Six of the Best Camera Bags for Photographers Living in Cities

These camera bags are essential for any modern photographer living and working in a city.

Nothing feels worse than being underprepared for a shoot or having a piece of equipment not work when you’re out in the field shooting photos. Part of this is sometimes caused by ineffective protection from camera bags: trust me I know. For a long time, I couldn’t find a camera bag that I really liked and so I tried to modify and make my own. But what so many camera bags have that differentiates them from other kinds of bags are ways to weather seal the contents of the bag. On top of that, there is usually some sort of padding that will protect your gear from bumps, falls, etc. These are absolutely essential when you’re a photographer traveling in a city and often taking public transportation or even walking and riding a bike. So we went through our reviews and rounded up some of our favorite bags just for you.

Tenba DNA 15 Backpack

What Makes it Special: The Tenba DNA messenger bag was designed based off of their DNA messenger lineup. It’s a fantastic and incredibly functional camera bag with lots of pockets, smart ways of packing away your gear and incredibly comfortable ergonomic support in the backpack straps. We’ve packed lights, flashes, small light modifiers, lenses, and cameras in here in addition to film, light meters and more. Just watch out when you’re on public transportation.

In our review, we state:

“The Tenba DNA 15 Backpack has been with me through heavy snows in Canada, heavy snows in NYC, rain in NYC, airports, airplanes, subways, and on hikes. I’m amazed at how durable it is. The material on the outside isn’t the sexiest, but it’s functional and doesn’t get dirty very easily unless someone has done something like put chalk on a picnic table. Considering the privileged folks who inhabit the Williamsburg waterfront, that’s bound to happen if you’re in the neighborhood! But luckily, it all wipes off easily.”

Buy Now $198: Amazon

Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L

What Makes it Special: The Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L is a really great option for the photographer on a bike that needs mobility and probably won’t carry a lot of gear with them. You can dump the essentials in there for your convenient carry.

In our review, we state:

“In my tests, I was very impressed and pleased with the Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L. It survived a rain shower like it never happened and it’s incredibly comfortable. Some of their bags I never thought were great for those of us who enjoy a burger a bit more than the FDA recommends, but the expandable strap on this makes me think differently.”

Buy Now $99.95: Amazon

Oliday Journeyman

What Makes it Special: The Oliday Journeyman is made right here in America and perhaps the most unique backpack on this list. You can pack away a tripod, separate your gear in the top or bottom section, and then use the magnetic pockets to store all that other stuff. It’s fancy and functional. Most of all, the straps are super comfy.

In our review, we state:

“I’ve taken the Oliday Journeyman in the rain, snow, hail, sleet, on the subways, in airplanes, into the desert, etc. It’s been everywhere with me and I always enjoy just how durable it is. Nothing has fallen apart and it continues to accumulate wear but always holds up.”

Buy Now $125/155: Amazon

Cravar Rana

What Makes it Special: The Cravar Rana is designed with all vegetable leather and is made to be comfortable, fashionable and functional. It has weather resistance, a fair amount of pockets, adequate protection for your gear, and because of the design, it will more or less always keep its shape.

In our review, we state:

“I think the CRAVAR Rana 13 messenger bag is a fantastic option. However, what I’d love to state outright is that it does nothing special over a number of other bags except provide full gear protection in a leather messenger bag. To be fair, innovation is really tough to find in the camera bag world these days at this price point. The CRAVAR Rana 13 will make the most sense with mirrorless camera users that may also want to bring their laptops with them. But more and more these days, I find myself bringing my images home to edit on my iMac. This bag would be great if I’m on location away from Brooklyn though; and for that I’ll surely use it.”

Buy Now: Cravar

Manfrotto Manhattan Changer

What Makes it Special: The Manfrotto Manhattan Changer has the ability to go from tote bag, shoulder bag and then backpack with ease. It’s designed to accommodate just enough gear so that you don’t overpack it. The interior padding is a bit odd, but it’s still very functional.

In our review, we state:

“The absolutely amazing thing about the Manfrotto Manhattan 3-Way Shoulder Bag Changer 20 is that, throughout the entire time testing it, I had legitimate usage reasons for all three configurations. Whether going into the subways, hiking up a hill, running the bag through airports with the WANDRD PRVKE Pack on my back as my main travel bag, going to a number of events, shooting film along the shore line, hanging out with friends, etc., I had a major reason to configure this bag into something else at one time or another. For that reason, I not only can recommend it for the NYC and city photographer in general, but for the travel photographer who brings all carry-ons on a flight simply because you’ve lost all sort of faith in the TSA. When you’re needing to go to a shoot and an airline loses your luggage, it makes a whole lot of sense to keep all your stuff with you when travelling. What’s also really nice is, because this bag can hold my cape on the bottom, it can double as being something very comfortable for those moments where you just want to lay down in the grass under the stars at night.”

Buy Now $71.94: Amazon

Hawksmill Sloane Street Messenger Bag

What Makes it Special: The Hawksmill Sloane Street bag is an extremely high end option. Cashmere, leather, canvas, and better build quality than a Billingham bag. This is a bag to walk into meetings with.

In our review, we state:

“Tenba, ONA, Peak Design, z-Kin, and Think Tank all create well-made messenger bags; but Hawkesmill makes Well-Made messenger bags. This bag survived a slurry of rain in New York, a bit of snow, travelling through airport scanner after scanner, etc. What really impressed me though what the implementation of the turning knob. When the bag has been packed with gear, I’ll sometimes grab the suitcase handle in a hurry and the knob will turn and relieve its weight by opening up. But it’s never come apart. In some ways I prefer this, but for what it’s worth absolutely nothing is beating the Peak Design locking mechanism.”

Buy NowHawkesmill