Camera bags

In the end, I’m clearly going over budget this semester. Pushed the button to pre-order  Everyday Tote.


Personally, I’m hoping for a last minute alternative. The design is good enough, and because they produce it in an Asian country rather than “Make USA Great Again” domestic pride, the price is relatively low.

But the comment section is making me uncomfortable. I’ve saw review that mentioned the fanboyism around the brand, and now I witnessed it. I personally prefer a degree of separation between maker (and politician) and the constituents. The atmosphere there is that the brand is too much of a “that cool dude who’s friend of mine”.

Just like in the local politic, I think this made it difficult to have strong criticism. The persona will be behind wall of fans ready to defend them and saying what they do is right, whatever it is as long as it’s not too obvious (such as killing someone with their own hands).

The community manager is even more a “Friend” role to the community. After the disclosure, there’s even less separation between personal and work. In the end, critics will always get smitten by the community, and even ends up being ridiculed.

Again, like in local politic, I don’t believe this is a healthy environment. Only the most determined to stand against the majority would be able to stand up and voiced their concern. The rest will be reluctant from seeing treatment others before them has received.


So, there’s currently no alternative for the Tote, unfortunately. Well, knowing my luck, probably one will pop up in a few weeks, while my card is being billed this morning already.

Well, my requirements are:

  • Something more fashionable. I don’t have a car, and my photo trip are usually mixed with weekend walk including going to the mall for example. I want something that is not black boxy bulky nylon.
  • Something with large capacity. My usual carry is quite heavy, and since I started holding pen again, that includes notebooks. Next year I’ll be carrying an Edit planner A5.
  • I’m a shoulder/messenger bag guy. But backpack are useful to carry heavy load for long time. I want a bag that can serve as both. Backpack to carry the load for longer walk, and shoulder bag that I can easily access the content.

About the conversion, I’m in love with the shoulder/backpack conversion system used in the Zinnia bag, although the Notabag probably used that mechanism earlier. It allow changing the bag from shoulder bag to backpack in a single move.

Previously existing method includes:

  • Taking off the shoulder strap and loop it through a ring at top and hook it to the ring on the bottom. This is space efficient, but hard to balance the strap length. Also you can’t easily swing the bag to quickly grab stuffs inside.
  • Two shoulder bag strap stowed in hidden pocket. This is bulky and also clunky to set up. But compared to the two methods I mentioned earlier, it’s possible to have sternum strap and generous paddings. It’s also easier to make sturdy attachment to the stress points. Probably this is the closest to a backpack experience without the more efficient weight distribution.

Another issue with convertible bags are actually the common shape. Shoulder bags are oriented horizontally because this maximize the surface you can quickly access when opening the bag. Also, if the bag is too deep, it will be hard to take out stuffs sinking to the floor of the bag.

Backpack in the other hand, is vertically oriented along your back. We’re normally taller than we are wide, even Jabba the Hutt is longer than he is wide. Camera bags mitigate this by dividing the compartment vertically and have extra door to access the lower part.

Some convertible bags do a 90° turn. But these bags have briefcase like stiff shape. Moreover you need something to secure things or they will tumble around like in front loader washing machine.

Camera totes, despite it’s simple design, is ridiculously overpriced (for example, compare Manfrotto’s NatGeo line’s tote to its shoulder and backpack brethren). This one, with the Kickstarter discount, is cheaper than my alternative of Lowepro Streetline 180 or the Thule Covert DSLR Messenger which I later know is not available from local dealers. Both carry considerably less loads than what I need and doesn’t convert to true backpack.

I’ve also considered the semi-DIY route, look for bags and use camera insert. I like the design of Alpha Industries 3way tote. It has pure backpack strap. But I am worried about the shoulder back connection point. It’s not secured down to the bottom and I am worried if it will hold out when filled with camera equipments. Moreover the internal dimension is only 8㎝ while most inserts are 12㎝ at least (why do they always need 1㎝+ foam!?).

Another alternative is the Hakuba Luftdesign 3way bag. But unfortunately fashionable design seems to be not their forte. It’s the usual Lowepro black nylon with boxy shape. The 22cm external depth is also troubling as shoulder bag.

As an end note, bag to the Everyday Tote. The thing I regretted is that they don’t make separate campaign for each bags.

Well, this is my personal suspicion, but I think it’s a marketing strategy. They have their reputation for bags that sold like crazy in Kickstarter. Messenger bag and Backpack are the most popular bag design so it’s safe.

The Sling might survive on its own, but if Tote is released separately, it might underperform compared to the Messenger and Backpack and probably tarnish their reputation. So they put the Tote onto the Backpack’s bandwagon so it can be part of the winning team.

As result, there’s hardly any discussion about the Tote among backers. It’s always Backpack this, Sling that. It’s hard to make focused input to the design in situation like that and it’s the second strongest reason I actually want to cancel my pledge again.

One more thing: despite the bad rep, I actually like Lowepro’s FlexPocket system. It’s almost unpadded and serve mainly as organizing system. If you are using camera or laptop bags, most likely the bag are padded already, and you don’t always need the protection if you think you’re not likely to drop your camera. A minimal protection to keep your camera from bumping on each others is enough.

I’ve tried using bag-in-bag organizer, but their main compartment is designed for paper files. It doesn’t make compartments like camera bags, so you need to make your own dividers.


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