How important is a good travel camera bag / backpack when you travel?
In our opinion it’s very important. However, there’s not going to be one travel camera bag that will suit everyone’s needs, but there are some important things to consider when shopping for yours.
Before we departed in August 2014 I purchased the Lowepro AW 22 Litre Hatchback bag (link to new version only). It performed exceptionally well but still lacked a few features I would have liked.
PROS: Wear and performance of the bag was excellent.
The removable padded camera compartment meant that I could turn it into a backpack only relatively easily when I wanted to leave my camera in the hotel safe. This was rare though.
CONS: It doesn’t have a dedicated laptop pocket and by adjusting the interior velcro strips I was able to fit my MacBook Air in when we were moving locations.
The rain cover is situated in a pocket on the bottom of the bag and closes with velcro. Over time the velcro would rub against my back and my shirts started to pil.
It does have chest and waist straps but they are not padded and quite uncomfortable.
Fully loaded it didn’t stand up easily so care needed to be taken when placing it on the ground.
I did like the back access to the camera compartment, but additional side access would have meant that I didn’t have to take the pack off my back all the time.
As I’ve already said the overall performance of the bag was excellent and I used it 90% of the time we travelled for 16 months and I ran it through the washing machine recently and it survived…..best to take your spare SD card out of the little pouch before you do this though.
So let’s look at the different features the perfect bag has to have:
It needs to be able to schlep all your necessary camera gear including spare batteries, cards, filters, cables etc.
It needs to do that securely and safely.
It needs to be comfortable on your back. Not just strap comfort but air circulation is another important feature. After carrying your bag for a whole days sightseeing in a humid climate you don’t want a saturated back.
It needs to carry a water bottle on the outside and preferably insulated from your camera gear…..for obvious reasons.
It needs to have storage for your valuables, jacket, small notebook, pen and a small medical kit.
It needs to have TSA friendly laptop space. When moving countries or locations carrying another laptop bag is a pain in the rear.
It needs to be made from waterproof fabric or at the very least, splashproof with a rain cover.
External straps for tripod.
Waist strap to help stabilise and distribute the weight of the bag on longer hikes. Removable would be even better 😉
AND the most important…..it needs to be lightweight to start with. Once you load it up it’s going to be reasonably heavy depending on the type of camera you have (that’s a whole different post for another time).
Don’t need much do we?
And some features that would be nice to have:
Be a discreet colour with subtle logos so it doesn’t scream “I’m carrying camera gear, come steal it”.
Stowable straps and side handle.
Be lockable. You know, when it has to go into the overhead locker on a flight and you fall asleep, your gear is vulnerable to fellow passengers.
Secure passport and document pocket.
Side access to your camera, so you don’t have to completely remove the backpack from your back to get to your camera. Eliminating the need to place your bag on the ground.
So in listing all these features we are always on the hunt for the perfect bag. We’d need to manufacture our own to get it 100% our own way. So here’s a few we have found that ALMOST fit our specifications.
USD$ 363.95 2.0kgs empty
PROS: I like the idea of the butterfly multi-access system as it means you don’t need to open the whole top unless of course you want to.
Laptop Compartment up to 15 inch
Hidable straps and removable waist strap.
CONS: Perhaps it’s a little on the heavy side and there are no colour options (yes I’m being picky) but, I can’t really fault this bag pending me actually trialling it myself.
USD$259.95 20 Litre 1.35kgs empty
USD$289.95 30 Litre 1.54kgs empty
We’ve wanted to get our hands on this bag for a while now!
PROS: 2 sizes and colours to choose from.
The Multi-catchpoint MagLatch closure system on this particular bag looks like it’s pure quality.
Dual Side Access.
CONS: None that I can identify.
USD$185.00 00 21-25 Litre
Accessory straps additional
PROS: 3 colours to choose from and it’s expandable from 21 to 25 litres weighing in at 1.3kgs.
Side access to not only your camera but also your memory cards.
CONS: Waist straps, Camera Cube and Camera strap are an additional cost but given the base price it brings it up to around other brands.
Not sure it would stand up easily.
There are plenty of other travel camera bags on the market to choose from depending on your requirements. Hopefully we have highlighted a few features you should be looking for if you are going to use your bag on a daily basis whilst travelling.
Any questions for us?…..ask away.
We don’t own any of these bags and have recommended them simply on what we think are necessary features. This is not a paid post and all opinions are our own.