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Vanguard Havana 36


I was fortunate enough to be able to review the Vanguard Havana 36 camera bag, which I took away on an adventure to Croatia.

​My first impressions of this bag when I received it was how different it was from other camera bags I have used previously. The Havana 36 didn’t look like a camera bag at all, it just seems like a normal everyday bag you take out with you, I think this is to do with its fashionable tan colour. I love the little details on this bag, like the contrasting, darker brown details which seems to finish the bag of perfectly, and the material feels like its high quality and tough enough to meet my camera bag needs. Most camera bags and backpacks come in black, and are obviously camera bags, so the Havana range is a refreshing change from the norms of camera bag design, and it is great if you like to keep your camera gear discrete when out and about in both an urban and a rural setting.

As you can see by the image above, I could fit quite a lot in his camera bag despite its small size. My wallet, phone, tablet, DSLR camera with Tokina wide angle lens attached, my Tamron 24-70 lens (which is quite big and bulky), my Olympus Trip 35 film camera (yes, I still adore 35mm format), an SJCam action camera and a few extra little bits and pieces. It also has outer pockets on the front at back which are great for storage, with the front zippered pocket having a memory card pouch which is very handy for the snap happy photographer who needs extra memory cards.

The quick action, easy access zip top meant that I could grab my camera very quickly if there was a shot that looked interesting, and the padded insert gives exceptional camera and gear protection. The interior is also light in colour which really helps with finding things with ease. The padded insert can also be fully removed turning the Havana 36 into a normal bag, if you choose not to take your camera gear out with you one day.

​The shoulder strap is  extremely comfortable throughout long days of exploring, due to its thick padding, and on either end of the bag are two stretchy pockets which are big enough to take a regular water bottle which was much needed especially in the scorching 30 - 40 degree heat of Croatia in summer.

​Like all the Vanguard Havana series, this bag also comes with a rain cover but unfortunately I never got to test it out in Croatia due to the abundant amount of hot sunny weather. Well, I say unfortunately, but who wants it to rain when out exploring new and interesting places?! 

The Havana 36 is not one of those bags that fits everything but the kitchen sink into it. It is a bag that you can put a camera and one or two lenses in and some other essential bits and bobs. It is a bag that is fantastic for exploration and adventure, not for complicated photo shoots that you need a million and one things to take with you. If you want a compact but quite sizable camera bag that can hold a few lenses for ease of use whilst travelling and exploring this bag has great maneuverability compared to my bulky and heavy camera backpack. It was a great change from my usual cumbersome, heavy, and unfashionable bags. The Havana 36 is great for urban adventurers and the odd wilderness trek and I personally think that this bag would be great for owners of a Compact System Camera (CSC) as they aren't as bulky as large DSLR cameras and lenses.

​I really loved using this camera bag; it's a beautiful piece of kit and was a dream to use out and about whilst exploring Dubrovnik and the surrounding areas, but it was probably slightly too small for my needs (due to owning stupidly big lenses) but Vanguard also do another  larger bag of the same design which is the Vanguard Havana 38; and if you are a backpack veteran, Vanguard also has the  Havana range  in backpack form too, which also come in various sizes to meet your needs.

​Overall I really enjoyed using the Havana 36 shoulder bag. The comfort, maneuverability and design has made this one of the best camera bags I have used so far on my photographic adventures. I must admit, my main worry was that due to the light colour of the bag, it would scuff and look a bit dirty, but I was surprised at how well it held up to rugged everyday use out and about and still looks great!

Below are the tech specs for the Havana 36 if you prefer a nice bullet point list to help you decide if it's a bag for you :


  • One DSLR with lens attached

  • 1-2 extra lenses

  • Flash unit

  • Water bottle

  • Accessories such as memory cards, cables, battery, smart phone and charger

  •  Up to an 11" laptop


  • Padded, zippered insert with top handle for storing and organizing photo gear

  • 2 padded dividers with touch-fastening fabric

Exterior Pockets

  • 1 rear slip-in pocket with a touch-fastening tab for a map, brochure, or other slim item

  • 2 slip-in, stretch pockets – one on each side for a water bottle and similarly sized items

  • 1 zippered front pocket with a key lanyard, rain cover, and room for a smartphone and other small items

Interior Pockets

  • Rear interior wall features a slip-in pocket with a touch-fastening tab for storing a notebook up to 11.6" or tablet

Memory Card Pouch

  • 1 memory card pouch sewn inside the front, zippered, exterior pocket which features 2 clear, slip-in pockets with a touch-fastening flap

Shoulder Strap

  • Adjustable padded shoulder strap which may be worn over the shoulder or across the chest





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If you want the bag, here are some links to places where you can find the Vanguard Havana series (in either tan or or dark blue) and also look at independent reviews from other people.

Wex photographic also supply a selection of Vanguard Bags

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