Crumpler Seven Million Dollar Home Camera Bag Review

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The Crumpler Seven Million Dollar Home is a messenger bag-style camera bag. Said another way, it’s just a modified shoulder bag design. Both the design and Crumpler’s engineering of it hold a few nice surprises that make this a good (but not great) camera bag.

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For our vacation to Walt Disney World last year I decided I needed a new bag: a shoulder bag with room for camera gear, water, sunscreen, and perhaps an umbrella. I wanted a shoulder bag because it would be easy to pull on and off as we walked through the parks and went on rides. As much as I like my LowePro Slingshot 200 AW, it was a little small for these requirements and can only be slung over one shoulder — being out all day for a week I needed the flexibility to move it to the less-sore shoulder!

Design

This is a messenger bag, not a shoulder bag. The differences are fairly minor but add up. I would say there are really only two notable differences between these styles:

  • The shape: shoulder bags tend to be a little more cube-like in shape, whereas messenger bags are wider and shallower so that they can sit closer to your body.
  • The top flap: messenger bag top flaps typically cover the top and entire front of the bag, whereas shoulder bag flaps are typically just a little bigger than the top of the bag.

Thinking about my center of gravity, having a bag that stayed closer to my body would be more stable than one that isn’t, which is what immediately drew me to this style of bag. That said, the 7MH is a pretty big bag no matter how you look at it.

The small top flap of most shoulder bags doesn’t do much to protect your gear from the elements, theft or anything else, and is typically complimented by a zipper or drawstring. That’s a double-barrier to entry: unclip flap, unzip zipper or unclip flap, open drawstring, for example. So, after pulling the camera or a lens out of the bag you need to close the bag in at least one way to protect your gear. That said, this double-closure design typically results in a fairly weather-proof bag, which can be very important.

The large flap on the messenger bags is typically the only access point to your gear, so the barrier to entry is low: unclip the flap. A big single flap makes it easy to reach in and just let the flap fall to protect your gear. The idea is simple, but it really is effective. Converse to the traditional shoulder bag, the large flap really doesn’t seal the bag against weather at all.

The cordura fabric the bag is made of is heavy duty and its built very well. While not photographically necessary, it’s really nice that Crumpler makes their bags in a few different colors.

To help with the weatherproofing, Crumpler has built “gutters” into the sides of the bag. With the top closed the extra fabric gutter is on the inside of the bag, and that goes a long way towards keeping rain out. On the other hand, that little piece of fabric has become my biggest annoyance with the bag, because it’s not quite a straight entry into the side locations. Unfortunately, this gutter fabric runs to the front of the bag, too, where it’s just a lip to get in your way.

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A decision Crumpler made was to permanently attach the shoulder strap to the bag, rather than attaching it with clips. Generally I’m not in favor of this because I would typically replace the manufacturer’s strap with something more robust, but this is a great strap, so I’m ok with it! Similarly, the strap actually comes away from the bag at an angle, to better help the bag rest against your body while slung over your shoulder — this would happen naturally with a removable shoulder strap, but it’s nice that Crumpler made the effort to do this correctly.

In Action

the 7MH is a pretty good bag to work out of. In practice, I like the large top flap. I can pull the flap away from the velcro closure and reach in for something. When I pull it out the flap will re-seal against the velcro from its own weight. Conversely, I can pull the flap open and lay it against the back of the bag to give easy and complete access to everything — again, the weight of the flap means it will stay open for me.

I often feel like manufacturers supply a small pile of random adjustable dividers, thinking that I can figure out how to best make use of them. That typically means trying a few different positions and ultimately deciding that I don’t have the right combination — I need one more long one, or one more short one, for example. The dividers supplied with the 7MH seem to be thought-out, and I have a useful assortment that has allowed me to make the bag work well for me.

A very big zippered pocket is on the inside of the top flap, which measures about 12- x 12-inches. This is a disappointingly useless pocket. Being so large, the contents move around and get disorganized whenever the bag is opened and closed. If this were divided into four 6- x 6-inch pockets I think it’d be wonderfully useful, but as it is mine is largely unused, holding just a few lightweight items (lens cloth, ziplock bags, body cap, business cards and a small Sharpie).

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The front pocket isn’t terribly useful either because it doesn’t expand to hold much. There’s enough rough to hold the D300 manual and batter charger. However, to get at the smaller mesh pocket inside, these items have to be removed.

Despite Crumpler’s stated height of 28 centimeters (just over 11 inches), the inside usable height is more like 8+ inches, which means a 70-300 mm f4-5.6 lens attached to a body will just fit, and a 70-200 mm f2.8 will only fit when not attached to the body.

Report Card

How does the Crumpler Seven Million Dollar Home stack up against my perfect camera bag requirements?

  • Adjustable dividers? Check.
  • Bright interior? Sort of. The tan bag I have has a green interior. It’s not bright, but it does have more contrast than a grey interior, so things aren’t too hard to see.
  • Zippered pocket? Somewhere for pen and paper? There are not specific locations for pen and paper. The zippered pocket isn’t all that useful.
  • Wide and thick strap? Check.
  • Appropriate padding? Mostly, yes. The top flap is heavy cordura, but unpadded (as it should be) while the sides and bottom are padded. The bottom could use thicker padding.
  • Heavy-duty zippers/no fabric lip around the zipper? There aren’t zippers to get into the bag, but there is a large piece of heavy-duty velcro and a strong clip. The front of the “gutter” flap doesn’t need to be there.
  • Manufacturer provides a good description of what the bag holds? Crumpler’s site makes a fairly good attempt at this.
  • Ready for additional storage? Yes, the sides of the bag have a wide daisy chain that accommodates LowePro’s SlipLok system.

I give this bag a recommendation. It’s a good bag, though a little on the expensive side for the features. Once you look at larger bags like this, though, they’re all on the expensive side.

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