From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine
All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more and read about how we write BBC Discover Wildlife reviews.

Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 camera bag review

An update on a classic photography bag – how does the Hadley Pro 2020 compare to its ancestor, and does it live up to the Billingham name?

Billingham Hadley Pro
Published: July 4, 2022 at 7:00 am
Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5

Review: Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 camera bag

Advertisement
Billingham Hadley Pro

This gorgeous looking bag from Billingham is an improved version of their classic Hadley Pro, which is one of their bestsellers and over two decades old. Is it a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it?” or was an upgrade a good idea? Personally, I think the original Hadley Pro is fab, but this does take it up a notch, with a slightly improved carry handle, removable shoulder strap, a luggage trolley strap on the back and a waterproof zip on the back pocket.

Like all Billingham bags, this is premium quality and made in England – solid brass fittings, full grain leather on the trimmings and straps, durable canvas or FibreNyte™ material, and immaculate stitch work (so nice that it’s in a highlighted colour to make it stand out and show off how good it is).

With an internal capacity of six litres and three pockets (two on the front and one on the back) in addition to the main compartment, there's plenty of room. In fact, my partner describes it as “deceptively large”. The leather buckle straps on the front pocket aren't for opening the top flap but adjusting how closed it can be – at the other end of this trap is the quick release system, where you can quickly open and close over the brass round studs. I believe it will be a quickly process, though at the moment the leather on the sample bag I was sent is still a bit stiff and needs softening up.

But if you find that occasionally you need just that bit more space (extra batteries and snacks perhaps, as you can never have too many of either!), Billingham also sells two differently sized pockets – the Avea 7 and the Avea 8 – which can be added to the attachment points at either end of the bag to increase the capacity even further.

You can fit a 13-inch laptop into the bag – between the padded insert and the outer material. The Billingham website notes that “it wouldn’t be well protected. Many customers do use this bag this way however and none have reported damage.” So far with putting my laptop there, it’s been completely fine.

Inside the main compartment, there’s a padded insert made from closed-cell foam (which is also available to buy separately, should you manage to trash yours) with two vertical dividers and two horizontal dividers, all of which are removable so that the bag can be used a generic messenger bag as well. I’m tempted to use mine as my normal office bag. When in the bag, the insert can be held in place by a heady duty press stud.

Billingham Hadley Pro - removable inserts

It’s available in a seven colour combinations: navy and chocolate, black and tan, black and black, khaki and tan, khaki and chocolate, burgundy and chocolate, and sage and chocolate (pictured in this article).

If you wanted to add a bit of shoulder protection, a shoulder pad made from leather and foam padding with a mild non-slip finish is available to buy separately. Either the SP15 or the SP40 fit this bag, and the latter has more padding. I was sent a SP40 along with the bag and found it very comfortable on my shoulders.

What is the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 made from?

There’s a choice of two external materials for the bag: cotton canvas or a synthetic material called FibreNyte™, which has been created by Billingham and weighs around 10% lighter than canvas and holds it colour for longer. The bag I was reviewing was made from the latter and I found it to be nice to touch and durable too.

The leather trimmings and straps are made from full grain leather, and the buckles and other metal fittings are made from solid brass.

Is the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 waterproof?

Both external material options offer 3-layers of waterproofing which includes a butyl-rubber layer, which means that the bag offers excellent waterproof protection to any camera gear, laptop or paperwork inside.

The sculptured top flap covers the edges of the main compartment, as well as the tops of the front dump pockets – meaning that there’s

I’ve not yet tested it in an absolute downpour, but next time the weather does decide to chuck it down, I’m planning to pop it outside and see what happens – I don’t doubt it will follow the previous Billingham bags in being absolutely fine!

The bag shouldn’t ever need to be reproofed to keep it waterproof, as it’s built to remain waterproof for years (unless you get a hole in the fabric or put it in the washing machine).


You may also like:

Artisan & Artist ACAM 102 Camera Strap Brown

Artisan & Artist ACAM 102 Camera Strap Brown

Fancy adding a bit of a retro look to your camera? Then check out this handsome strap, made in Japan from fine Italian leather – suitable for Leica M cameras or cameras with ring loops on the housing. It has smooth crafted edges and a hand-turned pebbled grain.

The steel rings that attach to the lugs of your camera are the only bits of metal on the strap, reducing any worry about causing damage to your camera, and there are leather lug protectors to protect your camera from the rings. It’s 90cm in length, which may be too short for some people (if in doubt, compare it against your current camera strap).

Solid Chocolate Nikon Camera

Large chocolate camera

Talking about snacks in the main review above got me hungry, and what better to snack on than some fine-grade Venezuelan chocolate? Why some fine-grade Venezuelan chocolate in the exact shape of full-size Nikon SLR camera! It’s so pretty that you almost wouldn’t dare to eat it, but rather put it on show somewhere.

This chocolate camera contains 64% cocoa and is made from the ‘Trinitario’ cocoa bean, which is a sought-after variety used in premium products, and comes in a gift box, so that if you’re feeling generous, you can gift it to someone else.

Advertisement

A small chocolate camera is also available from The Amazing Chocolate Workshop.

Authors

Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and countryfile.com
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content