Review: Wotancraft Scout

Review: Wotancraft Scout

Wotancraft is one of the companies that immediately gets me excited as they announce a new product. And that was exactly the case with the Scout bag – maybe the coolest-looking camera bag I’ve ever owned! And I’m not joking, this bag is just an aesthetical marvel. But does it offer equally good functionality? Well, let’s find out.

I’ve been carrying the Scout since about mid-April 2022, so that’s a solid half-year now. To me, that’s more than enough to share a fair, and clear opinion.

Look & design:
The Scout is a vintage-looking bag, a bit boxy, but in a good way. It mimics the design of the military bags from the WWII era – and not just the overall look, but also details like the post and hole closure of the flap, Y-shaped leather straps, dark metal rivets, etc.

Add to this a worn-camo, waxed Cordura and cracked-surface war-fatigued leather (intentional of course) and the picture of a true vintage soldier’s bag is complete. If you enjoy old-school military aesthetics (or classic safari style) – you’ll be delighted! If not, well… check it out, you might like it anyway.

The overall design is quite simple: the main compartment with velcro dividers (so you can arrange it as you like), a padded notebook section (surprisingly non-removable on this bag), and two boxy pockets on the front, each secured by two heavy-duty snaps. But it works fine for what it was designed – a compact camera bag for secure urban exploration.

Materials & Manufacturing:
Wotancraft is all about pinnacle quality, there’s no doubt about it. Custom-dyed waxed Cordura with Teflon-coated yarns, genuine antiqued leather, metal hardware, YKK zippers, and a beefy canvas shoulder strap with leather trimmings and soft shoulder pad – there’s nothing short of amazing in the materials department here.

Manufacturing is top-notch as well, down to the smallest details like leather reinforcement under every snap or toggle. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of bags and packs in my life and Wotancraft is easily on the very top end of the spectrum regarding manufacturing quality.

Oh, did I mention that the whole bottom is protected by a heavy-duty stripe of thick natural leather? This bag is just flawless.

Organization & features:
The Scout is rated as a 9L bag, and that’s quite an accurate measurement. It’s not a big bag by any means. But still, in the main compartment (divided into 3 sections) I was able to fit easily: a mirrorless camera body with a standard lens on it (Fuji X-T4 & 35mm f/2), additional big telephoto (50-140 f/2.8), wide-angle prime and a macro lens. In one front pocket, I keep essentials (keys, multitool, spare battery), and in the other one a Sony RX-100 as a backup camera.

The notebook compartment is occupied either by my iPad or by my wallet, Moleskine notebook, etc. On other Wotancraft camera bags I own I sometimes remove the notebook compartment divider to enlarge the camera section, but as I mentioned – it’s not an option on Scout so I have to learn to live with that.

Another configuration I often used was: Fuji X-T4, 50-140 f/2.8 telephoto, 23 f/2 small street prime, and Bellroy Tech Pouch with all kinds of cables, adapters, and batteries inside. Plus a small pouch velcroed inside with a swiss army knife and compact SureFire flashlight. Actually, that add-on pocket was always in there as I never leave home without these two items.

Some additional features include a flat back pocket for paper documents, tickets, etc. There’s also a D-Ring on one side under the shoulder strap, which I often use as a key-chain anchor point. And finally, there’s a luggage pass-through on the back too – a godsend for air-traveling as you can easily secure it on a trolley bag.

Real-world use & carry comfort:
Wotancraft recommends this bag as a “CITY EXPLORER” camera bag, and that’s where the Scout really shines. At first, I thought it’d be a cool adventure camera bag, but without external pockets for quick-grab items or water bottles, and with double security access (zipper AND flap) this is a street photographer’s tool.

It’s very clean on the outside, it doesn’t scream “steal me” in any way, and it’s super secure against pickpockets. It requires two steps to open it (un-toggle the flap and undo the zipper) and even then it unfolds by roughly 40 Deg and exposes just partly the inside. So you need to reach inside, grab your gear, unfold the “loading bay” and get the camera out. It can’t be done quickly and secretly.

That kind of protection is exactly what you need in a city bag… but not necessarily in outdoor adventure gear, where quick one-hand access is most welcome. Trees and forest animals are not going to steal your gear, right?

By the way, the laptop sleeve is secured with a separate zipper, which requires a full flap opening and simply can’t be undone discreetly. For crowded streets – this bag is super secure!

But even if operating the Scout involves opening both flap and zipper, after just a week of daily carry the Scout was easy to manoeuvre for me even without looking. I also took my Scout for a couple of outings, including a week-long exploration of the Saxony region in Germany with my family, including the beautiful city of Dresden. The bag was with me day by day, usually with a simplified kit of X-T4, standard zoom 16-80 f/4, and a portrait prime 56mm f/1.2. So that way I could dedicate one of the bag’s sections inside to a water bottle and some snacks.

Well, a 9L bag can’t be considered a big bag, but that’s a good thing when exploring crowded city streets. That way I had to choose my photography gear carefully, and then I had a relatively light package to carry around for a whole day. And a limited number of lenses always increases creativity in photography, there’s no question about it. Sometimes I even go with one prime lens and take some stunning photos. Less gear can be truly liberating.

I tried the Scout in the forest as well, it served me well but as I said it’s not a true adventurer’s kind of bag – it’s a bit too slow to operate and has no outside pockets for quick access gear or flask.

For such use, Wotancraft’s Pilot bag (or better yet the Pilot pack) would be a better choice. And that’s fine, as I prefer a dedicated tool for the job. Pilot to explore the wild, and Scout for city cruising and overall traveling, when protection against pickpockets in the crowd would be my main concern.

Still, the Scout is a really tough bag. If not the toughest and most bump-proof in the whole Wotancraft range. It’s a combination of thick and stiff sides with padding, 500D Cordura fabric with waterproof treatment, and strong YKK water-protective zippers.

With the flap covering the openings, it’s fully weatherproof too. I tested mine against rain multiple times and while it’s not a waterproof bag per se – it’s absolutely capable to deliver full rain (and snow) protection for your gear.

Would I change anything in this bag? Not much, but I’d gladly see the closing leather straps slightly longer, and with an additional hole or two. That way I could fit something under the flap if needed, like an umbrella or rolled lightweight rain jacket.

Of course, the Scout’s flawless aesthetics wouldn’t be impeccable anymore, but I’d still go for this change for practical reasons. Or at least Wotancraft could offer some sort of strap “lengtheners” with a toggle and 2-3 holes. But that’s real nitpicking… or maybe rather wishful thinking.

Wotancraft’s Scout is a damn sexy-looking bag, in every detail. When examined up-close, it could be even considered a conversation starter, especially when you unzip the bag and open the gear bay at the angle.

It’s not “just another” bag, but a city and street photographer’s tool of trade with a vintage charm and strong look. But regardless of the look – it just protects your expensive equipment from not only the elements, but also bumps, dings, and thieves too. It’s almost like a camera safe hanging across your shoulder. For city and travel use – this is my go-to camera bag now.

By Piotr Ma

Senior Contributor & Edge Specialist, more posts.


Sep 27, 2022