Billingham Hadley Small Pro First Impressions Review

Billingham Hadley Small Pro First Impressions:

One of the most popular bags from Billingham is the Hadley Small.  It makes sense to because it has all the features that people are looking for in a compact high end bag.  It’s made from high quality materials, it’s expertly crafted, and it’s made to last.  It also doesn’t hurt that the Hadley Small can carry a ton of stuff for such a small bag.  Recently though, Billingham have release a new and improved version called the Hadley Small Pro, and thanks to Billingham, I was able to get one to bring to Japan with me to review.  Here are my first impressions of it.

So to many, the Hadley Small Pro probably doesn’t seem much different than the Hadley Small.  They’re the same size, and with a few exceptions, they pretty much look the same on the outside.  The craftsmanship is still exemplary.  The stitching for example, is absolutely perfect.  The leather used is top grade quality.  Like the Hadley Small, the Pro version also comes in FibreNyte or traditional canvas.  The one that you see here in the photos is a canvas version.  Both bags still have the two expandable front dump pockets as well, and the same removable padded insert.  Of course, the weather protection is still the best that you can get in my opinion.

But there are some key features that really set the Hadley Small Pro apart from its sibling.  First off, the Hadley Small Pro has a carry handle on top like the Hadley Pro and the Hadley One.  It also has a document pocket on the back with a waterproof zip.  There’s also a luggage trolley strap on the back.  Like the Hadley One, it also has a removable shoulder strap.

I’ve owned the Hadley Small for years, and seriously speaking, it is near perfect in my eyes.  It’s well-made like every other Billingham bag (I must confess, I do love my Billingham bags).  It’s lasted me years without any problems, and another point I should make is that a lot of the parts on the Hadley Series bags in general are replaceable, which increases their longevity.  The insert, the dividers, the leather straps that help secure the main flap, and now, I’m assuming even the removable shoulder strap on the Pro version can be easily swapped out if they get too old or worn out.  The Hadley Small is also simply up there with the best in protecting one’s gear.  It’s a great day bag because of its compact size yet, it can carry quite a lot of gear when you need it to.  The last time I went to Japan, I just didn’t want to carry a big bag but I knew I had a lot of stuff I had to bring.  In the end, all of my gear actually fit!  I had 5 lenses, a Leica M 240, charger, batteries, SD cards, and an iPad Pro 9.7 in it.  There is no iPad slot but I was able to slip my iPad with case in between the rear part of the insert and the back of the bag.

While the Hadley Small has served me well for several years, I have to say, the new improvements made on the Hadley Small Pro really enhance usability.  As I said earlier, the Hadley Small is near perfect but having a handle for example, makes life easier.  When it was really crowded on the trains in Tokyo for example, I could take the bag off my shoulders and just hold the top handle to make more room.  The back pocket is also a welcomed feature.  My tickets and passports slip right into the back pocket.  Having the luggage trolley strap is only a plus, and it definitely made things easier at the airport.  Lastly, I love the removable shoulder strap.  It’s held in by press studs and very thick leather, so no one is going to be able to remove it without me clearly noticing, and the plus side of it is I can use the Hadley Small Pro like a briefcase if I wanted to thanks to the new top handle.  The best thing of all is that these features have absolutely no detrimental affects on the overall design of the bag.  They do not take anything away from it but instead, only enhanced the usability of the Small.  In every way, from weight, size to how it balances on my shoulders, it still feels just like a regular Hadley Small, which is a great thing.

Once I get back from Japan, you can expect a full review of the new Hadley Small Pro, so stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by!

If you want more info on the Hadley Small Pro, check out Billingham’s website!

4 comments… add one
  • Aaron

    Patrick,

    Thanks for the nice first impressions review. Probably the first on the internet. From the specifications on Billingham’s website, the Small Pro is quite a bit wider and thicker than the Hadley Small and is even thicker than the Hadley Pro. Does real use experience confirm these dimensions (the height difference is not an issue as it is explained by the handle)?

    Small Pro: W330mm (13) x D140mm (5½”) x H260mm (10¼”)
    Hadley Small: W290mm (11½”) x D120mm (4¾”) x H220mm (8⅝”)
    Hadley Pro: W350mm (13¾”) x D120mm (4¾”) x H280mm (11″)

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    • Patrick

      Thanks Aaron!

      The internals are the same. In fact, the same insert is used. The differences are the added features. According to my contact at Billingham, the top handle adds a bit of height, and the removable sling adds a bit of length for example but it’s basically the same bag. I own the Small, and it doesn’t feel any different than the Small Pro. I hope this helps!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Hello Patrick,

    I’ve had my Hadley Small bag for about 3-4 years now, & it has really served me well in terms of transporting all of the gear needed & providing really good weather protection when caught in rain storms before I got my Fuji X-Pro2 & WR lenses that offer some minimal ability to get a bit wet without any harm. The only thing I have concern over with my Hadley is that the strap is sewn into the bag, so that it cannot be easily repaired or replaced if needed. So that detachable strap really caught my eye. The handle & rear zippered pouch would be nice additions too, but like you, I have managed by just wrapping the strap around my hands to shorten it into a handle to carry the bag with one hand, & using the space between the liner & back of the back for my X-Rite Colorchecker Passport or iPhone. But it does look like all of the quality is still there with some improvements as well. Enjoy using it on your trip!

    Jed

    • Patrick

      Hi Jed,

      Apologies for the late reply. The jet lag is still getting to me. I’ve had several Billingham bags that have held up for many years, so I wouldn’t worry about the shoulder strap. My 20+ year old Hadley is still going strong with no signs of needing any repair. But if you ever need repair, Billingham will gladly help out.

      In my review, I’ll probably do a little comparison between the old Small and the new one, so you and others can better see the differences. Thanks for the well wishes, and I’ll speak to you soon!

      Best,

      Patrick

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