People who follow my blog will know I’m a big fan of the M. Billingham & Co. bag company based in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands, UK. I own both a Hadley Pro as well as a Hadley Digital which have served me well, in the case of the former bag, for over 11 years.
These bags are so well made and resistant against the worst that the British weather can throw at them they are basically indestructible and I suspect last pretty much for ever (or at least will outlast me)! This being the case the reasons for buying a new Billingham are somewhat limited unless you just want to build up your own bag showroom!
That said, one of the things I have been looking for is a shoulder bag that will enable me to carry a small amount of camera gear (i.e. one body and a maximum of two or three lenses as well as a late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro) comfortably all day. Whilst I can fit all this gear into my Hadley Pro it is a tight squeeze especially if I want to include any additional accessories or essentials such cables (which you need lots of for the new MacBook Pro), chargers or even the odd bottle of water.
Whilst visiting The Photography Show at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham this year I was able to visit the Billingham stand where they were not only showing but also selling their bags. On show were all the existing Billingham bags plus three new ones introduced this year including the new Hadley One which does just what I needed i.e. has space for a 13″ laptop. Having looked at both the new Hadley as well as the existing bags however I opted to buy the Billingham Hadley Large (in FibreNyte, for a change, rather than Khaki Canvas).
The new Hadley has been on several outings already and here are my initial thoughts and observations (together with a few images).
- Size wise the Hadley Large is a bit taller and a bit wider than the Hadley Pro meaning a MacBook Pro comfortably fits between the inner compartment and back of the bag.
- As with the Hadley Pro there are two dividers plus a couple of flaps which allow you to sub-divide the compartments between the top and bottom allowing you to stack lenses. My preferred configuration is to divide the bag into three and place a couple of larger lenses at the bottom of two compartments with a couple of smaller ones above each and a camera body in the middle.
- There are two large pockets at the front allowing you to carry accessories and even a small camera (my Fujifilm X100F fits comfortable in one of these).
- Whilst all of this gear fits easily into the bag, for me that’s about as much as I’d want to carry for very long. The bag is fairly comfortable as long as you use a shoulder pad (which is extra) and carry the bag across your body rather than just over one shoulder.
- Unlike the Hadley Pro there is no carrying handle (not really a problem) or back pocket (which would have been nice).
- The fasteners on the Hadley’s are great. You can either use the buckle or just unclip the leather strap from the metal retainer for a quick release. Perfectly silent with no velcro in sight.
- For a day bag, when I am out and about and just want to carry the X100F and a laptop with a few cables etc, this is a great bag. It’s comfortable enough to wear all day and gives good protection for my gear. Bear in mind though that there is no padding between the laptop and the back of the bag which is fine as long as you are wearing the bag against you but you need to take care when putting the bag down or against hard surfaces not to drop or knock the bag over.
Overall the Hadley Large is another great bag from the Billingham stable and complements well, size wise, the Pro and Digital giving you a range of carrying options depending on how much and what type of kit you want to carry. Definitely worth checking this bag out if you are in the market for a reasonable sized shoulder bag that looks stylish, is comfortable to carry all day and weather resistant.
Hi! Thanks for the bag review! I have thoughts of getting one myself but I’m just wondering, do you think this bag can fit a DSLR (I own a Nikon D7100) and a 14″ x 10″ x 1″ laptop? Appreciate the response!
Hello Andrew, Thanks for your response. Whilst you’d have no problem with the Nikon you may struggle with the laptop. Internally the bag is 13.5″ wide ( just 14″ if stretched) and 11″ high so I think a 14″ wide laptop would be just a bit too tight. Also if it’s 1″ deep that’s probably going to push the internal compartment in a bit too much as the laptop fits in between the inner compartment and back of the bag. Have you checked out the new Hadley One, though not sure what the internal measurements of that are. Shame because these are great bags. Hope you find what you are looking for.
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I’ve used Billingham bags since 1995, an F5.6. Christmas 2000 my boyfriend bought me a 335 to replace the smaller bag. The 335 has been twice around the world and simply doesn’t look like it. The Hadley large in black canvas is a very recent purchase to accommodate two Leica M4-P bodies and 25/4 VC, and Leica 40/2 + 90/4 and a Gossen Sixtomat Digital meter. Add a personal size Filofax (I don’t use MacBooks) , films and misc bits and I’m set to go. The bag is very secure worn crossbody with the front flaps next to the body to prevent pilferage in crowds etc. I’ve also got a Hadley digital bag I keep in the boot of my car with an ancient and very shabby M3 with 50/2.8 and a Weston Master V meter in. I’m very patriotic. I wouldn’t consider buying any other camera bag except Billingham. Likewise, I mostly buy Barbour clothes and Northampton made shoes and boots. My principles are, buying this stuff keeps someone in a job. When Billingham, Barbour and Belstaff sell stuff abroad, this brings much needed cash into our country. Please keep buying this tip-top gear.
Nothing made in China, Japan or Taiwan can approach it never mind equal it. In these fields, as with leather goods, we in Great Britain lead the world.
Thanks for your comment Toby and yes, I agree. Billingham’s are superbly made here in the UK and more than worth the extra you pay for them.
[…] to ‘let go’ of my Billingham Hadley Large purchased a couple of years ago and reviewed here. This was a tough decision. I love Billingham bags and have owned several over the years. Despite […]