In our review of ‘sack’ style beanbag support systems, we wrote the following:
“Photo Bean Bag by Cazbeanz – Cazbeanz exists today. Will it exist tomorrow? This company and web site was developed when quality, low cost bags could not be obtained by ‘Dad’. It appears these bags are made by a college student with a strong textile background. Since the owner admits currently studying at a theater/music school, I am not sure where this business goes. That said, the product description shows good knowledge of material selection and product construction … and how many follow-up purchases to you actually need? Cazbeanz makes bags of various sizes. The bags are of a pillow design with a side zipper, with the largest noted on the site being 9” x 13”. The bags are made in the UK and can be bought using PayPal, with the large bag selling for $12 ($22 with side carrying straps) plus shipping. The bag was not tested first hand.”
A pleasant surprise came our way right before the holiday season. Caroline Bateson of Photo Bean Bags by Cazbeanz contacted us and offered a beanbag for testing. Caroline had seen our prior review and recognized the review raised some questions about the company plans and product quality. We loved that Caroline was using proceeds from sales to help fund a higher education – but we were a little worried that this temporary need could create a temporary company. Caroline emphasized that this does not need to be the case.
Along with the shipped bag, Caroline noted that Photo Bean Bags is willing to ship worldwide at a reasonable postage rate and also shared the following construction details:
- The base and top of the bag are different:
- The base is made from Cordura©, a tough fabric, waterproof and abrasion resistant, usually used for extreme weather clothing and luggage. Cotton fabrics aren’t up to working with rocks, walls, tree branches etc.
- The top of the bag uses less harsh ripstop material which, if damaged the tear would not spread.
- The whole interior is lined with a waterproof fabric so the contents are unaffected if the bag is dropped in anything nasty. This will help prevent mold or mildew or swelling of the fill beans.
- The snap buckle ( which we liked) came from a request. A customer had arthritis and one hand was weak. So if you are carrying the bag over your head you can remove it just by squeezing the buckle.
- The access zipper is folded under a flap (another feature we liked) as some customers told me that sometimes they had accidentally opened a bag and lost some of the contents.
Since receiving the bag, we have tested the bag from the car and also from static support locations such as fences/car hoods (bonnet), etc. Filled, the bag weighed in at 3 pounds. The bag is rectangular with dimensions were 8” x 11” x 2”. This is slightly smaller than reported at the site; however, I suspect the dimensional change is created by filling (creation of the depth).
Testing of the bag started in early December. To date, the bag is holding up well. As a matter of detail, the bag is still being carried in my vehicle, where it is primarily used when I hike and with my Canon 7D/100-400mm camera lens combo as well as when using my 24-105mm lens.
What we liked:
- This bag will work well in situations where one can shoot from rooftop.
- Nice stable base when shooting from fence or static position.
- Nice size, especially for lens sizes at or less than the Canon 100-400L. It would also be great for the Canon 70-200L or the Canon 70-300.
- Well constructed, with zipper nicely protected by cover flap.
- Carry straps were sturdy, with quick disconnects and quite handy for working in the field.
- Very reasonable price.
Limitations/Areas for improvement
- Zippered opening was a little narrow. The problem with a narrow zip is that beans/fill can easily be spilled while filling the bag. Once the bag is filled, the small zipper is nicely hidden under a flap and is no problem.
- Zipper performed fine, but the zipper does not appear as sturdy as could be used. I don’t know much about zipper sizing, but a more heavy duty zipper is recommended. Perhaps the downside to a larger zip is that it is harder to hide under the flap. A large exposed zipper could potentially scratch the lens. We think the larger size is worth the risk.
- Lack of ‘legs’ made this okay from a vehicle, but not as stable as molar design units. As with other ‘pillow’ style bags, the bag must balance on the ledge of the vehicle. The bag is large enough to be stable, but not so large that one would want to drive the vehicle while the bag sits unsupported on the window ledge. To overcome this, the bag needs to be a few inches wider than the current design.
- As is typical for these pillow style bags, the bag does not sit the lens up high when resting on window ledge. Stacking two units would be one solution. As you can see in the included photos, to use this bag with a large lens in my BMW X, my son had to hunch over into a rather uncomfortable position. Please note that many other, ‘well known’ bags such as the Kensis SafariSack suffers from the same issues …. at a higher selling price.
Bottom Line – nice value for the price. Current pricing of the version tested per the web site is £13.75. Caroline at Photo Bean Bags by Cazbeanz seems eager to continue making the product and, perhaps more importantly, she wishes to continue improving the product. From my correspondences with her, I know she is keen to receive feedback from users and those who have creative ideas to make the product better.