Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag Review:
The Hadley Pro has been around for ages, and has been Billingham’s best selling bag ever for good reason. It’s well-made, looks great, comfortable and is perfectly sized for a variety of photographic gear from compact mirrorless cameras to even larger DSLR systems. To top it off, the bag lasts forever, and offers superior protection for your gear. But like everything else, things change. Photography, for instance, has changed quite a bit even in the last ten years. While the Hadley Pro is still doing great, it also made sense for Billingham to further improve on it with the release of the new Hadley Pro 2020. It’s been years since they made any major changes, right? But with a bag like this where there’s a big following, and people generally like it the way that it is, changes can sometimes be unwanted. So, the question is are these improvements truly beneficial or are they a detriment to the overall design that has made this Billingham bag so popular over the years? Well, thanks to Billingham, I was able to get the Hadley Pro 2020 in to review, and here’s what I think.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag Build Quality:
Let’s start off talking about the overall quality of the new Billingham Hadley Pro 2020. I’m happy to say that it’s made just as well as any other Billingham bag out there, which should come to no surprise at this point. The Hadley Pro 2020 is flawless; there are solid brass fittings and full grain leather found throughout the entire bag. The stitch work is perfect, and all the materials are assembled immaculately. I know there are more, and more high end bag manufacturers out there these days, and a lot of them produce superb products, so it isn’t necessarily easy to make a choice as to which bag is right for you. But Billingham has been in the game for quite a few years, and all that experience, and know-how is literally put into this bag. Truth is, I’ve seen quite a few bags costing a lot more that aren’t made as well as the Hadley Pro 2020. They’ve got making high end bags down to a science, and over the years, the quality just doesn’t seem to drop; in fact, I actually think Billingham bags are getting better, and better with each new bag that they release.
↑ The new Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 in Sage FibreNyte and Chocolate Leather.
Of course, there is so much more to this bag than just the overall look of it or the high quality materials. Like its predecessor, the Hadley Pro 2020 offers some of the best protection that you can get for your camera gear. It’s one of the main reasons why I’ve been a user for so many years.
↑ Here’s the back of the Hadley Pro 2020.
Let’s first start out with the outer material. You have a choice between traditional canvas or Billingham’s synthetic FibreNyte material. The canvas is a bit softer than FibreNyte. But the FibreNyte is a bit lighter, more durable, and more fade resistant all while giving you the look and a similar feel of canvas. I’ve used both over the years, and both are excellent. Both will last a very long time but I usually go for the FibreNyte now. It really does feel very much like canvas all with the added benefits I mentioned above. Color wise, there are so many to choose from these days, that it’s too much to mention here. The one in this review is the Sage FibreNyte, and Chocolate Leather version. This along with Black FibreNyte and Black Leather are my “go-to” colors.
↑ Here’s the side view.
Both materials are great, especially when bad weather starts coming your way. Billingham bags can handle pretty much whatever weather you just so happen to be going through from snow, sleet, rain, cold to hot temps. Like other Billingham bags, Hadley Pro 2020 has 3-layers of waterproofing include a butyl rubber core that is impermeable to water. I’m out all the time shooting rain or shine, and every Billingham bag has never once failed in protecting my gear from the elements. There was this one time when I was shooting a wedding at Cayman, and this huge thunderstorm came along. At the time, I was using the Billingham M Combination bag, and I had to leave it outside. By the end of the storm, there was an actual puddle on top of the bag but there wasn’t even a hint of dampness inside. This wasn’t the first time I was ever caught in a massive rain storm. It happened to me in Indonesia as well. I was completely soaked from head to toe but the inside of my Hadley (the bag I used at the time) was completely dry. Another point worth mentioning is the entire flap goes over the main compartment and the two front dump pockets similar to a clam shell, so all the openings including the sides of the bag are covered. Lastly, the Hadley Pro 2020 never needs reproofing for the lifetime of the bag either.
↑ Like other Billingham bags, the Hadley Pro 2020 also comes with a cloth bag.
In addition to some of the best protection you can get against the elements, the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 also has some of the best padding in the industry. The padding is extremely thick, and will protect your gear from some serious impacts. Like its predecessor, the Hadley Pro 2020 uses a removable insert, which is held in by a heavy duty press stud, so you can actually remove it in seconds, if you want to use the Hadley Pro 2020 as just a casual bag. The added benefit of having a removable insert is also increased longevity of the bag. You can simply replace the insert, if it begins to wear out over the years. I’ve already done this once with my original Hadley. So far, my Hadley has been in constant use for over two decades. It’s also worth noting that the quick release leather straps, which are fully adjustable, can also be removed. So, if they wear out over time, you can get those replaced as well.
↑ The Hadley Pro 2020’s insert is removable.
↑ The insert inside the bag.
↑ You can use the Hadley Pro 2020 just like a casual bag, if you remove the insert.
As for dividers, there are two vertical ones, and two small hinged dividers, which you can use to stack lenses. They can pretty much be placed anywhere in the insert, since they are held in with very sticky velcro.
↑ The Hadley Pro 2020 comes with 4 dividers.
↑ The insert does have a top flap that is padded for even more protection.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag New Features:
So, before we take a look inside the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020, let’s talk about some of these new features. As I said before, you really don’t want to mess with the overall formula of something like this because it’s a classic. It has a huge fan base. It’s like if I were to completely redesign a Leica M camera or if Porsche made the 911 a front engine car. With that said, there are always ways to further improve something while also not changing the core design. This is what Billingham has done with the new Hadley Pro 2020, and in my opinion, they’ve succeeded.
↑ The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 has several new features.
I have the original Hadley (I think that’s what it’s called; it’s been so long). I think by now, it’s over two decades old. It’s a daily user for me, so I have a lot of experience with it. I’ve also reviewed the Hadley Pro, so I’m familiar with it as well. I’m happy to say that the new Hadley Pro 2020 feels just like those bags. In other words, the Hadley Pro 2020 feels like an old friend BUT what’s great is it now comes with added conveniences that make the experience of using the bag that much better.
For one, the back pocket now features an upgraded weather-proofed zipper. The back pocket will fit documents, and even a tablet, such as, an iPad Pro 10.5.
↑ The back pocket will fit a tablet, such as, an iPad. The one pictured here is the iPad Pro 9.7.
Other changes also include improving the way that you carry the bag. For instance, the top handle features fiberglass reinforcement like the Hadley Pro but with the Hadley Pro 2020, there’s added leather to the underside of the handle to make it more comfortable to carry the bag. As for the shoulder sling, it is now fully removable just like on some of the newer bags, such as, the Hadley One, and the Hadley Small Pro. There’s now also a luggage trolley retainer strap on the back of the bag to make traveling easier.
↑ There’s a top handle on the Hadley Pro 2020.
↑ The underside of the top handle is lined with leather for added comfort.
↑ The shoulder sling is fully removable. As you can see, there’s thick leather, so it won’t wear out anytime soon.
↑ Here’s a picture just showing you the back part of the shoulder sling. It’s all top quality materials.
↑ There’s also a trolley strap for added convenience.
The Hadley Pro was and still is a great bag that didn’t really need a ton of improvements (I’m still using the Hadley Pro’s predecessor 🙂 ). So, no drastic changes were really made. These features that were added only improve the usability of the bag but don’t affect the overall formula that has made this bag so popular.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag Carrying Capacity:
Let’s talk about what you can actually carry along with you in this bag. One of the great things about the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is it can carry a range of different photographic gear. You can fit a compact mirrorless system to a larger DSLR system. You can even just carry a minimal amount of gear because the bag isn’t heavy. Below are examples of various kits that I put in the bag to give you an idea of what the Hadley Pro 2020 is able to carry, and how things might be configured.
↑ From left to right: Summilux-SL 50mm f1.4 ASPH, Leica SL with Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f2.8-4 ASPH attached, and APO-Summicron-SL 90mm f2. ASPH.
As you can see in the photo above, I can put my Leica SL and three SL lenses in the Hadley Pro 2020. That’s pretty impressive in my book. My SL lenses are huge.
↑ From left to right: Summilux-SL 50mm ASPH, Leica SL with Summicron-M 35mm f2 ASPH, APO-Summicron-SL 90mm ASPH, and Super Elmar-M 18mm f3.8 ASPH.
In the photo above, I still have the SL in the bag but I changed things up a bit. I still have my Summilux-SL 50mm ASPH on the left but I have a 35mm Summicron-M ASPH mounted on the SL. I also still have the APO Summicron-SL 90mm ASPH but I used one of the small hinged dividers to allow me to put the 18mm Super Elmar-M ASPH on top of the APO.
↑ From left to right: Super Elmar-M 18mm f3.8 ASPH, Leica M6 TTL Millennium with Summicron-M 35mm f2 ASPH Black Paint, and 75mm Summilux.
The photo above is for Leica M fans. As you can see, the Hadley Pro 2020 works great with the Leica M system as well.
↑ From left to right: Super Elmar-M 18mm f3.8 ASPH, Olympus Pen-F with pancake zoom, Leica M6 TTL Millennium with Summicron-M 35mm f2 ASPH Black Paint, 75mm Summilux, and Summilux-M 50mm f1.4 ASPH.
So, the photo above has the same gear as the first photo with M gear. However, on the left side, I was able to use a small hinged divider to allow me to put an Olympus Pen-F with pancake zoom on top of my 18mm Super Elmar. On the right, I was able to put a 50mm Summilux ASPH on top of the 75mm Summilux thanks to the other small hinged divider.
↑ From left to right: Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8, Fujifilm X-T3 with XF 56mm f1.2 APD R lens, and XF 35mm f1.4 R lens.
The photo above shows how I would use the bag with the Fujifilm X Series system. As you can see, the Hadley Pro 2020 is very versatile. It’s able to accommodate many different camera systems.
↑ From left to right: Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8, Pen-F with pancake zoom, Fujifilm X-T3 with XF 56mm f1.2 APD R lens, XF 35mm f1.4 R lens, and a 50mm Summicron with Fuji M adapter attached.
Can’t decide if you want to go micro four thirds or APS-C for a particular day? Bring both :). As you can see, I have the same gear in this photo as the first photo I posted with Fujifilm gear. However, I also have a Pen-F with pancake zoom on top of the Zeiss Touit 12mm f2.8, and a Leica 50mm Summicron with Fuji M Adapter on top of the XF 35mm f1.4 all thanks to the two small hinged dividers.
↑ I put this picture up in hopes that it’ll give you a sense of the size of the Hadley Pro 2020 when compared to the different cameras.
In addition to the main compartment, you also have two big front dump pockets. You can put a bunch of things in it like chargers, memory cards, filters, and batteries. The pockets also have the ability to expand simply by unbuttoning the press studs on the side of each pocket.
↑ Two large dump pockets are in the front.
↑ You can place a ton of things inside these dump pockets.
↑ Need even more room? Just unbutton the press studs on the sides of each dump pocket.
If you’re finding that you’re packing your Hadley Pro 2020 with a lot of gear all the time, you can also get one of the shoulder pads from Billingham. According to Billingham, you can use either the Billingham SP-15 of SP-40 shoulder pads. The one in the photos, and the one that was sent to me is the Billingham SP-40. You might be able to find a cheaper alternative to these but it mostly likely won’t be nearly as well made. The SP-40 shoulder pad is quite impressive. It’s really high quality; Billingham shoulder pads in general are probably the best I’ve ever used from any camera bag manufacturer. They also offer superior support. I highly recommend them.
↑ The Billingham SP-40 Shoulder in Chocolate Leather.
↑ The underside of the shoulder pad is nice and thick.
↑ Here’s a side view to give you an idea of the thickness.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag in Use:
Now that you know how the Hadley Pro 2020 is made, and what it can carry, let’s talk a bit about how it is to actually use it. Well, this is probably one of the best bags for everyday use. The size is pretty much perfect for a variety of gear from small to big. There are times when I packed it full with multiple lenses, two bodies, chargers, etc., and there are times when I have just one camera and lens in it.
↑ The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 next to the Leica SL.
Since the Hadley Pro 2020 is made out of canvas as opposed to say full leather like some other high end bags, it’s not that heavy for its size. It’s something that won’t make you tired at the end of a long day shooting. I have a bad back, and I walk quite a bit when I am shooting. Sometimes I’ll go a few miles a day just to shoot. This bag isn’t something that will make you wish you never brought it.
What I also love about the Hadley Pro 2020 is how easy it is to access it. It’s a hassle free operation. The Hadley Pro 2020’s front closing straps are part of a design that Billingham calls their Quick Release System. Opening the bag couldn’t be simpler; the top of the straps go into the brass clogballs, and when you want to open the bag, you simply slide the straps off them. The buckles below are simply there for adjusting the fit of the top flap and pockets. You don’t use them to open the bag.
↑ Billingham’s Quick Release System is a great design because it’s simple, noise-free, secure, and quick to operate.
This, in my opinion, is one of the best designs out there for opening, and closing a camera bag. First off, gaining access to your bag is extremely quick, and the beauty of it is you can easily unlock the main flap with just one hand without looking all while walking as well. I actually never put the bag down when I’m accessing the main compartment. The system is also noiseless. There’s no metal banging around or velcro causing noise. The Quick Release system is also extremely secure. You really don’t have to worry about someone trying to open your bag because you will feel them trying to manipulate the straps. It’s also secure enough that if your bag were to be flip upside down accidentally (I do not recommend you do this with any bag), nothing will fall out. Bottom line is it’s just an uncomplicated design that works great.
Another feature I really love about this bag is the way the flap has been slightly redesigned at least when compared to my Original Hadley. It’s been many years, and I’ve been through many different Billingham bags, so my memory is a little hazy; I’m not sure if this feature was in the Hadley Pro but the way that the main flap is attached in the back of the Hadley Pro 2020 is slightly different than the way it is attached on my original Hadley. This actually makes it easier for the flap to flip completely open versus the the flap on my Original Hadley. This may not sound like a big deal but it is; I’ve been using the Hadley for years and years, and like I mentioned before, I don’t stop walking or even look at the bag when I open it to pull gear out of it. I never put the bag down either. The less time you spend messing with the flap of the bag the better. The Hadley Pro 2020 just quicker, and easier for me to flip it all the way open.
↑ The corners are slightly different in the way that they are attached.
↑ Close up of the Hadley Pro 2020.
↑ Close up of my Original Hadley.
↑ The Hadley Pro 2020 with its flap completely opened.
↑ A close up of the Hadley Pro 2020 with its flap completely opened.
↑ The flap from my Original Hadley completely opened.
↑ A closer up of the flap from the Original Hadley completely opened.
Appearance wise, the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is just a beautiful looking bag that has a classic yet understated appearance. It doesn’t look like a traditional camera bag, so it doesn’t scream camera gear. I’ve actually seen one or two people on the train here in NYC with the Hadley Pro, and they’re using it as a work bag. The Hadley Pro 2020 is a bag that blends in quite nicely to its surroundings when you’re walking around the city. It also never really feels out of place no matter where you go whether it be a nice dinner, a gallery opening or roughing it in the field.
Another point worth making about the appearance is that it adds to the longevity of the bag. It’s a classic bag that you can keep for many years, and it never goes out of style. The great thing about Billingham bags in general is that their appearances don’t drastically change, so even when newer models are released, the older bags don’t feel dated. For instance, I’ve been using my 20 plus year old Hadley, and people who know Billingham still recognize it as a Hadley.
↑ The new Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 next to my older Hadley. The overall appearances are very similar.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag Specs:
W430mm (17″) x D160mm (6⅜”) x H240mm (9⅜”) (excluding top handle)
W430mm (17″) x D160mm (6⅜”) x H280mm (11″) (including top handle)
Internal Dimensions (Main compartment):
W340mm (13⅜“) x D80mm (3⅛”) x H210mm (8¼”)
Please note the insert is flexible, especially front to back. Therefore, it can fit items slightly larger than the dimensions suggest – inside it could comfortably bow out to a ‘D’ measurement of 100mm (3⅞”) at the bottom and 120mm (4¾”) at the top (at the centre), at a stretch it can go out to 160mm (6⅜”).
The top flap of the insert is also flexible so you can put in items slightly taller if you need to.
6.00 litres (0.21 feet³)
1.2 kgs (2.7 lbs)
3 in total
Front ‘dump’ pockets (x2):
Dimensions: W130 to 170mm (5⅛” to 6¾”) x D40 to 60mm (1½” to 2⅜”) x H200mm (7⅞”)
Capacity: 1 to 1.25 litres (0.03 feet³ to 0.04 feet³)
Rear zipped pocket: W320mm (12⅝”) x D Nominal x H180mm (7″)
Shoulder Sling Measurements
Length: can be adjusted between 1000mm (39⅜”) to 1700mm (67″”) approx.
Width: 38mm (1½”).
Weight: 0.16kg (0.35 lbs)
You can fit the SP40 or SP15 shoulder pads to this sling (not included).
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag Verdict:
Redesigning a classic like the Hadley Pro isn’t an easy task. You definitely don’t want to mess with the overall formula that has made it Billingham’s most popular bag ever. Of course, things change, and with those changes, things need to be improved. With all that said, Billingham has done a perfect job at making a worthy successor to the Hadley Pro. The Hadley Pro 2020 keeps all of the qualities that has made the Hadley Pro so successful but adds a host of new features that make the bag even better.
↑ The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is one of the best bags currently out.
Quite honestly, I love this bag. I’ve been using my old Hadley for so long, and I stubbornly refused to change to a newer one not because I didn’t think the newer version (the Pro at the time) was good. I’ve just been through so much with my Hadley. I’ve had so many memories with it. I know it’s just a bag but in some ways, it really isn’t. When you have something that is not only a constant companion but can handle whatever you throw at it all the time, you bond with it. I think about how many camera systems that I’ve changed to that this bag has actually seen. It even saw me change from film to digital as my mainstream media. This time however, is different. The Hadley Pro 2020 has won me over. I may not retire my original Hadley completely but I think it’ll be a part timer from now on, and the Hadley Pro 2020 will be taking on full time duties ;).
If you’re looking for a bag of this size, the Hadley Pro 2020 is just about perfect. The quality and the craftsmanship is second to none. The Hadley Pro 2020 looks beautiful yet it’s understated enough where it won’t attract any unwanted attention. It has the flexibility to carry a lot of gear when you need it or feel right at home carry nothing but a small kit. It’s also extremely comfortable to have around the shoulders, especially for an extended period of time. It’s trouble free meaning it’s easy to access the bag yet at the same time, it’s very secure. Lastly, it can handle any weather Mother Nature has in store, and it has some of the best padding in the industry. Yes, the Hadley Pro 2020 is not cheap, and I’m not here to argue that but it’ll probably outlast most of the stuff out there several times over. Plus, the peace of mind that this bag gives you in terms of how it protects your gear is priceless. Honestly, I can not recommend the Hadley Pro 2020 enough.
If you want more info, you can check out Billingham’s website :).