Best camera bag: 12 tested
13th Dec 2011 | 11:52
Travel light, or carry lots of kit, it's up to you
A bag is likely to be the most important accessory you buy for your DSLR, and it's worth thinking about which would be the most suitable in the long term.
After all, there may be a point where you wish to supplement your body with an additional lens or flashgun, or you may even consider taking out a laptop when you shoot, so it will save you money and effort if you plan ahead.
Here, then, is our pick of the best bags for photographers, many of them available for under £50 and many suitable for other uses too.
1. Crumpler Muffin Top 4000 - £43
Well made, featuring a water-resistant Ripstop lining and comfy padded interior, the Crumpler offers reasonable weather protection. However, it's too small to accommodate a compact DSLR such as a Canon EOS 550D and kit lens, plus a telephoto zoom and flashgun.
2. Kata DC-445 - £38
A triumph of clever design, the compact Kata features five pockets for lenses, flashguns and other accessories, with fold-over flaps on the central dividers for slotting in a DSLR with attached lens. Accessory compartments are built into the lid and there are two side pockets.
3. Hama Defender 140 Pro - £43
Compact yet roomy, the Hama offers excellent protection for a full-size DSLR with lens, plus an additional lens and flashgun in the main compartment. A feast of extras are attached bybungee cords, including a lens cloth and a pouch containing a waterproof slip-on cover.
4. Lowepro Nova 160 AW - £29
This is one of the smallest bags in Lowepro's range, but it's typically well made, with an extra front pocket and memory card holders in the lid, plus a pull-out all-weather cover. There's not quite enough room for a DSLR and lens with additional telephoto zoom and flashgun, but it will easily accommodate two out of three.
5. Tamrac System 3 - £34
The System 3 is small on the outside and big on the inside, with space for a DSLR with fitted lens, plus a flashgun and up to three additional lenses. There's also a craftily designed front pocket for accessories. However, the Lens-Bridge system requires the removal of inner dividers to get at one of the underlying lenses.
6. Vanguard Pampas 25 - £35
Despite a slimline design, the Pampas can play host to a full-sized DSLR, a couple of lenses and a flashgun. The main compartment's Velcro fastening makes for speedy access, but protection against the elements is limited. The lack of anti-slip coating on the shoulder strap means you have to wear it messenger-style.
7. Crumpler Muffin Top Half Photo - £55
You can just about squeeze a medium sized DSLR with a couple of lenses into the bottom compartment of this rugged and well-made pack, plus daily essentials into the top section. The central divider unzips if necessary.
8. Hama Katoomba 170RL - £76
The single-strap, sling-back Katoomba includes tripod fasteners and a rain cover, with quick access to the camera compartment through the top. There's a reasonable amount of space in the camera section, but the upper compartment is quite small.
9. Lowepro Fastpack 200 - £50
This Lowepro has plenty of compartments with neat organisers, and the main camera section is fully customisable with movable dividers. You only need to unzip the lower side-entry compartment to grab your DSLR and attached lens and there's room for five additional lenses.
10. Lowepro Versapack 200 AW - £55
The lower compartment offers generous space for an DSLR and up to four other lenses, accessible from the top and from both sides. The section divider is removable so you can turn the whole bag into one big compartment. There's also a tripod-carrying attachment and Lowepro's AW (All Weather) slip-over cover.
11. Tamrac 3375 Aero Speed Pack 75 - £60
The Tamrac has easily adjustable dividers in its camera compartment along with an additional quick-access side opening which makes it easy to get at your SLR. The lower camera section is quite shallow, but the compartment divider is removable if you need extra camera space.
12. Vanguard Skyborne 48 - £150
The Vanguard is particularly rugged, well-made and comfortable. It comes with tripod fasteners and a rain cover. You can access both main compartments via a single zip and there's also a quick-access side opening for your camera. The camera section's height is extendable to suit big pro cameras or long lenses.
Liked this? Then check out Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
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