Being active outdoors and recording your special moments has never been easier. All you need to do is to use an action camera for it. With the new cameras and their accessories appearing on the market each year, there is no wonder that more and more people take them on their travels. And I am not very different as I have two GoPro cameras and a plethora of mounts, chargers and housings, which I have to lug around with me in-between the adventures, which, in my 3+ years’ of experience, can pose a number of problems. This review is about how Thule Perspektiv Action Camera Case (provided by Thule to review) helped me to solve most of them.
Having a GoPro camera is great. With all the multitude of various mounts and cases, you have seemingly endless possibilities to mix and match these ingredients to achieve a perfect combination that suits your current filming conditions best.
But having all those choices comes with some downsides as well, one of them being a constant challenge to keep all those parts together and not endlessly search for them in the deepest recesses of your pack.
In the past I have tried to solve this problem by designating a separate ‘electronics’ pouch which helped me to keep everything in one place. But as it was soft, I often ended up unintentionally pressing the ON button when carrying the GoPro camera in my pack, the result of which was an empty battery and hours of the useless footage of the pouch’s insides.
To solve this problem, I started to take out the battery and keep it separately in the pouch. But this has caused a problem of its own – whenever I wanted to use my GoPro camera, I had to spend some time tinkering with the case and trying to figure out which side the battery should go in. And on a number of occasions this has resulted in missed opportunities.
So, is there a working solution that can a) protect the camera and b) help to keep all necessary accessories in one place?
There is. At least I found one in Thule Perspektiv Action Camera Case.
Looking at the case, I feel that the Thule designers have definitely taken these two points into consideration. The case is divided into two separate parts: the bottom semi-hard compartment with the padded inside for your camera and the top soft section with the roll-down closure that can be used to store most of your mounts and other extras.
The lower crushproof compartment is not designed to house one particular action camera type (on their website Thule indicates that, besides GoPro, it can also be used for Contour and Sony action cameras), which also gives necessary flexibility when choosing what to keep in it. Whereas some other cases available on the market (also from Thule) have special die-cut foam pads, with designated slots for various bits and pieces, this case has an open compartment with soft padded walls that you can fill the way you want. And it is quiet big. For example, when travelling, I usually keep my Astro E3 10000mAh on the bottom (it fits really nicely there) and place both my GoPro Hero 2 and 3+ flat on top. Shifting to a slightly longer and thicker Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 16000mAh will probably mean that I will need to move the USB battery to the top compartment, where there is enough room for it. This, in turn, will free some space to store the new addition to our ‘heroic’ family, our new GoPro Hero 4 (which we are getting shortly).
According to my calculations, it is easily possible to fit 4 smaller types of GoPro cameras (i.e., Hero 3 and newer) in their housings, if they are placed vertically. But if you have only one camera, I would keep it with something else (a chest harness or a head strap) just to make sure it does not get lonely and start rattling around. In this case having a die-cut foam pad could have been a plus.
Another advantage of such foam pads is that they can usually be taken out and washed. This means that when using Thule Perspektiv Action Camera Case, which does not have this option, you have to be careful to make sure that you clean the camera and accessories before you put them back into the case. Otherwise it might be difficult to clean it.
Besides the padded walls and the bottom, the lower compartment also has a soft flap that serves to protect the content from the top and, at the same time, has three elasticated mash pockets for storing spare memory cards or batteries. It is kept in place using Velcro.
The exterior of the bag, which comes only in black, or more correctly a combination of the black lower part and dark shadow/grey upper part, is in stark contrast to the high-visibility blue padded interior of the camera compartment. This bright blue makes it easy to see and locate even the smallest gear.
In contrast to this, the interior of the top roll-down stash compartment is the same colour as the exterior and finding things in it always remains a bit of guess work – to fish anything out of it, you either need to blindly rumble around trying to identify what you are looking for by touch, or if you have this option, empty the whole lot by turning the bag upside-down. It really resembles me the way my wife is sometimes dealing with her handbag.
Though, the roll-down type of closer of the upper compartment is usually associated with the waterproof bags, this case is definitely not waterproof, and is more designed to be carried inside your pack. When necessary, it seems to be able to withstand some rain (e.g., the roll-down stash compartment has a taped seam and the coated inside; in general, the standard of workmanship of the bag is really high – no wonder they give 25 years of warranty), but I would not classify it anything more than splash-proof (though it is definitely snow-proof).
And that is something that I would like to see improved. I am not worried about the cameras and the accessories – they are designed to get wet (in Russian we have a saying that “tanks are not afraid of mud” and the action cameras are actually the tanks of outdoor filming and photography). But what has to stay dry are the spare batteries and accumulators. So far, what I have done was to place the camera case into a dry bag. But it is not always easy to reach the contents this way, nor do you have a lot of options of attaching it to the pack.
Carrying and attaching the case to the pack is another issue altogether. As I have already mentioned, it seems that it is designed to be carried inside, rather than outside the pack. But when both the top and the bottom parts are fully packed, it quickly makes me wish I could attach it on the outside (my main backpack is HMG Porter 4400, which is a great and light pack, but has very limited space, especially if I have to pack for an overnight packrafting trip). And, even though there seems to be no designated attachment point, I found that I can do it in three different ways. If I have a big carabiner, I can use it to attach the case to my belt, harness or pack by putting it through the snap buckle of the roll-down compartment (this way I can still open and close the top compartment without detaching the carabiner, though I would still need to unhook the case). Another option is to use two smaller carabiners by putting them through the small loops at the ends of the zip. Finally, and in a way it is the lightest and easiest option, it is possible to use the roll-down closer itself, which makes a great handle as well.
When it comes to the weight, my scales indicated that it was 228 grams, which is 18 grams more than what is said on the company’s website.
Are 228 grams a lot? – Yes and no.
On the one hand, the answer is “yes”, because if you do not use a camera case, you do not need to carry almost one fourth of a kilogram extra to what you have to carry anyways. In this case, though, you need to accept the risk of either not finding various small mounts or having an empty battery, which renders your action camera useless.
On the other hand, the answer is “no”, because for its size and capacity, the case does not weigh that much. In comparison to other action camera cases that can be used for at least two GoPro cameras, this one does not way a lot at all. For example, their own Thule Legend GoPro Advanced Case is indicated to be 530 grams, which is more than twice as heavy.
On the whole, even though it is not waterproof and weighs almost 230 grams, I really like the storage space, the two separate compartments (each one designed for a different purpose), the adaptability and versatility of its usage as well as the overall quality of the case.
Once again, this Thule Perspektiv Action Camera Case shows that it was designed with the needs of the end customer in mind and it does what it promises to do – to keep your action camera(s) safe and in one place in-between the jobs.