I think most photography enthusiasts go through lots of different camera bags – I’ve had several myself, because my needs keep changing. I’ve gone from wanting the cheapest bag I could find (ie. the one I talked the guy into giving me with my first ever DSLR), to the smallest, to the most handbag-like, to beautiful satchels (which I still use occasionally). But for our Eurotrip my needs had evolved to something which was a) comfortable to walk around with for hours, b) tough enough to take on hikes, c) not look like a camera bag or worth stealing, d) not be easy to steal or pickpocket, and e) look reasonably okay with all of my clothes.
My main issue with satchel or messenger style bags is the distribution of weight – I love the look of my ONA satchel, but after a day of walking around Singapore my back felt like it was going to give out any second; I had to spend a few days after returning home taking painkillers lying perfectly still. Backpacks are the logical ergonomic choice, but are not the easiest things to get a camera in and out of when walking around – they’re also much too easy for someone to reach into unseen. The next best option? A sling style bag!
Lowepro Passport Sling camera bag
The Lowepro Passport Sling ended up being my solution, and it travelled with me around Europe, WA and Tasmania. Whilst a backpack or more structured sling style camera bag would probably be even more ergonomic, for my needs it’s pretty much perfect. Normally the bag sits comfortably flat-ish against my back, although I can swing it around to the side to easily access things inside. It isn’t as pretty as other bags I use, but its utilitarian look makes it discreet and easy to ignore – meaning it doesn’t look out of place going for a trail walk in the bush or walking around the city, and doesn’t scream ‘tourist with an expensive camera’. It also means that I can get The Boy to carry it for me if my back is being weird.
The Boy carrying the bag for me in France
One of the other selling points for me was the removable camera insert, which is just large enough to fit my Canon 7D with 16-35m f/2.8L or 24-70mm f/2.8L attached (I usually only travel with one lens, as it’s too heavy otherwise!). The benefit of being able to remove the padded insert is that I can put it into other bags, such as the Longchamp Le Pliage tote which I bought later in our trip and is perfect for shorter outings to places I’d rather carry a fax payday loan handbag. It also means the Passport Sling can just be used as a regular bag without the bulkiness of the padding, which I’ve found pretty handy for taking my sports gear with me to work. It also means that you can put in a different padded insert, which can allow you to carry more gear if needed.
The bag with and without the padded insert (the top of the bag is also padded)
Besides the camera, the bag has enough space inside to carry a light jacket and other bits and pieces – it also has an expandable section which gives even more room. Being fairly big with only two small inside pockets I do tend to lose smaller things at the bottom, but I think that’s probably more down to me just being a disorganised person. On each side there is an outside pocket and a large one at the front – as there isn’t anything securing these closed it isn’t a good idea to put anything of value in there (especially not memory cards!), but I find them useful for things I need to access often such as tissues or a map. The fabric is quite water-resistant, so sometimes I stow a water bottle or damp folding umbrella in the front pocket, without having to worry about the moisture making it into my camera. I don’t think I’d want to test it by dunking the whole thing under water, but I have walked around during downpours with my arm covering the top zipper, and the inside of the bag has never gotten damp.
Expanding section and inner pockets
All up: If you want to carry a ton of gear and hike up mountains, this bag probably isn’t for you (go get a backpack). If you want to be a fashionista, it probably isn’t for you either. But if you want to carry a few essential bits of camera gear, need something that’s tough and versatile, and don’t want to look either un-stylish or like a walking target, then the Lowepro Passport Sling might work for you. It retails for around AUD$100 (although I picked it up on sale last year for less, hooray!), which puts it on the more reasonable end of the camera bag pricing scale. This is currently my bag of choice for all mildly adventurous travel, and paired with my Le Pliage I think it’s a pretty killer travel combo that covers most situations I find myself in. I’ve said it before, but I think this bag is The One.
P.S. This post was not sponsored or sought out in any way; I paid the full (sale) price for it. I just really like this bag!