In Filipino culture, there’s the idea of the Kabayan feast: a giant pig slaughtered and served along with tons of delicious food. Before you Google it and subject yourself to that level of food porn, you should know that the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter deserves a Kabayan feast. After a massive shift of higher-ups years ago, the current head at Gura Gear seems focused on products that photographers will genuinely love. And while it lacks the fashionable and refined masculine touch I love, the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is bound to become a bag I use often.
I remember going out to dinner with Trevor Peterson, the current head of Gura Gear, who came over from Tamrac. It took a while to convince him of essential features like a roll-top, a side-access door, and a few other things. While Gura Gear makes some choices that don’t make sense to me, I’ll confess that their products hold their own with the likes of WANDRD, TENBA, Peak Design, Lowepro, Manfrotto, and Billingham. I never thought they had anything for a city-dwelling photographer and journalist for a while. But with the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter, they’re finally answering our demands.
The Big Picture
I don’t think I’ll ever convince a company to make more canvas or hemp bags, but they’ll compromise a bit with me. That’s the result you’re getting with the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter. This bag gives photographers so much versatility. A rolltop feature lets you expand the bag to carry a ton of gear. Plus, there is a handy side door for access to your primary camera in the bag. In addition to that, it’s insanely comfortable, not only for men but women too. I had one of my friends wear this bag and walk around our local yoga studio. It was fully packed, and she found it pretty comfortable.
My only complaint would be how Gura Gear tells you how to secure a tripod to the bag. I have my own workaround which, in my experience, is better. If you get this bag, you should check out how I did it.
The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter receives five out of five stars and the Phobographer’s Editor’s Choice Award.
- Waterproof material
- Incredibly comfortable
- You can pack an insane amount of gear in here.
- A few different ways to pack a tripod
- Lots of organizational options, though it’s different from how other companies do things.
- A truly great option for a photographer who lives in a city and either uses a bike, walks a lot, or takes public transportation.
- Gura Gear’s official way of mounting a tripod leaves room for improvement, but there’s another better option.
We’re allowed to keep the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter we reviewed. And we tested it with:
The Phobographer works to be transparent with readers about the gear we use. In many cases, we purchase our own gear. Sometimes, manufacturers give it to us. And at other times, it’s available for a loan.
There’s nothing innovative about the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter compared to other bags on the market. It just does things differently and assemble them in just the right combination of perfection.
The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is a straightforward bag once you feel it out. It’s all black with a variety of webbing and stitching on it. On the front, you’ll find the two main exterior pockets. These let you store a lot of stuff because of how massive the pockets are.
All the zippers have giant rings on them that make pulling the zippers easier. I was concerned that they’d snag on something while walking around, but they never did.
Here’s a closer look at the rolltop area. The straps are held together using magnetic claps. Further, the adjustable extra bits can be folded in and secured using magnetic claps. This is pretty nifty.
Here’s a look at the back area, which also has the waist straps attached. There’s a lot of air flow for your back. During the peak of NYC’s summer, that’s quite welcome.
If you’re traveling and using a roller-bag, the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter can be attached to the handle using this little strap. I personally hate roller bags, so I’d never use this.
Here’s a closer look at the straps. The little flaps on the side have magnets that connect and hold it in place after you roll the strap up.
And now onto the interior of the bag! When you unfold the rolltop, you’ll see a lot of area for whatever you want. I’ve stored lights and filters in here, but it can be expanded and stuffed then secured as needed. If I ever traveled with this bag, I’d probably put shoes, toiletries, or smaller clothing items in here.
Open up the back panel, and you’ll find this area on the door. Here’s where I stored my iPad Pro 12.9 inch, but you can stuff a laptop in here for sure too.
And here’s what the inside of the bag looks like once you unzip the back panel. As you’ll see in this photo and others in this review, you can pack it pretty well with lots of gear. A concern of mine was the area around the side-door. I wish those specific dividers were a bit stiffer, but they’re good enough.
Here’s a look at one of the interior pockets on the front of the bag. As you can see, there’s a lot of organizational options.
Here’s another look at the interior back panel. Again, there’s a lot of organizational options here for you. You can store cards, cords, batteries and more here.
Now, here is how Gura Gear says you should store your tripod. You’ll use the little straps on the front to do it. In real life, it was secured very well once you layer the straps, but it felt odd to me.
Here’s how I prefer to use the tripod straps: by putting them on the bottom and layering them over the tripod this way. I found that my tripod barely moved when I walked around. In all honestly, I could’ve secured it better if I were just a bit more patient.
For the record too, my office is chock full of tripods.
We’re told that the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is made of completely waterproof material. That’s not a term we use lightly; we often say something is weather-resistant. But as long as there are no compromises on the zippers, the contents of the bag will be just fine. We took it into the rain once, and it proved to be just fine. As a tip, set the zippers up to so that they close and open towards the bottom. That way, precipitation won’t leak into the bag.
In addition to that, the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is incredibly comfortable. I did a hike through a few of NYC’s parks here in Queens with it, and my back felt as normal as it ever would after hauling around 30lbs of gear for hours. This is because I got the bag with the waist strap, which is an additional option that I think is a must-have for anyone with back issues. I do yoga and pilates every day, and every camera bag I’ve used still requires me to stretch my lower back. I’m not alone in that thinking, as lots of professional photographers agree. The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter isn’t an exception to this rule, but I’d assume at this point that this is normal wear and tear for the human body.
I’m 5’6″ and weigh 173lbs at age 35, so this worked fine for me. But what really amazed me is when I put this bag on a friend. She walked around a yoga studio barefoot with this bag on while it was fully packed, and aside from a few adjustments that could’ve been easily made, she was just fine. Granted, she’s also pretty fit.
As long as you’re fairly fit, have healthy knees, and you stretch, you should be fine to wear the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter for a prolonged period of time.
Ease of Use
The Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter is pretty simple to use in most situations. The pockets on the front are a bit unconventional, but they help the bag hold a lot more gear. I stored beard oils, eye drops, masks, chapstick, keys, passports, wallets, etc. in here. For sure, the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter can store more gear than the WANDRD PRVKE series can.
There’s a spot for a water bottle on the opposite side of the side-door. If anything, I wish there were a bottom pocket on the side-door area. There isn’t, but there’s a strap for something like a jacket at least.
If you really want to get into the deep contents of the bag, then you need to put it down and unzip the back panel. Otherwise, you can access some of it from the rolltop area or the side pocket. This ultimately becomes more complicated if you mount a tripod on the bag the way Gura Gear suggests. Gura Gear states that the tripod should be on the front of the bag. But when you put it down, it will lay lopsided. Lopsided bags make me a sad panda.
Instead, I chose to use the tripod straps on the bottom. After a few tries at configurations, I figured out one that works best. My tripod moved a tiny bit, but that’s alright: it wasn’t enough to annoy me in real-life testing. With the tripod on the bottom, I can lay the bag flat on the ground and access the back panel area with ease.
I prefer bags with front and side access the way that TENBA gives them to photographers. But that’s also a compromise of some sort for sure.
Who Should Buy the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter?
Let’s go down a list of photographers who would like the Gura Gear Kiboko City Commuter.
- Street photographers: No, this thing is way too big
- Journalists and content creators: Heck yes. This thing is positively awesome in so many different ways, and Gura Gear is an ethical company that doesn’t use child labor.
- Portrait photographers: You can store lights, lenses, filters, reflectors, and more in here pretty easily.
- Landscape photographers: Tons of lenses, a tripod, water bottles, cameras, and more can be stored in here. Plus it will be comfortable for long days out.
- Wedding photographers: This is great for you, but there isn’t a lot of quick access if you suddenly need to change a lens on one of your cameras.
- Party and Event photographers: No, this bag is too big. Get something more minimal.
- Travel photographers: This is a perfect bag in so many different ways for you.
- Wildlife photographers: Unless you’re packing some seriously big telephoto lenses like a 400mm f2.8, this is a good bag.
You’re bound to be one of those photographers, so that should help quite nicely.
These specs were taken from Gura Gear:
3 lbs, 11 oz / 1.7 kg
18.5” x 12” x 8”
Side Access Opening
6.5” x 4.5”
16” MacBook Pro
iPad Pro 12.9in
Kiboko City Commuter 18L+
Roll Top Compartment
No extension 11” x 4.5 x 5”
Fully extended 11.5” x 4.5” x 12”
11” x 11” x 4”
Two mounted cameras with additional lenses
- First roll-top bag by Gura Gear
- Side panel camera access
- Magnetic hiding water bottle side pocket
- Center channel tripod holder
- Upgraded high quality shoulder straps
- Fidlock® magnetic fasteners