A delectable selection of ingenious solutions for carrying and protecting your precious photographic equipment.
Carry your camera gear in style
Innovations in camera bag design do not generally proceed at the breakneck pace of digital technology, and some tried-and-true examples (like my battle scarred 30-year-old Domke F-2, right) have endured virtually unchanged for decades. However, over the last year or two I’ve noted a distinct spurt in creative camera bag designs, many offering ingenious and effective new ways to tote your gear.
Some new bags provide more convenient ways to carry and access your equipment, including your laptop, that hallmark of the digital revolution. Others extend your options by converting from shoulder bags to backpacks, rolling along on wheels, or simply looking ultra-cool and fashionable.
To give you a taste of what’s out there and what makes it special, I’ve gathered a baker’s dozen of the latest models and present them for your delectation over the course of this week. We hope you find something fascinating and useful here that fits your kind of shooting to a T—we sure did!
The Best New Camera Bags and Camera Cases
Tamrac 5585 Expedition 5x Backpack for SLR Camera, Flash with Accessories & 12" Laptop
This medium size pack offers foam-padded protection and quick access to multiple SLRs, lenses, flash and accessories. The main compartment is completely foam-padded with numerous adjustable, foam-padded dividers to protect digital or film SLRs, 4-5 lenses and a flash. The camera with a long zoom lens attached is suspended on two vertical, foam-padded dividers that are internally reinforced with rigid plastic. There is a separate pocket for a small laptop or tablet computer.
A restraint strap holds the lens firmly in place. Two Windowpane-Mesh pockets inside the front flap visibly organize filters, film and other accessories. A plastic, foam-padded platform in the bottom provides shock protection while a LockDown rain flap protects the zipper from the elements. A harness system with dual density comfort pads allows airflow while an adjustable belt and expandable sternum strap allow for finer adjustments. The bag features two external pockets in back as well as a fast-access tripod attachment system.
The bag measures 11x5.5x13.5 inches inside and 12.75x10x16 inches externally, and weighs 4 pounds, 8 ounces. The Tamrac 5585 costs $219.95 at Adorama.
Tenba Green Vector 3 Large Shoulder Bag
Those of us who write about the latest photo gear may not necessarily be of the generation that is buying the stuff; same deal with those who make cameras and accessories. Case in point: Tenba. The bag maker realized that while an older generation may prefer black camera bags, this might not be the case for the younger set. Enter the hipster-friendly Vector line, which can handle a range water-resistant bags that are both practical and fashionable.
The Krypton Green Vector 3 Shoulder Bag is made of strong 600 Denier nylon and is rugged and weather-resistant. Snap-closure over-sized cover and rain cover provide additioinal protection. The exterior has a handy accessory pocket that permits you to grab essential items without having to open the entire bag. There's lots of internal space—enough to hold a DSLR body with three or four lenses, flash and other gear as well as smaller gear such as memory cards, filters and all those other smaller but required components that go into getting the shot. Tenba has even thought to include a handy microfiber lens cloth. Padded, adjustable dividers permit you to sculpt the main compartment of the bag to fit whatever gear you need to carry for that day's gig.
The Tenba Green Vector 3 measures 9x8x6.5 inside and 10.5x9.5x8.5 outside, and weighs 1.2 pounds. It costs $44.95 at Adorama.
Tamrac Velocity 8z Pro Photo Sling Pack
The Tamrac Velocity 8z Pro Photo Sling Pack (Gray/Burgundy) is designed for a prosumer DSLR (such as the Canon 70D or Nikon D7100) with a zoom lens up to 8.0" attached, 2 additional lenses, a flash and accessories. Inside, a foam-padded compartment provides storage and protection for an iPad. The padded sling strap allows the pack to be swung around to the front for camera access without having to remove the pack. The bag's secure zippered Quick Flip Top opens away from the body for fast and convenient access to camera gear. The front section has organizer pockets to keep a phone and photo accessories within easy reach while the lid can be used to store filters and lens caps. It also features Tamrac's Memory and Battery Management System and is part of Tamrac's Modular Accessory System so optional accessories can be easily added.
The Tamrac Velocity 8z Pro Photo Sling Pack's interior measures 11x6x12 inches, and its exterior dimensions are 13x6.5x13.5 inches. It is available at Adorama for $99.95.
Domke F-2 Backpack
The original Domke F-2 bag has been a mainstay among photojournalists for over 30 years, and now it’s been ingeniously reconfigured into the Domke F-2 Backpack. The bottom of the bag is arranged exactly like the F2 Original bag, but there’s now extra room at the top for accessories or personal items. The Domke tradition is maintained with the familiar breathable weather-resistant cotton canvas construction, cotton webbing, YKK zippers on each compartment, and indestructible steel snap hooks with welded steel rings that secure the main weather flap, providing a quick, reliable, pilfer-proof closure.
Acomfortable foam padded harness with waist and sternum strap distributes the load for a comfortable carry. Eight compartments provide ample space for a pro DSLR outfit, and the padded bottom adds cushioned support and helps to keep equipment dry. A removable four-compartment insert separates the contents, and there are five additional pockets, an inside mesh zipper pocket for small accessories, and four exterior pockets, one on each side, and two on the front and bottom.
Pelican 1510 Case
This high-impact, all-purpose watertight case is designed for air travelers who must protect valuable equipment stored as carry-on baggage. The Pelican1510 provides nearly 1,800 cubic inches of usable storage space and sports rubberized front and side grips for maximum comfort, as well as stainless steel ball bearing, polyurethane wheels and an extension handle (with an effortless release latch) for easy transport. It also features stainless-steel- reinforced padlock protectors to deter cutting and theft.
For added convenience, TSA-Accepted padlocks, lid organizers and padded divider sets are available so travelers (including photographers and audio visual professionals) now have the 1510 as a viable carry-on solution. Like all Pelican Protector™ Cases, the 1510’s open cell-core construction helps it protect sensitive equipment even under extreme conditions.
Additional standard features include a lid equipped with a polymer o-ring for a dust and waterproof seal, and an automatic Gore-TEX® pressure equalization valve, that stops moisture from entering the case and prevents. Like all Pelican products, the 1510 is covered by a Legendary Lifetime Guarantee of Excellence: “You break it, we replace it free…forever.” Cost: $137.83-$400.95, depdending on configuration.
If you are the proud owner of a MILC with a couple of lenses, or a starter or consumer-level DSLR with a lens or two and a flash, the Adorama Slinger is a low-cost bag that may be just big enough for your needs. With a main compartment with movable partitions measuring 10x10x4 inches, as well as an outer pocket and two mesh side pockets to hold an extra flash (or a water bottle so you can stay hydrated), the camera also offers a security pocket in back that can hold a passport, plane tickets, or a small notebook. There's a 2-inch waist strap and adequate weather protection. The bag is available in Black and Camouflage for $59.95.
Lowepro Fastpack 100/250
The Lowepro Fastpack 100 is a lighweight backpack with a triple compartment design that provides a comfortable carrying solution that holds a digital SLR camera, extra lenses or flash units, a notebook computer, and contains generous storage for accessories and personal gear. A 180-degree access panel in the Fastpack makes loading and retrieving camera equipment quick and easy, while adjustable dividers enable its compartment to be fully customized to fit different combinations of gear.
With its security flap snapped closed over the camera compartment, Fastpack offers an additional layer of protection while maintaining fast-access through the side entry compartment—even while the pack is being worn. The top compartment provides ample capacity for personal accessories.
The larger Fastpack 250 accommodates a digital SLR with attached mid-range zoom lens, two to three additional lenses or flash units and accessories and has a specially designed, easy-side-access compartment for a 15.4 or 17 inches and offers extra space for cables and computer accessories.
Lowepro Pro Roller x100 AW Rolling Bag
The Lowepro Pro Roller x100 AW Rolling Bag features dual-button trolley handle and comfortable grab handles with leather backing add extra convenience when transporting gear from point A to point B. The MaxFit System, patent-pending interior dividers design provides ease of use and the maximum capacity - all while offering superior protection. Long-wearing, ballistic nylon hardshell exterior offers high-impact protection. The vibration-absorbing, urethane-case wheels with ABEC-5 rated bearings provide a smooth glide and long-lasting durability.
The Reserve Pack unzips from the hardshell case to provide additional versatility as needed. A patented, built-in All Weather AW Cover may be deployed from back pocket to protect valuable gear from the elements. Compact, TSA-approved lock with locking zippers offers an easy-to-use security system . A no-drop front organization pockets provides space for all types of travel and personal essentials -- from a passport to smartphone, keys to notebooks and more. An easy-access, deep laptop pocket is located in the front for added convenience. A roomy, interior storage panel is constructed with see-through mesh pockets for quick identification of accessories like cables, filters, chargers, etc. It also features removable tripod straps at side of case.
The Lowepro Pro Roller x100 AW Rolling Bag's internal dimensions are 12.4x6.3x16.1 inches. It measures 14x9x19.3 inches on the outside. It costs $349.99 at Adorama.
Domke Limited Edition F-803 Ruggedwear
If you like that “lived-in” look of your favorite pair of jeans that only get better with age, the remarkably commodious Domke Limited Edition F-803 Ruggedwear compact camera satchel will give it to you straight out of the box. Using an exclusive canvas material coated with waxes and oils, the fabric has a distinctive distressed and weathered look. This treatment proofs it against inclement weather while retaining the breatheability of cotton—just like classic British foul-weather motorcycle apparel. All Domke Ruggedwear bags come with an ointment that you can reapply to maintain its unique qualities and appearance.
Fortunately the F-803 is more than just a fashion statement. The smallest of the Domke Satchels, it has gained a following among photographers who don't want to call attention to their expensive equipment, a bag that doesn't shout "cameras!" It also works very effectively as a laptop bag or as a light briefcase for business travel.
Interior Dimensions: 12W x 3D x 9H inches. Weight: 1 pound. 15 ounces. Cost: $119.95.
Clik Elite Compact Sport Backpack
The Clik Elite Compact Sport Backpack is compact enough for skiing or biking, yet full-featured enough to let you carry your DSLR and an extra lens along with enough clothing and food to keep you going for a full day. Side-entry design swings around to give you access to the camera compartment without fully removing the pack, while giving you the ability to carry extra lenses and gear on your back
Other features include: A hydration sleeve and tube port that will hold a 45-ounce bladder, zippered outer pocket for quick access to accessories, stash pocket with compression cord, fully padded 250 cubic inch camera bay with weather-resistant zipper and modular organization, a media organizer with weatherproof zippers to protect memory cards, cables, and business cards, adjustable sternum strap, and the ability to host other Clik Elite units for fast camera access. The Sport is constructed of heavy-duty and high-tenacity ballistic nylon fabrics and sports robust zippers.
External measurements: 18H x 10W x 4,5D inches; total capacity, 800 cubic inches. Cost: $108.95 Gray.
—Additional research by Mason Resnick
Updated July 30, 2014