How to Use Any Bag as a Camera Bag

how to turn any bag into a camera bag

The following gear review has been submitted by Emily Lessnau.

Camera bags are expensive and I find them generally unattractive. When I find one I love, it’s $300+ dollars and made of gorgeous, guilt-inducing leather. So how can I safely and discreetly carry around my camera gear with as much style as I desire for less than $75.00?

I start from the inside and work my way out!

While cruising Etsy* one day I stumbled across DollBirdies. There were a bunch of brightly colored camera accessories like lens pouches and camera cozies. I was stunned. I didn’t know these existed! I put a few items in my cart and anxiously waited for them to arrive.

camera cozie
The camera cozie in fun colors.
camera cozie
Inside the camera cozie.

It was worth the wait and I am beyond thrilled with my purchase. The camera cozies are lined with fleece and have a cinch top. Your camera fits loosely and the pouch collapses on it. That’s great because it can be squashed into spaces in your bag and provides extra cushion. There’s a little cardboard piece lined in the fleece inside to help it keep its structure, don’t worry!

lens holder

Lens holder
Inside the lens holder

And the lens pouches are great. Also lined with fleece, they come in several different sizes. No more wasted space with the rectangle lens spots in your big, bulky camera bag because they’re cylindrical and easy to tuck into the sides of your bag.

little extras
All of Emily’s little extras go in a small pouch.

I use a little pouch by LeSportSac to keep my extra batteries, card reader and other accessories from floating around my bag. They’re super lightweight and easy to pick out with their fun patterns. You could also use a Grid-It organizer, a lot of travelers swear by them!

Everything tucks nicely into a medium to large bag.
Everything tucks nicely into a medium to large bag.

Everything tucks nicely inside any medium to large size bag. So instead of shopping for a camera bag or laptop bag, you can browse your own bag collection and pick out your favorites! Tote bags, messenger bags, satchels… It doesn’t matter what you choose, and you can change as often as you’d like.

The Pacsafe Slingsafe as an electronics bag
The Pacsafe Slingsafe as an electronics bag.

When I’m traveling, I use my Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 GII and everything fits beautifully, even with my tablet and external drive! With the added safety features and water resistant fabric, this bag makes a perfect discreet camera bag. On a daily basis I just drop things into my LeSportSac EveryGirl Tote. It’s also water resistant and super easy to clean.

The fact that I can switch all my electronics from bag to bag as the mood strikes makes these accessories from Dollbirdies a must-have on my list!

*If you’re new to the Etsy game, it’s a shopping site where entrepreneurs around the world share their craftiness and mad skills. You’ll find anything from original photography and water colors, wedding gowns and engagement rings, solid perfumes and soaps! It’s always changing and you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find.

>> You might also be interested in the Crumpler Haven camera pouch that you can also drop into any bag.

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emily lessnauAbout the author: Emily is preparing to move to Japan in May 2014 with her husband and cat. Finding several sources on traveling but few on moving abroad, Emily decided to launch her own website to help prospective expats get an inside look at the process of planning, moving and adjusting in your new country. You can find her at and follow Neko in Nippon on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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Gear We Use


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.


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.


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! – 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


  1. Cailee Maestro says

    Great article! This is exactly what I did when I was away for a month with my DLSR. I turned any bag I had into a camera bag and it helped me stay organized while keeping in touch with my funky nothing matches style. Emily, great luck with your move come May!

  2. Hannah says

    I’m really loving the camera cozies. They’re exactly what I’ve been looking for. I like to keep my camera in my (rather large) purse, but I couldn’t find a cozy online that would work. These are perfect, and very cute. 🙂
    By the way, I have the exact same Matryoshka Doll laptop cozy! Did you buy it from Bertie’s Closet on Etsy? That’s where I got mine. Which, I totally love. I’ve had it for nearly two years, and it’s held up very well.

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