Gender-specific tech gear can be gimmicky and even sexist, but a case could be made on that score for camera bags. Some women photographers may feel the current crop of bags are short on style or functionality, or look too masculine, and if they also carry a separate purse, having to also haul a camera bag can be a drag, literally.
While camera bags for women aren’t a new concept, a U.K-based company, Mooli London, has created a stylish tote with some embellishments not found in other bags. The Hampton Camera Bag is for the photographer “who has longed for a less masculine alternative to the generic polyester camera bag,” Mooli says, and it is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for production.
Fashion is subjective, but the Hampton can hold its own in the style department. It takes on the design of the sort of large satchel handbag you’d find in any department store. While there is a deluxe version made from leather, the basic bag is constructed from a water-resistant synthetic material. The Hampton has handles large enough to go over the shoulder, and a separate shoulder strap for cross-body carrying. It may be a camera bag, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. Design detail gives the bag a polished look, and you might even use the bag on days when you aren’t bringing your camera along for a shoot.
While the Hampton offers that runway look, it has features that are geared toward protecting your camera and accompanying equipment. It features a soft, mercerized cotton lining that helps keep the gear from getting scratched, and durable foam padding throughout to prevent dings. Studded metal feet add protection should you set the bag down too hard, and further shield the bag from any rough surface you might set the bag on. The Hampton is designed for DSLRs, but it can hold almost any type of camera.
The internal compartment of the bag has several pockets, plus four adjustable dividers to fit each user’s needs. It has enough room to carry a camera body, two or three lenses or a flash, an iPad, and smaller items such as batteries and memory cards. You can also stash your wallet, phone, notebook, and other non-photography essentials. On days when you don’t need to carry a camera, you can remove the dividers to allow for other things, including a laptop. It’s made to carry up to 22 pounds; whether or not you actually want to do that is a question only you can decide.
One feature you won’t find in most camera bags is an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip. The chip, which can be read by an NFC-enabled mobile device, pulls up information such as the owner’s name, address, and contact info. The idea is that, if the bag is lost, the details can help the bag’s finder reunite the bag with its owner. Maybe in a perfect world, but we doubt the usefulness of this feature.
During the Kickstarter campaign, Mooli is offering a 25 percent discount on the bags, bringing the cost to about $138, with a range of color options and free monogram personalization. A bag made from leather runs about $344. For around $3,000, you can work with the Mooli team on a custom version, and that personalized option is available to just one backer. Shipping is estimated for December 2015.
Mooli says the Hampton will be the company’s first of several tech-centric women’s bags. If the bag is too expensive or you aren’t jazzed by its styling, you could always get yourself specialty inserts and turn your own handbag into a camera case, like this one from Photojojo.