bags are no longer a mere tool to convey photo gear from point A to point B.
Nowadays many want their photo luggage to be as fashionable as any belt, footwear,
or handbag. And we still want it to be rugged. The entries in this year's
PMA report don't fall short when it comes to being stylish, although a
few are more staid and traditional in design. Many, in particular the camera
backpacks, aim toward being more comfortable than in the past. The few sling
bags I saw have similar aspirations. There were also several new zoom/holster
bags, but we've omitted these to focus attention on more utilitarian camera
luggage. (Note: In the following report, a "D" attached to a number
describing the nylon used stands for "denier," the fineness of the
weave, with higher numbers used in the outer shell generally translating into
more durable bags.)
Crumpler came on the camera scene several years ago with some alternative designs
and a promotional campaign to match, and that has ensured the popularity of
this bag line among fashion-forward photo enthusiasts. This year Crumpler entertained
us with the Brazillion Dollar Home ($280), a name as unconventional as the design.
It features a water-resistant 1000D shell, brushed nylon, and 300D ripstop lining
with configurable interior and room for a 17" laptop. The bag can sit
on a trolley handle of your roller luggage, rest on a shoulder, or even be backpacked.
Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home
The new bags from Delsey (distributed by Minox) incorporate technology used
in this company's travel luggage. One of the featured bags is a roller
case (model ODC 61) with very sleek styling incorporating a fully adjustable
divider system, with the added benefit of a mesh cover to hold items in place
when the front lid is opened. The interior fabric is scratch-resistant microfiber.
There is also room for personal items in a roomy outside pocket. The bag also
holds a laptop computer and features in-line skate wheels. Similarly styled
backpacks are also available. Comes in silver and black.
The Domke division of The Tiffen Company brought out the Domke F-5XA, a small
shoulder and belt bag designed to be rugged and lightweight. The padded interior
sections are roomy enough for a D-SLR and accessories. It is made of water-resistant
cotton canvas, a material that breathes, minimizing the risk of condensation
on camera gear. As with all Domke bags,
top-grade YKK zippers and metal hardware are employed. Tiffen points out that
Domke bags are the preferred choice of the White House Photographers Association.
Go Photo introduced the Protexx line of photo bags. What makes these camera
porters special is a unique lining covering all interior surfaces that is said
to neutralize corrosive gases and static electricity that may attack and potentially
damage electronic equipment. The company's tests show the benefits after
10 years. Granted, I've never seen camera gear damaged while in any ordinary
camera bag, but one never knows what cumulative effects are building up over
the years. Currently, the only bag in the line-up of interest to me is the largest
shoulder bag, which is actually fairly small, but it's fully padded and
will hold an SLR, extra lenses/flash, and accessories.
The Kata division of Bogen Imaging Inc. extended the scope of the Global Digital
Collection (GDC) with the R-101 Rucksack and W-94 Waist Pack, among others.
A trademark of these bags is their brightly colored, scratch- and static-resistant
interior added to a solidly constructed, reinforced outer ribbed shell that
keeps camera gear safe and dust/moisture-free. The new R-101 Rucksack holds
a D-SLR with lens attached and more, along with a 12" laptop. The W-94
belt bag is similarly appointed, minus the laptop compartment, and is the big
brother to the W-92, with added room for all the gear photographers on a nature
Lowepro celebrated its 40th anniversary with the introduction of the Primus
AW photo backpack made largely from recycled materials ($279, MSRP). Funds raised
from the sale of the Primus AW will support Polar Bears International (PBI),
a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar
bear. This modest-sized bag splits the load, with camera gear in the lower section,
which opens at the back. Also new is the Vertex series of backpacks designed
for the serious outdoors enthusiast and sports photojournalist (available in
three sizes: $189.99, $249.99, and $289.99, respectively). These packs have
been ruggedized for all-terrain portage, with a seam-sealed rain cover for added
protection. You might say this series is a throwback to Lowepro's roots,
with the entire interior section fully compartmentalized, padded, and customizable
for camera gear inside a durable padded outer shell. Each pack features an adjustable
tripod carrying system.
M-ROCK displayed the M-ROCK Extreme modular camera bag system, an extensive
line-up that builds upon this company's popular fashion-forward designs
with major enhancements, modestly priced and topping out at $200. The medium
and larger shoulder bags feature scratch-free interiors and water-resistant
shells, with plenty of pockets, and a rain cover. Two new Extreme backpacks
accommodate an SLR with 8" lens attached, with room for other lenses/flash.
The Zion 523 Outdoor pack comes with a hydration system, neoprene waist belt
with compression straps, and a tripod carrying system; the McKinley 524 City
pack is a roller case with a laptop compartment. Both packs sport an accessory
pouch that sits inside the apex of the bag. Store personal items here or use
the additional padded dividers (provided) to hold more camera gear. Both packs
come with a rain cover for added protection against extreme weather conditions.
Also part of the line-up are two sling bags.
Mountainsmith added a number of roller cases, shoulder bags, and backpacks
to their line-up of camera luggage. For the day-hiker there is the Spectrum
clamshell-type pack which splits the load between personal items on top and
camera gear below ($89, MSRP). Designed for more adventurous touring, the Borealis
AT ($189) is likewise a clamshell design but tricked out with all the straps
serious hikers expect for lasting comfort. The Traverse AT ($149) is a more
traditional pack with an interior devoted to camera gear but with the addition
of a waterproof injection-molded rubber bottom. The Flightpath AT ($177) and
Correspondent ($229) are roller cases sized to fit FAA carryon regulations,
both with adjustable padded interiors and in-line skate wheels.
Mountainsmith Borealis AT
Naneu Pro has revamped the popular Adventure K3 photo backpack, renaming it
the K3L, with some very noteworthy modifications. To begin, the bag now features
a 15.4" laptop compartment. They also made it more rugged with a water-resistant
1680D ballistic nylon shell and added to the comfort factor with a unique AirFlow
Suspension System that improves air circulation and reduces sweat on the back.
It also has a durable steel spring frame for better back support. The K3L is
a split-level design with room for personal items in the upper section and camera
gear in the custom padded section below holding an SLR with lens (up to 5"
long), plus other lenses (to 6") and a flash. Available in black or blue
for $149 (MSRP). In addition, the Military Ops series features two redesigns:
the Tango ($119) and Sierra ($89) shoulder bags, adding a laptop compartment
to each with a 1680D ballistic nylon body (black, olive, or navy blue).