What Should Your Camera Bag Do For You?

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If you look closely this summer you are likely to see photographers hefting most of their gear from place to place in giant camera bags (sometimes on wheels) and the occasional assistant/pack mule with another bag of “might need” crap gear as well.  Bigger is not always better, it’s important that you limit what you carry with you on a long day of photographing for a number of reasons: less gear equals less weight; you are less of a target for a would be thief; you simply don’t need every lens you own; if you get rained on or fall in the river you don’t want to ruin every piece of gear you own.

You’ll enjoy photography much more once you learn to plan your day and only carry the gear you’ll actually use.   An excessively large camera bag just tells others you’re terrible at planning.  So if you don’t need a giant satchel for your gear then what do you need?  Here are some things to look for in a camera bag.

  1. A system to attach and detach your tripod quickly from the outside of your pack.
  2. A separate compartment to hold your camera and favorite lens facing the back of your pack (towards your back).  This makes it more difficult for people to open your bag and steal your camera as well as keeping the camera safe from accidental drops and bumps.
  3. Two straps not one, unless you want to own multiple bags.  One strap is considered more fashionable in some circles but have fun trying to hike through a dense forest or climb the side of a mountain with your bag dangling off your back like a (insert witty comparison here).
  4. Some sort of weather resistant liner that pulls out of the bottom of the pack and covers it in case you are caught in a torrential downpour.
  5. Adequate padding is a no brainer, make sure if there is a slot in the front for your iPad that there is enough padding to prevent cracking your iDevice screen every time you set the back down on its face (because if your camera is stored in the back of the back you’ll be setting it on its face a lot.
  6. Look for small pockets that are easily accessible for your lens filters and extra SD cards, mesh pockets on the inside of the large pocket are great because you can see exactly what you have stored in them without having to scavenger hunt through the bag.

Bonus tip:  If you own an iPad or iPhone and you’ve enabled “Find My Phone” then leave the phone or iPad in your camera bag.  If you misplace it or someone steals it there is a good chance you can track it down using that app.  It’s risky though because if you don’t find it then you’ve just lost your camera and iDevice.  Also, you could spend about $150 and buy a tracking device to leave in the bottom of your camera bag when you are out and about (read about it here).

Click the Amazon link above and search for camera backpacks (Lowepro is a great brand) and you’ll have plenty to choose from.  Any other things you think people should look for when shopping for a camera bag?  Leave your comments below.

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1 Comment

  • I don’t know if I am a fan of the backpack camera setup. I have a couple myself, but in a crowd, you don’t know what is a bump and what is sticky fingers! Cynical perhaps, but I prefer the over the shoulder version so much more. Can’t carry as much gear, but as a woman, I can get a bag that looks more like a purse and hold it as such! There are times when I want one of the lenses that didn’t make it into my smaller bag, but I am often able to compensate!

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