Gear We Love: Camera Bags 2018 (Part 1)

You have the right camera. You’ve picked up some of the extra essentials. Now—how do you carry it all around?

The BPW has gone to the testing ground to answer this very question. Here, check out three of our top picks for camera bags to fit different needs and budgets. For Part 1, we’ve focused on shoulder bags only—look for Part 2: Backpacks later this year.

Lowepro bag.jpg

Lowepro Passport Messenger Digital SLR Camera Bag/Case

We call this one our little champ! It’s hard to explain why we love this simple bag so much, but it gets the job done, simply and effectively. You can easily fit your camera, a lens, a 13” notebook/laptop, and your water bottle inside. Mirrorless camera users might prefer this bag over DSLR owners because the latter’s heavier cameras and large zoom lenses will be pretty cramped for space. Useful for day trips or hiking, but maybe not your three-week tour of Europe.

Also Comes In:

  • Two different colors

Notable Features:

  • VERY reasonably priced

  • Limited flexibility with storage with no lens inserts of lots of extra pockets

  • Not very protected from curious hands as it only closes with plastic snap catches


  • $34.95-$39.99

Tenba Messenger DNA 13” Camera and Laptop Bag

A great choice for both photography and everyday life! This bag has LOTS of pockets: water bottle pouches on both sides, more pockets on the front (some with zippers and some without), a laptop sleeve and an iPad sleeve inside—we could go on and on. It also has customizable inserts for your lenses and a well-built strap, but it loses points for magnetic closures that are just fine for some, but frustrating for others.

Also Comes In:

  • 8”, 10”, 11”, and 15” (slim and regular) size; four different colors

Notable Features:

  • Looser shape that can adapt to daily life, but might be less sturdy to protect your gear

  • Plenty of storage for everything from lenses to your iPad to paperwork

  • Easy access zipper on top so you don’t have to open the clamshell every time

  • Lots of metal, so it can get heavy, especially if you have a large lens inside

  • Dead end street for accessories—what you get with this bag is what they have available


  • $159.95

Tenba bag.jpg

Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag 13”

This is a high-class bag with a matching price tag. It is well built using quality materials, and it has a rigid form to protect your gear—which can be a drawback if you also want to use it day-to-day and fit in non camera-shaped items, like your lunch or a water bottle. This is more of a piece of camera equipment than it is a multi-tasker bag for other purposes.

Also Comes In:

  • 13” & 15” size; three different colors

Notable Features:

  • Has customizable inserts to fit your various lens sizes

  • Very comfortable with an intelligent design strap that is very adjustable (the best of the bunch here, in our opinion)

  • Great metal closures that are sturdy and easy to use

  • Part of a host of compatible Peak Design accessories, like camera clips, tripod holders, slider straps to go on other bags, etc. A great long-term investment because all Peak products go together.


  • $219.95

No matter which bag you end up with, try out your options in person at retail stores and/or camera shops, if possible. And remember, even if you buy your bag online, don’t hesitate to return it if you don’t like it. It will just end up sitting on your shelf and going unused, so make sure you feel like your money is well spent!

Happy shopping!