The Best Travel Accessories for Camera Gear
When it comes to camera gear, I can be a little paranoid about protecting mine. A little over a year ago my camera suffered some impact damage, and after a year of continual problems and expensive repairs, I've had to get rid of it.
Right now I'm in the process of buying a new camera, which is not only expensive, but very inconveniently timed since I always tend to use my camera the most during the summer months. The initial damage happened while on my honeymoon - I don't know how, but it did - and since then I've had to learn the hard way that it pays to take extra precautions to protect your gear. From bags and backpacks to accessories that making reaching for your camera as little of a hassle as possible, here are some of the best photo-friendly travel gear options I've found.
WNDRD | PRVKE Pack ($185 / $265)
This versatile pack is advertised as something that can be used by photographers, travelers, and even for just the daily commute. Created by two brothers who are passionate about photography and adventure, this bag is littered with features that make it attractive, but is still able to maintain a sleek look.
PROS: The bag has a side access panel that allows a quick reach for your camera. Straps on the side make it easy to carry a tripod. The camera cube has a protective but ultra-thin foam that allows for ample lens and camera storage. There's also a laptop sleeve, passport / accessory pouch, and the expandable roll top and you've got an overall incredibly versatile bag that doesn't scream "camera bag."
CONS: It's heavy. The 21-Liter is heavy, and I can only assume that means the larger 31-Liter is even more so. Because it's heavy, it can be inconvenient to swing the bag around to reach the side access. It's also expensive. The bag alone is $185, and the photography friendly bundle that comes with the camera cube, sling and other accessories will put you back $265.
I love, love, love the Peak Design Messenger Bag, but that's more practical for everyday use or when the only thing you really want to carry around is your camera gear. It looks sleek and unassuming, and is attractive enough for everyday use.
PROS: The nice thing about their backpack are the awesome organization panels that make arranging your gear - and protecting it - easy. This backpack also has an awesome side-access panel, laptop sleeve, and room for accessories like a tripod. I also like the expandable side pockets that lay flat but open up for plenty of room for a water bottle. No pack is complete without a place for water, in my opinion. There's also some great storage in the side access panel for things like lens caps, SD cards and cords.
CONS: Not a huge fan of the seat-belt type straps, and it seems like it might be easy for thieves to get into if you're in a crowded area. Even though the vertical organization is great, there's also not a lot of extra room for other things you may want to carry. The laptop sleeve can also be very tight and difficult to get a laptop into.
This is by far the most expensive bag, and I don't personally own one so I don't know if this bag is worth the price tag. I do, however, love leather bags and accessories, so I love the aesthetic look of this bag. It's beautiful, but also seems to be very functional for the people I know who do have it. (They're out of stock right now, but I'm signed up to see when they come back.)
PROS: Like I said, it looks beautiful. Like the other two bags, it has a side access panel, and also has a water bottle pocket on the side. There's plenty of room for extra storage since the bag is divided in two - an open top area and a bottom that can be separated just for camera gear (or shoes or something like that, if you want). For laptop storage, there's a separate sleeve just for that.
CONS: Leather bags can be tedious to carry, especially if it's hot out. It's also pretty heavy, and doesn't have many safety or weatherproof features, like the other bags. And, of course, there's the price.
There's a time and place for all different types of camera straps (except the ones that come with your camera - those should just be chucked in the trash upon arrival), but my go-to favorite is the sling style that makes it easy for carrying and keeping out of the way. Peak Design has an awesome version that is sleek and has a few extra features that make it stand out. If you aren't familiar with Peak Design's unique connection system, make sure you check it out.
PROS: It's extremely versatile, and you can wear it no matter your height since it's a snap to adjust. The connection system also makes it easy to take on and off and switch with any other Peak Design strap. Plus, it's tripod compatible, which means you don't have to unscrew a bottom connector, like with most other slings.
CONS: The strap, while comfortable, does begin to slip after time and calls for fairly regular readjustment, which is something that nobody really wants to deal with.
Unless you're a professional landscape photographer, you probably won't need a tripod for more than 5-10% of all your photographs. Even then, you can probably get away with just balancing your camera on something else. This tripod is travel friendly since it's so flexible, and it's something you can bring along and not be upset if you don't use it.
PROS: Unlike other tripods, this one is flexible and allows you to attach it to just about anything. That feature also makes it easy to store, which is also nice. If you spend the extra money for the ball head attachment, there's even more flexibility since you can have the camera at any angle.
CONS: It can be tedious and heavy to carry if you're not a pro, and it can also be kind of hard to set up and balance since you have to wrap the legs around stuff most of the time.
The one I've linked to is the Peak Design Field Pouch, but you can find these all over the place in various sizes. They're good to have since it's never any fun to dig through cords upon cords and SD cards galore. It's good for holding batteries, filters...and just about anything else you'll need.
There really aren't any pros or cons, since all the pouches serve essentially the same purpose and don't do anything but add some organization to your gear.
For the last year I've been trying out and searching for different travel gear that also happens to be photo gear friendly and practical. While I have a couple messenger style camera bags that I use while just at home, finding something that makes a good carry-on and also works for day-to-day travel activity has been a challenge. From talking to friends and other people who travel frequently, I know that it's an ongoing search for many. I'll probably always be on the lookout for the "perfect" camera/adventure bag combination, but there are some amazing products out there worth trying right now.