This is the smaller GC4101 padded tripod bag.
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Gitzo GC5101 and GC4101 tripod bags reviewed

When a tripod is needed, a decent one is essential and most high-end models don’t come with a bag. A good tripod is a long-term investment so a decent bag is another essential, especially if you use it on location. Kevin Carter takes a closer look.

I own both the Gitzo GC5101 and GC4101, which are designed for Gitzo’s Systematic range of tripods. While there’s only around 8cm or so in length between them the GC5101 is much larger in terms of internal volume and was designed presumably for the Geant (Giant) model, a 5-series Systematic that still measures some 73cm (35-in) even when collapsed.

I don’t have that tripod, instead, I have a no longer-made GT5542LS a 5-series 4-section L (Long) version, which is pretty compact at 61cm (24-in). It fits easily into the smaller GC4101 with room to spare, let alone the GC5101, and there’s more than enough room for a large ball head attached, such as the RRS BH-55. With the GC5101 there’s just about enough room for the GT5542LS and a full-sized gimbal attached.

My most used tripod, also no longer made, a 2-Series Systematic with a levelling base and Arca-Swiss Monorail p0 head fits the GC4101 comfortably, again with room to spare.

Both the GC5101 and the GC 4101 share the same design and features. Both are incredibly well-made with a soft and luxurious rip-stop-like fabric that holds up well with careful use. For bags of this price (£/$250-300), the padding is quite thin but it is dense enough to prevent damage from rolling around in the back of the car as well as the odd knock here and there. Still, it’s unlikely to prevent damage to a delicate head say from a fall if propped up on end.

There are further strange design choices as well. None are particularly serious but they detract from the overall potential.

Inside there’s a decent-sized zipped pocket which is a bit longer in the GC 5101 but it’s not padded. I use it to store various Arca-Swiss style plates and L-plates but wrap them in padded material to prevent damage to the legs and each other.

The inside lining is made from the deepest black taffeta which, when light levels are low, makes it near-impossible to see or find anything except by touch. I’ve mashed tripods together thinking it was empty. A light grey colour would be my first choice. A light green, second.

Hand straps are placed too far forward making the whole thing rear heavy and there’s a further hand strap at the narrow end. Holding it upright here means the tripod is upside down with the weight on the head, so presumably it’s a grab handle for retrieving it from the car or hold or something. But it seems unnecessary.

Finally, although the adjustable strap has rubber braiding making it non-slip and comfortable in use, it’s on the underside so any dirt is transferred to your clothing. It was probably designed like this so as not to get in the way of the zip, especially at the head end where, it must be said, the opening provides excellent access.

As I mentioned previously none of the points are deal breakers. For moving tripods to and from the car for location work, I’ve yet to come across a better solution for the Systematics. However, adding some removable padded dividers would greatly improve the versatility. With the GC5101 especially, there’s still plenty of internal volume allowing for a second head and a few accessories, such as a centre column and levelling base to be stored separately if need be. A few tweaks would go a long way but, as they stand, the Gitzo GC5101 and GC4101 are a solid choice and can still be easily recommended.

What’s hot

Good access
Incredibly well made
Comfortable, non-slip shoulder strap
Useful zipped internal pocket

What’s not

Padding on the thin side
Grab handles too far forward (even with a heavy head)
Dark interior reduces visibility
Shoulder strap position prone to picking up dirt
Padded dividers would greatly increase versatility
On pricey side

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