Agua is the newest product line by Miggo who last year introduced the Strap & Wrap and Grip & Wrap camera carriers. The Miggo team has a long pedigree in the camera bag design business, and is lead by Ohad Cohen, the designer behind many of Kata’s most innovative products.
Their new product line is a collection of water resistant camera holsters called Agua (Spanish for “water”). Recently, I had the opportunity to field test a pre-production sample of the Agua 25 for mirrorless and CSC cameras.
Agua comes in 3 sizes, accommodating everything from a mirrorless camera to a professional size DSLR. It is manufactured using high quality materials – a combination of blue and black neoprene, lycra, and waterproof tarpaulin.
The key differentiator for Agua over similar camera holsters is its IPX3 water resistance rating. An IPX3 rating promises protection from a 10 liter per minute spray of water from any direction at up to 60 degrees from vertical for a full five minutes. This should be more than enough to protect sensitive camera gear from any rainstorm that you will encounter short of a typhoon. It’s also an effective barrier against sand, snow, and dust.
A quick rundown of the Agua’s key features is as follows:
Agua’s outside layer is made from black tarpaulin fabric that provides the majority of its water resistance. Inside the Agua is a neoprene pocket that provides protection for the camera against bumps and thumps. A crumple zone separates the 2 layers, and provided further impact resistance.
A double zipper with pulls is used to seal the Agua. The neoprene pocket serves as a quick-draw camera holster when the zipper is open.
Agua’s strap has three configurations. In its normal configuration, it allows Agua to be carried as a sling bag, but the strap can also be detached and re-attached directly to a camera (using the included side adapters) for use as a conventional camera strap. Agua also features a strapless mode where the side buckles can be joined to form a carrying handle. The strap’s buckles can be locked against accidental release.
The strap also features a quick adjustment system that allows it to be lengthened or shortened by pulling a pair of D-rings. When walking, I tend to set and forget strap length, but this feature could potentially be very useful for securing the Agua to your body when cycling.
Inside the neoprene pocket, there is also a short strap that can be used to attach a camera directly to the Agua. This allows the camera to be secured against drops or opportiunistic snatch-and-runs without requiring an additional wrist or camera strap.
Rigid Front Lens Protector:
At the base of the Agua is a rigid pad that protects the front of the lens. This is handy not only as a lens protector, but also allows the Agua to stand upright. Inside the lens protector is a carrying pocket for a lens cap.
I tested Agua with several combinations of camera and lens. Smaller cameras such as the Fuji X100s and Sony Nex-6 fit inside the Agua with plenty of room to spare. The largest camera / lens combination that I can realistically fit in the Agua is a Fuji XT-1 and 18-55 kit lens (with lens hood reversed), which is tight but usable. It is still possible to use Agua’s strapless “handle” mode with this combination. There is no room available for extra lenses, filters, or accessories.
What I Like
The first thing that impresses me about Agua is its weight. At 11.4 ounces including strap, it feels like I am carrying nothing at all – even after a very long walk. Its strap is not particularly wide or padded, but I find it very comfortable to wear.
I really like the stand-up base on the lens protector. Very few of my smaller camera bags stand upright, and I find this capability a huge advantage in wet or sandy conditions.
The double-layer construction is effective for cushioning and protecting cameras. The Agua is not heavily padded, but the 2 layers and crumple zone provide a surprising amount of protection.
Agua’s style is unisex, and its blue accents look good against the black tarpaulin.
The strap configurations are also useful. I use it in both the strapless and strapped configurations without any issues. It is easy to carry both ways.
Water and sand resistance. I live in the Pacific Northwest where rainstorms can be a daily occurrence. I foresee the Agua becoming an integral part of my wet weather gear.
What I Don’t Like
I have fewer quibbles with the Agua than I typically have with camera bags that I test. Having said that, there are a couple of things that I would change in a perfect world.
My most significant gripe is the lack of internal pockets. It is possible to carry an SD card or two in the lens cap pocket, but the pocket is not zippered and cards can slide out fairly easily – particularly when using the inner camera security strap. I would be much happier with a sealable inner pocket large enough to hold a couple of memory cards or an extra battery.
I also wish the inner security strap was detachable. When not in use, it tends to flop against the camera’s LCD screen. It would be nice if this was either detachable or could be otherwise secured when not in use.
As noted earlier, Agua is rated as IPX3, which is good enough for a rainstorm or an unexpected soaking from a waterfall or garden hose. I was able to leave it in the shower for several minutes without any sign of leakage, so Agua deserves its IPX3 rating.
But I also worry about the inevitable disasters that befall photographers in the outdoors. What happens if I fall in the river or my kayak rolls over? Can Agua (and the gear within) survive a disaster that goes well beyond its IPX3 rating? I do realize that it is totally unfair to test a product beyond its stated rating, but inquiring minds want to know…
For my torture test, I substituted stones of an equivalent weight for my camera and lens. Its not that I don’t trust Agua, you understand, but I felt that for this test, a reasonable degree of caution was required.
Step 1: A swim in the ocean
I tossed the Agua into the salt-water waves zipper down and let it bob there for 2 minutes. Guess what? It floats.
Step 2: A burial in the sand
Step 3: A shower to clean off the sand
First of all, I am happy to report that the Agua cleaned up well, with no salt residue, sticky zippers, or marks from its ordeal.
But how about its water resistance? This is where I began to truly appreciate the double layer construction and crumple zone. The inside neoprene layer was largely high and dry with a couple of mildly damp spots near the zipper pulls. It was certainly dry enough for me to put my camera back into it for the walk home.
A few water drops had collected on the inside of the tarpaulin layer in the rigid lens protector cap. These drops were isolated from the neoprene (and therefore the camera) nicely by the crumple zone.
Well done, Agua!
There’s a lot to like about Agua. Its tough, light, and can handle the elements. A lot of thought has gone into its design, and I’m happy to report that it lives up to its hype. If you are looking for a light, durable, weather-proof camera bag, and you don’t feel the need to carry a lot of extra gear, Agua may well be the answer.
Check out Miggo's Kickstarter campaign for Agua here: Agua on Kickstarter
Rob Will - May 2015