Types of D-SLR Camera Bags

types of DSLR camera bags

Whether it’s with my old point-and-shoot, the new D-SLR, or my iPhone, I snap countless photos of new food, people, and places when I travel. Every few days (or at day’s end, depending on my patience), I transfer the photos to my netbook, review them in Picasa and upload them to Flickr. If I’ve taken them on the iPhone, it’s likely that I share one or two immediately on Twitter or Facebook. Like many of you, I capture and remember special times on the road with photos (and their stories) that I publish on a blog.

With photography playing such an important part in our travels, it’s necessary to care for and protect one of the most valuable items on our packing lists. If you own a Digital SLR, you know the size and financial value of the equipment requires a different bag than one you would choose for a smaller point-and-shoot or phone with a built-in camera. I purchased the entry-level Nikon D3000 six months before I left for Australia and immediately began looking for a camera bag that would suit my needs and style. I found the perfect match for me, and along the way I discovered other styles that could be the best match for you.

D-SLR camera bag styles

A student/school sized backpack designed for electronics

camera backpackImagine the backpack that you took to school or the daypack you travel with when you leave the hostel. Using a similar size, D-SLR backpacks are designed with padded compartments that fit the camera body and lens perfectly. Padded shoulder straps add comfort and a spare pocket or two may help fit in a couple of non-camera related personal items.

>> Buy DSLR Backpacks on Amazon

Pros:

  • There may also be a compartment designed for a laptop, with an additional small pocket or two for a few personal items you would normally carry with you.
  • The well-padded camera compartments are designed specifically to fit a D-SLR camera body (with lens attached) and additional lens.
  • Two shoulder straps equal a more even weight distribution than traditional bags with one strap.
  • Most are not flashy in appearance, making it more difficult for others to guess the financial value of its contents.

Cons:

  • If you pack it to capacity with equipment, the size and weight could prove problematic on a long travel day.
  • Traveling with this pack could prohibit you from also carrying a day pack with water, sunscreen, a cardigan for when the sun sets, and all the other items you stash in your day pack.
  • You must bring it from your back to your front or side to access the camera compartment.

A bag that looks like a camera bag

canon camera bagA fellow Nikon user suggested I buy the company’s D-SLR bag, and for a moment I was tempted. It looked sturdy and well-padded. It also looked like a camera bag, with the Nikon logo on the front and various buckles and snaps that I soon found common on “traditional” camera bags.

Pros:

  • The brands behind these bags have designed them for a while and have likely incorporated feedback over the years to provide a solid product.

Cons:

  • Would-be camera snatchers can assume they know your bag’s contents.
  • It’s likely that you will also need to pack a daypack or a purse as this style bag does not easily serve as a backup for either one.

A bag that does not look like a camera bag

When I was searching for a bag, one of the most important priorities was to find one that didn’t look like a camera bag. Online searches yielded no results until a friend suggested I look on Etsy. Type “camera dslr bag” into Etsy’s search box, and you’ll find a variety of camera bags that are feminine, stylish, and designed to fit a D-SLR perfectly.

>> Read about Heather’s DSLR Camera Bag

Etsy isn’t the only place to find stylish camera bags that more closely resemble purses. A simple search for “dslr camera bag for women” now results in beautiful bags for a variety of budgets.

Pros:

  • It may be more difficult for others to know its contents, perhaps making it a less likely target for camera theft.
  • It can double as a purse, saving you from having to pack another bag.
  • It’s very lightweight when empty, yet slightly padded to help protect a camera and lens.
  • It’s relatively small but can carry a camera body with lens attached and two additional lenses.

Cons:

  • This style may have less padding than other camera bags.
  • Depending on the materials used in the bag, it may pick up some odors from restaurants, public transport, or city air and need to be cleaned more often.

How do you travel with your D-SLR? If you’ve found the perfect bag, we want to know!

Written by Heather

Heather Rudd Palmer is a 30-something with a love for travel, food, and healthy living. After short trips to Europe in her 20s, Heather left her job at 30 to live, work, and travel in Australia for a year. She visited every state and territory, embarked on two road trips, worked at an organic food store, and ate her way through Sydney. She's now a career counselor for university students. You can find Heather at There's No Place Like Oz and Healthy Life Heather.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. AM says

    I love my Lowepro Sling (http://products.lowepro.com/product/Passport-Sling,2190,4.htm). It’s spacious, fits in a slr + 1 extra lenses, as well as pretty much anything else you want to throw in there. It’s also expandable, so you can fit in shopping or a sweater. Outside pockets are great for guidebooks, tissues etc. Inside pockets for easy access to cellphone, wallet or keys. Has quick access to the camera and doesn’t look like a camera bag while still being sturdy. Also flattens out for easy packing and storage.

    • Heather says

      Oh, the Slingshot looks great! I’d love to see one in person and bring my camera with me for a little test. Thanks for the suggestions, ladies!

    • Sherry says

      I’ve got the lowepro Sling as well. It is large and holds a lot, is protected from would-be thieves. However, I find I don’t take it with me often. It is heavy and too fussy to get into it myself. I have a big DSLR with two zoom lenses and a bunch of other stuff. I thought it would work as a carry-on for the stuff.

  2. prince says

    Brooke don you think that carrying these bags is headache. i carry my cam in my backpack along with other goodies

    • Heather says

      I tried packing my camera in my carry-on bag last time — after trying to wrap it in something to protect it first! I just didn’t feel comfortable with it not being in a padded bag where I could care for it a bit more!

  3. Jodi says

    I use a think tank sling o matic. It holds a netbook as well as all my camera equipment, is comfortable to carry and fits under the seat on the plane. It’s got lots of padding and room for an extra set of clothes, pens etc. It easily slides to the front for easy access to camera and lenses without having to remove it. I’ve taken it hiking lots of places and love it!

  4. Jill DiMassimo says

    I’m eyeing an Ona bag after looking online for something new for my mirroless Fujifilm camera. I have taken a tamrac backpack on many trips (Europe, the west coast, family vacations) and I like that the bottom half is for the dslr, extra lens, charger while the top half can be used to stash your other stuff. Also has side pockets for maps and water bottle but does not scream “camera!”. Downside is the weight.

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