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11-08-2012, 06:19 AM   #1
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Another take on the messenger bag question

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Gosh, things can get complicatedÖ

Iíve always been a fan of using a typical messenger bag and purchasing an insert to go in it. However, my second insert in 4 years is now damaged (they seem to unravel pretty easily at the top) and it got me thinking. My current messenger bag has two flaws. First, since itís not made for camera gear, the top opening is too narrow (it actually has a zipper to it can be closed, which means the opening is too small). Second, there is no way to fix a tripod on it.

I have browsed around, found the Manfrotto Unica V or VII, but the only way to store a tripod is with the lower pocket, and that means a mini tripod. So no.

I found the Timbuk2 snoop small, looks perfect, reviewers claim they sell for 70$, but I only found them for 130$ or so (Iím in Canada, but have family in the US so I can shop in both countries). 130$ seems too steep.

There is the Tenba messenger small, I found it for 90$ CND, looks ok but not exciting for some reason.

I found another brand of inserts on eBay:
DSLR Camera Insert Partition Padded Protection Bag 102 | eBay

And there is the Tenba insert which I assume could be more durable than the cheap ones Iím currently using, but it seems identical on the pictures.

What Iím looking for is:

Internal pocket 4xx8x12 inches, no less, not much more
Extra pockets for my filter wallet, some cleaning stuff
A way to attach a tripod
Large top opening
Space to store a 10 inches tablet

It needs to be able to carry

K20D with Sigma 17-70 attached
60-250
A flash
F50 and DA21

This has worked well so far, except for the issues I mentioned.

So Iím willing to hear all propositions. Nothing more expensive than the Timbuk2, otherwise Iíll just get that one. If it was about 80$ Iíd get it. Sierra trading post seemed to sell it for a low price, not available anymore. So if you know of an online seller which carries that bag for a fair price, let me know! Or if a Store in the Fort Lauderdale area has it cheap, Iím interested too.

For the record, I donít like the Crumpler bags so these are out, and Iím really looking for a ďthinĒ bag, not the old style almost square camera bags.

11-08-2012, 06:20 AM   #2
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Just to be clear, either dedicated camera messenger bags or all-purpose bags with inserts would work, but the latter option isn't likely to accomodate a tripod.
11-08-2012, 07:23 AM   #3
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I have a lowepro messenger bag, and it cost me about $40 as I recall. It only fits camera (with any standard sort of lens attached; easily my sigma 17-70) and has two other compartments, which can hold one, maybe two smaller lenses. I've not put much in it as I have a large backpack bag to keep all my gear in; messenger bag is just for going out and about, and I almost never change lenses in the field so don't really bother carrying many.

Doing a brief search, I can't seem to find the type of bag I have, but lowepro have a range of "pro" messenger bags with many more compartments, however they do seem quite a bit larger. However for the amount of gear you're looking at, it may be worth consideration; Lowepro | Pro Messenger AW
11-08-2012, 07:48 AM   #4
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The Pro messenger 160 could work, it's shorter and thickerr than I'm used to, but a nice design. But there's no mention of a tripod attachment, and it's more expensive than the Timbuk2, so it's out

11-08-2012, 08:57 AM   #5
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I modified (sort of) a Tamrac Zuma 5 bag. This is a Photo/PC bag ... although the PC pocket works better for a tablet.
I removed the shoulder strap and put on a better strap (from an older Tamrac bag). I created an adjustible & buckled waist belt that uses the shoulder strap D-rings (keeps the bag from swinging around and redistributes some weight to my hips). The way I fold and secure the waist belt allows it to double as an over the handle retainer strap with rolling luggage. When I carry my bigger notebook & its accessories, I attach its messenger bag (no shoulder strap) to the back of the Zuma bag with double-ended spring clips effectively turning two messenger bags into one. (allows me to treat the joined bag as one carry-on item when flying).

It would be really easy to use double sided Velcro and a couple more inexpensive clips to secure a tripod to the bag via the bag's D-rings for field carry use.
11-08-2012, 09:25 AM   #6
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You can check out the Ona bags, which will accommodate tablets and laptops, but they are very pricey and not particularly tripod friendly. I have the Union Street bag, the thing is bullet proof.

EDIT: Umm, nevermind, just re-read your post. Don't bother with the Ona bags, they aren't what you are looking for.
11-08-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
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Product with great value for the money are the Think Tank Bags. I have the large stealth one as my main bag and love it bits, it was under $200 and fits all my "pro" kit. so I'm sure the little or small/medium ones are much less and may be up your alley. Check them out!

11-08-2012, 09:41 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wired Quote
Product with great value for the money are the Think Tank Bags.
+1 have the retrospective and like it.
Not the cheapest bag but worth the value, its my most used bag now.
11-08-2012, 10:44 AM   #9
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The Zuma 5 is nice, but no tripod holder indeed. I'll think about options to latch a tripod to a bag, that might work but it could also become very cumbersome, that,s why I like a tripod attachment at the bottom.

the Think tank are expensive, still, and too square for my taste Not easy pleasing me, I know!
11-08-2012, 11:14 AM   #10
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I personally like real heavy weight canvas military type bags. They're strong and they store a lot. Rothco makes good ones for the general public. You can buy them on Amazon in various sizes, weights, and configurations. Just make sure from the description and reviews that you're getting one of the heavier bags because they do make lighter versions too. Or if you have an Army/Navy store in your area they carry them.

I also recommend using a good insert. Those cheapies are exactly that, cheap. I have the Manhattan Portage one myself, but there are several others out there that come well regarded. The Mountainsmith is another I've heard is good. It's worth the $40-50. My MP one is very well constructed. That and one of my Rothco bags and I'm set to go and I didn't spend a small fortune to get there.

I got this bag last time, liked it because of all the pockets. It's a little taller and more square than a traditional messenger bag but I like that. Lets me carry tall lenses sans stress upright in the bag. More importantly this bag is sturdy. It can take a lot. Suits me, but they do make more traditional rectangular bags as well. Some with pockets for a laptop, some not. You just have to look up Rothco and sort through the listings to see which configuration you might like. There are a lot of bags and choices. Rothco makes a number of good ones.

Amazon.com: Vintage Multi Pocket Messenger Bag, Black: Clothing

The insert...

Amazon.com: Manhattan Portage Camera Insert (Black): Sports & Outdoors

FYI, I've had mine since April and it still looks new and I've moved it around, changed it from bag to bag, used it constantly. It would have been worth the $45. I paid $25 for mine in the Amazon warehouse though.

The bag is really secondary to a good insert though. I've got messenger bags from Target that work just fine. But I couldn't do that sans the MP insert. That's what makes the setup work really, a good solid insert. I want to grab another insert sometime actually so I can use the military square bag for my extra lenses stuff when I am on a shoot and a more traditional messenger bag for my cameras. It depends upon where I am shooting and what kind of shoot I am doing as to what I use. If I am going to be outside or around kids I use the military bags. If I am just taking the K-x and an extra lens and going somewhere to shoot for me I will often take a regular messenger. There's no need for the heavy gear. Rothco bag is by far the sturdiest bag I own. I use others but that one is my main bag.

Last edited by magkelly; 11-08-2012 at 11:24 AM.
11-08-2012, 11:19 AM   #11
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those Rothco bags seem nice, does the flap open wide enough? that's one important problem with my current bag. Also, is there a way to attach a tripod?

The insert you pointed at is a bit short (10 inches) but otherwise seems nice indeed.

Meanwhile, I found the Tamrac Rally 6 and Lowepro Event messenger 150, both of which seem well designed and have the room I need, but none has a tripod attachment. I haven't found a store carrying the Timbuk2 for a decent price.
11-08-2012, 01:07 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote

the Think tank are expensive, still, and too square for my taste Not easy pleasing me, I know!
Most bags are square, it's the most effective shape so what are you looking for then?
You looked at the retrospective as well?
Retrospective. Shoulder Bags - Think Tank Photo

Sure they are expensive but their value is good, nothing wrong with that.
Take a look at Billingham for fun, good bags though.
11-08-2012, 01:28 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Most bags are square, it's the most effective shape so what are you looking for then?
More of a rectangular shape when seen from the front, the format I'm looking for is about 12 incles long, 8 inches deep and 4 inches thick.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
You looked at the retrospective as well?
Yes. More costly than I'd like but seem well made. The 10 would be a bit bigger than my current setup but in the right ballpark. No place for a tripod though, apparently. And the lowepro messenger and Tamrac Rally are about the same size, at more than half the price. Lowepro in particular I've seen and used often enough to trust.

I'm still pondering how I could make a DIY system for that. Some older bags I've seen had plastic patches at the bottom where you could slip something, a velcro strap slipped there would work, but newer bags don't seem to have that.

QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Take a look at Billingham for fun, good bags though.
Funny, indeed. They're not even that good-looking
11-08-2012, 02:14 PM   #14
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If you have the ability to sew (not hard), then a bag like a Rothco or everest may suit you. That it what I did. I bought a Rothco and camera insert and purchased some waterproof nylon and sewed it under the main flap. For the tripod, I simply sewed two small "buckle" attachments on the bottom of the bag. It works for a light-weight tripod.
11-09-2012, 09:19 AM   #15
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I've a Crumpler, Kata, Lowepro and thinktank, and the lowepro is on a lower level though the other 3 are better made in all aspects.
If you can you need to go to a store and compare them all to see and feel the differnce.

Not saying that Lowepro or Tamrac are bad but they are less and the price is also like that.
How i think is what is $80 more now on a bag a very good bag when it carries $3600 of gear.

For the tripod, i place that on the top of the bag under the flap.
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