

I'm new to the Petrol line of bags, but if they are all of the same high quality as this one, and I have no doubt that they are, then my bottom line is that this is one accessory that is just outstanding and well worth the investment made to protect your valuable camera and camcorder equipment. I'm just glad I don't have to carry it, and can wheel it where in the world I wish to go.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008

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