Once you have a camera and a few lenses, the question that will arise sooner or later is: where am I going to put it while I’m around? The easy answer is of course in a camera bag. A camera bag protects your camera and lenses adequately against bumps, etc. and you will be able to find your gear easily. There are lots of camera bags on offer, so it’s not so easy to choose.
How to choose your camera bag?
You should first ask yourself on what occasions you will use it. That will probably exclude certain types of camera bags already. If you only take photos in the city, you will probably not need a big backpack. But if you often go hiking and want to bring your camera gear, this might be useful, and a sling bag is probably useless.
Will you take it with your travels? Then you should also consider that the size should be small enough to be approved as carry on luggage.
Once you know where and in when you will use your bag, you can ask yourself a second question: what should fit in my camera bag?
How much gear do I have and how much do I want to carry with me? Considering the gear I currently have, will I get more lenses, filters, bodies in the near future?
This will determine how big my new camera bag should be.
Now you should have some elements to be able to choose a camera bag. You can choose between a sling bag, a backpack large and small, a trolley. Like with your camera, your first camera bag will most likely not your last.
My camera bag(s)
First of all I would like you to know that I am in no way connected to any of the brands I write about here. I’m just giving my opinion. What works for me, might not work for you, but before to invest in camera gear or accessories, I prefer to read a review or two.
I have bought my third camera bag last year, because I needed more space for my gear. My first bag was a Lowepro Minitrekker that I got something like 18 years ago. It’s has been a faithful travel companion and is still in good conditions. I wanted something bigger, because I can only fit in one body with a lens attached.
In the meantime I also bought a sling bag, again Lowepro, which is very useful in cities and when using light gear. I think a sling bag’s main advantage is that you can keep it on your back when walking, but put it on your belly when you need something without having to put it down or take the bag off your back, like with a backpack.
The Think Tank Streetwalker Harddrive v2.0
This time I’ve chosen a Think Tank backpack, the Streetwalker Harddrive V2.0. It’s quite a mouthful for a backpack, but there’s more to it than just a name. For me it was very important that the dimensions are still within the carry on sizes, so I can take it with me on the plane. It’s a bit taller than the Mini Trekker, but most importantly it’s deeper. I can now put my wide angle lens and short zoom lens in the back vertically which saves a lot of space. There is also enough space to put one body with a 70-200 mm lens attached together with a second body with a 16-35 mm lens attached.
Why did I change brand? Like I said before, I was satisfied with my Lowepro bags, but I needed more space. When looking for a new bag I needed something light, and I found that similar Lowepro backpacks were not as light as this Thinktank. In Europe, and not only there, most airlines limit cabin luggage not only on size, but also on weight. So I wanted something that doesn’t already take away a big portion of 8 kg, which is the most common maximum weight for cabin luggage.
And maybe even more important, why carry more weight on your shoulders when you could do with less?
A nice surprise was that it comes with a rain cover that fits easily over the bag. It’s very solidly build (like also the Lowepro was) and the zips run smooth and look they will last a long time. Another thing I like about the main zip is that it has two eyes, so it can be locked.
One thing I’m a bit more dubious about, is the pouch for a laptop. If I would put my laptop in there and my camera gear on the other side, I would be afraid to damage my screen due to the laptop being in between my back and my gear. I have never really tried this, so maybe I’m too cautious.
So what fits in my camera bag?
- Canon EOS-6D
- Canon EOS-90D
- Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8 USM IS II
- Canon EF 16-35 mm f/4 USM IS
- Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 STM
- Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4 USM IS
- Canon EF 2x Extender
- circular polarizing filter
- circular 10-stop ND filter
- Battery charger + cable
- Extra batteries
- rain cover
- 3 extension tubes
- memory cards
- cleaning tissues
- Rode microphone
- Hahnel Captur remote control
Returning to the issue of taking camera gear on a flight, I have one tip. With all this gear in the bag, it obviously weighs more than 8 kg. In order to pass through check in or at the gate before you go to check-in and before you board the plane, put some lenses in the pockets of your jacket and/or put the camera over your shoulder.This way your bag weighs less and you can take most of your gear with you. I would never put my camera gear in my checked luggage. You don’t want to know how it’s treated during loading and unloading of the plane. Once you’re through you can then later put everything in your bag again…
All in all I’m very happy with this backpack so far. It’s very well built and I think it will last a long time. All my current gear fits easily, and even though in total it weigh more than I’m willing to carry, it’s also a great way to store my gear when at home.
To summarize my experience so far with this backpack, the Think Tank Streetwalker Harddrive v2.0, here are my pros and cons.
Pros: light weight, deep pockets (shorter lenses can stand vertically), solid build, quality materials
Cons: nothing rigid between laptop pouch and camera compartment, hip belt not padded and very long for my needs