There is one thing that you will find in most travelers bags (other than half a ton of unspent and assorted foreign coins) and that is a digital camera. Whether you use a Louis Vuitton carry on or a vagabond pack we all love to record our travels through pictures. For proof of this simply visit any landmark of remote interest and you will see scores of us pushing and shoving and generally getting in each others way trying to get that perfect shot. The rise of point and shoot camera has made taking pictures on the road easy but many of us choose to use a DSLR for the advanced control and quality of capture you can achieve.
I personally like to take a DSLR, assorted lenses, filters and a tripod whenever I’m going somewhere that is even remotely photogenic. The problem with this approach is off course weight and space not to mention the worry of damaging a £500 camera on the road. After many many discussions with fellow travelers the issue of finding the ideal camera bag is a challenge for many of us usually resulting in a “camera bag cupboard”. The fact that many of us particularly the bloggers or travel workers also carry a laptop means that in an ideal world a backpack that comprises of enough space and security for both would be the ideal.
With all this in mind we contacted some of the best camera bag manufacturers in the world and asked them if they would like to take part. A couple said they would and then pulled out at the last minute. Presumable because they thought their products wouldn’t perform well in a group test against the excellent offerings we received from Think Tank Photo, Case Logic and Kata Bags.
Before we get into the individual bag reviews it’s worth first discussing how to go about choosing a bag that suits your needs.
The first thing to consider the the size of your laptop as this will dictate how bigger bag you get. Each manufacturer states what size of laptop will fit within each bag and it is essential to get this right. Too big and your precious link to the outside world will slip and slide and may get damaged. Too small and you’ve wasted your cash. If you are buying from a store it’s worth taking your laptop with you to ensure a good fit.
The second criteria is the amount of camera equipment you take. Do you travel light with only a couple of lenses or are you an optical geek who packs more lenses than a coachload of paparazzi? Filters, chargers, lens cleaners and cables all take up space and this needs some serious thought before you purchase.
The third is security and protection. How you travel and how much money you have invested in your gear will dictate just how much padding and security features you will need from your bag. Do you trust your bag to the throwers (baggage handlers) at the airport?, do you use public transport? and can you afford to replace your gear if it breaks? are all questions you should be asking yourself.
The last point is one I have neglected in the past and paid dear for is do you take a tripod? This may sound like a small point but if you do you will need a bag with a tripod holder or attachment or you may spend the next few weeks smacking yourself in the face with your tripod bag when it slips off your shoulder every time you bend down to tie your shoes.
Now that you have considered all you will need from your bag have a read of the individual reviews too see our thoughts on some superb candidates for your ultimate DSLR/ Laptop bag.