Best Travel Camera Bag?

cc3

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Thanks for opening the thread -

I am doing a bit of traveling through Europe and Africa this next year, and I will need an attractive, packable, and durable camera bag to bring with me.

I intend to carry 2 batteries, 2 lenses (50mm/1.8, 18-55mm, and possibly a 3rd tbd), a strap, an SD card, and a cleaning cloth. Pretty basic. I haven't been impressed by what I've seen at my local camera shop and on Amazon - but perhaps I'm just not yet looking in the right places!

I'm looking for something that won't look out of place or touristy, and not immediately distinguishable as a camera bag.

I really appreciate any suggestions!
 

Gavjenks

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Are you mainly trying to avoid getting mugged? Or avoid people snatching your bag and running? Or just ruining candid shots by people noticing your gear and reacting to it?

If somebody wants to actually confront you and mug you, then no bag is going to help very much, because as soon as you take out a camera, they will just assume you have all kinds of goodies on you. And if they're brazenly mugging you already, why not take all your stuff anyway? Your best defense here is to either get insurance, or carry cheap equipment when going somewhere particularly sketchy where there aren't many people around to witness and this sort of thing is more likely to happen. Or better yet, avoid situations where you are alone in the first place if you are at all uncomfortable about your surroundings.

If they're trying to snatch your stuff in a crowd, though, then you have more ways to protect yourself. For instance, if you wrap your camera strap around your wrist 2-3 times so that only an inch or two remains on either side, then you can hold it down low and block it from sight of people far away in a crowd. Also, you expose less fabric for a person to cut with a knife and they'd have to do both sides to remove the camera, due to the friction of the wraps. And you certainly make it impossible to just grab the thing. Along the same vein, a backpack is much much better than a shoulder slung bag. It's harder to open discreetly (especially if you wind a paperclip through the zippers), and virtually impossible to snatch and run off with OR cut and run off with. Avoid brandishing expensive brand names, obviously, but I wouldn't worry TOO much about whether it "looks" like a camera bag or not.

If your main concern is not drawing attention for the sake of not ruining candid people shots, then you probably shouldn't have a DSLR at all. Get a high end point and shoot or a mirrorless reflex camera or something and keep it in your pocket or similar.

In all cases, practice situational awareness all the time, even when you're not on vacation. Know who is around you, don't take too many shots all at once without stopping to glance around, don't get too terribly engrossed in a subject, and be wary of obvious, out of place spectacles that may be set up specifically to distract your attention in a particular direction. Especially ones that rely on your good will (e.g., don't offer to carry somebody's groceries with crutches if they try to lead you much away from a crowd, etc. or it your spider senses tingle at all)
 
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TCampbell

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To help narrow things down... is there any particular STYLE of bag you prefer?

There are "messenger" bags, "sling" bags, "backpack" bags, "holster" bags, etc.

I have several different bags... the best bag depends on where I'm going and what I'll be doing there. My "backpack" bag carries more than any of my other bags. I have a couple of holster bags, and I also have a ThinkTank modular system (belt-packs, but I can modularly add whatever I need for lenses, flashes, etc.) I've liked the bags by Lowepro, Tenba, Kata, and ThinkTank. With the exception of my ThinkTank system, I try to avoid bags that scream "Expensive camera inside!" (the ThinkTank modular system is a belt with add-on modules and it's pretty obvious that those are lens bags, etc. but I like that I can bring as much or as little as I need.)

There are companies that make theft-resistant bags (Pacsafe). Basically they weave braided cables through the straps and also sometimes in the bag material itself. If someone tries to cut the bag free and run, they'll find it wont cut through (at least not easily).
 
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cc3

cc3

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Gavjenks, thank you for that very articulate response. I am not necessarily concerned with anti-mugging measures but I'm rather looking for a practical, stylish, and well constructed bag that will serve me well not just in my travels but also here in the US. I'm trying to find something neutral but attractive, that doesn't draw attention to me or the equipment I am carrying not for fear of attack but modesty.

TCampbell, I'd be interested in a sling or holster bag. Another piece is that I will be carrying a backpack, and when not in use, I want to be able to tuck my camera bag in my backpack. I've seen some nice stuff from Lowepro - some of their bags have a built in rain fly, which seems to be a practical travel tool.

Anyways, I'm currently using a previously unused monogrammed lunchbox that my grandmother gave me several years ago. Ready to move up, for obvious reasons! ;)

Edit: I think I've picked the bag - Think Tank Urban Disguise 5
 
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