Anthony Awaken

I’m Anthony and I run AnthonyAwaken.com where I review a lot of outdoor gear, photography equipment and things of that nature. I have run a creative studio (AwakenDesign.com) for 11 years as well, hence the name; “AnthonyAwaken” 😉

I’m from the Central Kentucky area (pretty close to Tennessee). I have always been way too into gear & bags, lol. I always carry a lot of stuff with me, whether it’s camera equipment or camping gear (depending on the adventure)…So finding the perfect bag has always been a neverending venture. I have found a few that I absolutely love though (Lowepro ProTactic, ThinkTank TurnStyle, Recycled Firefighter 12 Hour Bag).

What kind of bags do you review?

I typically stick with Camera + Hiking Bags. These are the two things that I enjoy doing (photography + camping)…So it suits me and my hobbies/profession very well.

I’m always open to reviewing bags from all brands if the pack looks to be a fit for what I need it to do.

I’ve been reviewing gear for around 3 Years now.

Yes, companies do send their bags in for the most part. But, I do, on occasion purchase one on my own.

I typically stay updated via Facebook or Instagram about new bags (when their algorithms show the right content, haha). I follow along with several companies to keep up with them (LowePro, ThinkTank & Mindshift, Vanguard, Kelty, etc). I’m on their mailing lists too (some general mailing lists and some “team” mailing lists for reviewers).

How do you review the bags?

I’m pretty strenuous on my field tests for bags. After all, the bag is the most important part of your adventure. It’s either going to make or break the comfort of your trip.

For me, I test a bag for at least 1-2 months. I take it on short & long hikes, daily commutes (unless its 30+ Liters, then it’s just too large), I work out of it in my studio and/or in the field, etc. This longer-term testing helps me distinguish how well it’s going to perform + hold up.

My review procedure is pretty free-flowing and just depends on the bag. However, my creative process (writing about it, photographing it, etc) is pretty much the same each time.

I do think design & features are really important. No one wants to be carrying around an ugly burlap sack haha 😉 I’m a sucker for a good looking bag that functions well.

Something I like about many bags: Hmm – A lot of bags feature YKK Zippers and I LOVEEEE YKK brand stuff. They’re so smooth & make the bag so much better.

Something I DON’T like about many bags: Crappy, uncomfortable shoulder straps, lol. There are a lot of bags that do NOT design their shoulder straps well and it kills the experience of carrying it.

What are your favorite bags?

  • Lowepro ProTactic 450AW II for big photography trips.
  • Lowepro Photosport 300 for day hikes when I’m going to be doing photography.
  • ThinkTank TurnStyle 10 for commuting around, taking to church, out to dinner, etc.
  • Recycled Firefighter 12 Hour Bag for commuting/church/dinner/etc when I need more space or just prefer the backpack design.
  • Vanguard Alta Rise 45 for smaller photoshoots, commuting, meetings, etc.

The four above are in my weekly/monthly rotation. They’re all so close to perfect for their intended use and are SUPER comfy! Comfort is the #1 thing…Followed up at #2 by functionality & ease of use. (All of these bags have been used extensively as well)

Stuff I always carry:

  • At least 1 camera. But most of the time I carry 2 (as of late it’s been my Fujifilm X-T2 and Lomo’Instant Automat Film Camera)
  • Spare Batteries & Lens Filters for my camera(s)
  • Hand Sanitizer (’cause i’m a total germophobe)
  • Mints and/or Gum
  • Notebook + Pen & Sharpie
  • First Aid Kit
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Battery Bank + Charging/Syncing Cords

These are the main things, off the top of my head, that are always with me.

How do people use your reviews?

The end goal is to always help people make a better-informed decision before they purchase a bag. I try to be as thorough as possible in my reviews to help the buyer.

The companies have always been super supportive of positive and negative feedback about bags. They’re, of course, happy about the positive feedback, but they’re eager to fix the negative things if they can.

A lot of people email, comment, message me about the reviews. It’s always awesome to hear someone say “hey I bought ______ because of your review and I love it”. That’s always super cool 🙂

As far as negative comments: Thankfully it’s all been pretty positive so far.


Visit Anthony Awaken



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