These compact camera bags carry just the right amount of gear
You don't always need a huge backpack.
When photographers are shopping for a new camera bag they usually want to know how much gear it can comfortably hold. Some shoots call for a huge backpack that can hold two bodies, a variety of lenses, accessories, and enough trail mix to make it through a week in the woods. But, sometimes less is more. In those cases, you’ll want a bag that holds a single body and maybe an extra lens. As the mirrorless market has grown and bodies have gotten smaller, we have seen an influx of bags designed with a minimalistic photographer in mind. These are some of our favorites.
The Peak Design Sling comes in two sizes, 10L and 5L, and I’ve found it to be a great quick-access bag for a day of casual shooting when I don’t need to lug a laptop or portable hard drive. The sling has a low-profile design, an easy to access loading compartment, flex fold dividers, two stretchy organizational pockets on the inside, and an additional zippered pocket with color coded pockets for items like memory cards. The 5L version that I’ve been using comfortably fits a mirrorless or APS-C body with extra lens with a little space left over for a compact film camera.
A slim back pocket holds a tablet (perfect for on-the-go editing) and a small pocket on the front for stashing personal items.The flex fold dividers are all customizable and the bag can be set up to hold a DJI Mavic drone, the DJI Spark, or even a full-frame DSLR. The bag is made of the same waterproof canvas and zips as the other bags in the Peak Design line.
The straps on the bag are totally adjustable. The Peak Design Everyday Sling arrives oriented for your left shoulder, I found this set up to be really uncomfortable and found the fit much better after a flip. The extra length on the straps tuck into a back pocket on the bag. A third metal adjuster known as the “low-profile adjuster” allows you to readjust the tightness of the bag while it is on your body—great for grabbing your gear while on the go. He 5L sling is technically small enough that it can also be worn around your waist—although I found this set up to be a little bulky for my frame.
The bag comes in black, ash, and sage for $99.95.
The ISM Classic Leather Bag isn’t a camera bag per-say, but the minute I saw this sleek looking backpack I was intrigued. I love a bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag, and if I’m in a situation where I need a limited amount of kit it’s highly likely that I just end up using a padded insert like the Topo Camera Cube inside of a normal backpack.
The ISM was designed for simplicity. You won’t find endless small organizational pockets inside this one, but you will find everything that you need. The Classic version of the bag has a dedicated 15” laptop sleeve in the back and a 12″ W x 17″ H x 5″ D separate pocket in the front: a perfect size for my Camera Cube. The ISM is made of Full-Grain Leather, has a water-resistant nylon exterior, full-grain leather details, EVA foam and mesh padded straps and YKK zippers and hardware. There is a seperate front zip pocket for personal items or small accessories.
The ISM is a sharp looking bag that I’ve found to be ideal for bringing to client meetings or fancy post-work events where a typical camera backpack looks out of place. The bag comfortably holds a laptop, a full-frame body, with extra lens, an external drive, and some personal items without feeling overstuffed. If you are using the bag with a mirrorless setup the bag becomes roomier. It’s comfortable to carry around for an entire day and the classy, understated design makes it fit in anywhere.
The bag isn’t cheap—the all black version costs $225 while the version with gold accents is $235. When you consider the materials that were used to make it though the price tag makes sense. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and a thirty day money back guarantee if you find that the ISM isn’t a good fit for you.
This Norwegian based bag company is poorly named. I covered the bags logo up with a patch almost immediately—sorry Douchebags. If you can get over the bad branding though, the products that this company makes are quite good. The bag company was founded by Swedish Pro Skier Jon Olsson, so these bags have plenty of technical aspects found in gear designed for skiers, snowboarders, and skaters.
The Backpack has a 21 liter volume, can hold a 15” Macbook in a separate back sleeve, and is compatible with the companies CIA camera insert. The bag has a Polyester 600D exterior and a Polyester 200D lining. It features a stretchy water bottle pocket, tripod straps, a separate top compartment, and six individual mesh pockets for your odds and ends.
The CIA camera insert that is compatible with the bag is sold separately for $79. The insert can hold 8 liters of gear and is compatible a mirrorless or DSLR setup. The insert has a fully foldable lid making it easy to see what is inside when The Backpack is fully unzipped.
It’s a sportier and more rugged style, but has a relatively narrow frame for the amount of gear it can pack inside.
The backpack comes in black, grey, red or a special black and red version and costs $179.