After lots of questions about photography and the equipment I use, I’ve decided to start a series on photography! First off, stylish camera bags. I don’t know about you, but I am continually on the quest to find the perfect camera backpack. It has to meet a lot of requirements— it must be comfortable on my shoulders, look good, protect my equipment, and able to hold up to travel. Considering I typically carry around about 5 lbs of camera equipment with me wherever I go, comfort is priority. While 5 lbs may not seem a lot, it starts to weigh you down when you’re traveling and walking around a lot. As a result, I prefer backpacks over shoulder bags, so the weight is evenly distributed, and doesn’t lead to weird neck/shoulder issues. I’ve searched high and low for many stylish and comfortable backpacks, and have narrowed it down to my five favorites, of which I own three! The other two I have seen or felt, but don’t currently own.
I remember when we first wrote about this budding brand Vinta on Design Milk, and fast forward a few months— their backpacks constantly sell out like lightning after being launched. Their success is well deserved as the backpack is truly stylish and functional. The first time I wore it, two people asked me where the backpack was from. Someone also said I look like a Japanese schoolgirl, taking it as a compliment!
The highlights of the backpack— as I had mentioned, it has a clean, minimal aesthetic. It has interior padding for all your precious equipment, as well on the shoulders, making it ergonomic as well. It even has a little pouch on top, much like a little dopp kit, to keep your small valuables extra secure. I can pack my 6D, two giant lenses, my battery charger, and even a 15″ macbook pro in it at once.
How I see the backpack improving is if they added a compartment for water bottles, versus just a little slot on the side. I travel a lot with this, through airports, for hiking, and it’d be much more convenient to have a compartment for my water. Another downside for me is that the camera part opens in the back. This means, to switch out your camera equipment, you’d have to take off your backpack, lay it on the floor, unzip the back, switch your equipment, then zip it back up. Sometimes I prefer not to lay my backpack on the ground, especially when I’m hiking or in muddy areas. Despite these areas of improvements, it continues to be one of my favorite stylish camera bags.
Now I know what you may be thinking, that this isn’t a “typical” camera bag. Well I have to say, even though it’s not categorized as a traditional camera bag, it’s been with me through the tropical climates of Taiwan to freezing weather in Salt Lake city to the open countryside of Armenia and has served me (and my equipment) very well.
The Duluth Trading Co convertible messenger is one of my most used bags in general because it’s the perfect size, and is convertible. I cannot stress how much a difference this makes in everyday use. I can wear it as a backpack, or when I want to look a little more “cool”, I’ll wear it as a purse and sling it over my shoulder. It holds a lot of stuff— my 6D, a giant Sigma ART lens, and one more large lens. It also is secure, without making me go through 5 million extra steps to get out my valuable. I can easily swing it to the front, switch out lenses, and be ready to go. The leather is also develops a beautiful patina the longer you use it. Like wine, it gets better with age.
The downside is that sometimes the leather slips, and you have to fiddle with it to convert it back to a backpack. It’s hard to explain, but it’s not, by any means, a deal breaker. Just something to deal with. Also, because it’s not an official camera backpack, it won’t come with any extra padding or specialized compartments for your lenses. It’s a great day bag, but it won’t hold all your camera equipment and a laptop. As a result, I tend to travel with both the Vinta backpack and this leather messenger. I love both. After I bought it, three of my girlfriends bought the same one, literally!
Langly Alpha Pro Camera Bag
This is a definitely a serious camera bag. It’s great for adventurers as it has lots of compartments, a waxed surface to repel water, and even a slot for your tripod. You might notice I tend to like the gray backpacks… The color theme is similar to my Vinta bag. The Langly backpack is great for day adventures, when you’re going through woodsy forests as it’s very durable. I also love it for overnight trips. I can pack a change of clothes, toiletries, and of course, my camera equipment. The bottom is a separate compartment for all my camera equipment, and the top compartment is nice and roomy, almost like a mini backpack. I love all the side compartments and extra ergonomic padding on the straps.
The cons on Langly backpack are also its pros, if that makes sense. It’s almost too big for everyday use. Usually when I’m out and about or traveling, I don’t want to carry a super bulky bag that weights me down. The one other thing is that the flap in the middle keeps flipping up, as you can see in the picture above. Generally minor complaints, but because I don’t need a huge bag, I use it a lot less than the other two backpacks.
Now, I also understand not everyone carries a load of camera equipment around like I do. Maybe you have a smaller DSLR, like the Rebel, or even a Sony alpha series. Then, the ONA Bowery Messenger shoulder bag might be the perfect camera bag. It has a nice leather finish, and doesn’t look like a camera bag. However, it does have the nice padded compartments that’ll keep your equipment nice and safe.
I rarely use shoulder bags though, because they end up hurting my shoulder. I like having weight evenly distributed. The price is also a little steeper than other backpacks or other camera bags. I would also prefer a zippered pocket or more secure slot for valuables.
Similar to the Duluth convertible messenger bag, this Julian backpack from Rebecca Minkoff isn’t officially made to be a camera bag. However, when you’re traveling around big cities and walking a lot, it’s nice to have something small and stylish for all of your photography essentials. The bag easily fits Sarah’s Canon SL1, an additional lens in a neoprene sleeve, Shure VP83, and battery charger in addition to travel essentials like your wallet, a cosmetic pouch, and phone!
Luckily for you, this stylish camera bag comes in a multitude of colors and some even have fringes (a great accessory for all the summer festivals). There are two shallow pockets on both sides of the bag that’s perfect for your phone, keys, or any other small items you use often. We love that there is another hidden pocket with a zipper on the backside of the bag. Sarah keeps her card wallet in there when she’s traveling for extra protection. If you’re worried about taking this bag around crowded places because of the vertical zipper, there’s an option to remove the clip from the bottom to a loop at the top of the bag.
Do you have a stylish camera bag you love? Tell us which one it is in the comments!