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Four Camera Bags as Manly as You Are

It was Christmas of 2004. I was unwrapping Christmas gifts from my parents, and after tearing off a big sheet of wrapping there it was, my first real camera bag. It was a black, half-sized backpack. It drew to mind those mini-backpack purses that were all the rage for middle school girls in the 90s. I loathed it, but used it for years because it was so damn efficient.

That is the problem with camera bags; they either make you look like a math teacher, or are styled like a purse to hold your camera and make-up in one handy place. But I say NO MORE! I am a man, I dress well, I care about my appearance, and I deserve a camera bag to go along with my sartorial tastes!

Luckily, I’ve found four camera bags, at varying price points that are just what the doctor ordered!

Domke F-6 (MSRP $94.99)

Pros

  • The sturdy canvas construction just cries out to be taken on adventures. Every time I load up this bag I want to go hiking across Patagonia or get run across a street in a dusty warzone halfway across the globe.
  • Very well constructed. I’ve put literally thousand of miles worth of travel and abuse on mine, and I’m still pretty sure it is going to outlive me.
  • With a little bit of foresight you can pack it with a decent amount of gear. I can easily fit 3 lenses, 3 strobes, batteries, remote triggers for the flashes and camera, various bungees, and a few sheets of cinefoil to use as light modifiers in a pinch.

Cons

  • Unlike the other bags on this list the bag is constructed to hold your gear in two rows. That means you can stuff more in than any bag this size has any right to hold, but you also feel like you have GIANT hips. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smacked this bag into something after forgetting it gives you the hip girth of Octamom.

thinkTank Photo Retrospective 5 (MSRP $137.50)

Pros

  • This bag screams street photography! Its sturdy, compact construction begs for you to pack light and take a stroll in the big city.
  • The bag is really unobtrusive, and is great if you don’t want a giant sign above your head announcing to everyone that you’re a photographer carrying equipment worth more than an economy car.
  • If you’re getting back in touch with your roots this bag is absolutely perfect for a small film camera kit. It has tons of compartments for all of your film and favorite homemade modifiers.
  • It comes with a rain cover, which as someone who has been stranded in the rain with all of his gear is a feature I REALLY appreciate.

Cons

  • You may have noticed I used words like, “unobtrusive,” or “compact” to describe the retrospective. That is because it really is a small bag. With a little Tetris style packing that seems to be just about every man’s trademark you could fit a fair amount of gear in this bag. You just won’t be able to fit as much as any of the other bags on this list.

Kelly Moore Kelly Boy Bag (MSRP $199.00)

Pros

  • This bag brings sexy back faster than a 2006 pop culture reference. It may not have the same rugged look as the other bags on this list, but that is A-okay in my book. It is one of the few modern looking camera bags out there that don’t make my wife want to borrow it for a night out with the girls.
  • One thing I love about this bag is the material used for the inner lining and compartments, it a slick nylon that makes changing lenses really easy because they just slide in and out.
  • This bag (and the next on the list) both have removable laptop dividers, which gives them major points for versatility.

Cons

  • I hate to say it, but this bag really isn’t that sturdy. The “water resistant man made material” it is made from just doesn’t hold up like the canvas and leather bags on this list.

Ona The Union Street (MSRP $279.00)

Pros

  • This bag is tobacco pipes, aged scotch, motorcycle grease, a dog-eared novel from a second hand shop, and a double stack of pancakes all rolled into one. It is so manly it almost puts off its own musk. Seriously, if Teddy Roosevelt were in the market for a camera bag, he’d pick up The Union Street.
  • The great stitching, real leather, and hardy canvas really make this bag a juggernaut. It has the high quality and build of something that you know is going to last long enough to pass on to your kids when they discover their own love of photography.
  • This is my personal go to bag these days, and it gets complimented, A LOT.

Cons

  • … Price? You really do get what you pay for, and though the build quality is worth the price of admission, it is still a hefty chunk of change to pay for an over the shoulder camera bag.

Being sentimental about our gear goes with the territory of being a photographer. We have a habit of becoming super attached to brand and certain pieces of equipment. Do you have any camera bags that hold a special place in your heart? If so drop us a line on Facebook, and let us know what they were, and why they mean so much to you!

PS – In the interest of full disclosure, we should mention that we received sample bags from Kelly Moore, Ona, and thinkTank to write this review. See the legal section of our site for more info.

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