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I’ve been buying photo gear for nearly 30 years, and I find nothing more gratifying than shopping for a new camera bag. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit obsessive, and I love the opportunity to find a new place for my gear and then put everything in its place. Or maybe it’s just because camera bags are so practical and versatile, and you usually get a lot of bang for your buck. There are a variety of options in bags and cases, including shoulder bags, satchels, backpacks, roller bags, sling bags and hard cases. In other words, there’s a bag that’s perfect for the way you shoot, the gear you use and where you use it—no matter what that may be.
Jim Domke designed his first camera bag to solve a problem. As a newspaper photographer, he wanted a bag that was compact, simple and easy to use, so he made one. Thirty-five years later, the same principles still reside in Domke bags, including the new RuggedWear series. The standard is the F-2 Shooter’s bag, capable of holding two pro DSLRs, five lenses and accessories. Since Domke bags get better with wear (like a favorite pair of jeans), the RuggedWear bags feature already broken-in distressed cloth (actually a waxed canvas that also makes the bags more durable and weather-resistant). Unlike traditional Domkes, though, the RuggedWear line isn’t machine-washable. List Price: $229.
For carrying quantities of camera gear and accessories while still providing quick and easy access, the camera bag standard is the traditional, padded shoulder bag. Tenba has a new one in its ultralight Discovery lineup, the aptly named Large Shoulder Bag. Built for photographers on the go who don’t want to be weighed down by the bag itself, this nearly two-pound bag can carry two DSLR bodies, five to seven lenses, an external flash and accessories. A weather-resistant nylon shell and a waterproof bottom panel keep the bag and its contents protected in inclement weather, and the contemporary design and color options give it a stylish appearance, as well. List Price: $120.
Clik Elite’s philosophy is simple: Sometimes photography isn’t a hobby, it’s a sport. So the company makes camera bags that are more akin to performance athletic equipment. Enter the Volt ClikStand, a framed backpack that does double-duty as a light stand. Designed with an equipment stand built in, you can set the large ClikStand on the ground while keeping the valuable equipment inside elevated above muck, mud and snow. The stand can also serve as a tripod or holder for lighting equipment. A tall bag with a modular interior that can be reconfigured to hold a variety of camera and lighting equipment (including bulky umbrellas and stands), the ClikStand offers a number of configurations to fit nature and travel photographers especially well. List Price: $425.