Bag Drama Continues

Street scene showing commedy and tragedy face masks in a shop window, Georgetown, Texas, on the town square.

It’s a tragedy! It’s a comedy! It’s a drama! My “let’s find a new camera bag” saga continued today as I saw fit to pop on over to my local camera bag emporium (aka “the place that legally empties my wallet on a regular basis. You know, the local one.”) Yes, snowflakes, queen flake herself went bag shopping today! Now, this seems a bit strange even from the onset. I mean, shopping for a bag? So, I’m going to head on over to the store to buy a bag which the nice folks will then put in another bag which I will then take home and unwrap only to put more crap in it. Yes, that’s indeed how it works so here goes.

I had taken a list with me. The list had some of the more common brands, along with the size and specs of the bags I am currently using. I poked around in the bag aisle (they have an entire aisle of this stuff. Believe me, it’s an obsession of sorts. Well, I say that but there’s not really a support group. Not yet anyway.) So on my list were the following: Kelly Moore Bags, Domke Ledger bag, Lowepro, Tamrac Stratus 21, Peak Design, ONA, Billingham, Jill-E, Think Tank Photo, and Sirui. The good camera store didn’t have all of the bags on my hot list but they had some and I was able to rule out some of them right away.

The Tamrac Stratus looks like a nice bag but it lacks one of the features my current Domke bag has, namely, when you open the bag it tips over (Domke’s never do that.) Now, it did have a ton of pockets and there was some innovation here but I just really did not like the look of it, not to mention the tip over bit, so this one is out. Likewise, the Peak Design is out for me. Everybody talks about how good this bag is but I just don’t see it. The adjustable car seat belt like strap only works really if you are right handed, that is, if you wear the bag over your right shoulder. Since that’s my bad arm, I’m not going with it. Again, some good innovation here but this bag just doesn’t look like it will hold what I need, plus the left-handed thing so it’s out. Onward!

They didn’t have any Kelly Moore bags to speak of, but the online reviews all scream wonders about these not to mention they just look all that fabulous. So these are still on the list. Likewise, as a faithful Domke user, the Domke bag is still on the list. I could always opt for a J-1 or get one of the newer ones, if I can find one. They are pretty much out of stock or back ordered a lot of places, so hard to find. Not sure I want to battle Internet gremlins but I’ll see what it comes down to should I opt for the Domke. One thing about the Domke though is, since I already have three of them, I can re-use some of the inserts and the like. This is a big plus as it saves money and cuts down on some waste. I really like the little grab handle the Domkes have. Turns out not a lot of other bags have these. With my bad back and shoulder, it makes it easier to be able to wear the bag as either a shoulder bag (on a short strap) or a cross body type of bag. I almost require this type of versatility nowadays so I hope I can find it in a replacement bag. Domke is still on the list for all this and more.

Lowepro bags just do not excite me. My camera store did not have many and most of what they did have was a backpack style, which I do not want. Too clumsy to work out of so I’ll take a pass on those. Likewise, they did not have any Billingham bags. Now, I know these are nice bags but they are expensive and I’m not sure I’m willing to make such a commitment to a bag at this point so I may have to take a pass on these as well. The ONA bags look interesting, like they might have something in a couple of years but nothing was quite right for what I need right now, so these are probably out. They had a couple of other bags from companies I had not heard of, most of them were cheap and I didn’t really like them.

The bags that really wowed me this time were all from Think Tank Photo. These bags were really impressive, even more so than their website would seem to indicate. They just had a lot of features, looked really nice, seemed sturdy, and seemed like they would hold up well, not to mention they were the right size and have tons of pockets. I was really surprised. I mean, I guess I should not be, since I had heard Think Tank was doing good things but I was really quite shocked.

At this point, I’d have to say I’m probably down to a selection between the Kelly Moore, another trusted Domke, or one of the Think Tank models. Haven’t quite made up my mind just yet but I’ve narrowed down the field a bit. I’m zeroing in on a solution that’ll work for me anyway.

I plan to keep you posted when (if?) I make a final decision. At this point, I believe I’m pretty much decided I want something new, just not sure what and am weighing the features.

Some of the things I’m looking for in a bag are:

  • Prefer outside pockets as I can stash my flash memory mountain there. A water bottle holder of sorts would be nice too.
  • Must have a grab handle that I can use as a high shoulder bag. Bad arm dictates this.
  • Would be nice if it had a pocket on the back (or front, or side, or?) so that I can slip it over the handle of carry on luggage. I believe they call this a “trolley strap” of sorts. This would allow me to roll it around atop my carry on luggage. Current Domke F-2 bag has a grab strab that almost does this but it’s longer and can make carry on luggage tip over. Not optimal but works ok if nothing else is available.
  • Prefer some kind of outside pocket that’s flat-ish so I can stash my tickets, boarding pass, and the like. 
  • Should be able to hold two DSLR camera bodies plus ~3 lenses. I don’t use gripped bodies but I am full frame so they are kind of large. Would like lots of pockets for stuff like batteries, tripod kick plates (oh, curse them. Curse them, yes, but carry them too) business cards, and all that kind of crap.You know, like a pen and one of those air blower do-dahs nobody likes to admit they carry around with them in their bags and yet stuff them in there we do.
  • I work with a 13 inch MacBook Air. Some of the bags have room for a laptop or tablet. It might be a nice feature to be able to stuff my Airbook in there but I don’t want a bag that droops down to my knees. 
  • Need bag to be lightweight. Currently shooters bag is 3.2 lbs. I don’t want a 5+ lb beast for everyday usage. Now, if I just get a bag for the plane, extra weight might be ok.
  • Would be nice if it didn’t look like crap warmed over. 
  • Must fit under airport seat. No wheels, I need a bag I can carry and pass off as my “one personal item.”
  • Should be able to get in and out (easy access) to cameras and stuff inside. Not too many latches, locks, straps, etc. (My Domke F1-X has this problem. The straps are a bit funky and you really have to close it in order to pick it up. Man, I hate that.) This is why I do not want a backpack either-too hard to have to take it off, put it back on again, etc. I don’t want a tango, I want a shooter’s bag.
  • Would love a bag that can stand up on it’s own or at least not have to lie down flat when I put it down say at a restaurant. (Don’t want anybody stepping on it.) I tend to work sometimes with bag on the ground so this is important. This is why I generally do not favor the messenger style bags, although they are all the rage right now it would appear. 

I know I ask a lot of a camera bag but that’s my current list. I might have to get all left brained and make a spreadsheet with my options so I can checkoff each of the features to figure out which bag is best for me. Oh the humanity!

Until next time…
(The Bag Lady)

PS This one taken with camera firmly out of bag. Canon 5DS on the square in Georgetown. Walkabout lens. Domke F-2 shooters bag somewhere very nearby. 

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