Enthusiast camera bags
It doesn’t get any more classic than a Domke F-2. Used by photographers the globe over for decades, the Domke F-2 is a perfect example of function over form. Capable of holding two DSLRs in addition to three separate lenses and accessories, the Domke F-2 has the classic photojournalist look, with enough space to keep all your equipment safe, regardless of where you’re shooting.
Think Tank Photo knows a thing or two about creating quality camera backpacks. A prime example is its Airport Essentials camera backpack. Designed to fit most carry-on size limitations, Think Tank Photo managed to make a compact bag that’s still spacious enough to hold multiple camera bodies, up to half a dozen lenses, and even a laptop.
Peak Design was quite literally “Kickstarted” into existence in May 2011, with the launch of the Capture Camera Clip on Kickstarter. Since then, the company has continually introduced new products, with one of the latest being its record-breaking Everyday Messenger Bag. Designed alongside noted photographer Trey Ratcliff, the Everyday Messenger Bag is truly a camera bag designed by photographers, for photographers. It features solid build quality, a unique origami-inspired divider system, and more bells and whistles than you could ever ask for in a messenger bag. It comes in 13-inch and 15-inch variations, each of which can carry a DSLR, up to four lenses, a handful of accessories, a tripod, and a laptop of the respective size.
WANDRD PRVKE 21 ($264)
When we reviewed the WANDRD PRVKE (pronounced “provoke”), we found it to be one of the most versatile camera backpacks we had ever tested. With its weatherproof tarpaulin exterior and expandable roll top, it can carry all manner of gear and personal items in just about any weather conditions. It’s also quite stylish and is available in black, green, or blue (pictured above). The base bag retails for just $184, but the photography bundle pushes that up to $264 and includes accessory straps, a padded waist belt, a separate rain cover, and the removable camera cube that organizes the main compartment for a camera body and several lenses.
Manfrotto Bumblebee-230 ($250)
Manfrotto is best known for its tripods and camera support systems, but back in 2014 it made its way into the camera bag game when it announced the purchase of Kata. Since then, multiple Kata bags have been rebranded with Manfrotto insignias and colors. One such bag is the Bumblebee-230, an interesting carrier that opens up from the front, revealing a very spacious divider compartment. Unlike other camera bags, which offer rear-panel access or side access, the Bumblebee-230 needs to be laid down before you can open up the front panel to access your gear. The payoff of the unusual design is a massive amount of space and a great deal of protection. In addition to carrying Multiple DSLRs and half a dozen lenses, the Bumblebee-230 can also hold a plethora of accessories in its upper compartment and up to a 15-inch laptop in a dedicated rear pocket.
Of all the backpacks, this is by far the most unique. Designed and produced by MindShift Gear, a division of Think Tank Photo, 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 within the safety of the backpack, but with the quick lift of a magnetic connector, you can swing the compartment around from your back. This gives you instant access to your gear without needing to take off your backpack. 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.
If streetwear is more your style and want a backpack that can serve as both a camera bag and travel pack, LA-based Mission Workshop has a backpack 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 Radian backpack has a large 42-liter main compartment with multiple other pockets on the front of the bag and a dedicated side-access laptop pocket on the rear of the bag. It comes in four colors (black, grey, and black camo) 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 insert is designed to slip right into the main compartment of the bag, but also serves as a safe spot to house your gear even when you’re not using it. It can hold up to two non-gripped DSLRs and three or four lenses depending on your setup. The Radian and The Capsule retail for $585 and $130, respectively. While that might seem like a lot, all Mission Workshop gear is made entirely in the United States and features a lifetime warranty.