Vanguard VEO Active 42M At a glance

  • $184 / £149
  • Holds small camera and 3-5 lenses
  • Rigid metal frame
  • Includes accessory and lens pouches
  • Can be taken on board flights

Faced with the problem of what to pack for a short trip to British Columbia, I decided to make life easier by choosing the smallest of Vanguard’s rugged VEO Active bags that are designed for hiking – the Vanguard VEO Active42M.

Vanguard VEOS Active 42 camera compartment

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M’s removable camera compartment will hold a camera and three or four lenses.

Measuring 270 × 190 × 440mm, the bag would be small enough to come with me on the plane, avoiding the dreaded words ‘the flight is full, so your bag’s going in the hold’. Another selling point was the rigid metal frame at the rear, which should offer protection from other passengers ramming their bags against mine when squeezing them into the overhead lockers.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M: key features

  • Tripod: A tripod can be attached to either the side or front of the bag
  • Rear access: The main compartment, which houses the padded camera holder, is accessed from the rear for security
  • Daypack: The top section for personal items is expandable and can be rolled down when only partially full.
  • Strap pockets: Expandable pockets on each strap can hold most smartphones, or even a lens up to the size of a drink can
Vanguard VEO Active 42M top compartment

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M’s top section provides space for carrying personal items.

In the end, I packed a Sony Alpha A7 IV with Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3, Sony 16-35mm f/4 and Sony 24-70mm f/4 lenses in the bag’s removable camera compartment. The 13″ laptop compartment housed my MacBook Air, whilst I used the tablet pocket for paperwork. There’s also a small zipped pocket on the rear of the bag to safely secure essentials, whilst the side has the usual pocket for a water bottle or tripod.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M - full

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M’s opening rear panel has pockets for a laptop and tablet

The bag is made of sturdy ripstop fabric, with easily visible bright yellow toggles on the zips. It looks and feels exceptionally well made and, as usual, comes with an external rain cover. Also included is a lens pouch that would accommodate my 100-400mm lens, though it did add to the bulk, so it didn’t come along for the ride.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M tripod holder

A tripod can be strapped onto the front of the Vanguard VEO Active 42M

I did make use of the accessory pouch, which has pockets for batteries or memory cards. However, I used it to hold a few 100 x 150 filters and my H&Y filter holder; it is a practical pouch, and it fitted nicely in the top compartment. I also squeezed some charging cables and a bag of Wine Gums into the top compartment. This top compartment has a zipped pocket for keys or other smaller items you don’t want rattling around.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M harness

The Vanguard VEO Active 42M’s well-added back and shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry when full.

There are all the usual straps for holding your tripod on the side or front of the bag, along with sternum straps and waist straps that can be tucked away when not in use. Fully packed, the bag was quite heavy, but I didn’t notice the weight when on the move, thanks to the well-padded straps and back.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M: USB charge pass-through

The VEO Active range all have external USB ports that allow you to connect a USB battery inside the bag. This means you can attach a charging cable to your camera or phone and charge them outside the bag via the external USB socket, without diving around for the battery in your bag.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M USB charge port

Vanguard has fitted the VEO Active 42M with a USB port for charging devices externally.

Vanguard VEO Active 42M: Our Verdict

Overall I found the bag to be a perfect size for a weekend photo kit for a city break and landscape shooting. However, wildlife photographers are advised to look at some of the larger sizes in the VEO Active range to accommodate bigger lenses.

Amateur Photographer Testbench Gold - 5 stars

Further reading
Best camera bags to buy in 2024
Best tripods to buy in 2024

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