A few weeks ago I posted about how I was looking for a new “in the field” photography gear bag. Well, I’m happy to say that thanks to all of you, I found one… actually two.
Why Two Bags?
I realized that I had some pretty specific requirements. After looking, I found that one bag probably wasn’t going to suffice. Here’s why. First, I wanted a good walking around sling-type bag. Something that I could bring on a long photo walk or a quick trip. But I also wanted a backpack styled bag that could hold a little more as well as a tripod and work well for a good hike (sling bags are okay, but backpacks tend to work better for that kind of stuff).
I Don’t Carry A Lot Of Gear
I got a lot of great ideas from the comments that day. Many of them pointed me to bags that were bigger than I need. See, I’m a light gear person. For my outdoor photography, I typically only bring my camera body and two lenses (Nikon 16-35 and either the 28-300 or 70-200). I need a small area for my filters and cleaning clothes and that’s about it. I don’t carry flashes, brackets, gels or anything else that would take up space or weigh down the bag. So (for me at least), a small bag is good.
The First Bag
The first bag came from your comments. It wasn’t even on my radar and I probably would never have found it if it wasn’t for that post. It’s the Tamrac Velocity 9x. I looked at the bag online and was able to see it at the Tamrac booth at PDN Photo Plus in New York last month. I spent about 20 minutes in their booth, putting it on and off and messing around with it. That pretty much sold me. I walked over to the B&H booth and placed my order. I almost went with the smaller 8x version but I’m glad I didn’t. So far, I’m in love with it. It not only works as a great walking around camera bag, but on my recent trip to Toronto, it’s the only bag I traveled with both on the plane and for shooting. It fit my camera body and 3 lenses no sweat. You’ve got to see the images to really see what it looks like inside though. But I really like the way it slings over your back and pulls around to the front. I found it incredibly simple to get on and off, and to get to the gear I needed quickly.
The Second Bag
I looked at the Kata 3n1 for a backpack-like / sling bag and almost bought it. In fact, I really liked it and nearly had my credit card out to buy one. But then I found the Tamrac bag above. However, I still wanted a backpack-styled bag. I find them easier to move around with when I’m climbing up and down something. I needed something a little larger, that also had a tripod holder on the back so my hands are totally free when I want. After looking around at the Photoplus show I found the Vanguard Adaptor series bag and knew it was for me. First off it just looks great (and yes, that really does count). It’s actually a combination between a backpack and sling bag. It’s got zippers if you pull it around as a sling bag, but it also has a big zipper on the back to get at everything when you take it off your back. But for me, I use it mostly as a backpack. It fits the gear I need (again, I travel light). And the thing that really sold me is the bottom support section of the tripod holder zips in and out of the bag itself. So there’s no extra little part that you have to attach (and eventually lose). It’s got a really large “extras” zip area at the top for sunglasses, filters, phone and anything else you’d want. And it feels really nice on your back. Lots of padding and support. This bag, though, isn’t a travel bag. I don’t envision I’d ever be walking through an airport with it. The way I use it is I pack it into my checked luggage (filled with clothes, etc…), and travel with my larger camera bag to where ever I’m going. Then, before the shoot, I pack the gear I need into it.
Thanks again to everyone who helped out with your ideas and comments. I wish I needed 10 bags because I saw a bunch of really good ones that I’d love to buy. I guess that’s part of the fun of photography right? But so far I’m very happy with the ones I chose. Have a good one!
I have both the small and large bag and they are the best sling bag I have seen. Most other slings you have to take off the bag to get to your camera or risk having the epic dump.. For some reason this bag has disappeared from production.
I totally agree with Matt about the Velocity Series Sling Packs. I have one of their large backpacks that all my gear fits into, which of course weighs a ton and it’s no fun trying to carry it all with you up and down a mountain. But, once I found the Velocity 9x and could get my D800E with a long lens in it, a spare lens and my go to filters it all became very clear. The big backpack with everything stays in the car and the Velocity gets loaded out with what I need – talk about a backsaver!
Quick word of thanks to Matt for your article a while back on the D800 vs the D800E and the difference in clarity at larger print sizes. I mentioned it to you in OKC that your article made the final decision for me on which one to get. Because I shoot landscapes and architectural and do large format prints (thanks Really Right Stuff pano gear) that little bit of extra detail sold me on the D800E and I’m so glad I saw your comparison shots.
Wow its nice bag I think it would easy to carry and comfortable.
I recently purchase this bag after reading about it on your blog….
I have found the weight of the bag with gear loaded to bother my neck quite a lot. Its almost as if the strap could have thicker cushion.. Also I find the excess strap when the bag is tightened up to be a bit of a pain… I think it needs an elastic fastener to keep it together with the main strap… Everybody is built differently but was curious if you found any discomfort with the bag or not… I’ll try it out for awhile longer to see if I can make adjustments to make it work… I love the hands free idea though….
Hi. I haven’t noticed a problem around my neck. I use it a lot but it’s been fine for me.
The straps are longer, but you can tuck them in pretty well.
I reviewed this bag some time back, and although when I got it I was excited it proved to be horrible. Why you may ask? Because I am a woman. these cross sling bags when they are loaded are very VERY uncomfortable for women. I dont know why the manufacturers don’t make an attachment strap that would help keep the bag off of a women’s chest. It would be good.
I’ve always been partial to the Lowepro bags. I tried using a Slingshot 300 for awhile but I found that putting all the weight (about 15-20 pounds) on one shoulder was very tiring after about an hour. Since many of my outings are several hours at a time, often on rugged, remote trails, I switched to a backpack style bag – the Pro Trekker 300AW. It easily holds a body, 3 lenses, filters, cleaning supplies, Gitzo GT3531 tripod with a Manfrotto 286 head, small first aid kit, snacks, 2 water bottles, spare socks and rain jacket. This pack is not as convenient to use as a sling bag and the waterproof zippers are a bit stiff, but even at 40 pounds fully loaded, with all the straps properly adjusted to my body, it’s easy to carry all day long.
Do you have the battery grip on your D800 and how does that fit in the 9x? I usually carry 2 camera’s (D4 w/70-200 & D3s or D800 w/battery grip & 24-70 or 14-24; sometimes the 28-300) so it looks like the 10x is a better fit. Thoughts?
I only put the battery grip on when I do portrait shoots for the vertical shutter button. Otherwise I keep it off and just bring an extra battery with me. So it fits just fine. I haven’t tried fitting it in there with a lens though. It looks like it should fit though – snug, but it’ll fit.
And how to you travel with your tripod? Just pack in it your larger clothes suitcase? That is what I have done before, but wondered if there was a better solution.
I do the same. Just pack it in my big suitcase. The struggle I have is I take a lot of small trips where I don’t carry or check a large bag. In those cases I have to take my smaller Gitzo Traveler.
Thanks Matt, I’m glad you posted this as I have also been looking for a bag to walk around and shoot with. Do you have to have the 70-200 attached to the camera when you put the camera in the bag, or will the lens fit in one of the side compartments?
It’ll work either way Jeff. I had everything separated and off while traveling, but then I did have the 16-35 attached while it was in the bag. Can’t see why the 70-200 wouldn’t fit either. In fact, that’s why I’m happy I went with the version 9 instead of the 8. It’s got just enough extra room that it makes that possible.
I own a small Tamrac backpack. I’ve thought about getting the Velocity 9x when it became annoying having to take off the backpack and set it on the ground and grab my camera in a crowded area like the museum. Ended up going with a think tank urban disguise but I might get the velocity anyways.
Velocity is my second bag and with two lens holders, becomes a very good alternative.
Greetings from Argentina!