Most camera bags seem like they were designed so that wrestlers can take a few shots in between bouts of being hit with folding chairs. The bags are heavy, padded, and generally bulky.
If I'm hauling a lot of gear to work, or on an airplane, the wrestler-style bags are wonderful. I like that I can fit my entire office and almost all of my camera equipment into my Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 V2.0.
But if I'm walking around the city or attending a food event, the wrestler bags are just too much. The wrestler bags are too heavy, too bulky, and seem to universally make my shoulders sore and sweaty.
I've spent some time looking for the "perfect" camera bag. If you read many photography websites, you'll find that bags are a popular topic. There are tons of options out there.
With the possible exception of Gura Gear bags, they all seem to trend towards greater complexity and padding, and so on. Even the Gura Gear Chobe 19-24L weights "less than the 3 lb mark" without the padding, and "well below the 4 lb mark" with the padding. I'd expect a bag made from sail cloth to be a bit lighter.
My Canon 7D with the EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS lens only weighs 3.7 pounds combined (including lens hood). Does the container for the camera really need to weigh as much as the camera? These wrestler bags seem like the luggage equivalent of buying an over-priced extended warranty for a consumer item. In the unlikely event that I'm hit with a folding chair, I'll be glad for that bag. But while I'm waiting for that chair should I suffer through the shoulder pain?
|The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Courier folded into a pouch.|
The zippers are super-smooth with little grabbies added to make them easy to find. The strap is made of a squishy mesh which lets a little air through, and offers a little padding along the entire length of the strap.
Inside the main compartment, there is a smaller zippered compartment big enough to fit a cell phone or wallet. This pocket reverses, and the entire bag stuffs inside for packing. The bag has a smaller zippered pocket in front, which is ideal for a lens cloth, sunglasses, or a phone. The zippers are all of the super-smooth YKK variety, which bag nerds seem to appreciate.
|The Domke wrap next to the un-packed Travel Courier.|
Do I trust this bag to carry my camera unpadded? Heck no. While I don't need my bag to take body blows, it will occasionally be jostled and set down on hard surfaces. I add padding to the bag in the form of the Domke F-34L 19-Inch Protective Wrap. The wrap is a large square of padded cloth. A strip of velcro-like fastener lives at each corner of the wrap, allowing the user to secure the padding as they see fit.
To use the wrap in the bag, I fold it into a simple trough shape with each corner attached to a neighbor as seen in the photos. This protective envelope fits perfectly into the bag, giving it shape, and a lightly padded cradle for my dSLR.
According to my kitchen scale, the combination of bag and wrap weighs 10.36 oz, which is about 0.6 pounds. That weight seems a lot more reasonable when compared to the weight of my camera.
This is the bag I've been using for a couple of weeks now. The dSLR goes into the now padded main compartment, my Lytro camera goes into one of the mesh water bottle pockets on the side, and my 4G iPad goes into the spot between the wrap and the back of the bag.
So far, this is the best camera bag I've ever owned. I find it lightweight, more comfortable to wear than a camera on a strap, and quite handy. I also think it makes me significantly less sweaty than a bag with traditional shoulder straps.
|The Travel Courier full loaded with dSLR and lens, held by the strap.|
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