The quest for the ultimate camera bag is epic and feels endless, but PGYTECH recently distinguished itself from the usual choices of Peak Design, Manfrotto and more: its quickly evolving OneMo line of backpacks has lately climaxed with the OneMo 2, especially its 35-liter version that can practically haul an entire mobile production studio from your back. Here’s a picture of mine with no less than four cameras, a full video tripod, and room for a few more lenses and accessories inside. (For the details-curious, I’m packing a Sony a7 IV with Tamron 35-150mm f/2-2.8 lens, Sony FX30 with 10-20mm PZ f/4 lens, Sony a6600 with Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens, and Z CAM E2c with Leica 9mm f/1.7, paired with the shortest but sturdiest carbon fibers sticks once-but-not-now made by Vanguard, a Manfrotto fluid head, and a few more lenses with room to spare, not to mention a DJI Ronin RS3 in the front pouch.)
I could have fit mini stands and lights in there also, to service any four-camera shoot (and these days, I just add small ball heads with adapters onto any microphone stands already waiting at most venues, for a slim and stable profile). But, before we dive into the reasons why this OneMo 2 is the ultimate filmmaker’s backpack, here’s a little history.
The original PGYTECH OneMo was already a big step forward, responding to a dream wish list from filmmakers and photographers for the ultimate backpack. Its unique features ranged from being more modular, sleek and subtle in its design; lots of pockets including battery sleeves with full/empty indicators; and a clever expandable front sleeve for awkward-to-fit items like an assembled gimbal stabilizer. But it was only available in a 25-liter capacity, and as you can see in the above close-ups, the material texture was high-tech synthetic but a little rubbery and prone to scratches on its sheen. With the advent of the OneMo 2 in both 25L and (as pictured here) 35L sizes, the material got more rugged into a grid matte texture.
One of my favorite features of the original OneMo, that I mentioned in my roundup here of DJI RS3 gimbal stabilizer accessories, is its expandable front sleeve so that you can simply keep your delicately balanced gimbal fully assembled and just drop it into the big front pocket for quick deployment, without the fuss of setup/breakdown at every new location. A minor drawback of the original OneMo was that the sleeve only zipped open and expanded at its top half; with the new OneMo 2, the sleeve expands equally out from the top and bottom because of a 360-degree zipper design, as seen above in the first picture. When it comes to side pockets, both generations of backpack offered traditional “peek-a-boo” quick access into one side of the main chamber, sized for an included modular camera bag that you could take out to scale down your mobility as-needed. This is actually a function that I’ve never used, finding little difference between using that side access, and simply unzipping the main compartment’s back panel (more on that later). But where the OneMo 2 strikes a nice compromise, is that it seals up one of the two side openings now, putting that pocket to better use for storing more accessories securely. And speaking of places to stow accessories, inside those flaps, I love the combination of three things: zippered pockets, elastic loops, and mesh sleeves. You can have it all!
And how cool is this? There are three battery sleeves (perfect for my NP-FZ100 and NP-F750 batteries) that include a slider-indicator for each, helping you remember you which are empty (red) and which are full (green). They used to be more exposed and easier to get to, but required an extra latch for each to keep them secure — the OneMo 2, altogether better, conceals them behind a zippered sleeve but keeps them secure without needing a separate latch for each.
While both generations of backpack had side access to the main compartment, the original lacked that ability also from the top, but now the OneMo 2 gives you a zippered opening there. I similarly don’t use this feature because it requires you to orient your camera one specific way in the main compartment for top access, but the OneMo 2’s default layout makes it work, and you might like it as seen below.
Of course, the more efficient the backpack gets, to maximize the amount of stuff you can put into it, the heavier it gets! Much like a good-fitting pair of shoes, one of the most important features of a backpack is how it feels on your back, and how it manages all the weight. Below you can see side-by-side how the newer OneMo 2 adds a hefty waist support belt compared to the original OneMo’s basic straps. This is a feature that can reduce the impact of the load, but it’s an extra step every time you sling your backpack — I actually prefer to keep it off most of the time, and to that end, it’s thoughtful that PGYTECH designed a very durable latch system to let you take off the waist support belt too.
When it comes to the shoulder straps, the original OneMo had included a small pouch with a recessed zipper down its center; but the new design of the OneMo 2 has a bigger elastic mesh edge-zippered pouch that provides easy access to accessories while you’re wearing the backpack. There’s also a new “eco-skeleton” that lets your back breathe easier, including a handy loop down the middle for quickly securing your backpack onto the telescoping handle of rollaboard luggage. You can also see, at the top of the pictured OneMo 2, a really important feature called “load lifters”: much like my favorite travel luggage backpack (the Aer Travel Pack 3), load lifters are often-overlooked calibration straps critical for finding that sweet spot to ensure really important health safeguards like reduced risk of strain to your back. You’ll be amazed at how big of a difference the load lifter calibration makes — and, any tool to avoid trips to the chiropractor, is priceless.
We’ve looked at lots of exterior details so far, but any backpack’s value finally comes down to what it can carry in the main compartment. In the picture above, firstly you see how much more can fit into the 35L version, compared to the 25L version of the OneMo 2, and the original OneMo. After years of using a large-capacity Manfrotto backpack, what I liked about that most was how it opened from the back, not the front: I learned the hard way, that you can forget to zipper up your backpack, then find your gear spilling out onto the floor, if it’s left open at the front — this is far less likely to happen with a rear hatch (and I remain amazed at how the majority of video/photo backpacks still zip open at the front). But an especially eyebrow-raising feature of the original was its book-like horizontal flip-out orientation. I didn’t mind it much, but now that the OneMo 2 changed to the conventional vertical flip-out, I like it better (especially when you load up the sleeve with a heavy laptop or tablet that now doesn’t tilt the whole bag off-axis).
It’s a nice bonus that these backpacks include a modular camera bag for whenever you want to slim down your mobile unit quickly. But the compromise of this approach is two-fold: firstly, you aren’t able to maximize the amount of gear that your backpack can carry; and secondly, when you want to access whatever you put into the smaller bag, it’s an extra step of taking it out, unzipping it, etc. So, pros and cons — but, better to have the choice. And when it comes to that modular bag, there are some surprise features as seen below.
Both the original OneMo modular bag, and the version for the OneMo 2, have an expandable top to give even more room when it’s out of the backpack. While the original version makes that top expansion area it’s own separated compartment, the newer version lets you choose to maximize the single compartment height, top-to-bottom, with the benefit of moveable dividers. These bags also come with their own padded straps so that you can sling them as shoulder bags.
Choosing the perfect backpack is a critical thing, important for your health, and filled with opinions and preferences that range from brand loyalty, to aesthetics, to functionality. One of the reasons I’ve structured this review around comparing the OneMo against the OneMo 2, is to show how quickly this company responded to customer feedback, and all the ways that little details in a backpack can accumulate into a product that really works, and then works even better. I never expected a less-known brand like this to check all of my boxes for the ultimate backpack, but PGYTECH has done it, costing far less than the so-called premium brands. While it’s available from major retailers like B&H, PGYTECH kindly offers you a 10% discount if you buy directly from them at this link and then use the promo code FOCUSPULLING at checkout. And if you give the OneMo 2 a try, let me know what you think — I enjoy writing this kind of thing when it plants the seeds for solutions that help creative peers make great things — and as long as I can remember, this is the first time I think I’ve found a sleeper hit.