Background: Approximately 6 weeks ago, I went out with some friends on a days worth of hiking. Since I wanted to bring a spare jumper, my water bottle, some food, and a map, I needed to bring my backpack. That's fine, because that's what I always do. I also wanted to bring my DSLR, which usually goes into a small Lowepro case that has the shape of a cube. It has great padding, and is generally quite useful. However, bring both of those bags was a pain. I'm also going on a trip where I'm looking to bring my laptop with me, and the laptop compartment in my regular school backpack is crap. Time for a sleeve. Anyway, I want to bring my water bottle, book, sunscreen, my laptop, and my DSLR with lens attached, plus an extra lens, battery charger, etc. I needed a 3 compartment backpack: one compartment for general stuff, one for my 13.3" MacBook, and another for my camera and 1 or 2 lenses. I looked at the Lowepro CompuRover and Tamrac Adventure 9 online, and while they looked great, there were some negatives. Firstly, the Tamrac Adventure 9 is too big. The Adventure 6 or 7 would have been good, but they have no laptop compartment. The CompuRover looked like it would do the job, except that both the Lowepro and Tamrac had general compartments that were shaped like cubes. What if you had to bring a magazine or papers? You can't fold or roll all your magazines and papers. :confused? This is the general problem with most of these 3-compartment designs --- the general purpose compartment is useless for papers. The other downside to all camera backpacks is that you need to take off your backpack to get to the camera, which isn't convenient when you want to shoot. Do it enough times, and it may become flat-out annoying and you may not use your backpack as much as you'd like. The "SINKING BARGE": PHOTO: From the front From the back Here's where Crumpler's Sinking Barge comes in. There must be quite a few photographers at Crumpler who also have to do paperwork once in a while, because the geniuses at Crumpler have designed a backpack that: 1) Lets you get to your camera gear without taking off your backpack. 2) Lets you store papers or a magazine in the general purpose compartment. By taking off one strap from your shoulder, you can swing the bag around and get to the camera compartment. The camera pocket isn't aligned vertically, so you don't need to unzip the bag along the centre and detach the top and bottom halves of the bag (example) to reach your camera. With this orientation, you'd need to put the bag down to reach for your camera. The camera pocket is also not aligned horizontally (example), so it won't just fall out of the bag if you open up the camera compartment zipper. The Sinking Barge has a camera pocket that opens slightly diagonally, and completely unzipping the cover still would not allow for the camera to fall out. Great design. Here's a PHOTO of me taking out my camera from it's compartment while the bag is still on my back. This isn't really possible with other designs. SIZE OF THE BARGE: After looking at it now, it does appear to have a big bottom. Yes, it's very wide when compared to a regular backpack. They appear comparable if you look at both bags from the front (PHOTO: Front-on comparison), but not from the sides ((PHOTO: Side-on comparison). No photo can really show you how much fatter this bag truly is. It's just.....very deep. The cause of this is the camera compartment. Since the walls are made from solid padding, it won't compress when the bag is empty. Inside the bag, the volume of space available is surprisingly small. This is also a cause of the padding used inside, which is thick and decreased the usable volume inside the backpack. This could be thought of as a reassuring thing, I guess. Curiously enough, the camera compartment is actually removable! The padding in the camera section is all made from one piece, which you can remove. With some careful unvelcro-ing of the top section of the camera compartment, and more unvelcro-ing of the general purpose compartment, you can actually turn the backpack into a regular backpack with no camera compartment! It's crazy, but it works, although not very well. I would never use this backpack as a general purpose backpack because the shape of the internal volume is strange and irregular. Keep the camera padding inside the camera compartment. Camera Protection: The Sinking barge offers great protection for all your expensive gear. For one, the camera compartment has very thick padding surrounding your camera and lenses. The "back" padded section is 1.8 cm thick, or almost 0.7", while the other 3 outer walls are around 1 cm thick, or 0.4" thick. The section dividers within the camera compartment are slightly thinner --- possibly 0.8 cm. Within the same compartment is a zipped mesh pocket that is handy for keeping things like memory cards, extra battery, or heck, even an entire charger. It's a big pocket. PHOTO HERE. The one problem with the padding in the camera compartment is the top . No padding covers the camera section, only a mesh material that zips up to keep the camera in place. While it does a good job of keeping everything down, it offers the LCD of my DSLR very little protection against the stuff I keep in the other mesh pocket when the compartment is zipped closed. See THIS photo again! Here's another with the mesh unzipped.....(PHOTO 2). What if the extra battery I keep in there scratches the LCD of my camera? The paranoid should consider putting something in between the camera and the mesh pocket, say a thin board paper.