Billingham Hadley Small Pro bag, an adaptation of internal dividers and a solution to "grippy" Velcro.

DaveJP

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
67
Location
Kingswinford, UK
Real Name
David Plumb
I've just bought a Billingham Hadley Small Pro bag. I wanted a bag to take a camera with standard zoom lens, a telephoto zoom, and just maybe a fast prime for low light situations as well. With a small bag you limit what you can take and is very much in the spirit of the Micro 4/3rds ethos. I have other bags for when I feel the need to take more stuff, including a larger Billingham bag I inherited from my father that's well over 30 years old and still going strong!

I don't intend to go on about the quality of the Hadley Small Pro; it's a Billingham bag, it just oozes quality. It looks good, feels good and is beautifully hand made in Cradley Heath, six miles from where I live, in the heart of England's West Midlands, so I suppose I'm a little bit biased.

As with all bags in the Hadley range, this bag has two long dividers that fit vertically down the inside to separate it into three compartments (or two if you use only one divider). The dividers are the same length as the internal length of the bag. Now some other Billingham bags (and I'm thinking here of the S series in particular) have dividers which are slightly shorter than the internal length and have a bendable flap at the top. This enables a camera and lens to sit, lens down, supported by the dividers, which I think is quite an efficient use of space, because the camera needs more "elbow room" at the top of the bag, but the attached lens, being slimmer, takes up far less. When I tried positioning a camera on the dividers in the Hadley bag it protruded well above the top of the bag and wouldn't allow the main flap to close. So I thought, why not shorten the dividers?

My intention was to bend about a third of the length of the divider at right angles and position the short end section along the base of the bag and the longer section above the bend vertically up the bag, where it would end just short of the top. It sounds easy, but because the hooked Velcro and the interior lining to which it adheres are top quality and really "grippy", it's a battle to get the end of the divider to lie flat on the base of the bag and then get the sides upright and straight. So I had a re-think.

I felt there should be some way of "neutralizing" the Velcro on the dividers in order to make it easier to arrange them the way I wanted. In fact the answer is very simple; it just involves more Velcro. Now I’m sure this idea isn’t new; I just haven’t seen it suggested before. What I used was sew-on Velcro, and it’s widely available; Amazon sells strips very cheaply. As you would expect it normally comes in two parts, looped and hooked. I only needed the soft, looped fabric, not the hooked part, because that's already on the dividers.

With both dividers back in their original positions in the Hadley Small bag, I cut four, 6cm strips of sew-on looped Velcro and used each one to cover the top 6cms of hooked Velcro on each side of each divider. This created a 6cm “unsecured” section at the top of the dividers where the hooked Velcro was inoperative. These short sections function as flexible flaps, and provide a "cradle" for a camera to be seated in the lens down position. Furthermore, because most of the camera body lies below the top of the insert the bag’s main flap closes easily. I still have three equal width compartments in the Hadley Small bag, but the flexible sections at the top end of the dividers allow for more “give” at that part of the bag, and I think this utilizes the available space most effectively. I opted for a 6cm section at the top of my dividers, but making it shorter or longer would just produce a larger or smaller “flappy” piece at the top of each.

If you're having difficulty in fixing any divider into place in any bag you can use a strip of looped Velcro fabric to cover the hooks temporarily. I find it easier if you leave a small section of hooks exposed, which will enable you to "anchor" the divider in place while you manoeuvre the rest of it into position. Once you are satisfied just remove the covering strips and stick the hooked Velcro onto the sides of the bag. If you don't have sew-on Velcro then you might try using the stick-on variety. By sticking together the adhesive sides of two pieces of looped Velcro you can make a double-sided looped strip, which should prevent any glue getting on the inside of the bag.

The Velcro on most camera bag dividers appears to be 2.5cm wide. In fact, Billingham use 3cm wide Velcro, but the 2.5cm Velcro that I happened to have still did the job. Nevertheless, I’ve since obtained some 3cm wide Velcro from a UK company called MPD Hook & Loop (https://www.mpdhookandloop.com) who can provide almost any width or length of Velcro, and will supply the looped part only. I also found their customer service to be impeccable.

Another application for using looped Velcro is for those small dividers that sit horizontally in the compartment of a bag and separate two lenses or other items stacked on top of one another. Billingham's call these Flap Dividers, because they are indeed just a flap with a strip at one end and Velcro at the other, making them easy to lift up. However, with some other bags these dividers have hooked Velcro at both ends, so are more difficult to lift. Just stick a strip of looped Velcro fabric over the hooks at one end of the divider and you then have a flap for easy lifting. You could even stick looped Velcro over the hooks down one entire side of a partition to make it into a big flap, which may provide more flexibility to your bag layout. I'm sure there a lots more applications. If you own several camera bags then a roll of looped Velcro is a pretty useful accessory.
 

Joe s

New to Mu-43
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
Messages
4
Hi Dave as you live so close to billingham how about asking them for adding removable tripod straps under their bags, would be usefull😀
 

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