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Camera Backpacks

I have been looking for an EDC camera bag that would carry my camera, a second lens, a spare battery, plus a small laptop and have room for a bottle of water on the outside, I also wasn't willing to pay a small fortune for it. On top of all of that, I also don't want it to look like a camera bag so as not to announce to the world that I am carrying €4'000 worth of kit.

After many, many hours spent searching online, visiting stores that sold camera equipment. Most of the affordable bags I did find didn't look up to the task. The ones that were of decent quality were eye-wateringly expensive. Both still screamed Camera Bag.

So, I started looking for alternatives and stumbled across the video below.

Needless to say, I ordered a Tenba BYOB to fit any of the 20 backpacks / courier bags I already have, plus a couple of the "wraps" as described in his video, and all for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated bag.

Peak Design and other companies also makes a bag insert, but I preffered the layout of the Tenba. The wraps I ordered were a different brand than what is shown in the video.

 
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Do NOT buy a camera backpack until you try it on first. This is something where evaluating.

Agreed. Buy it at the camera store even if you pay a bit more.

A month ago I got a Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II. It was the middle sized backpack. I tried the three size options and for me the middle size was best.

-the larger size appeared problematic as a carry-on and the smaller size was .... to small for what I need.
-it opens from the opposite side which, if you travel to places with potential street crime, makes a big difference. I can wear it on my back instead of in front. This is not a trivial consideration depending on where you go.
-it appears sturdy. I have a several L series lenses and they are heavy. I think this bag will hold up.
-it appears to protect gear well - there was a chance I was going to have to "plane side" check this bag on a recent flight and I would have done so if necessary.
-it is comfortable
-it can be reconfigured easily

I have not tried storing a notebook in it although there is a slot for this.

Ultimately you'll have to decide what is best for you so if you can, go to a shop where you try them on.
 
My Lowpro is a CompuTreker( I think?)! Probably the same vintage. I’ve only recently had a laptop, don’t know if I’ll ever carry it in the pack but maybe.
I store things like passport and money in the laptop area.
My pack I would consider a heavy pack. It’s probably 3 pounds or more empty! My Canon pack is half as heavy, gets the same use and has held up as well for a $39 pack!!!
I use the Lowpro when I am gonna take both my 1Dx and the 5Ds. I can actually configure it to carry the 1Dx with my 200 f1.8 with the lens attached! That combo alone is 10 pounds!!! It alway feels great when I pull that out to use it. Suddenly the pack weighs nothing, well, maybe only 20 pounds!!! LoL
SS

This bag is itself fairly heavy on its own as well. My main reason for using it though, is that with the camera tripod inside of the bag, it's not obvious that I'm carrying camera equipment. For anyone with malfeasance in mind I don't look any different than anyone else with a backpack, and rent-a-cops and other people that might bother me as I'm getting to where I'm going to take pictures aren't clued-in as to what I'm going to do if they see me passing.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a new camera-oriented backpack in the last year that fit this criteria for a price I was willing to pay, and what I did find wasn't available locally either.

Best Buy had a surprising selection of camera bags in-store, and the clerk I dealt with was willing to unpackage them to try them, for what it's worth. Simply none did what I needed.
 
I have this bag, Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack - Black/Gray which is probably larger then what you are wanting. I wanted something I could get all my primary gear in along with my drone. This fits the bill nicely. I have made several hikes with this bag and have been very happy.

I also have S115 Sport Camera Backpack | Pelican which I do enjoy and used as my primary bag for years, it is now my secondary bag. This bag is very durable and I made a few trips with it. It is ok to cary for long periods, but not great. Depending on what gear you have it may be on the small side for capacity.

When I want to go super light I use, https://www.maxpedition.com/collections/legacy/products/sitka-gearslinger?variant=39172810833

I see a camera strap was suggested above. I personally have never been a huge fan of them. I have tried several and built a few of my own. For the last couple of years what I have found works best for me is a loop of P-cord tied off to the left strap post. This loops is about 3" long. I then clip it into the HK clip on the Maxpidition bag. I have made my own HK clip systems for my other bags that attach in the same place. I also run a Spiderpro handstrap.
 
I have this bag, Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack - Black/Gray which is probably larger then what you are wanting. I wanted something I could get all my primary gear in along with my drone. This fits the bill nicely. I have made several hikes with this bag and have been very happy.

I also have S115 Sport Camera Backpack | Pelican which I do enjoy and used as my primary bag for years, it is now my secondary bag. This bag is very durable and I made a few trips with it. It is ok to cary for long periods, but not great. Depending on what gear you have it may be on the small side for capacity.

When I want to go super light I use, https://www.maxpedition.com/collections/legacy/products/sitka-gearslinger?variant=39172810833

I see a camera strap was suggested above. I personally have never been a huge fan of them. I have tried several and built a few of my own. For the last couple of years what I have found works best for me is a loop of P-cord tied off to the left strap post. This loops is about 3" long. I then clip it into the HK clip on the Maxpidition bag. I have made my own HK clip systems for my other bags that attach in the same place. I also run a Spiderpro handstrap.
Thanks for all the help/recommendations :)
 
I have been looking for an EDC camera bag that would carry my camera, a second lens, a spare battery, plus a small laptop and have room for a bottle of water on the outside, I also wasn't willing to pay a small fortune for it. On top of all of that, I also don't want it to look like a camera bag so as not to announce to the world that I am carrying €4'000 worth of kit.

After many, many hours spent searching online, visiting stores that sold camera equipment. Most of the affordable bags I did find didn't look up to the task. The ones that were of decent quality were eye-wateringly expensive. Both still screamed Camera Bag.

So, I started looking for alternatives and stumbled across the video below.

Needless to say, I ordered a Tenba BYOB to fit any of the 20 backpacks / courier bags I already have, plus a couple of the "wraps" as described in his video, and all for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated bag.

Peak Design and other companies also makes a bag insert, but I preffered the layout of the Tenba. The wraps I ordered were a different brand than what is shown in the video.



Unfortunately pickpockets are not that stupid and naive. They know very well male (especially foreign) with larger bag = good chance of expensive equipment, what other reason would most men carry a larger shoulder bag for. Besides the moment you pull that fancy piece of equipment up of your bag, then they and everybody else would know it, and yes they do follow and watch you every step. So I doubt it would matter allot in the end. And they are mostly steeling when your not paying attention, eg take a photo, place your bag at a local restaurant etc. It’s not that easy to get a hand inside a camera bag if these require you to unzip at the bag or pull it out and get away with it. The biggest risk is that they try to steel the whole bag.

What helps is preventing them to get their hands inside, a back that open in the front well just makes it easier, a bag where you just flip the top over even more so. And those nice little inserts has a nice little handle they can grab and away are all that nice equipment.

I have traveled through Africa and Asia with bags screaming to the sky. But it did not matter white guy in those areas get plenty of attention no matter if I carry a bag or not.
 
The lowepro 450 is huge! I use the flipside 400AW most of the time when I'm out but it's a big bag too, so I have the lighter flipside 200 as an option.

They both have their downsides. One major flaw in virtually all camera backpacks is the lack of ability to secure a decent tripod to the outside, or if you do manage it the rain cover then doesn't fit. I find the fit ok, and comfy enough around town though a more supporting waist strap and a mesh back would be better for hiking with equipment as it can get quite hot when wearing it as there's no airflow. The size can get awkward in small spaces like bird hides. With a full bag it can be pretty heavy indeed.
 
350AW should be more than large enough for the avarage user, unless you own one of the huge canon or nikon primes or the larger pro zooms or allot of smaller lenses.

I where able to have a 70-200mm, 24-70mm G masters plus additionel primes in the small version. Even the 350AW or the Tenba Axis 20l is not exactly small by any meaning of the word.

The Lowepro flipside doesn’t hold very large lenses so this is something that needs to be taking into consideration.
 
Unfortunately pickpockets are not that stupid and naive. They know very well male (especially foreign) with larger bag = good chance of expensive equipment, what other reason would most men carry a larger shoulder bag for. Besides the moment you pull that fancy piece of equipment up of your bag, then they and everybody else would know it, and yes they do follow and watch you every step. So I doubt it would matter allot in the end. And they are mostly steeling when your not paying attention, eg take a photo, place your bag at a local restaurant etc. It’s not that easy to get a hand inside a camera bag if these require you to unzip at the bag or pull it out and get away with it. The biggest risk is that they try to steel the whole bag.

What helps is preventing them to get their hands inside, a back that open in the front well just makes it easier, a bag where you just flip the top over even more so. And those nice little inserts has a nice little handle they can grab and away are all that nice equipment.

I have traveled through Africa and Asia with bags screaming to the sky. But it did not matter white guy in those areas get plenty of attention no matter if I carry a bag or not.
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I have a lot of experience carrying high-end gear and other valuables in public, in some rough neighbourhoods. The less you look like a rich tourist, the better..

No one bothers the guy in the old hoodie/jeans and the crap canvas bag from H&M....
 
There is a difference between in your own country and on another continent, and in normal part of town vs slums/ghettos/poorer districts/ rough neighbourhoods.

That written on another continent your never going to blend ind with that approach, unless you happened to have the same skin colour. I get the exact same approach no matter if I take on my normal clothing and fancy shiny camera backpack or if I wear old rags and an old worn out bag. I have taken pictures in some of the worst slums in Asia, India as well as some very poor part of the African Continent.

I would be seen as rich white dude no matter what I wear. So in those situations it doesn’t really matter much. I don’t know how many times I have been surrounded by a flock of kids in those areas of that reason alone, even when I looked liked a homeless guy. And some of the worst pickpockets in those regions are, yes, Kids!

If I went on shooting in Paris or other major western city, then it might be better to keep it low profile in certain part of town, but again the moment I take that shiny thing out of my bag it blows the cower.

Secondly I worked in such areas, they can spot a visitor, photographer miles ahead. That doesn’t mean I would walk into those areas with a huge sign on my back, especially not after dark. But every where’s else I would not be concerned about a camera bag that says expensive equipment, especially as it’s pretty dam difficult to find a spot these days where you would be the sole one.

Last but not least the risk isn’t really that great, you have a bigger risk of getting hit by a car. Reality is that the world has never been safer, it’s relatively safe to take pictures most places especially if your friendly and kind. As written I have walked around in very poor areas with a extremely expensive camera dangling around my neck, I have never been assaulted, because I eat, talk to, take my time with the locals. If I behaved like an ass then that might not been the case.
 
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There is a difference between in your own country and on another continent, and in normal part of town vs slums/ghettos/poorer districts/ rough neighbourhoods.

That written on another continent your never going to blend ind with that approach, unless you happened to have the same skin colour. I get the exact same approach no matter if I take on my normal clothing and fancy shiny camera backpack or if I wear old rags and an old worn out bag. I have taken pictures in some of the worst slums in Asia, India as well as some very poor part of the African Continent.

I would be seen as rich white dude no matter what I wear. So in those situations it doesn’t really matter much. I don’t know how many times I have been surrounded by a flock of kids in those areas of that reason alone, even when I looked liked a homeless guy. And some of the worst pickpockets in those regions are, yes, Kids!

If I went on shooting in Paris or other major western city, then it might be better to keep it low profile in certain part of town, but again the moment I take that shiny thing out of my bag it blows the cower.

Secondly I worked in such areas, they can spot a visitor, photographer miles ahead. That doesn’t mean I would walk into those areas with a huge sign on my back, especially not after dark. But every where’s else I would not be concerned about a camera bag that says expensive equipment, especially as it’s pretty dam difficult to find a spot these days where you would be the sole one.

Last but not least the risk isn’t really that great, you have a bigger risk of getting hit by a car. Reality is that the world has never been safer, it’s relatively safe to take pictures most places especially if your friendly and kind. As written I have walked around in very poor areas with a extremely expensive camera dangling around my neck, I have never been assaulted, because I eat, talk to, take my time with the locals. If I behaved like an ass then that might not been the case.

I'm guessing you don't live in o rnear one of these deprived areas, you simply visit. If such is the case, your arguments, while valid for your application, carry no weight on what I am talking about.
 
W
There is a difference between in your own country and on another continent, and in normal part of town vs slums/ghettos/poorer districts/ rough neighbourhoods.

That written on another continent your never going to blend ind with that approach, unless you happened to have the same skin colour. I get the exact same approach no matter if I take on my normal clothing and fancy shiny camera backpack or if I wear old rags and an old worn out bag. I have taken pictures in some of the worst slums in Asia, India as well as some very poor part of the African Continent.

I would be seen as rich white dude no matter what I wear. So in those situations it doesn’t really matter much. I don’t know how many times I have been surrounded by a flock of kids in those areas of that reason alone, even when I looked liked a homeless guy. And some of the worst pickpockets in those regions are, yes, Kids!

If I went on shooting in Paris or other major western city, then it might be better to keep it low profile in certain part of town, but again the moment I take that shiny thing out of my bag it blows the cower.

Secondly I worked in such areas, they can spot a visitor, photographer miles ahead. That doesn’t mean I would walk into those areas with a huge sign on my back, especially not after dark. But every where’s else I would not be concerned about a camera bag that says expensive equipment, especially as it’s pretty dam difficult to find a spot these days where you would be the sole one.

Last but not least the risk isn’t really that great, you have a bigger risk of getting hit by a car. Reality is that the world has never been safer, it’s relatively safe to take pictures most places especially if your friendly and kind. As written I have walked around in very poor areas with a extremely expensive camera dangling around my neck, I have never been assaulted, because I eat, talk to, take my time with the locals. If I behaved like an ass then that might not been the case.
What, you’re not a big fan of the, “Ugly American”?!
Hey, we’ve even got one of those in our Whi....., never mind!!!
SS
 
I use small pad locks on my Tamrac back pack to lock zips closed
How many spare keys do you carry??
I just use a couple of those small carabiners and clip the two zipper handles together!
It’s too easy to go crazy with security!! At what point should we just stay home?!?!
SS
 
The locks are number combi
They will not stop match just the chancer who wants to try and pinch out of the pack
I also have a cyclist bright green water proof cover that goes right over the top hides the fact it’s a camera bag until I open it up
The number of times I have aborted a shoot because I did not like the feel or look of what was going on around me
Yep I really wanted that image of the old bridge and modern underpass next to each other at night.
But I realised that I would be an easy target and decided to go home
Sometimes it’s better to walk away ,
 
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