Messenger bags have always been my favorite when it comes to hauling gear. I have been searching for something comfortable, functional, durable, protective, and stylish. Many manufacturers create unattractive yet comfortable and practical bags. Or the bags are beautiful but, apart from aesthetics, they don’t make a lot of sense. However, the Billingham Eventer MKII looks to check all the boxes on my wishlist.
View this article with minimal banner ads in our app for iOS, iPad, and Android. Get no banner ads for $24.99/year.
The Eventer II is one of the most beautiful messenger bags I have ever seen. The navy canvas and chocolate brown leather work so well together. It is stunning. Billingham is known for creating beautiful bags that are functional and last for years. Is the investment in this bag justified? We think so. Keep reading to find out why.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
Billingham has updated its popular Eventer bag and the MKII is sure to make customers happy. Waterproof zippers, a trolley luggage retainer strap, and a revised padded insert for more protection have been added. Billingham redesigned the top flap and added leather to the top grab handle. It ships with the wonderful SP50 shoulder strap for added comfort. It is as beautiful as it is functional and a worthwhile investment.
Pros and Cons
- The navy blue canvas and chocolate brown leather combination is stunning
- Premium materials
- Waterproof canvas and zippers
- Quick-release tabs
- Comfortable to wear
- Perhaps the best shoulder pad on the market
- Billingham Customer Service
- It only accommodates a 13” MacBook Pro, although I wouldn’t want to carry anything larger.
- I wish the front pockets were dump pockets (but that’s being picky).
The Billingham Eventer II isn’t innovative, and it doesn’t have to be. The company has a successful blueprint that doesn’t require being rehauled with each new iteration. Instead, Billingham listens to customer requests and makes them happen. The result is one of the most stylish and functional premium camera messenger bags on the market.
I tested the Billingham Eventer MKII messenger bag with the following gear:
- 13” MacBook Pro
- Hasselblad 501cm
- Fujifilm GFX50s II with 35-70mm lens attached
- Fujifilm Instax Evo, Instax Link Wide Printer, and Instax Wide Film
- Canon 5D III with 85mm lens attached and a Canon 50mm lens
- Rolls of 120 film
The tech specs are provided by Billingham.
- Width 400mm (153⁄4″)
- Depth 180mm (71⁄8″)
- height exc. handle 320mm (125/8″)
- Height inc. handle 350mm (133⁄4″)
- Weight 1.83kg (4.03lbs)
Internal – inside padded insert
- Width 340mm (133⁄8″)
- Depth 120mm (43⁄4″)
- Height 260mm (101/4″)
- Capacity 9 liters (0.32 feet3)
- Width 300mm (113⁄4”)
- Depth Nominal
- Height 250mm (97⁄8”)
Internal – without padded insert
- Width 390mm (153/8″)
- Depth 140mm (51⁄2″)
- Height 290mm (113⁄8″)
- Capacity 10.5 liters (0.37 feet3)
Front pockets (x2)
- Width 170mm (63⁄4″)
- Depth 60mm (23/8″)
- Height 230mm (9″)
- Capacity (each) 1.5 liters (0.05 feet3)
Rear zip pocket
- Width 350mm (133/4”)
- Depth Nominal
- Height 220mm (85⁄8”)
Luggage trolley strap
- Width (usable) 280mm (11”)
Shoulder sling length
- Length 820mm (321/4”) – 1390mm (543/4”)
- Width 50mm (2″)
Vertical dividers (x2)
- Height 195mm (75/8)
- Width ex. Velcro 110mm (43⁄8″)
Flap Dividers (x2)
- Width ex. Velcro 105mm (41⁄8″)
- Height 105mm (41⁄8″)
Billingham’s Eventer II bag looks very similar to the infamous Hadley bag, and it’s almost identical to the Eventer Mini, though larger. The bag is the perfect size to comfortably haul around a moderate amount of gear. Its adjustable shoulder strap is the ideal length to wear cross-body for most average heights. It can be adjusted accordingly.
The shoulder strap is attached to the canvas with leather. The included SP50 shoulder pad is the best shoulder pad I have ever used.
There is a grab handle at the top of the bag. Billingham has added leather and improved the top handle from the original. For improved aesthetics, the top flap has been updated without the original webbing strip.
You will see Billingham’s infamous quick-release straps on the front of the messenger bag. Unfasten them to access the main compartment zipper.
The removable insert will accommodate a 13” MacBook Pro and comfortably stow two cameras with lenses attached. The Eventer II ships with several dividers and flaps to suit your customization needs. It will comfortably fit two medium format systems.
Use the next set of quick-release straps to access the two front pockets on the bag. Each pocket can house a lens. They are also handy for storing personal items.
On the back, you will find a luggage trolley retainer strap. This is a welcome addition and makes it easier when transporting a lot of gear. It fits comfortably and securely on a roller bag. There is also an additional zippered back pocket for personal items like a passport or notebook.
The most notable characteristic of this bag is its succulent leather bottom.
Billingham is renowned for its use of exceptional materials and a craftsmanship that lasts for years to come. The Eventer II is made of waterproof canvas and premium leather. The leather quick-release straps are easy to use. The straps also hold up exceptionally well with repeated use.
The newest edition has added weatherproofing to the main compartment and back pocket zippers. I got caught in a passing rainstorm in Denver, and the bag did an excellent job repelling moisture. My gear remained dry and protected. The canvas also does a wonderful job keeping dust and dirt out while I’m riding around on my Vespa.
Billingham revamped the insert and provided extra padding on the bottom for added protection. The dividers and flaps are made of velcro that will survive frequent changes and keep up with the demands placed on them. The hand-sewn snaps allow you to remove the insert and use the bag as a regular messenger bag.
The first Eventer bag that arrived had a snap button on the insert that wasn’t attached. I contacted Billingham, and they assured us that a snap-stud fault is an extremely rare occurrence. It’s also something covered under their 5-year warranty. Billingham went back through its inventory to ensure it was a lone occurrence promptly sent out a new bag. The replacement bag arrived with all snap buttons intact and performing as they should.
Statement by Billingham on the Damaged Bag First Received
The first Eventer MKII received by The Phobographer suffered from a fault whereby the press stud that attaches the padded insert into the bag was faulty and so had broken in transit. This necessitated replacing the removable padded insert however after speaking with Brittany, we agreed to replace the whole bag.
A press-stud fault is a very rare occurrence for us, as each press stud is attached individually by a hand-operated machine and because our inspection team are so meticulous.
Whilst we pride ourselves on quality, very occasionally why things can go wrong which is we provide a five-year manufacturers guarantee with all our bags. If a customer’s bag was to develop a fault, due to workmanship or materials, under manufacturers guarantee, we would repair or replace the item at our own cost. We take any manufacturing issue very seriously and always do our utmost to rectify these problems as quickly as possible when they do occur.
Following this report, our factory team have checked every Eventer MKII bag on our shelves shelf and have found no further problems.
The quality and beauty of their bags are what customers draw in. This type of customer service is what keeps customers for life. I wish all manufacturers were like this.
Ease Of Use
The Billingham Eventer MkII messenger bag is as comfortable as it’s beautiful. It was the perfect height to wear cross-body style without adjusting it. The strap can be adjusted effortlessly when you want to wear it on one shoulder.
The Eventer’s medium size is suitable for stowing on my Vespa when commuting around town. It also secures to the back rack with little effort and sits comfortably on my seat when wearing it messenger style.
The included SP50 shoulder pad is durable and comfortable. It offers plenty of padding for extra comfort, and the textured bottom assures that it stays in place. The buttons are solid. I used the shoulder pad to secure my Billingham Hadley Pro Large to a light stand when I needed it to act as a sandbag.
I genuinely appreciate Billingham’s quick-release system. They offer convenience and a double level of security. The durable leather softens almost immediately and makes accessing and securing gear a seamless transition. The leather used in these straps holds up well to frequent use.
The customization options of the insert make it easy to develop a system that works for your needs. It’s a great size for hauling medium format and DSLR systems comfortably. Mirrorless and 35mm systems will allow you to carry even more gear and fine-tune the customization of the insert.
The insert will also house a 13” MacBook Pro or tablet. It becomes an extension of yourself on photoshoots. Accessing gear is easy and becomes second nature once you’ve developed a rhythm. As an added bonus, the insert is removable, so the Billingham Eventer can double as an everyday messenger bag.
Each front flap will accommodate a 24-70mm full-frame equivalent sized lens or personal items. Accessing them with the quick-release straps is easy.
The pass-through trolley strap is an excellent addition and will make bustling through airports less stressful. The zippered back compartment is great to stow things like a passport, checkbook, or notebook. The weatherproof material and top flap will ensure it doesn’t get wet.
The leather bottom is not only stylish, but it’s also an extra layer of protection for your gear. It will also help keep moisture out of the bottom of your bag.
Conclusions of the Billingham Eventer MKII Review
- It’s a stylish messenger bag.
- Excellent shoulder pad
- I like the quick release system.
- The Eventer II is functional.
- It’s an excellent option for medium format and DSLR shooters.
- Weatherproof zippers and the leather bottom offer excellent protection.
- The bag is comfortable.
- Billingham customer service is top-notch.
- Five-year manufacturer warranty
- Although they’re very sufficient, I wish the front pockets were dump pockets.
- Part of me wishes the insert accommodated my 16” MacBook Pro, but my shoulders are thankful it can’t.
There is a lot to like and not much to complain about with this messenger bag. The Billingham Eventer II has bridged what worked so well from the original with added functionality and protection. It is one of the most beautiful camera bags that money can buy, and it’s reflected in the $695 price tag. This is an investment that should last for years to come, perhaps even decades.
The Eventer MKII manages to accomplish what most people are looking for in a messenger bag. It’s comfortable, functional, durable, and stylish. The newest Eventer is a clear contender to be one of the more competitive messenger bags on the market.
Billingham’s top-notch customer service was exceptional when there was an issue. Not every manufacturer is this pleasant to deal with. But my experience makes me appreciate the company even more. This type of brand experience is what creates loyalty and customers for life. I would feel confident recommending Billingham to anyone.
We are giving the Billingham Eventer MKII five out of five stars. Want one? You can pick one up for yourself at Amazon for $695.