The perfect camera bag

I’ve really like my Lowepro LOR160B Rezo 160 AW shoulder bag but have pretty much outgrown it. I’ve already bought a few bags but either returned them if the shipping was reasonable or turned around and put them on my website Need some furniture? that’s on there too.


I’m starting to think the perfect bag is as elusive as a great hairdresser who can cut my slow growing, curly, thin hair.

My needs and my bag have evolved but I still kind of need 2 bags types and wish there was really a convertible bag that one attached to the other so you didn’t need to unload and reload two bags.  Also, it’d be great if it didn’t cost more than my first camera. On a promising note, it looks like photo bags are having more thought put into them than ever before.

The everyday bag needs to hold:

  • my camera that I can get to quickly because I often see stuff I want to shoot on the journey
  • filter pouches – also with quick access
  • at least a little tripod
  • a water bottle- also quickly and not right near my gear
  • lens hood
  • filter wrenches
  • extra batteries
  • memory cards
  • stuff like Benedryl, cash, CC, glasses neck string (until I really get bifocals I can see my camera and what I’m shooting without taking them on and off).
  • my cell phone
  • cleaning cloths
  • tripod tool for quick plate because my Vanguard tripod requires a tool or quarter instead of the flip out twist bolt
  • a mini umbrella
  • a small flashlight
  • attached rain cover or waterproof

My hiking bag needs all that plus:

  • not too heavy and breathable WITH quick access to the same stuff
  • a handle on top to weigh down a tripod and keep my bag off the ground
  • attached rain cover or waterproof would be even better
  • a place for more than one small water- still not near my gear
  • a larger tripod
  • space for water shoes and a small towel (water crossings), rain poncho, bear spray, maybe a snake bite kit, a compass, snacks or lunch and larger flashlight
  • It’d be nice if it had a key leash and place to stash a light jacket too.
  • space for a notebook, book or printed directions
  • maybe even a small reflector/diffuser 5in1
  • I’d like it to set on its waterproof bottom when not being strapped to me or hanging from my tripod hook to keep from getting it too dirty or wet.

I tried a sling bag, the Vanguard VINN 47 but that wasn’t for me, and my shape.

I am looking at the backpacks you can take your arm out of one side and get to your gear by side access for quick shots along the trail. There is a flip side style that you put on a waist belt and flip it around in front of you to access your gear from the back and a 2 part one rotation style. All three styles say it’s for quick access without setting your bag down but not sure how well that works if you’re short, not lean or flat chested or if you have a coat on and have attached a tripod.

I’m a little concerned with gear at the bottom of a bag in the event of a fall. I mean I don’t want my camera gear to be the padding when my bottom hits the ground or the first in the water if I happen to slip while crossing water. I guess I can always carry a ziplock to put my camera itself in if I’m crossing something I  don’t feel steady crossing. Water resistant is great but it’s not waterproof if we end up in the water. Oh and the straps – I don’t want the end of straps dangling all over the place!

Some things I’ve learned while looking are that you want the weight closest to your back in a slimmer backpack so it feels like it weighs less. If it won’t sit down on its bottom without tipping over you want it to tip toward the front so the area against you isn’t getting as wet or dirty. Having snag free material fewer straps to catch and hang on twigs is a plus. Lots of people seemed to be very concerned about being able to fit a laptop and if the bag will fit for carry-on – neither of those as important to me.

I bought an inexpensive camera insert to put in another shoulder bag or my non-photography everyday backpack. It was great when I packed up my cameras for the eclipse but not great when you want quick access.

I am looking at the backpacks I can get to my gear by side access for quick shots along the trail. There is also a flip side style that you put on a waist belt and flip it around in front of you to access your gear from the back. It says both are for quick access without setting your bag down but not sure how well that works if you’re not lean or flat chested or if you have a coat on.

The few convertibles I’ve seen are not really like two bags in one because the camera part goes into the hiking/day part but doesn’t leave the camera part very accessible. It looks like you’d still be re-packing.  I’m sure at some point something I needed would still be in the bag I didn’t have with me.

I wish they were not so many all black with camera logos strewn across them, but I guess if it’s got a tripod hanging from it that kind of gives what you’re carrying away anyway. I’ve seen some nice gray/green and navy ones. I like the light interior as long as it’s not yellow. I’ve considered the bright orange so I don’t get shot in the woods of western NC by a trigger-happy hunter. I’d like it to be durable. I’m not tough on my gear but if I dole out this much cash I expect it to last several years.

Thank you to all of you who have left reviews, especially youtube videos showing the back in use and clearly stating what you did and didn’t like about a bag that you’ve used for a bit. I plan to offer a review too.

I started with over 70 and I’m down to half that. My mom offered to get me one for my birthday last month. I’m still looking when time allows.  (Thanks, mom)

It’s a shame we don’t have a store near us to go try some bags on, or that someone like B&H doesn’t offer bulk return shipping instead of $15 per bag because that really adds up. That’s part of the reason I have new bags listed for sale on my site and Craigslist.

On a side note – I’ve been wondering how hikers measure distance in the woods with no cell service? I mean several trail maps say stuff like go .35 and take the path to the left. Well, without measuring it there is inevitable several paths going off thru the wood in what looks like somewhat of a trail but I’d like to know the one I was supposed to follow.

Down to these:
1) Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Panorama MS200 22L $199.99 plus $20 rain covers
2) Mindshift Gear Rotation 180 Trail MS230 16l $119 plus $20 rain covers
3) Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 250AW $145
40 Vanguard Reno 45KG $90 comes in a nice brown or bright orange well and blue too.

final 4


Update: Thanks to a very generous birthday gift from my mom and my hubby I was able to order a bag even though I didn’t win a contest that paid out cash.  Note to self… I’ve got to quit spending money to enter ones that don’t pay out if I want to buy gear.

If you would like to save 15% off your purchase from Vanguard click here, and use this referral code SAVEWITHKIMINWNC

There was a used Mindshift Panorama on eBay but the sellers rating was less than 70% so that really influenced what I bid. After I lost the bid, I heard back from B&H that if I bought all 4 new bags so I could choose between them, I could return three of them for the cost of only returning one.  Now if that wasn’t customer service enough – when I explained the reason I had not returned the new sling bag and instead listed it on my website for sale was because of the high return shipping. They said I could return it with the three for no extra. That is some incredible customer service right there!

So next week I will be comparing the 4 bags above and I’ll do a compare video. I still have not purchased a mic so my camera speaker is going to have to do. After I choose one bag, I’ll follow up with an in-depth review of it after I’ve used it for awhile.

I’m very grateful to my mom, my husband and B&H to soon have a new bag for hikes that I can carry bear spray!



3 thoughts on “The perfect camera bag

  1. AuthorJoePerroneJr

    Yikes! Does this mean that my phone’s camera won’t cut it anymore? No wonder your pictures look so much better than mine do. Thank goodness there are “photogs” like you who can capture those wonderful images (for real).
    Keep up the great work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. KiM Post author

    Oh how I wish I could capture what I want on my cell phone camera. Life would be so much easier. I haven’t had time to look at my pics yet but a recent hike had me wishing the bear spray wasn’t home in the closet.


  3. KiM Post author

    10/5/17 Update. Bags arrived on Monday. By that night two were outruled. I’m still deciding between the other two. Both have pros and cons. Since my brain works best with spreadsheets and list I’ll continue to wear them inside the house and make a list. Both make me seem like a wimp for not wanting to carry that much on my back against my lower spine but still wanting to have that stuff with me. Maybe I should get a lama to hike with.



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