Photography can be a very rewarding hobby and just about everyone dabbles in it at some point. So if you’ve mastered the Starbucks macros and decided to get into some serious picture taking, you’ve likely bought a camera body, lens, SD cards and a plethora of other gadgets. Now you’ve got all this great gear and no place to carry it! Before you buy that cheap black nylon case from Best Buy, I’d recommend researching some quality leather alternatives like the Wotancraft Ryker Camera Bag.
Aside from having a ridiculously cool brand name, Wotancraft has an interesting backstory. When we reached out about the company’s past, they replied as such:
We created WOTANCRAFT ATELIER back in 2008. We shared the same crazy love for Panerai diving watches, but are just too frustrated to realize that none of the aftermarket leather straps are worthy of the inspiring and nostalgic military background of Panerai. At one point, we figured that if no one else is up for it, then maybe we should be the ones to make it happen. The guys at WOTANCRAFT are very intuitive when it comes to our creations and aesthetics. In 2010, when our friend walked into our atelier carrying a WWII Swiss Army backpack and a Leica M6 camera, right then we made the decision to create tough, rugged and military inspired camera bags, which lead to our launch of the “City Explorer” series, with military-hovercraft-grade waterproof inserts that people have never seen before in the camera bag market.We are continuously growing, not in business size, but in our ambition for greatness. Our existing lineup of products are being enhanced through generations, because we want to make every creation our classic, not fashion items that are created and discarded per market trend. Same goes for aesthetics. Many of our friends make fun of us having “old souls” living in our bodies, because we don’t make our products “teen-friendly” enough. But that’s the way we are; if you want to stay true to yourself, pleasing everyone is just not an option.
For those wondering, Wotancraft is named after Wotan. In Germean mythology he was the god of war and victory. Atelier is the French word for “workshop.”
The Ryker is a medium sized bag coming in at roughly 11” long by 9” tall and 4.5” wide. At 3 lbs 3 oz it’s lightweight without feeling cheap. Wotancraft provided us with some insider specifics about the leather used:
We use thick, full grain leather for all products, where the pores and skin textures are still visible, and we manually trim the leather if different parts require doing so. This is a lot more work and more costly than padding materials beneath thin leather processed by provider (how cheaper bags in the market are made), but for us this process has to be done to ensure the right look and hand-feel when bending the leather.
We are also very specific in the leather characteristics that we use. The leather trim and shoulder strap on a Ryker bag is tanned with vegetable agents such as Quebracho, Chestnut and Acacia, which gave the bag an overall scent of fresh sweetness. We could have easily chosen leather that smells like ordinary leather and does not cause any love-or-hate contradictions, but for us love outweighs all others. It’s the same with the grain texture on the Ryker bag, we just love the specific hand-feel of such texture, and elegantly accentuated by the smooth oil-enriched trim and velveteen lining.
All metal hardware is used for the buckles and rivets. Bronze YKK zippers are used with a rustproof coating. An incredibly soft, padded velvety interior is used to protect contents.
The main functions of a camera bag for me are to protect the contents and to provide fast access. The Ryker has a magnetic flap which reveals a top loading zippered compartment. This configuration provides more overall protection but with the small cost of an extra step in accessing your gear. The adjustable, padded shoulder strap is very comfortable and provides great cushioning when carrying heavy loads. Even after a long day of shooting around town, my shoulder and traps held up fine.
Thanks to the padded inserts and velcro walls I can securely pack my lens and body with virtually no wiggling around when on the move. The interior slotted pocket is great for carrying a 7” tablet or thin books. The smaller exterior storage options include the zippered pocket which is handy for smaller loose items such as memory cards or film.
The Ryker will typically fit around 3 lenses and a camera body depending on your actual gear. I like to pack minimally so I had my 35mm, body, and 70-200mm lens all in the bag with no issues. The only features lacking that would make the bag easier to use for me would be a handle along the top so I can carry it briefcase style when not using the shoulder straps, and possibly buttons instead of magnets to increase the flaps secureness.
The Ryker is easily one of the most handsome camera bags I’ve come across. The large panels of whiskey colored leather contrast beautifully with the dark brown pieces. The hardware demands attention and I ironically find myself snapping images of the bag rather more so than anything else! The real selling point visually is the Ryker’s ability to look good in a variety of environments. Whether on the trail or in the city, this bag never looks out of place. Another great benefit is it looks like a messenger bag so you’re not advertising the fact that you have expensive camera gear on you. Looks good with an axe too, which is a major plus.
Wotancraft’s Ryker Camera Bag’s looks and quality is head and shoulders above any option found in a big box store. At $379 it is pricey, but once you hold it in your hands the cost will likely seem justified. If you’re on the hunt for a bag that will securely protect your camera gear and look picture perfect in the process, I’d recommend checking this bag out.