Ever since I acquired my DSLR I have been experimenting with contraptions to carry it while adventuring. I won't lie this solution is not perfect, but it has worked quite well for its intended purpose. Two years ago I was browsing the Ortlieb USA website and stumbled upon their Camera Bags. I was already a fanboy of their product line. I had bought and abused a pair of Ortlieb Backroller Classic Panniers. They were bombproof and did everything I expected. I knew from my experience with the Backroller Classics that they build high quality bags at a premium price. I noticed they were now manufacturing a camera bag line that claimed to be waterproof. Not water resistant, waterproof. Yeah you can use a Pelican Case but they are more designed for transport to a location rather then using the protected item while in transit. Back to Ortlieb. The Ortlieb V-Shot is a soft sided, waterproof camera bag that allows the user to carry the camera in a chest harness, on a belt or over the shoulder. The bag is waterproof to a IP67 rating. When researching this post I realized that that means the product is 'dust tight' and will resist water sprayed through jets (at least 3 minutes, 100 liters per minute, 100kPa at a distance of 3 meters). I will attest that the item is waterproof when floating on the surface of a stream, or briefly submerged before resurfacing when jumping in a pool of water. Obviously this is antidotal and if you need 100% waterproof protection there are other options on the market (such as the previously mentioned Pelican Cases).
The Ortlieb V-Shot is beautifully manufactured piece. Made of PU coated Cordura, The seems are welded together to ensure a watertight seal and also appear smooth. The bag has a waterproof zipper with a pull tab to make opening the zipper easier. On the rear of the bag there are four d-rings that allow you to connect a harness system to carry the camera like a Baby Bjorn. Funny as it sounds at first glance people have thought thats what I was doing. Not sure what babies are dark grey and have a zipper but who knows. Anyway the V-shot also has a easy carry handle on top. The bag comes with a heavily padded shoulder strap, so can use this on non-adventure shoots also. After opening the zipper the interior padding is adequate to protect your bag from drops or tossing in the bed of the truck. On the lid of the interior there is a small pocket that can hold batteries, filters, remotes, etc. The pocket holds the item in place with a stretch collar and mesh netting. Over all the design of the bag is simple, and robust. I would not call it elegant as it looks like a piece that is ready for anything you can throw at it. And that is just what it is.
Since purchasing the V-Shot I have not had any desire to find another carrying case for my DSLR. In the past I owned multiple configurations (some similarly designed) but none have preformed to the level of this bag. I primarily purchased the bag to be used for backpacking. I carry the camera using a chest harness and route this under my backpack straps. I have never had issues with chaffing due to routing the straps this way. My chest harness of choice is the Think Tank Digital Holster Harness V2.0 . What a mouth full! Anyway I purchased the Ortlieb Camera Bag Harness first because of the weight and simplicity. Well don't waste your money. It is uncomfortable and painful to wear for extended periods of time. The Digital Holster Harness V2.0 works much better and provides more support, but unfortunately weighs significantly more. There is another option to buying a harness and wearing it. By using the d rings on the V-Shot and some webbing/rope/biners you can rig the case to ride on the straps of your pack. This makes for easier removal when stopping but can effect the carry of the pack on your shoulders. Test out the systems and find one that works for you. For backpacking I have had no issues with the Ortlieb V-Shot. I toss it on the ground/rocks and it shows very little signs of abrasion. The pack has protected my camera from multiple drops (under 6 feet) and protected against rain or dust. For backpacking purposes this bag is amazing. I never worry about the camera enclosed.
The area this bag really out preformed my expectations was canyoneering. Although not purchased to use in canyons it is the ideal system for canyon travel. The case with the camera enclosed will float. When traversing through canyons I attached the case to the highest point of my pack or drag it behind while swimming. I have had no leaks using the pack this way. I also have rappelled waterfalls and the case has kept the contents protected. On occasion I have jumped into pools (6-8 ft jumps) with the case attached to my chest. No water made it through the waterproof zipper, even when being submerged while resurfacing. The case has again resisted abrasion on the rough canyon rocks.
-Water resistant/dust proof DSLR sized case for use while adventuring.
-Excellent customer service (see blurb below) and warranty
-Soft sided protection at a reasonable 15.9 oz weight.
-Ease of use for shooting on the fly, rather then storing in pack.
-Case can be used in and out of the field, eliminating the need for a second case.
-The price is a tough pill to swallow. I paid $160 when I purchased it a few years back. It now retails for $190.
-The waterproof zipper works excellent at keeping out water, but is difficult to close and requires two hands (especially to open).
-The mesh pocket internally allows things to fall out easily. I moved the two removable pads from the camera body area to the mesh area and solved the problem.
-A chest harness is needed to be purchased to really get your use out of this product. Just another expense, but this is no different then most bag systems like this.
-Hard to find. I had to contact Ortlieb and they put me in contact with the one US location that had one. I purchased unseen and hoped for the best. The V-Shot now appears to be available at more locations, but is still difficult to find.
While in Hawaii I had a failure of the waterproof zipper. Sometimes when squeezing the lid and base the zipper teeth would pop apart. The teeth would also separate when carrying the case by the top handle. This defeated the purpose of having a waterproof zipper if it won't stay closed. I contacted Ortlieb via email to ask if they could repair the item. I told them my situation, including that the receipt was unobtainable at this time. They requested I send the bag in for inspection and they would get back to me. After a week or so they contacted me and said the zipper was unrepairable. Bummer. The good news was they were promptly sending out a replacement bag. Score. Customer service on items is extremely important to me and Ortlieb USA has a lifetime customer from their performance. Kudos Ortlieb.