Having used both the Fjord 36 and 26 photographer Cameron Eng compares the packs.
I was first introduced to the Nya-Evo line of backpacks starting with the Fjord 36. Prior to getting the Fjord 36, I had always been looking for the perfect camera bag that gave me the versatility and convenience of what I could pack and how I could pack it. Enter the removable camera inserts (RCI’s) and the Fjord 36 quickly became my ideal camera backpack that allowed me to pack as much or as little camera gear as I needed while also allowing room to pack other necessary items such as hiking gear, snacks, water, laptop, and/or a jacket. When I heard the Fjord 26 was announced, it instantly gained my interest and I was curious to know how it compared to the 36 I had been using for the last year. Long story short, the Fjord 26 instantaneously earned a spot as my go-to camera backpack (and general everyday backpack).
Materials and Construction
While I’m not too much of a technical guy on this kind of stuff, the Fjord 26 is made of the same high quality materials as Nya-Evo’s other packs. I enjoy the water resistant and durable, yet lightweight material for the main parts of the back which are easy to clean. It also features an aluminum frame (standard with other Nya-Evo backpacks) which gives the bag better rigidity. I really like this since it keeps the bag’s shape regardless of how little you have in it and also provides better support when filled up. The zipper pulls are high quality, feel like they’re built to last and the zippers themselves zip and unzip smoothly. I found the padding on the back quite nice and soft although, at times I could feel my gear through it which needed some adjustment to get a little more comfort. Another thing to note is that if you wear a down filled jacket, you’re going to get down stuck all over the pack padding (this also happens with my Fjord 36). It’s not easy to get all the feathers out even using a sticky roller and that’s super annoying for someone like me who likes to have my gear looking clean.
Versatility, Sports Package, City Mode & Adventure Mode
The Sports Package includes compression straps, an exterior mesh attachment panel and a padded waist belt (which features a fabric zipper pouch and molle webbing). Without these additional accessories, the bag is in ‘City Mode’ with the reason being that you wouldn’t necessarily need the extra attachments for additional gear while in the city - makes sense. The ability to remove the Sports Package accessories makes it easier to access what you need, slims down the bag and gives it a sleek look. It’s a great way to use the bag for everyday use, especially if you chose not to go with the Sports Package in the first place. Taking off the compression straps is a bit difficult as I found that the clips used to attach are somewhat difficult to undo. It’s one thing getting those clips on the bag but quite a different story trying to remove them.
So let’s talk about using the bag in ‘Adventure Mode’ with the additional gear attachments. Starting with the padded waist strap, I found this to make wearing the bag a whole lot more comfortable since the bag is already smaller and naturally fits closer to the body. The waist strap is added onto the bag by sliding it through the layers on the bottom of the backside of the bag, and is secured in place by hook and loop. A clever design but only downfall is that it makes opening the back compartment sort of clunky since the strap must move with it rather than be attached (built in) to the sides like the Fjord 36. Using the waist strap added so much more support to the system and felt like it significantly reduced the load. It’s great to have the extra little zipper pouch on the right which I like to stash some trail mix or other small snacks in. The other side of the waist strap has molle webbing which allows you to clip other gear or attach a molle compatible attachment. I have yet to use the mesh panel since it’s been extremely cold here where I live lately. It’s generally the same as the one on the Fjord 36 which I would use to hold an extra jacket or sweater (but since it’s so cold, I’m wearing that extra layer). You could also use the mesh panel to hold other gear such as a helmet. A clever design so that you don’t just have this hard plastic bucket swinging around. Without any problems, the mesh attachment panel is easily stowed away in the front pouch or removed completely for later use.
The Fjord 26 has stretchy side pockets on both sides that you can hold water bottles or with the compression straps you can hold a tripod (or other gear similar in size or shape). These side pockets are great because they’re super stretchy and when not used, they are completely flush with the bag to slim it down and keep the bag looking sleek. The top, front zippered compartment is a great place to store small items such as sunglasses, the mesh panel, or in my case spare batteries for easy access. The sternum strap can be adjusted or removed by the clips and a little feature on the buckle contains an emergency whistle. There are also additional gear loops on the shoulder straps. Aside from that, the exterior of the bag is quite clean and minimal.
Interior & RCI’s (RCI’s Sold Separately)
My absolute favourite feature of Nya-Evo’s lineup of backpacks is their removable camera inserts. Being able to fit all three (large, medium and small) RCI’s makes the Fjord 26 the ultimate everyday backpack. At first my initial thoughts when I heard about the Fjord 26 is that it wouldn’t fit the large RCI. Well - I got that wrong. It’s able to sport any size of their RCI’s so I can customize my bag depending on how much camera gear I need. It’s great because sometimes I don’t need so much camera gear and then my bag has a ton of wasted space because of the padded dividers. Accessing the main top compartment opens up and gives you options for additional organization and storage with one large, flat pouch and a smaller pouch. The large pouch can fit up to a 16” MacBook and hugs my 13” MacBook Pro snugly. Alternatively, you can use a hydration bladder using the routing system through the top of the bag. This will be a very convenient option when the two outer mesh pouches are used and a water bottle isn’t able to be carried or if you need more liquid capacity.
Something I’d like to mention about the RCI’s coming from a mirrorless camera system user is how I set up my padded dividers to accommodate smaller lenses. Included with the RCI’s are these small padded dividers that fold. Now I’m not sure what the intended design of these dividers are meant to be used but I pressed down on the hook and loop flaps on one side of the divider. I then placed the divider inside the RCI where I would normally put a lens. This allows the divider to fold down 90 degrees which basically creates another spot for a lens to be stacked on top of another. This efficiently utilizes the space allowing for more gear and reducing negative space for the lens to bounce around.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Nya-Evo did it again with the launch of the Fjord 26. I feel that they knocked it out of the ballpark with this bag, packing it full of features and customizability. It’s a high quality bag that I can trust for almost anything and I can count on it to last me a long, long time. With only a few minor drawbacks for me personally, I’d recommend the Fjord 26 to anyone ranging from photographers, adventure seekers, or someone who is looking for a solution to a backpack system that can attend to a wide variety of needs.
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