If you’ve got camera gear, you need a camera bag to carry it around in. But there are lots of different types and sizes of bag on the market, and we all have different requirements, so here’s a run through of what’s out there and how to choose the bag that suits you best.
Camera backpacks are very popular amongst landscape photographers, travelers and pros. They let you carry a lot of gear in relative comfort and they offer your equipment pretty good protection too. You can configure the interiors around your camera gear, and some are split into ‘camera’ and ‘day’ compartments – the ‘day’ compartment is for water, food, clothing or any other non-photographic items you’ll need.
The trouble with backpacks is that your gear is pretty inaccessible until you stop, take off the backpack and open it up. If you need faster access for general walk around photography, a shoulder bag is much more effective. It won’t be as comfortable over longer distances, but it will be much faster and more convenient for street or travel photography.
Shoulder bags can be pretty bulky, especially if you need to use your bag on public transport or for a daily commute. Messenger bags have all the advantages of a shoulder bag but in a slimmer design. You might not be able to squeeze in quite so much camera gear, but there will often be a laptop compartment and room for everyday commuting/office essentials.
Sling bags try to offer some of the advantages of a backpack and a shoulder bag. They swing round to rest against your back for comfort, but swing round under your arm for front access when you need your gear. They can be effective, but it can also be difficult to get your head around the orientation of the bag, its straps and the openings.
If you travel very light, with just a camera and one lens, then a holster bag may be the best solution. These come in different sizes and lengths to accommodate different camera/lens combinations, and you can usually find one to fit your kit. However, you won’t get much extra stowage space beyond a small zip up pocket (if that).
At the other end of the scale, if you travel a lot by air, a roller bag may be the best solution. These are semi-rigid rectangular cases designed to meet airline cabin bag regulations, and which have a pull-out handle and wheels on the base.
But for ultimate protection you may need a hard case. These are rigid, reinforced cases with customizable internal padding to hold your equipment securely in place. Hard cases are designed to cope with rough handling and some are even waterproof.