A Better Camera Bag

I’m not thrilled with my camera bag.  I’ve got your builder basic, came free with the camera, boxy black camera bag.  When it comes to having a place to stash my camera and lenses, it works.  When it comes to how I want it to function in my life, it starts slipping.

f/2.8, 1/13 sec, ISO 1600

f/2.8, 1/13 sec, ISO 1600

I carried this bag when we visited Monticello.  All my gear fits like puzzle pieces with little room to spare, so I was only able to carry a few extra essentials like cash and a few cards in my pockets.  What happens when my outfit doesn’t have pockets?  I don’t want to be carrying multiple bags.  I also got a little concerned when trying to switch my lens.  The strap kind of swivels where it meets the bag, and I was worried that it would flip over and dump out its contents when I was rummaging around in it.  This is probably unlikely, but I don’t want to take a chance with all this expensive equipment!

So when we went to California, I tried using a large purse I’ve had for a while.  It’s one of my go to travel bags because it’s deep and roomy so I can stash my wallet, a travel book, water bottles, etc. — all the goods I might want to carry around during a day of sightseeing.  It’s not padded though, so I have to be VERY careful with it when I have my camera in there.  The strap is also too short to be worn crossbody, which I would prefer when it gets heavy.  I could just buy a padded insert to turn this purse into a camera bag, but I’ve had it long enough that I wouldn’t feel bad putting it into retirement and buying a new travel bag.

f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 3200

f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 3200

So I’ve been eyeing up a new camera bag.  My priorities are:

1) Large enough to accommodate my DSLR, lenses, and a travel book with a little room to spare without looking huge
2) The option to wear it crossbody.  Bonus points if the strap doesn’t look like an afterthought (unlike bags like the Missy and Mimi below that have shorter handles that can’t be removed).
3) Comfortable to carry around all day, so probably something less boxy
4) Cute!  I can pretend this is for “security” so pickpockets don’t notice I’m carrying expensive equipment, but really I just like pretty things.

Below are some of the options I’ve considered.  Most didn’t meet all my desired criteria.  It’s been hardest to pick something that’s both large-ish and not boxy.  (The following photos obviously do not belong to me – each image links back to the original source.)

Jo Totes Abby

Jo Totes Missy

Jo Totes Betsy

Kelly Moore Mimi

Kelly Moore B-Hobo

But for now I think I’ve settled on the Gracie bag from Jo Totes.

It’s dimensions are pretty similar to the bag I carried in California so it should be able to fit all of my stuff, and I like all the extra pockets and that it isn’t too boxy.  Jo Totes bags are slightly cheaper than the ones from Kelly Moore, but that wasn’t a deciding factor.  I haven’t pulled the trigger yet — I don’t need it immediately and I’m hoping I’ll find a discount code somewhere — but all I need to decide on is whether I want mint or butterscotch?  (It seems that someone at Jo Totes has a sweet tooth.)

Do you have a favorite camera bag that you can recommend?