2019 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Camera Bags

Dec 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

2019 DIYP Holiday Gift Guide – Camera Bags

Dec 14, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Now that you’ve got your camera, lenses and lights, you’ll need something to store them in, and that’s where bags come in. Bags are one of those items that many photographers collect. There’s no such thing as the perfect bag, just bags that are perfect for specific uses. Here I’m going to show you some of my favourites from the last year along with a few that have been consistently useful and reliable for us at DIYP.

Remember that there are sales on right now, so some of the links show much lower prices than those listed here. Be sure to check all of them.

Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II – $279.95 (Amazon / B&H)

I’m very picky when it comes to backpacks. I’ve tried a lot over the years, but I’ve always gone back to a Tamrac Cyberpack 6 I bought around 16 years ago. That was until I tried the Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II. It’s one of the most comfortable backpacks I’ve used, it fits a ton of gear without breaking my back, there are a million (ok, slight exaggeration) connection points on the outside to attach stuff to, and it’s good in all types of weather (handy here in Scotland).

Manfrotto Advanced² 3-in-1 Hybrid Backpack – $169 (Manfrotto / Amazon UK)

The Manfrotto Advanced² 3-in-1 Hybrid Backpack instantly became a favourite of mine. It’s well built, extremely versatile and able to adapt to many different situations. It’s a backpack, a shoulder bag and a top handle bag all in one. It’s fantastic for travelling with, and you can read my full review here. It pairs up wonderfully with one of the roller cases down below if you travel a lot, and it even qualifies as a “personal item” on many airlines. It’s not available everywhere just yet, but I’ve put links above to buy direct from Manfrotto in the USA or via Amazon in the UK.

Torvol Drone Explorer backpack – $155 (Torvol)

Here’s a great example of what I mean about there being no perfect bag, just bags that are perfect for specific uses. This is the Torvol Drone Explorer backpack. It’s designed specifically to store and protect your DJI Mavic series drone while still allowing a lot of room for other gear and goodies. One of the things I like about this system is that it has a drybag-style rolling top, which not only helps to better protect your gear from the elements but allows you to get a little more height when you need it, too.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger V2 13L – $219 (B&H)

The Peak Design Messenger V2 made it into last year’s list, too, but it’s had a rather nice design refresh, which you can read more about here. The short version, though, is that it’s made from a new poly-coated weatherproof material with a 100% recycled nylon canvas shell. It’s also seen an updated “Maglatch” system for keeping everything safe and secure.

Wandrd 45L Hexad Access Duffel – $259 (Amazon / B&H)

This is a heavy duty bag for when you need to travel with a whole lot of gear and want to remain relatively mobile. It’s small enough that it should work as a carryon, but it holds a whole lot of gear safely and securely. The bag opens up into two halves, essentially. The top is a big clear open space allowing for a laptop, change of clothes or other loose items, while the bottom offers dividers for organising and storing your gear. It also converts from a regular duffel into a backpack for keeping both of your hands free.

Lowepro PhotoStream SP200 – $229 (Amazon / B&H)

At DIYP we generally agree on most things, but apparently not roller cases. We all have our favourites, so I’ve listed all three. Mine is the Lowepro PhotoStream SP200. I posted a review of it last year, and whenever I’ve travelled on a train or plane since getting it, it’s been by my side every time and it’s never let me down. It’s carry-on compatible, and it’s been in the overhead bins of a dozen or more flights since I got it and holds a bunch of gear. One of my favourite features is the tough exterior for protecting your laptop, which is contained inside the bag itself but can be accessed and removed without having to open up the whole front.

Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 – $389 (Amazon / B&H)

This one is Adam’s favourite and you can read his review here. It’s an interesting bag because it’s not just a roller case. It’s a hybrid which can become a backpack. So, once you’ve left the smooth surface of the airport or the street, you can load it onto your back and take it on any kind of terrain you wish. For travel photographers and filmmakers that are regularly moving between different types of terrain, this versatility can be invaluable.

Think Tank Airport Roller Derby – $399 (Amazon / B&H)

This trusty old faithful has been Udi’s favourite for years. He’s been trying to convince me to get one for as long as I’ve known him, and I don’t recall ever actually seeing him without having this bag in tow. It’s very well built, holds a lot of gear, with a pouch & strap on the side for holding a tripod, and includes a built-in anti-theft security cable. I still prefer my PhotoStream, but I don’t think Udi will ever let go of this one.

Overview

As I said, there is no perfect bag. We all have our own needs, and our needs can change from day-to-day, but it’s always nice to know what options are out there. Some bags offer specific functionality that lends itself to a particular task. Others are just plain reliable and never let you down.

What’s your favourite new or specific-use bag? What’s been your most trusty and reliable bag for storing and transporting your gear?

With cameras, lenses, lighting and bags done, there are only a couple more gift guides left to go. Tomorrow we’ll be covering tripods, sliders and gimbals. On Monday it’s time for those handy and essential accessories. So, be sure to check back tomorrow!

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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