Between cameras, lenses, flashes, and other accessories, photographers often spend more money on gear than they care to admit. A good camera bag will help you protect that investment as you transport gear from location to location — but the best camera bags will do it in style.
You’re a photographer, after all, and the last thing you want to do — other than risk damaging your equipment — is to show up to a shoot looking like image doesn’t matter. Of course, not all of us have time to shine our shoes or tame our manes before a shoot, but we can at least reach for one of these stylish yet very functional camera bags.
No camera bag brand is as synonymous with style as ONA. The Bowery is one of their smaller options, a messenger bag that holds a camera and a couple of lenses. ONA offers it in various finishes, and has made multiple special editions over the years. The base canvas model starts at $169, is weather-resistant, and features leather and brass accents. Prices go up from there for the full leather version and other options. The bowery’s front buckle can be easily released with a hidden clasp, providing the best of form and function, and the shoulder strap can be completely removed if you’d rather use the bag as an insert.
The Bowery lives at the starting point of the ONA line. If you’re looking for something larger, you may want to try the Brixton.
Domke is to camera bags what Levi’s is to jeans. For decades, photographers turned to Domke to keep their gear secure, and the brand is still used by photojournalists the world over.
Starting at $59, the F-5XB shoulder bag presents an affordable entry point into the Domke family, complete with that retro styling taken straight from the 1970s. Perfect for small, mirrorless systems, the F-5XB comfortably fits a camera body and two lenses, and is available in a variety of colors and editions (including the Fujifilm X Series collaboration shown above).
Of course, it’s far from the only option in Domke’s catalog. Check out the original F-2 shoulder bag if you require more capacity.
Kelly Moore Woodstock 2.0
The original goal of Kelly Moore Bag was to make a camera bag that didn’t look stupid, by adding fashion to functionality. At the time, few bag manufacturers bothered to do this and the Kelly Moore brand exploded, particularly with women photographers.
The Woodstock 2.0 is a stylish backpack that’s small enough to be carried by hand with a built-in grab handle. Its chic, minimalist exterior hides a deceptively technical interior, with 19 compartments in all, including three clear pockets that let you see what’s where. The camera insert holds a DSLR or mirrorless body with lens attached, plus one to two additional lenses. Padded all around, it will keep your gear safe without drawing attention to it (other than the occasional comment about what a nice bag you have).
Kelly Moore now offers many different styles for both men and women, as well as a number of camera straps and personal accessories.
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag V2
The original — and award-winning — Every Messenger Bag was a popular choice for photographers. But like all good things, Peak Design saw the need to make it even better. Welcome the Everyday Messenger Bag V2.
Easy to access with a single hand, the 6-liter bag holds a DSLR and two lenses in photography language. This new version will undoubtedly continue to be popular with street and travel photographers. In addition to keeping your photography gear safe and secure with a 100% weatherproof shell made of recycled 400D nylon, the bag also fits a 13-inch laptop or tablet. Numerous stash pockets provide spaces to store SD Cards, batteries, business cards, and what have you.
The V2 continues Peak Designs’ commitment to making quality products. You’ll look stylish, your gear will be safe, and with the padded shoulder straps, you can meander down city streets near and far in complete comfort.
Wandrd Duo Daypack
Wandrd has made a name for itself with high-quality, stylish backpacks. When we reviewed the Wandrd Prvke (pronounced “provoke”), we found it to be one of the most versatile camera backpacks we had ever tested. But if you don’t need the expandability of a roll top, the new Duo Daypack may have it beat.
Our favorite thing about the Duo is its sleek, minimalist exterior that doesn’t scream camera bag. Unzip the large main compartment and a host of storage options are revealed. A pop-out camera cube at the base can hold a mirrorless camera or DSLR with a lens attached, plus one additional lens separated by a moveable divider. You can access the cube from either side of the bag, or fully unzip the main panel to access both sides at once.
Don’t need the camera cube? Simply fold it closed to open up more general-purpose space within the main compartment.
Two expandable pockets above the camera cube can hold more lenses, if desired, or are perfect for things like chargers and flashes. Cable management is a breeze thanks to several other pockets that are liberally scattered throughout the interior, which also offer good places to stash extra batteries. Naturally, laptop and tablet sleeves are included.
The Duo is also one of the most comfortable backpacks we’ve tried, with perfectly positioned shoulder straps and a removable chest strap. Two grab handles, one top and one side, also allow for quick get-up-and-go.
MindShift Rotation180 Horizon 34L
If your notion of style is less Coach and more Columbia, the MindShift Gear Rotation180 Horizon may be just for you. Of all the backpacks on this list, this is by far the most unique. MindShift Gear is a division of Think Tank Photo, so the brand has a lot of experience behind it. The Rotation180 Horizon combines a quick-access belt system into a camera backpack. Packed inside the bottom of the bag is a dedicated compartment that can house a DSLR and up to three lenses. This compartment locks into place inside the backpack, but with the quick lift of a magnetic connector, you can swing the compartment around from your back, granting instant access to your gear without needing to take off the pack. Above the rotating belt pack, you’re given a generous amount of storage space for clothing, food, chargers, tablets, and more. For photographers who enjoy back-country hikes, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Mission Workshop Radian and Capsule
If streetwear is more your style and you want a backpack that can serve as both a camera bag and travel pack, Los Angeles-based Mission Workshop has a setup that fits the bill. Mission Workshop’s Radian roll-top backpack paired with its Capsule camera insert makes for a solid setup that gets the job done without looking like a camera bag. The massive, 42-liter bag somehow manages to still look stealth when you carry it about town. It offers a dedicated side-access laptop pocket on the rear of the bag and is compatible with Mission Workshop’s rail accessory system, which lets you slide on different pocket modules to fit your needs.
It comes in three colors — gray, black, and black camouflage for stealth, stealthier, and stealthiest — and is constructed of two-layer weatherproof material to ensure your bag and gear stay dry even if you get caught in a rainstorm. The Capsule camera insert is designed to slip right into the main compartment of the bag, but also has its own zippered lid and grab handle if you want to carry it on its own. It can hold up to two camera bodies and three or four lenses depending on your setup. The Radian and The Capsule retail for $585 and $130, respectively (our kitted-out review unit came to over $800). While that might seem like a lot, all Mission Workshop gear is made entirely in the United States and features a lifetime warranty. If you’re looking for something a little smaller, check out the Rhake.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
Yes, it’s a second option from Peak Design, but we couldn’t resist. The new version of the beloved Everyday Backpack features the same styling language as the Messenger V2, but for your back. Available in both 20 and 30-liter capacities, the Everyday Backpack V2 uses unique internal dividers that can be rearranged in myriad ways to accommodate a breadth of different cameras and lenses. New for V2 is a waterproof exterior fabric made from 100% recycled materials, larger laptop sleeves (even the 20-liter bag can now hold a 15-inch laptop), more comfortable shoulder straps, stronger zippers, and more internal pockets for organizing your cables and accessories.
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