RARE Crumpler Local Identity Photo L review.


Mu-43 Regular
Jun 16, 2012
OK, I'm on a review rampage. Or maybe I'm just taking advantage of having set up the mini-studio in the basement and trying to get done as many reviews as possible before the wife goes postal and makes me pack it away again.

Following is a short review of the Crumpler Local Identity (Large) photo backpack. Crumpler sells - or rather sold - these backpacks with and without the Haven ICUs, marketing them as "photo" or "regular" backpacks. I said "sold" because these packs are no longer made. They were quite expensive back in the day, retailing in Canada for about CAD289. But here's the catch - Crumpler Canada is closing shop and everything they had in stock in their Ontario warehouse is now discounted heavily on their liquidation website. (Google them if you are in the mood for some incredible deals.) As such I got my Local Identity for a mere CAD149 plus S&H and tax. Also keep in mind there are two versions of the Local Identity, the L (large) and the M (medium). They are sold with the Haven Large, respectively Medium ICUs together. This review is about the Large model.

One more thing worth mentioning is, there are very few - if any - reviews of this bag. The original Crumpler site used to have some photos but I had a hard time understanding them until I actually got the bag in my hands. With that in mind, the word RARE in the thread title refers both to the scarce availability of this bag, and the amount of reviews on it floating on the interwebs.

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If you read my other reviews, you probably know that I am trying to find the perfect balance between a daypack with more general storage than gear, fast enough for street photography and with room for a MacBook Pro 13" (not shown in the contents photo above). And no, I haven't found it yet, but the Local Identity came quite close. It's my daily driver until I get the next one.

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Style-wise, this thing is a bit too "bike courier" for my taste and age. Luckily I don't look my age yet, so I can get away with the messenger look of the bag. The top rolls and folds before being attacked with a snap buckle, offering generous storage should you need it. It can fit everything and the kitchen sink, but I can't vouch for the actual weight capacity as I never overloaded it. Aside from the kit shown in the photo, sometimes I carry a fleece layer or wind breaker in the top compartment.

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The top compartment is actually made of a separator that comes out of a wall pocket and zips to a half zipper sewn along the opposite wall. (The bag itself can function as a large, one-compartment tube for hauling larger items.) The top has more or less the structure of a bag within a bag, thus preventing small items like pens or batteries to fall into the bottom part of the bag. The wall pocket can then function as a very secret pocket, but I found it so incredibly hard to access - let alone take photos of it - that I just ditched the idea. To illustrate where that thing is would require a drawn diagram of the bag, which is not within the scope of this review. Doubled along the back wall is the laptop compartment, padded enough to keep a MBP safe through moderate use (no drops on the floor.) I think it could also accomodate a 15" laptop, but I don't have one to test it. For daily use, that's where the iPad lives, unless I travel - in which case the MBP moves in. The outer snap buckle is adjustable in length and will let you roll and close the top with various load volumes. Also, worth mentioning is that the bag does NOT have a carrying handle - what you see in the above images is a mickeymoused paracord thing I made until I get myself to properly sew some Cordura straps. If you don't use a handle solution you will find the bag incredibly awkward to handle when it's not on your back.

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The side access zippers are decently workable. The weather sealing makes them a little harder to slide, so because of this I would recommend operating them slowly and carefully. Someone on Amazon was complaining about the zippers giving way, I personally think it was due to mishandling and not paying attention to the shape of the bag. In any case, the bag is ambidextrous - which means you can get fast access on either side, and more important - the zippers are doubled with a snap buckle strap. If by any chance the zipper gives way, your gear will still be held in place. It should also discourage fast pickpockets, but let's not think about that now. The images above show the bag loaded with the Haven L (large), that holds pretty much all the OM-D kit shown in the first photo. The ICU is not attached by any means to the bag, which leaves you the freedom to turn it around whichever way you see fit inside the bag, as the bottom is one large compartment that communicates from one side flap to another (more on this below).

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Since I had purchased a Haven M (medium) ICU for the second kit I like to carry (Fuji X10 + Oly E-PM1), I find it incredibly convenient to change ICUs and having the rest of my stuff in place. Shown above is the Haven M inside the bag, with a little room to spare behind the ICU - enough to fit a dop kit or anything you'd like in there (my hand and a small Lowepro pouch for size reference.) Regardless of which ICU is inside at any given time, behind it I am storing an Ultrapod and a RapidStrap.

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Pictured above are the two ICUs for size comparison. I also wanted to point out that the bag doesn't come with any water bottle carrying solution, which left me to improvise by means of a Lowepro SF bottle pouch attached to one of the flap snap-buckle straps - obviously, the one opposite the camera access. While the strap looks fairly sturdy, I wouldn't overload it with more than a water bottle. Don't think about hanging a tripod off of that, it's not going to hold.

To sum it up, the Local Identity is a quite versatile bag, although a little hipster-looking. While writing this review, I realized that one could for instance move the ICU in the top part, leaving the bottom for heavier or more packable items (like a larger jacket.) It's not as rugged as a Tenba or Tamrac, and the vinyl part on the front already shows signs of wear and tear where it folds and in the corners. It doesn't seem to be able to withstand abrasion either. But for someone that is rather careful with their belongings, this bag may just fit the bill.

DISCLAIMER - some of these reviews may be found in the same form on my website and/or blog.

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