I once watched a documentary featuring David Alan Harvey, in which he confessed to owning hundreds of camera bags which were strewn in various locations around the world. I remember there was a scene where he opened a garage/lock-up, I think somewhere near his main home, and in it were piles and piles of old camera bags.
I am no where near that bad, but over the years I have owned a number of camera bags. I have had several Billingham bags, at least four Domke bags (I almost started to import them at one point, and had visions of becoming a camera bag sales millionaire), a handful of Lowe Pro bags, a couple of Tamrac Digital Series camera/lens pouches, a Leica Compact bag and a host of non-photographic bags that I have used in the past to carry camera related stuff.
However, it seems regardless of the type, the size or the quality of the bag it’s never been quite right. I end up forgetting to pack something, or regretting packing too much and as a result having to endure the weight all day long.
So I have concluded that the best bag, is no bag at all. There is always the temptation to take multiple cameras, multiple lenses and all manner of other accessorises you are likely to never use. This all adds up to a lot of extra weight when in fact all you really need is a camera and a lens, perhaps a spare battery or two and a lens cleaning cloth. At least this is true for my style of photography.
These days I rarely use a bag for my day to day shooting, preferring instead to carry what I need with me in jacket pockets. Only if I am travelling to a new location might I carry a bag, when I might break my ‘one camera only’ rule and take a second with a slightly longer lens than I would usually use. In this case I use what is actually more of a pouch, It’s a Peak Design Everyday Sling. I use the 5L model, small enough to mean you cannot take much, thereby forcing you to keep the weight down, but big enough for some extra batteries, a phone charger, and a couple of rangefinder type cameras. At the time of writing this model has been discontinued but you may still find it available. The new model comes in either a 3L, 6L or 10L capacity.
After years of going out shooting with too much stuff in a bag, I have realised that in fact I need to carry very little with me. Anything I am missing I can usually buy on the day. Sorry camera bag manufactures, I don’t think I’ll be needing any of your products again.