Camera bags typically fall into one of two categories: pretty to look at but not functional or highly functional and not attractive in the slightest. As a majority of consumers desire something that is both stylish and versatile, many companies have created products to meet this demand. Add comfort and craftsmanship into the mix as additional features and very few bags have all of these ingredients combined. Even fewer can be found for under $200.
Blackforest created the RIMO 1 with all of these elements in mind. Minimalist design and handcrafted using superior materials, these bags are produced in small batches to ensure the highest of quality for every customer. Blackforest bags are handmade in India and available to ship anywhere in the world for free, arriving at your doorstep within 7-14 business days, depending on location. Mine shipped on a Friday evening and arrived via FedEx the following Monday morning.
The RIMO I is the first first of Blackforest’s offerings and is available in three different colors; black, brown and tan. Crafted of vegetable tanned leather, brass metal accents and a cotton twill interior, this is an attractive bag available that can easily translate into a variety of lifestyles ranging from the outdoors to the city for both men and women.
If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. With that in mind, the RIMO 1 isn’t the most innovative on the design front. A classic messenger in aesthetic, the design is simple and straightforward while the bag itself is timelessly chic. It doesn’t stand out like a camera bag and that is really nice when wearing it in public.
At first glance it is easy on the eyes and it smells good. The tan color in particular is beautiful and the brass accents are striking. Unlike some bags that were designed specifically for a man or woman, this is not reminiscent of either a purse or a murse; instead it is stylish for either gender.
The triple stitching adds reinforcement, making this bag feel solid. The adjustable strap can be worn cross-body adjusted and over the shoulder. The interior compartments are padded to protect your precious gear and customizable to fit your needs via velcro inserts. The cotton twill feels good to the touch. The metal feet on the bottom are an added bonus, providing an extra barrier against dirt and impact.
I can’t get over how comfortable this bag is after packing it around for several weeks. Packed with the necessary camera equipment and the contents of my purse, Black Forest has the ergonomics down. After an extended amount of time, it did begin to add stress to the shoulders which is not unusual for carrying any amount of extra weight over the shoulders – even with the backpack.
This bag is a solid competitor straight out of the gate but it isn’t flawless by any means. The bag is not dustproof or waterproof, although it is water resistant. The RIMO 1 does ship with a dustbag for storage when not in use. The leather, as beautiful as it is, scuffs and gets dirty easily. A damp cloth or even a microfiber cloth does do a decent job cleaning it and a gentle conditioner can help as well. The indigo color from dark washed denim transfers easily to the leather and the metal accents scratch easily. In my opinion, the RIMO 1 looks better with age and the distressing that comes along with it, however this may be a setback for anyone who wants their bag to maintain in pristine condition.
The interior proves to be a tight squeeze for the Canon 5D Mark III with lens attached. Lone camera bodies and lenses are more easily accommodated. Additionally, I have encountered loose threads along the velcro, however the velcro itself is not detaching from the twill. The two CF card slots and pouches in the zip interior are very handy. There are two slots with a leather strip that are most likely for really cheap Bic pens or specific lens brushes, however I didn’t have anything that would fit in there. The space would be better utilized with additional CF card holders. There are many other non-photography related accessories for which it could be utilized.
The size of the RIMO I may be more in line with a travel bag and can accommodate a lot of extra stuff, but this is very much designed for more of a minimalist photographer. The bag also lacks padding on the front, back and top. Worrisome as it may be, as long as you take care when handling it and don’t send it down a flight of stairs, everything should be fine.
The Blackforest RIMO I is a quality bag that is as comfortable as it is pretty to look at. Crafted of premium materials, this luxury messenger bag is a solid competitor for other brands in this price range. It is easily customizable to fit individual needs and can double as more than a camera bag. The RIMO I is seemingly simple and chic in aesthetic, making it effortless to translate from the outdoors into city life for both men and women. The size is versatile, making it easy to utilize the bag as a travel carry-on item as well as carrying it around town for work and transit. Priced at $199, it is an investment that you want to take care of and it will ultimately do what it was made to do – protect the gear and look good while doing it.
Review by Brittany Smith at SLR Lounge. She is a fashion and beauty photographer who works between NYC, Montana and LA.