Billingham Eventer II is the latest camera bag from British manufacturer Billingham. This bag is an update to an earlier version which was probably the most expensive camera bag Billingham produced at the time. The Billingham Eventer II now holds the title of most expensive camera bag produced by the company.
Billingham bags are not limited to price. Billingham has always produced the quality to support its price. It is for this reason that I and many other photographers continue to purchase and use their bags. That said, at more than double the price of their most popular bag, the Hadley Pro, the Billingham Eventer MKII certainly stands in its own class.
The Billingham Eventer MKII is a minor update over the original version. There are several things that have been removed and several new additions.
The most obvious update to the new Eventer bag is the addition of a leather underside to the top handle. The leather underside makes it more comfortable to hold and use the bag like a briefcase.
Previously, the top handle with its rough underside became uncomfortable to hold after a while. This is especially a problem if you have a decent amount of weight to carry in the bag. With the addition of the leather underside, the top handle provides more comfort, allowing you to hold the bag longer.
Another obvious change to the top of the Billingham Eventer MKII is that the strap line under the top handle has been removed. This brings no functional change and is entirely an aesthetic change. Personally, I liked the webbing section on the previous model as it provides some rigidity to the top flap.
MK II right
The second major addition to the MKII is the luggage cart strap on the rear of the back. If you are traveling with a suitcase with an extendable handle, you can attach the Billingham Eventer MKII to the handle via the trolley strap. The trolley strap seems to be a popular addition to many new Billingham bags. This obviously provides a better user experience.
Other changes include the addition of waterproof zippers and deeper padding at the bottom of the insert. Both of these additions should provide better protection for whatever you’re carrying in the Eventer MKII.
Despite the fact that the zippers have been improved with the waterproof function, the zipper could have remained as it was in the original. The all-brass zipper pull with Billingham trademark engraving adds a premium touch. The new pull tab is probably easier to use, and the strings probably keep your hands from slipping. However, it could be argued that a hands-on approach is not necessary for every little aspect, especially when it comes to luxury goods.
Why I can’t recommend this bag
The Billingham Eventer series is my favorite from Billingham. This series of bags is the only one currently available from the company that features a leather bottom section. They’re also big enough to handle a fair amount of gear, including a reasonably sized laptop. Unfortunately, it is difficult to recommend for several reasons.
First, there are more cost effective options available from Billingham. For example, the Hadley One is a great alternative. It may not feature the stock hook of having a leather section on the bottom, however, it is less expensive, can carry a reasonable amount of gear, and comes in a wider range of colors.
Even when you factor in the added cost of having to purchase the insert separately, it’s still considerably cheaper in comparison, not to mention the fact that it weighs a bit less too. Don’t forget that it’s your shoulder that will have to carry everything.
Second, the Hadley One is an easier to use and more convenient bag. It features a detachable shoulder strap, independently accessible front pockets and an easier-to-access main compartment. The only downside to this bag is that it does not include the shoulder pad and full insert when you buy it. The shoulder pad and full insert must be purchased separately. However, even when you factor in those costs, the Hadley One is still considerably cheaper.
Essentially, the only areas where the Eventer MKII is better are its slightly higher capacity and the signature leather lower section.
If you can afford it
The Billingham Eventer MKII is expensive. This is even more expensive than the price of the original Eventer when it was first released. As mentioned above, the Eventer MKII is currently the most expensive camera bag produced by Billingham. However, if you can afford it, it might also be the best bag they’ve produced so far.
It is a bag that has been produced with top-notch materials and shows exceptional craftsmanship. Billingham uses full-grain leather, which is of a higher quality than many manufacturers use. The advantage of full-grain leather is that it can be produced with a consistent look and retains almost all of the benefits of full-grain leather.
The overall design and larger capacity also play a major role in what makes this bag great. If you need a bag with a similar capacity, Billingham’s only alternative is the 207, and that bag just doesn’t have the same wow factor as the Eventer MKII.
The Billingham Eventer MKII is a bag that really stands out. Updates over the original make this a more practical and comfortable bag to use. If it’s a bag you can afford, you’ll definitely be happy to have it.
What I liked
- A beautifully designed bag.
- High quality materials.
- Very durable and weather resistant.
- The improved top handle makes a big difference.
What I did not like
- This bag is expensive.
- Difficult to recommend due to alternatives available in Billingham
- At 1.78kg, it’s a heavy bag
- Does not include removable shoulder strap.
- Potentially too big