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I look for a couple of things in a camera bag in addition to quality: I don’t want it to look like a camera bag, and I want the gear compartment to unzip from the back by the straps. I believe both of these features are theft deterrents, and all of the camera bags I have listed here include these features. I also like bags that have modular camera/lens inserts that can be switched out depending on how much gear vs. personal items I need to carry at any given time.
Tenba Solstice 24L Backpack - https://geni.us/Tenba_Solstice_24
My everyday bag, and the bag I use for short trips where I don’t want to bring a lot of gear. Having said that, it accommodates a surprising amount of gear given that it is only a 24-liter bag, including a 70-200 lens while it is attached to a camera body, plus a few additional lenses. Padded dividers are included with this bag, and they can be reconfigured as desired or removed to accommodate modular camera/lens inserts like the Peak Design Camera Cubes listed below. This bag also has a built-in 13-inch laptop sleeve.
Peak Design Camera Cubes - https://geni.us/Peak_Design_Cubes
I love these Camera Cubes for use with backpacks other than the Shimoda Active X and NYA-EVO bags listed below (use the latter two company's own modular inserts as they are designed to work together.) So, if you already have a regular backpack or bag that you love, and would like to use it to carry your camera gear, these inserts provide a great solution. Just be sure to measure the inside of your backpack or bag first, and then choose a cube size that will fit your bag correctly.
Shimoda Action X v2 Series 40L Backpack - https://geni.us/Shimoda_Action_X_v2
Shimoda Action X v2 Women's Collection 40L Backpack - https://geni.us/Shimoda_Action_X_2_W
Shimoda Modular Core Unit Camera/Lens Inserts - https://geni.us/Shimoda_Core_Units
I think this modular camera backpack system is an excellent choice for when you need to carry more gear, and/or if you are embarking on an epic outdoor adventure. You can even attach oversized items (like your skis and poles!) to this pack. The Shimoda Action X v2 series backpacks come in five sizes: the X25 and X30 (EU and US airline carry-on friendly), the X40, the X50, and the whopping X70, and I love that Shimoda designed these bags with women photographers in mind too. These backpacks meet my theft-deterrent requirements of not looking like a camera bag and having the main camera compartment open from the back rather than from the front. They do have a smaller side-access panel as well, but you can close the inside core unit side panel to eliminate it as an access point, and zipper heads on Shimoda bags are also designed in a way that allows them to be locked with a TSA-approved cable lock for added security. Shimoda X series backpacks are designed to be used with their own modular Core Unit camera/lens inserts (sold separately or as part of a backpack/insert kit), which can be swapped in and out as needed, and they have have a built-in 15-inch laptop sleeve. These Action X v2 bags include an expandable roll -top compartment too. If you are a women photographer, you have the option of choosing one of three different women’s shoulder strap configurations for any Action X v2 backpack, at no extra charge, when you place your order directly on the Shimoda website. Or, you can shop the new Women's Collection. I also love that Shimoda donates 1% of their annual sales to the Give Back To Nature Project – a collective community that is working to counter deforestation, by setting the goal of planting one million trees. Great bags made by thoughtful, goodhearted folks.
Shimoda Explore V2 Series Backpacks - https://geni.us/Shimoda_Explore_V2
Shimoda Modular Core Unit Camera/Lens Inserts - https://geni.us/Shimoda_Core_Units
Shimoda also makes an Explore V2 series backpack that fall somewhere between the Tenba backpacks listed above, and the Shimoda Action X series backpacks as far as size and ruggedness goes. They do not have the expandable roll-top compartment like the Action X Series pack does. If you are a landscape photographer and content creator that travels by air often, the Shimoda Explore V2 30 (EU and USA carry-on friendly) or 35 backpacks (USA carry-on friendly, double check for EU) may be excellent options for you. However, if you find yourself in more extreme, snowy, or muddy situations, and travel by air often, you may want to go with the Shimoda Action X30 pack instead. Like the Shimoda Explore Action X Series backpacks, the Shimoda Explore V2 series backpacks don't advertise that they are camera bags, and the main camera compartment opens from the back rather than from the front. They do have a smaller side-access panel and top panel, but you can close the inside core unit side panel to eliminate it as an access point, and the zipper heads on these backpacks are designed in a way that allows them to be locked with a TSA-approved cable lock for added security. Shimoda Explore V2 series backpacks are designed to be used with their own modular Core Unit camera/lens inserts (sold separately or as part of a backpack/insert kit) which can be swapped in and out as needed, and they have have a built-in 16-inch laptop sleeve. And if you are a women photographer, you have the option of choosing one of three different women’s shoulder strap configurations, at no extra charge, when you place your order directly on the Shimoda website. Or you can shop the new Women's Collection!
Master Lock TSA Approved Cable Lock - https://geni.us/TSA_Cable_Lock
Shimoda suggests using TSA-approved cable locks if you wish to secure the zippers on their backpacks. I have listed the Master Lock version, but there are other brands that work just as well. For the Pelican cases listed below, I prefer steel locks (also listed below) that have open alert indicators.
NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C Adventure Camera Backpack - https://geni.us/NYA-EVO_Fjord_60
NYA-EVO Modular RCI Camera/Lens Inserts - https://geni.us/NYA-EVO_Modular_Insert
I think is another excellent choice if you need a backpack that can withstand extreme conditions and can accommodate oversized gear like skis and snowshoes. Just be aware that at the time of this writing, these products only ship from overseas, so allow some extra time for delivery (US customers are NOT subject to duty or import tax.) Like the other backpacks on my list, this bag does not look like a camera bag, and it opens from the back. I believe that both of these features are theft deterrents. You can mix and match modular camera/lens inserts (sold separately or as part of a backpack/insert kit) depending on how much gear vs. personal items you need to carry. Another really nice feature is that the NYA-EVO FJORD 60-C backpack expands from 44 Liters to 60 Liters, so it offers great flexibility if you want a bag that meets carry-on luggage size requirements when needed, but can also carry a lot of gear if you are on a road trip where you won't be traveling by air. This backpack has a built-in 15-inch laptop sleeve.
Pelican 1510 With TrekPak Dividers - https://geni.us/Pelican_1510
Pelican Air 1535 Case With TrekPak Dividers - https://geni.us/Pelican_Air_1535
If you need a watertight, hard-shell gear case, Pelican cases with the TrekPak Dividers are my choice. Both of these cases are built tough, but the Pelican 1510 case is a bit more heavy-duty, while the Pelican Air 1535 has a few features that are not quite as robust, but it is significantly lighter to carry. Both cases meet carry-on luggage size requirements for most airlines, but check with your airline ahead of time to be sure. And I strongly suggest using TSA approved locks with these cases, just in case you decide to, or are asked to gate check your gear.
Forge TSA Approved Luggage Lock with Open Alert Indicator - https://geni.us/TSA_Approved_Lock
I love that these locks have a mechanism that lets you know if your gear case has been opened by a TSA agent. I think it is always a good idea to check your gear case for theft or damage before leaving the airport, and these locks offer a good reminder.
Magpul MS4 Dual QD Sling Gen 2 - https://geni.us/Magpul_QD_Strap
My favorite camera strap to date. This Magpul sling is actually a rifle strap, but it makes for an amazing QD-compatible camera strap. This strap attaches perfectly to the QD (Quick Detach) socket on my Really Right Stuff L-bracket. If you do not have a QD-compatible camera bracket or plate, this strap is not a good choice. But really, treat yourself to an L-bracket, and then treat yourself to this strap!
Peak Design Slide Camera Strap - https://geni.us/Peak_Design_Slide
This is my camera strap pick if you do not have a QD-compatible camera bracket or plate.
Cotton Carrier CCS G3 Grey Harness For 2 Cameras - https://geni.us/Dual_Camera_Harness
This is my pick for action photography where the photographer isn’t just shooting the action, they are doing the action! Great for skiing, horseback riding, or intense climbing and backpacking. Holds two camera bodies as well.
SpiderPro Hand Strap v2 - https://geni.us/Spyder_Holster
Unfortunately, I am currently unable to use this strap as it doesn't play well with my current Really Right Stuff L-Brackets. But if you do have an L-Bracket that is compatible (some are) this hand strap is super comfortable, and makes the camera feels more secure in the hand. It is especially helpful when hand-holding a camera in portrait orientation. I also loved using it in the studio where I don’t use a camera strap and often don’t use a tripod, and will definitely keep it for future use.
Peak Design "Clutch" Hand Strap - https://geni.us/Peak_Design_Hand_Strap
This hand strap works with any L-Bracket that has a machined strap loop, including the Really Right Stuff L-Brackets for the Sony Alpha a7RIII and a1 that I recommend. I am still able to put my camera on a tripod while the hand strap is attached to the L-Bracket too.