“Patience is a virtue,
but getting what I want
when I want it
OK. Let’s get the ludicrous part of this review out of the way…
It took over 4 weeks for the bag to be delivered! I could have had it in my grubby little hands sooner if I’d slaughtered the cow, tanned the leather, and sewn it with my teeth using a sliver of chicken bone and dental floss! Seriously? In this day of Amazon Prime and same day delivery, how can anything be in the mail for a month? I’ve certainly ordered items from places further away and less developed than Germany that took much less time to arrive at my front door!
Whew! That felt good to get out… on to the more salient comments.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Monochrom is a German photographic goods company that manufactures an exceptional line of camera bags under the brand Dothebag. By the way, it’s pronounced as it’s spelled – 3 words – Do The Bag. The Dothebag Mono line of camera bags are satchel- style bags that come in finishes of Natural, Dark Brown, or Black oiled and tanned leather. They range in various sizes from the Mono 3 through the Mono 16. I was looking to discreetly carry my mid-sized rangefinder kit for street photography. I bought the Dothebag Mono 9 in dark brown leather as opposed to the equally stunning natural or black finishes. The bags in the Mono line have a beautifully minimalistic design. I’ve appreciated the clean and functional aesthetics of the Mono line for quite some time, but unfortunately, couldn’t locate a U.S. distributor. Eventually, I contacted Monochrom via email and learned that they happily ship to the U.S.
When the bag arrived on a rainy Friday (just in time for the weekend), I immediately opened the package and out wafted the fantastic smell of new leather. I’m fairly certain that I then heard a softly whispered “Touch Me” as the Mono 9 has such an incredibly smooth and luxurious finish that I simply couldn’t resist stroking it…for a while. Glorious!
The satchel comes with a removable cushioned insert with adjustable dividers (2 long, 3 short) that you’ll install based on your gear config. Notably, the bag can pull double duty as a carry-all satchel with the insert removed. The insert has a soft brushed interior with a cordura-like exterior. The dense padding seems to provide more than adequate protection. The insert has a couple of extraction loops and a few external pockets for memory cards. Although the memory card pockets are a thoughtful design feature, I wish the insert included a pocket or two to accommodate business cards also. The included padded and velcroed dividers logically support three vertical compartments. The depth of the Mono 9 can accommodate the creation of two levels in each vertical storage pocket. The downside when configured this way is that you’ll have to peel the floor of the top level up to access items underneath. I’ve configured mine with one of the short panels splitting the bottom of the center vertical pocket and the other two short sections creating lower shelves in the other two vertical pockets. I keep the less frequently used items underneath these. The bag is deeper than it is wide and has two slot style internal pockets and an exterior magazine pocket. The rear internal pocket has a snap closure and is appropriately sized to hold an ipad or notebook. The interior surfaces all have the same supple high quality leather.
The bag’s closure system uses neither velcro nor zippers. On each side of the overhanging flap are Tenax safety locks that can be opened quickly and alternatively, hold the bag closed securely. The bag comes with a tool to tighten these if the need arises. Overall, this is a simple to use closure mechanism that just plain works. The length-adjustable shoulder strap is made of the same high quality leather and even with a full load is quite comfortable. My overall impression: This is one sweet gear hauler!
The Mono 9’s external dimensions are 13.4 x 4.7 x 11 inches and can easily accommodate my largest working kit for street photography: 2 rangefinder cameras, 3 lenses, EVF, 3 ND Filters, notebook, Ipad, 15 rolls of film, digital recorder, cleaning supplies, glasses, light meter and business cards. Since I normally carry less gear than this, the bag’s capacity is more than sufficient. The Mono 9 sits close to the body and is in my Goldilocks zone for bag sizes. It’s not too big…not too small…it’s just right. Awesome!
I’ve used the Mono 9 as my main street bag for the past month. Each time I use the satchel, it simply disappears on my shoulder. This is a good thing. I didn’t have to make any special accommodations or sacrifices. With my standard kit, it sits comfortably across my shoulders and lays snugly against my hip. No sore shoulder and no wide bulk hanging off me. The flaps easily open to allow access to my gear, but also close quickly and securely to insure my beloved kit stays in the bag. I’ve defaulted to leaving the rear snap engaged and the front opened for speedy access to the forward pocket. While on the street, the Mono 9 doesn’t seem to draw any undo attention. It doesn’t scream -“I’m full of expensive camera gear, take me!“- like some other bags I’ve owned. As long as you’re not trying to carry everything including the kitchen sink, simply put, this is a great camera bag. It’s minimalistic, functional, and does what it’s designed to do very well.
As a side note, one of the more aesthetically pleasing parts of owning some leather bags occurs when the bag breaks in with use and develops that wonderful worn-leather patina. I’m looking forward to my Mono 9 breaking in beautifully. If you’ve never owned a leather bag know that it will require a bit of maintenance for the leather to stay supple and great looking. A bit of leather cleaner, conditioner, and wax every now and then will go a long way in ensuring your bag has a long useful life. I just finished treating my Mono 9 for the first time.
So was the wait worth it? – Oh Yeah! Definitely! – I really like this bag!
Now, all that having been said…in the spirit of full disclosure, you don’t necessarily have to wait as long as I did for the delivery of your Mono bag. It just so happens that there is expedited shipping. It’ll just cost you serious coinage. Sometimes patience isn’t only a virtue…it’s cheaper.
- Easily accommodates my full working kit
- Beautiful minimalist design
- Narrow profile that sits close to the body
- Smooth & luxurious leather finish
- Comfortable & adjustable leather shoulder strap
- Secure & easy to use closure system
- Expensive, but on par with similar products
- No business card slots
If you’d like more information on the full line of DoTheBag Mono camera bags go here.