Parrot Bebop Backpack (by Manfrotto) review
Here I am again, writing something that’s rather odd, well, at least to me. For those who follow me since the beginning of this blog, you know that I am a professional photographer and of course a father of twins. So my blog almost always surrounds these two elements. I have written reviews to gears that I use daily and raved about my monthly challenges of being a father through my twins blogs.
But every now and then I write something else, still within my remit about things that I own and use. This review is about a backpack. It’s a backpack for transferring my newly acquired small video and camera drone, the Parrot Bebop, its Sky Controller and accessories.
My wife bought me the Bebop last Christmas and subsequently I bought the Skycontroller and a few more batteries. Immediately, I hurried up and searched around for something that would allow me to store all the Bebop stuff and transport them around. But there was a problem, there weren’t many options around that could accommodate both the Bebop and the Skycontroller, apart from one backpack and a few hard cases. In the end, I preferred the backpack and chose the Anbee Backpack from China, and due to its price, I ordered one without hesitation.
Ok, here’s the fact, I don’t dislike the Anbee but I am shocked just how big it was when it arrived. OK I say it again, this Anbee case is absolutely HUMONGOUS!! It’s well made enough and it had tons of padding foams inside. As it’s custom to fit the Bebop and Skycontroller, you can simply pop them in the case without having to cut the foam yourself. When it is closed, you can even sit on it. That’s pretty solid and these are all the positive things I can think of.
The Bebop drone is a pretty tiny thing, and even with the obvious and stupidly large Skycontroller, I would have thought that there were smaller and better options. But there was none. My guess is that the Bebop has not been as popular other fully grown drones like the DJI quadcopters, there simply wasn’t enough demand for any manufacturers to make one that fits the Bebop and its controller. With the Anbee case, I went out looking like a soldier carrying a transmission unit with double battery case. Well, yes, the Bebop was small enough to put into any backpack and I could just use my iPhone or iPad to control it. But I always prefer proper joysticks than those virtual pads on the screen. Plus the Skycontroller adds a much needed long range control.\
Oh yes, Parrot did make one small hand carrying case for the Bebop drone only but it was useless as it didn’t hold anything else. It really is just a padded case for the drone itself.
Why this backpack?
When Parrot put lots of fireworks around the new Bebop 2 last spring, in a rather low-key note, they also announced a new Bebop backpack. For some strange reasons, I was drawn towards the accessory than the new drone. Apart from knowing that it’s made from Italian camera bag maker, Manfrotto, there are only a few photos and very limited reviews around. So I decided to buy one and write the review myself. One thing that I did know was that it’s much smaller than my monster Anbee case while having the same ability to hold both the drone and the controllers plus a few accessories.
Well, my thought process was very simple. I didn’t like the idea of using a hard case as it’s rather awkward to carry it while trying to hold my kids’ hands to the park. A backpack was what I was looking for. Anbee was a case and a backpack but it just made me look silly and hence drew a lot of unnecessary attentions. Now the new Bebop backpack is a rather stylish one, even though it still looks larger than a normal daypack but at least it looks like an oversized school backpack than a rectangular block on my back. Better still, it’s rather practical which I will discuss later.
Yes, this back is a showcase for quality, just like any Manfrotto cases and bags. Anbee is a solid bag but when you put it next to the new backpack, it’s definitely like comparing a Ford and a BMW. I can’t comment on other bags on the market as I haven’t tried them all but the ‘official’ Bebop backpack is definitely one nicely put-together product from a premium brand. You also get the standard 1 year warranty unlike my Anbee case, as it’s so cheap, I doubt that the manufacturer would warrant any of their products if anything does happen (what I really mean is that they probably will never reply your emails should you need their assistance of any kind but I am only speculating of course :D). In fact, the product already disappears from amazon.co.uk (at time of writing).
All the zips were very smooth and the velcro is strong and sturdy, at least that’s how I feel. The pre-cut foams for both the Bebop 1 and 2 are very nice and precise and once fitted, it’s very snugged and nothing moved while walking.
One thing that I don’t know much is how weather resistant it is as there’s no description about it nor there any covers like all other Manfrotto camera bags but it should be ok in light drizzles.
Overall, though, it’s a really nicely put together backpack.
In use, how is it?
First, as it’s much smaller, I don’t look like an idiot anymore. It’s still no compact bag by any means but it’s definitely a lot thinner than my Anbee case. I do use the Bebop frequently for taking some aerial photographs for my wedding clients. As it’s small and light, and relatively quick to set up, I just take it and use my iPhone to do the job. easy. But when I am not photographing weddings, I take the Bebop with its controller for some longer and higher flying. In terms of weights, the Bebop bag is fairly similar to Anbee despite its size. I guess it’s all down to the much nicer materials used in the Manfrotto bag.
The Bebop case is also much more practical in real life use too. Not only it has the space to pack the either the Bebop 1 or 2, and it’s controller, it can also holds all of its accessories like batteries, Chargers, guards, sunshades, spare parts like propellers. It even has space for your laptop or tablet and water bottles! I personally think it’s a much better thought through and complete products than anything other out there.
Finally you can strap the Bebop to the front of the backpack for convenient deployment. The Bebop case comes with two adjustable straps to wrap the Bebop, how cool is that?
I am not a pro-drone flyer but I do use my Bebop 1 in a professional environment like taking aerial photos of the wedding venues. I am an amateur flyers that love looking at some cool scenery and landscapes from above. So finding a good compact case is always my top priority. But finding one is very difficult. Even though you may be able to put the Bebop (1 or 2) in your regular backpack, but if you want to carry your Skycontroller, you will struggle to find any solution out there.
Thanks to some dedicated manufacturers and now Parrot, who finally acknowledge the need to have a transportation solution for its massive controller, us, the consumers, now have choices. But amongst the couple I tried, I do think the Bebop Backpack by Parrot (Manfrotto) is by far the best one out there, and the most practical. Once you remove all the inserts inside, you can even use it as a regular large bag! For the price, less than £100, is a steal too! Highly recommended for all the Bebop lovers!
- Compact and relatively lightweight
- Excellent and thoughtful design with lots of rooms and pockets
- Good use of every inch of the space, inside and out!
- Robust materials
- Comfortable to carry with those thick padded straps.
- Space for laptop
- Still a little large
- Not sure if it will be compatible for future Bebops (if there are any).
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