Safe and Discreet Camera Bags for Travel

If you’re a photography junkie like me, you like to bring your camera gear when you travel.  Safety is always a concern though and personally, I stopped bringing my digital SLR because I was afraid I’d always be sticking out and a target for thieves.

Probably the most important thing to consider when traveling with a digital SLR camera is what kind of bag you’ll use.  Most camera bags stick out like a sore thumb and scream “I HAVE EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT IN HERE!”  Whether you’re on the street or in a hostel, you should be careful with who letting people know what you’re carrying.

Earlier this year I began to shop for camera bags that don’t obviously look like typical camera bags.  Here’s a few options:

Think Tank Retrospective

The Think Tank Retrospective series is very cool. On the outside it’s a plain, incognito messenger style bag. Inside, it’s a great camera bag with adjustable padded dividers.  There are several sizes available depending on how much gear you want to hold.  There aren’t a plethora of pockets but it has the basics and Think Tank’s quality is always in the top of the class.

The pinestone model looks like a typical canvas bag, though it feels just as high-quality as you’d expect out of Think Tank.  I like the pinestone since it doesn’t stand out.

The Think Tank Retrospective series starts at $129

Check them out on Amazon and come back soon for a full review of the Retrospective 20.

Tenba Small Messenger Bag

I got to test out the Tenba messenger bags while in a local camera store and I was pretty impressed. There’s a small and a large model available. Both will carry a laptop in addition to your camera gear with the small model carrying up to a 15″ laptop.  Not bad.

There’s a ton of pockets for your gear so you can stay organized. A feature I like is the top has a zipper where you can slide things in and out quickly. Nice when you want to grab something from the main compartment without opening it up and completely exposing your camera gear.

My only gripe with the Tenba messenger bags is that they look like laptop bags.  If you’re trying to stay a bit incognito, this probably isn’t the bag for you.

Amazon has them starting at $95 in a variety of colors.

Kelly Moore Boy Bag

The Kelly Moore Boy Bag may not be as functional as above bags but it’s definitely the nicest looking.  It’s not real leather but the quality is very nice.  The dividers are removable to fit your gear needs and it has quite a bit of room.  This bag definitely wins the “I’m just wearing a cool messenger style bag and there’s nothing important in here” award.

Cons? It’s a bit pricey at $199. They’re available on Amazon.

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag

Here’s another bag from Kelly Moore and it’s the reason I was comfortable recommending the Boy Bag without seeing it.  I bought the B-Hobo bag for the lady in my life and she loves it.  The photos online really don’t do it justice. The work that went into these bags is really top-notch.  She loves to throw a couple of lenses and her camera in it and carry it on her while she’s shooting kids or a wedding.

The pros should be obvious.  It looks like a stylish purse.  The cons are that it’s hard to hold a professional digital SLR body with a grip attached.

Kelly Moore makes a few other styles for ladies starting at $169.  You can check them out on Amazon.

 

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Comments

  1. Lily says:

    Hmm… interesting post, and great ideas. Love them all, but I would go for the first one.

  2. Dan says:

    I do appreciate this post; could you possibly write more about safety tips for international travel? Thanks. And I prefer the third option.

  3. Yuu says:

    I really like the first and second one! I’ve been looking for a discreet camera bag-something that doesn’t shout, ‘I’m an expensive Canon/Nikon bag! Come steal me!’
    The first one looks nice since I’m a student, it won’t say ‘there’s something very expensive inside here’.

  4. JT says:

    I’m surprised this didn’t mention the Cloak bag. The story page on their website reads almost exactly like this post.

  5. Mark says:

    The minute you pull out your camera to take a photo (that is why you took it out with you) attention will be directed right at you and the lovely kit you have on offer. The bag is then irrelevant. Besides, most thieves will twig that tourist with bag equals camera kit. If you’re going to locations where safety/security is likely such an issue then I feel you are better off taking a micro 4/3rds or, for the wealthy, a Leica M9 and less baggage. In the case of the 4/3rds it will look a less attractive take than a nice big DSLR.

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  7. I’d easily go for “Think Tank Retrospective” these bags got the Swag factor while I’m traveling. Thanks for sharing!

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