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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hands-on With the Manfrotto Aviator Drone Sling

A Classy Comfy Ride for your Drone or Camera

The Manfrotto Aviator Drone Sling Bag M1 is designed to hold a Mavic (or similar folding) drone with a number of carrying options. However, in true Manfrotto-style versatility, it does so much more.
Manfrotto Aviator Drone Sling M1
shown with Mavic drone and
accessories.  Photo courtesy Manfrotto

The unique shape and wide array of interior pads, make packing of drone and accessories convenient and compact, allowing for stacking of items, with accessories protected under the drone, separated by cushioning.

The compact size of this bag offers a number of carrying options. The wide soft straps can be buckled together to be carried sling style, it can buckled around the hips to be work with a backpack, or a strap from another bag can be threaded through the sleeve on the bag's backside for carrying as an add on to a larger bag.  It also has a traditional carry handle for quick grab.

Interior view with drone accessories, s
tacked style packing
  Photo courtesy Manfrotto

When carrying sling style, its symmetrical shape allows for carry on either shoulder, preventing fatigue with the ability to switch sides as needed. The smooth straps allow for an easy slide to the front for access or even as an elbow rest for shooting stills.

As an added bonus, it can even be used as an insert for another bag (such as the Manfrotto Manhattan 3 in 1, see review here) to meet all possible needs.

The zipper closing lid opens away from the body when the bag is worn to prevent tipping and spills.
It comes with enough velcro-attaching pads for a wide array of arrangements depending on what is being carried on a given day. The lid and front panel are somewhat rigid giving the bag structural integrity and form.

Detail of lid pocket with flap
Inside the lid are two flap covered pockets to hold small accessories such as memory cards. There are stretchy pockets on either end and a zipper-closing pocket on the back that runs the width of the bag, giving more than enough space to carry accessories and incidentals in such a small package. Flaps extending from the bag's body, that form the attachment points for the straps, also sport two webbing loops each for additional attachment points.

And it comes, of course, with the Manfrotto weather cover offering protection in rain and heat.

Attachment loops
With the Mavic Pro Fly-more bundle, the additional batteries, chargers, and propellers actually fit better into the the Manfrotto Aviator Sling than they did in the bag that came with the bundle. The exception to this being the folder holding the extra propellers. That did not quite fit into the backside pocket as it was slightly too tall.  Fortunately it is not a huge deal to remove the propellers and carry them singly in that pocket as it has plenty of padding for protection.

Not taking your drone today? Not a problem. It also works quite handily with DSLR (model used for testing purposes was a Pentax K1 with no grip attached) plus lens and room for a few other items as well. A compact DSLR will buy you enough room for an additional lens.

As a photographer with a self-diagnosed bag fetish, I adore a bag that can be used in many different ways.  This bag may have the word aviator in it's name and be designed specifically to hold a folding drone, but the possible ways it can be used are expansive. 

Carrying a basic shoulder camera bag when needing a small kit, comes with a bit of bounce while walking.  The Aviator Drone sling rides comfortable and still, with very minimal bounce when carried sling style, as the bag mainly follows the direction of the strap, creating streamlined weight distribution that follows the attachment points, giving balance to the entire apparatus. 

When test driving bags, I usually try to find a thing or two that I feel could use improving.  With the Aviator Drone Sling, the only difficulty found was the stiffness of the lid. Because of the single piece of stiff material that makes up the bag front and lid, the lid tends to want to stay down, making it sometimes difficult to get into. The lid, however is constructed with corner darts that can be popped to the inside rather than the outside, holding the lid in an upright position for packing and unpacking.

Which means, to quote Mary Poppins, this bag is "practically perfect in every way." And with the reasonal price point (MSRP $69.99) there is no reason to NOT have one whether there is a drone in the picture or not.

Overall, the Aviator Sling does everything it is meant to do plus more. It can be adapted to be used in any number of ways depending on the situation at hand.  And all of this comfort, function, and versatility fits into an elegant sleek package. 

The item used for this review was generously provided by Manfrotto.

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