No travel photography site could be without an article on bags. Many people, including myself look for the one perfect bag. Don’t bother. It doesn’t exist. Please don’t spend endless hours searching for one. In my early photography days I spent more than I should have on bags, telling myself why one was better than the other. However they have all been great, none have been sold and all still going after 10 years. It’s when you realize that there are different genres of photography, various locations and different people that call for different bag needs. The equipment you take on a wedding shoot is vastly different to a hike in the wilderness. Some shoots you can fill an entire car, other times you are squeezing into a photo pit amongst 40,000 people at a music festival.
This article I hope will show how I handle this conundrum. It’s not a bag review, or saying is one is better than another. I’m not that fussy to care. I do however like practicality, quality and flexibility.
So at this point I am down to 3 bags.
Lowepro Flipside 300
I have had this bag for nearly 9 years now and it is a workhorse. Simple, cheap but highly effective. I use it for easy walking travel photography, music festivals and some sport. I can squeeze 2 bodies and 70-200mm and 24-70mm at a push. Even sun tan cream and a drink down the side. Overloaded for sure but it’s lasted this long. It also takes a monopod. Its best feature is its rear access to your camera gear. It’s impossible for anyone to access this and proves great for storing phones/wallet in case of areas of pickpockets. When this bag dies, I will just go and buy a direct replacement
Lowepro CompuRover AW
This bag is also dated and is definitely in need of replacing. I purchased it as it could take my essential camera gear, a large laptop and fits into baggage holds on planes. It means I can carry my work laptop and gear safely at all times. It has a large compartment in the top and I’ve had this completely jammed with goodies on way back from business trips. Comfortable to wear and it holds a tripod too. This bag has been everywhere with me. One day I will have to part as the zips are breaking and it’s all saggy. I’ll probably shed a tear.
I had an opportunity to purchase this bag from a friend recently so that I could carry more equipment for sports events. I also noticed that most pros use ThinkTank. It is clear to see why after just a short time of using as it is designed with one purpose in mind. To serve the professional in the most convenient and comfortable way possible. Super chunky straps, flexibility in the cabin, and handy side pockets for monopods. It’s the little touches on this bag that sets it apart. The premium price tag is worth it if you are able to make funds stretch.
American Tourister Suitcase
Yes you read right. A suitcase. I blame Mike on this one. Another US trip buying too many clothes and gifts from the Disney Store for my kids. It is inevitable that we end up at Walmart buying a cheap suitcase in order for me to get home. However one time I bought this ugly, reasonable quality American Tourister suitcase. I decided that if I was to buy another bag I’d at least make it useful. I kitted it out with custom foam and it did a reasonable job whilst lugging around various sports events and wedding shoots. However it didn’t take long for the foam to fall apart and the luggage to end up in the attic with other little used objects such as photo backdrops, camping gear and inflatable Santas.
ThinkTank Roller Bag
A dedicated roller bag similar to my Airport 200. Purely to help my back. Not much more to say
Cycling Camera Bag
As a keen cyclist I’m constantly frustrated at the lack of a good camera with me when presented with stunning views after a long hilly slog. Whether its road riding or mountain biking, I can’t decide on bag, camera/lens to take. I’m worried about damaging them but not so much that I wouldn’t take them. I’m not willing to use a backpack as in an accident I could likely end up in a wheelchair as my 5D hits my spine. I have used large saddle bags but without much success. A combination of sizing and comfort present issues. This leaves me with handlebar mounts. I’m in the process of working this out!
So I hope that gives an insight into my world of camera bags. Next time you are being derided for having too many bags you can point that person to this article!
A fitting end to this article is this image captured by Mike, of me buying yet another bag at Walmart due to excessive USA purchasing, again. Note the trusty Flipside 300 also being carried!