Billingham Mini Eventer at a glance:

  • £380
  • 36 x 16 x 30 cm (external)
  • 33 x 10 x 21 cm (internal)
  • 1.26 kg weight
  • Holds a camera and 3 or 4 lenses
  • Padded pocket for 11-in tablet

Billingham is one of the best-loved British photographic brands, thanks to its classic-looking yet rugged bags. The firm doesn’t come up with new products very often, so when it does, there’s good reason to take notice. This year’s new arrival is the Mini Eventer, which as its name suggests, is a smaller version of the premium Eventer shoulder bag.

On the back of the bag there’s a document pocket and a luggage strap

Billingham Mini Eventer key features:

  • Shoulder pad  A matching SP50 shoulder pad comes as standard; with the Hadley range, this is a £38 extra
  • Removable insert  The generously padded camera insert can be taken out quickly and easily, allowing the bag to be used for other purposes
  • Luggage strap  A strap across the back allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a wheeled suitcase for easier transport
  • Weatherproof  Both the main compartment and the rear document pocket are secured by weatherproof zips

Compared to the popular Hadley range, there are a few significant differences. The bag’s main compartment is closed via a dual-pull zip, with a fold-over flap providing extra protection against the elements. This approach provides greater security than the Hadley’s simpler lidded design, if not quite such quick access. The base is covered with a thick layer of leather, which promises even greater toughness and longevity, and accounts substantially for the higher price.

The main compartment has a zip closure, and there are two accessory pockets on the front.

Last but not least, the removable camera insert includes a richly-padded pocket for an 11-in tablet. If you can’t visualise what this means in terms of size, it’s also a perfect fit for your weekly copy of Amateur Photographer magazine. But you can’t quite squeeze in a 13-in laptop, which feels like a missed opportunity in a bag this size. Note the design means that if you remove the camera insert, you lose the tablet compartment at the same time.

In other respects, this is a pretty uncomplicated design. Two good-sized front pockets provide storage for personal items or accessories, while a flat back pocket is ideal for travel documents. The wide strap offers plenty of scope for adjustment for different body shapes and is complemented by a comfortable carry handle on the lid. But there’s no way of fitting add-on end pockets.

You can expect to fit a full-frame camera and three lenses inside, including a telezoom up to 30cm long

In terms of capacity, the Mini Eventer will hold a full-frame camera without a vertical grip, along with three or four lenses. For example, I was able to fit a Sony Alpha 7 IV with 24-105mm f/4, 16-35mm f/4 and 100-400mm f/5-6.3 zooms, with the latter neatly filling the 21cm internal depth. Two smaller primes could occupy the same space.

The Billingham Mini Eventer comes in a choice of five colour schemes

As always with Billingham, the materials and construction are first-rate. The firm’s signature three-layer cotton or nylon canvas boasts a waterproof rubber middle layer, so there’s no need for a separate rain cover. Brass and top-grain leather fittings complete a luxurious feel. The choice of attractive colours includes sage green, navy blue, classic khaki, and discreet all-black.

Billingham Mini Eventer: Our Verdict

There’s no getting away from the fact that this bag is very expensive, but this reflects its sheer quality. You can be confident that it’ll last for years, if not decades, and keep your kit protected from the worst of the British weather. With its winning combination of practicality and style, it could be a great Christmas gift for the photographer who has everything.

4.5 stars

Also consider: the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020

Billingham’s Hadley Pro 2020 remains one of our favourite shoulder bags for its sensible size and capacity, timeless style and impeccable build quality.

The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 in navy blue

The Hadley Pro 2020 hold a little more camera kit than the Mini Eventer but doesn’t have a laptop/tablet compartment. Available in a choice of seven colour schemes, it costs £260.