Protecting Your Gear
Ortlieb Waterproof Camera Bags

Who says there's nothing new these days? We just learned of an interesting line of small camera bags designed specifically for the active outdoor photographer. These bags are for those individuals who are more concerned about protection from the elements than instant access to a bag's contents.

This is accomplished by replacing sewn seams with welded ones and replacing traditional snap locking flaps with a labyrinth water-tight closure and using a special fabric that is actually waterproof--not just water repellent. Although these new bags are considered waterproof, dust-proof, and sand-proof, they are not submersible. The special roll and snap labyrinth closure will not admit water (when closed properly) in a quick dunk or spill, but prolonged submersion would allow water to find its way into the bag.

These bags are designed to last a lifetime and are constructed of Dupont Cordura fabric which is laminated with a solid sheet of urethane resulting in an absolutely waterproof exterior. All panels and hardware are welded together so that all seams and joints are fused creating a bond stronger than the fabric itself.

Unique Camera Bags. There are just three styles of the small bags and one is offered in two sizes. The Aqua-Cam bag is rectangular and big enough to accommodate an SLR body, three lenses, and a flash unit. There are two sizes and both are offered in black or red-black covers. The Aqua-Zoom bag (which we had a sample of) will easily hold an AF SLR with a tele-zoom lens plus a few extra rolls of film. For those with smaller point-and-shoot 35mm, APS or digital cameras there is the Protect bag which is large enough for one small camera and some extra film.

Our sample was indeed different from the literally hundreds of different camera bags seen through the years. The exterior has a smooth, seamless appearance. All joints and attachments are welded rather than stitched and look like they should be extremely durable. On the back are two flaps for carrying the bag on your belt. On each side are two "D" rings, one for a supplied, adjustable length, shoulder strap, the other for an optional waist strap. A plastic receptor accepts a spring buckle on an adjustable length strap at each end of the unique roll-up closure device.

To open the bag you release both buckles then unfold the flap about four turns before gaining access to the interior. A flat strip of stiff plastic makes it easy to refold the flap. The interior is a smooth plasticized material. Securely welded to the interior is a stiff foam cradle ending in a "U" shaped bottom. The front and back of the cradle have a hook and loop fabric onto which you can position two foam support loops which will suspend your SLR with a tele-zoom lens so it does not just drop to the bottom and rest on the lens or lens hood. There is room enough above the camera body to hold about six rolls of boxed 35mm film.

When you are actively using the bag you can leave the roll-up closure flap open for easier access to the contents. Then when you want to travel and protect the equipment from the elements, simply roll the flap closed, snap the locks and the case is now weatherproof for any outdoor situation. Admittedly, the contents are not as easily accessible by this closure method, but they sure are safe from potentially harmful moisture, dust, or other damaging conditions.

Contact Ortlieb USA L.L.C., 1402 20th St., N.W. Suite 7, Auburn, WA 98001; (800) 649-1763;