Looking for a certain kind of camera bag.
February 16, 2006 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Following up on this thread, I have a very specific camera bag question.

I've been looking for a certain sort of camera bag without a lot of luck. I'm trying to find something that can be worn messenger bag-style for quick access, but can also be worn backpack-style if I'm trekking a long ways. I also want something that can stay pretty securely shut, i.e. can't be opened wide with the pull of a zipper - something that can't be opened by a pickpocket without my knowing it. It doesn't have to be very big, just enough for an SLR body and two normal-sized lenses, plus extra batteries and what-not. It doesn't have to be intended as a camera bag, since I can always fill it with a foam insert to make it one, but even with that I haven't found anything good.

The reason for this is that I'm going to take my 20-D to Europe, and I want a way to carry it so it won't get dinged up and, more importantly, won't get snatched when I'm in the middle of a crowded marketplace or something. I don't want to walk around with a camera around my neck all the time, so I need a reasonably easy way to stow it and retrieve it as I see cool things, but also be able to wear it on my back when I know I won't be needing it in the immediate future. Does a bag like that exist? Help me, hip, gear-savvy AskMeFites!
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
A Tenba bag like this one could work for you. You have to buy an optional backpack harness for an extra $30. For the best security, get something with zippers that can be locked, which this Tenba has. I've got a different version but like it much better than Tamrac bags which I've used in the past.
posted by JJ86 at 10:15 AM on February 16, 2006

It might be just slightly smaller than what you're looking for, but Domke's F-5XB might be what you're looking for. I took it on a european trip with a D70, 35mm f/2 and a 60mm f/2.8 (along with batteries, cards, etc.) and it worked like a champ.

It's very small and the main compartment has a zipper. It then has a flap secured with very strong velcro that goes over the opening, so you can really seal it to prevent pickpockets.

I added three pouches to the sides and the back so that I could slip travel books, a hard drive, and a beanbag tripod in it, and it worked perfectly.
posted by bshort at 10:32 AM on February 16, 2006

You've exactly described the Tamrac Velocity 7.
posted by Caviar at 11:31 AM on February 16, 2006

The'ye expensive, and pretty dorky looking, but you could get a LowePro Field and Street system.

You buy separate waste belts, bags, pouches, and a back-back converts that all interlock and hook together. You can configure them to work in any way imaginable.

I'm not sure it's what your looking for, but you could take a look and see. Hmm, I guess it's called the LowePro S&F system now.
posted by teece at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2006

The problem with quick release buckles is that they are very easy for a pickpocket to open and help themselves to whatever happens to be inside. The Tamrac Velocity 7 would take less than a second for a thief to open and steal things. A plain zipper offers more protection and a zipper that accepts a lock is even better.
posted by JJ86 at 11:44 AM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: These are great suggestions so far, I knew you guys could help. The Domke F-5XB looks great, I especially like that it's discreet, it doesn't scream "There's an expensive camera in here!!!". I'm not sure I can visualize how the threading the belt through to wear it as a pack works, though.

The Tamrac one is definitely along the lines of what I'm looking for, although, as JJ points out, it would be easy for a pickpocket to get in there, and I don't want to be paranoid about it whenever I'm in a crowded space. I could certainly work around that, though, maybe just adding another buckle strap perpendicular to the main one...

The LowePro stuff looks cool, some of it's not so dorky. The Slingshot series may be right up my alley, similar to the Tamrac but maybe a little more securely closed!

Thanks guys, keep em coming!
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion at 11:55 AM on February 16, 2006

I've got one of those Tamrac Velocity 7s. I've outgrown it for the most part, but when I'm travelling light, it gets the nod. It's not a backpack per se, but has a little webbing belt to supplement the shoulder strap. This setup works quite well; I climbed up and down all manner of rocks in Joshua Tree with that thing strapped to me, with no problem whatsoever. The clip is actually pretty secure; it takes two hands to open it, by pushing the buckle halves together, then squeezing the snaps.
posted by notsnot at 11:57 AM on February 16, 2006

The Domke F-5XB looks great, I especially like that it's discreet, it doesn't scream "There's an expensive camera in here!!!".

Yep, that's specifically one fo the reasons that I bought it. It's also surprisingly small and the one small Domke logo is actually embroidered on a little ribbon that looks like it's designed to be cut off.

I'm not sure I can visualize how the threading the belt through to wear it as a pack works, though.

The flap on top continues to the back and is fastened near the bottom of the bag and near the top of the bag, forming a channel for your belt to go through. Also, the bag is canvas which makes it easy to modify and which gets softer and more comfortable the more you use it.
posted by bshort at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2006

My husband took this bag to England when we went in November, and he took his nice camera with us, too. The camera itself has its own case thing that he put inside this larger backpack, but it was totally undamaged after trains, the metro, cars, general travel wear and tear . . . the zippers are fairly well under-cover, and when we were some where really crowded, he could just flip the thing around which put train tickets and other whatnots right within reach but also meant that his hand was on the camera whenever it needed to be. There are several compartments (and I think it even has an inner-zipper thing, if you're feeling really paranoid). All in all, it was a very versatile bag. I had a Manhattan Portage messenger, and while I love it, I was pretty jealous the whole time -- the bag is functional and cool.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2006

I'm not sure it meets *all* of your qualifications, but I've been quite happy with the Adorama Slinger, which holds my 20D w/ zoom, flash (420EX) and another lens, plus battery/charger/etc in an outer zippered pocket -- it's even got mesh pockets for water bottles, which I've used more than I would have expected.

Per its name, this bag is worn as a single-strap sling a la the Tamrac Velocity (which was too narrow for my gear), but also has a concealed waist strap to make it more "backpacky" should you need the extra support (I haven't used it).

Uncrate recently mentioned the STM XS Drift, which is a bit narrow to me (3"), but otherwise seems comparable to the Domke bag mentioned previously, esp. "discreteness". Good luck...
posted by skyboy at 9:59 AM on February 18, 2006

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