The rugged central coast of California meets Bumblebee 230

written by:
Sean Ensch


The rugged central coast of California meets Bumblebee 230

One of the most important aspects for me when I am on trips and out in the field is comfortability and protection of my equipment. As photographers we carry around equipment that is very expensive, fragile, and heavy. Whether I am hiking up the ridge of a mountain, through a narrow slot canyon, or running through an airport to my gate, I need my gear secured and a comfortable pack that can survive the journey with me. A camera bag is very important to me because it can make or break these trips for me. That’s where the Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee pack comes in. I recently packed up all my equipment in this bag and hit the road to visit the sand dunes in the southern California desert and over to the rugged central coast line.

The Bumblebee 230-PL is a beautifully constructed bag for a serious photographer. Bumblebee range is designed to be lightweight, durable, and ultra-comfortable on your back. The first thing I noticed on the Bumblebee 230-PL was just how lightweight the actual pack was. The empty pack weighs in at 5.8lbs (2.6kg). The outer shell is also something to note.

The outside of the bag is a water repellent fabric that feels very tough. I even scraped the bag roughly across the rocks at the beach while crawling through a narrow cave and it left not visible marking. I was pretty excited about this considering I tend to be very rough on my packs! They get dragged through slot canyons, laid out in mud, hiked through harsh weather conditions, and whatever else I throw at it, so it’s good to know that the Bumblebee 230-PL can take a beating.

As I packed up all the contents in the bag, I found it could fit way more than I anticipated. On this trip I brought along two Canon 6D full frame bodies, five lenses, a speedlight, a pack of SD cards, a Manfrotto Befree carbon fiber tripod, two extra batteries, a flashlight, lens/camera cleaning products,  several assorted filters, a 15″ laptop, and a lot of microfiber towels stuffed in! The pack carried all this with ease and plenty of roominess left.

I threw the bag in the car and hit the road for the desert. I spent an evening on the salt flats exploring some new areas and the following morning I hit the sand dunes. The summer heat had already hit and even at sunrise the sun was already heating up the sand.

I walked up and down the dunes looking for new views and compositions for about an hour. The entire time the pack felt super cushioned on my shoulders with the Air Support back and harness system with a breathable mesh that seemed to help keep my back from overheating.

My next destination was out to the rugged coast line of the central coast of California. The beautiful bluffs and cliffs over the ocean have always been a favorite of mine.

As I hiked down to some of the beaches, snapping photos and switching between lenses was made easy with the external lens pouch that is attached to the waist support straps. This is a genius invention for those of us that switch lenses often. Driving and hiking around with the bag I noticed all my gear kept in place perfectly. Often when I would hike I could hear little noises of equipment slightly jostling around while I walked, but with the ultra soft, puffy padding that comes in the Bumblebee 230 PL my gear all stayed in place safe and sound. The internal padding is able to be customized, ready to move and switch it up to fit your equipment packing however needed.

Another great feature is the Never lose tripod system. A tuck away snap works perfectly for any size or style tripod.

My experience with the Bumblebee 230 was extremely positive. I have used many packs and the 230-PL has by far been one of my favourites. It’s roomy and lightweight and I feel confident with the safety with all my equipment inside. I spent three days walking around with the pack on my back and never felt any discomfort or annoyance of impracticality. I drove a couple thousand miles with the pack crammed in the trunk with all my camping equipment and it kept all my gear safe inside. I look forward to doing many more trips with my Bumblebee 230 PL and even would love to get one of the smaller versions, such as the 30 PL messenger pack, for when I need something more compact for small jobs where I don’t need my full kit. Check out the Bumblebee Pro Light line and I hope you enjoy my photos from my trip. Feel free to check out my website or Instagram to see more of my work and travels. Happy travels!

Sean Ensch


Sean Ensch is an travel, landscape, and underwater photographer from California, trying to show the beauty of the natural world above and below the surface.

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