Affordable and Unexpected: Manfrotto Street Waist Bag Review

I typically prefer backpacks for camera gear. But, when I knew I would be shooting a 10-hour wedding while seven months pregnant, I invested in a waist belt with lens pouches. I parked the heavy backpack, but could quickly access the essentials without adding additional weight to my back. My son is now two-and-a-half, yet I still switch from my backpack to a waist belt for long wedding days. So when Manfrotto announced the new Street Camera Waist Bag — in one of my favorite colors — I was eager to try it out.

You can view this article and much more with minimal ads in our brand new app for iOS, iPadOS, and Android.

The Manfrotto Street Camera Waist Bag is a compact, 2L bag that can fit a lens or two from compact mirrorless systems, a compact camera, or a smaller drone. Besides being worn around the waist, it doubles as a sling. And despite being quite tiny, it can still house a water bottle or compact tripod using connection straps on the bottom. While another extra pocket would make this bag nearly perfect, the Street Waist is a good option for minimalist photographers.

Too Long, Didn’t Read

The Manfrotto Street Waist is a small, “fanny pack” style bag that also converts to a sling. I loved using it as a lens bag for fast swaps, but it needs a few tweaks to be perfect. Hoever, all of that may be forgivable because of a $40 price tag.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Minimalist design
  • Quick to access lenses
  • Comfortable
  • Can be worn as a waist bag or sling
  • Straps for mini tripod or water bottle
  • Great color
  • Really affordable

Cons

  • No SD card pockets
  • Pretty small — only the smallest bodies will fit here, but works great for a lens bag (excluding big telephotos)
  • There’s no strap padding when worn as a sling.
  • Zippers are not weather-sealed.

Gear Used

I used this bag with the Leica M Macro 90mm f4, M Summilux 90mm f2, and the M Telyt 135mm f3.4. I also tested this lens with the Fujifilm 50mm f1 R WR and the Fujifilm 90mm f2 R LM WR. In both cases, I used the Street Waist as a lens bag for holding multiple lenses, rather than holding a body and one lens. And I still was able to barely fit the Fujifilm X-T4 in with the 90mm detached.

Innovations

While waist bags aren’t as plentiful as backpacks and messengers, they’re not impossible to find. The Manfrotto Street Slim isn’t the only bag that converts from waist to sling or even the only one that allows a tripod attachment. But, it sits at a very competitive $40, is one of the few options that are not black, and has a minimalist design.

Tech Specs

Manfrotto lists the following specifications for the Street Camera Waist Bag:

  • Minimum Weight: 0.66 lbs
  • Internal Dimensions: 8.66 x 2.76 x 5.51 in
  • Camera Insert Dimensions: 7.48 x 2.76 x 4.72 in
  • External Dimensions: 9.45 x 5.12 x 5.91 in
  • Volume: 2 L
  • Tripod Connection: Yes
  • Compatible Drones Models: DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, DJI Mavic Air, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Mavic 2 Zoom
  • Material: Synthetic Fabric
  • Types Of Gear: Point & shoot, Smartphones, Mini tripod
  • Type Of Bag: Carrying Solution
  • Water Repellent: Yes

Ergonomics

The Manfrotto Street Waist bag is quite compact. Vertically, it won’t fit lenses longer than about 2.75 inches; stashed horizontally, a single lens under about 5.5 inches can ride along. For mirrorless cameras, I find the small size works best as a lens bag rather than one to carry all your gear. I could fit one lens and my X-T4 body, but I had to detach the lens first. As a lens bag, it fit my two Fujifilm lenses nicely, with a narrow spot between them that could stash batteries. With the Leica M system, which has much narrower lenses, I fit all three lenses and still had an extra slot big enough for batteries. As a small bag, photographers should carefully measure their gear to see if the Street Waist is the right fit.

The Street Waist is a very minimalist bag. There are just two pockets — the main compartment and a velcro-closure pouch that runs the length of the bag and sits flush with the body. The pouch is narrow and partially open. But, you could fit a passport, wallet, or lens filters here.

The main compartment opens with a clamshell zipper away from your body. That makes it quick and easy to access with a full opening. It’s a bit tougher to do when wearing a winter jacket since the flap is away from your body rather than towards it. But, in normal street clothes, accessing gear is efficient when worn as a waist bag.

The removable camera insert includes two dividers. One of them can fold down halfway. If you have a camera body that’s about the size of a point-and-shoot (the size of one of Sony’s A-series cameras), you can use this fold feature to stash the camera with the lens attached face down. Under the folded section, there’s still room here to store an extra battery.

What would make this bag ideal is if it would also have a spot to stash SD cards. I wouldn’t trust the large velcro pouch: they might fall out. Small pockets on the inside of the clamshell opening would be the perfect addition to this bag. If I wanted to carry extra SD cards with this bag, I would have to add a card wallet. That’s a bit of a disappointment since my waist belt is what I use to keep extra batteries, SD cards, and an extra lens at the ready.

The Street Waist has two straps at the bottom for carrying a tabletop tripod or something similarly sized. My Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod was too large, but it also snugly fit a 16-ounce water bottle. The bag also has a quick grab handle at the top.

The strap can be worn around the waist or as a sling bag. With plastic hardware on both sides, you can adjust the fit from one or both sides. A simple loop tucks away any extra fabric. 

I wore this bag mostly as a waist bag, where it’s most comfortable and gear is easiest to access. The bag is so small that it doesn’t get too heavy. It was very comfortable to wear this way and wasn’t tiring at all after a two-hour shoot.

The bag was still mostly comfortable as a sling. Getting the plastic hardware to sit in the right spot so that it’s not pressing on your shoulder took a bit of adjusting. It would have been a bit more comfortable if it had a shoulder pad that you could slide on when you want a sling and slide off when you want a waist bag. Still, the bag is so small that it’s not going to be heavy, so the lack of a shoulder pad isn’t a major dealbreaker.

Build Quality

The Manfrotto Street Waist is made from synthetic, nylon-like material. The buckles and strap adjustment points are made from plastic, which is expected for a $40 bag. They do not, however, feel flimsy for what they are.

The interior dividers are the soft type (which I prefer) rather than the stiff type. They seem to have a good amount of padding to keep gear in place.

Manfrotto has applied a water-sealing to the exterior fabric, but the zippers are not sealed. That means the bag is okay if it gets splashed, but I wouldn’t wear it in heavy rain. Moisture does quickly seep through those zippers.

Ease of Use

The Manfrotto Street Waist is simple to put on — put the pouch towards your back, buckle, then slide the gear to the front. As a shoulder bag, loosen the strap a bit (if you just wore it as a waist bag) and slip it over your head. The bag can sit at your back when walking, then swing around the front for quick access to gear.

Lenses are very quick to access in this bag. There’s just one zipper between you and your gear. Some other waist bags have a buckle to contend with, but not here. And, it sits at the ready right around your waist. As a sling bag, it just takes slightly longer to swing the bag around the front. The only difficulty that I had using the bag was that it was a bit trickier to pull gear out — and see what I was grabbing — when wearing a bulky winter coat.

Conclusions

Likes

  • I like the minimalist design — it makes it easier to tuck into a larger bag when you want to pack more.
  • The waist belt design is fast and easy to access lenses. I really liked this bag as a lens bag.
  • It’s comfortable to wear.
  • You can attach a mini tripod or a water bottle to the bottom.
  • I love the green color.
  • At $40, it’s pretty affordable.

Dislikes

  • I really wish Manfrotto had added pockets suitable for SD cards.
  • It’s best as a lens bag, though photographers with the smallest bodies can put a body and detached lens in here.
  • A dedicated sling bag has more padding on the strap.
  • The zippers aren’t water-resistant, like the fabric.

The Manfrotto Street Waist Bag is a great way to have fast access to a few small to mid-sized lenses. As a waist bag, it’s quick and easy to use. Then, it can easily switch over to a sling-style bag. The gear sits at the ready, yet there’s not any real weight pulling down your back or shoulders. Add in the $40 price and green color and there is a lot to like about this bag.

Two small tweaks, though, would take me from like to love. Adding SD card pockets would help this bag carry all of the must-haves. And adding weather-sealing to the zippers would allow this bag to be used in wet weather. Photographers also need to carefully measure, because this bag is pretty small. I preferred it as a lens-only bag since the lens has to be detached and only the smallest bodies will fit in. The minimalist design would make it easier to tuck into a full bag so that, once on-site, you can just pull the lenses out and go. I also wouldn’t choose this option if I only wanted to wear it as a sling. A dedicated sling would have padding on the strap that this bag designed to switch back and forth does not.

I’m giving the Manfrotto Street Waist bag four out of five stars. Want one? Check them out at Amazon or Adorama.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.