Looking for recommendations for a travel camera backpack

I’m off travelling in a few weeks (Malaysia and Cambodia, with some time at Ankor Wat), and want to replace my daypack with a bag to better handle my digital SLR. The requirements I have are:
The bag needs to be able to solidly protect the camera plus an extra zoom lens[/ul]
[ul]It needs to be secure - I’m travelling to Asia and I want to not worry about people accessing my bag while it’s on. In the past I’ve used a small padlock which has worked well - but the bag needs to be able to accommodate this (i.e. 2 zip pulls etc).[/ul]
[ul]I want to be able to get to the camera easily while still having it on one shoulder - sometimes there’s not a convenient place to put it down and rummage around.[/ul]
[ul]I want to be able to fit some other items in - a water bottle, travel guide, wallet, sunscreen, etc etc. Not lots though - I will have a full backpack to carry all my clothes etc.[/ul]
[ul]It needs to not scream ‘camera’, to make me less of a target.[/ul]
[ul]It needs to be somewhat suitable for a short female - I don’t want to be swamped in it.[/ul]
[ul]I’d like it to look kind of funky - or at least not dorky.
So far I’m considering a Crumpler Keystone, but it is very pricy.

I’ve also looked at the Lowepro Fastpack which has a great side pocket for the camera - but it’s very boxy, and being a Lowepro will be obviously a camera bag.

Can anyone recommend another bag for me to consider - or convince me that the Crumpler is worth the money?

The Crumpler bags certainly meet the funky requirement, and are secure when worn by virtue of unzipping from the back. I’ve got a Whicky & Cox in my camera bag collection. The thing with it is, you can’t get access while wearing it, you’ve got to ‘turn it turtle’ to do any good. It’s also not the ideal shape for storing gear inside. I bought it, tried it, and went back to a Lowepro. Now it gathers very expensive dust. I love Crumpler’s stuff, and have other ‘non camera’ bags of theirs, but I still prefer a Lowepro for the camera. Mind you, I usually pack a rather large lens (what do you mean, compensating for something?), so I may not be the typical customer.

If you want access while holding the bag, what about a Lowepro slingshot? I’ve not travelled in under developed countries (unless you count Australia in that category), but I figure the bad guys are going to spot camera toting tourists to target, no matter what your bag may look like.

Good luck, the search for the perfect camera bag is an eternal frustration for most photographers.

I echo chicken wire?'s comment about any tourist being a target. I mean that a thief would expect to find in a bag a: camera, phone, and ipod at the very least.

However I’d say don’t advertise too much, so at least remove any labels.

A bit of advice you mightn’t want to hear is to consider whether it’s really necessary to have your DSLR. It’s a lot of weight and being put away makes it hard to catch those fleeting shots. If it’s in your hand, it’s a lot more obvious too. Some compact cameras are about as fully featured as a DSLR these days. I used to carry an OM10 with 3 lenses, and got jealous of my friends with their point and shoots.

Of course you may have very good reasons that require you to use your DSLR. Also at this late stage you won’t be wanting to buy,learn,and trust a new system.

Sorry, I can’t help you with bag choice. Back in the day I just had a just right sized camera bag and my full sized backpack. Now it’s just a cheapo small day pack with my compact camera in it’s own case either in the bag or over my shoulder, depend on how pissed of with it I currently am :slight_smile:

Back in my SLR days, I tried a Lowepro Slingshot (like chicken wire? suggested) and liked it for its rather unique single-strap, over-the-shoulder carrying style. It’s worn kinda like a messenger bag with a chest strap for added stability.

I’m not sure how well it fits your other criteria, unfortunately, except the form factor makes it resemble (in my opinion, at least) one of those newfangled school packs and not a camera bag.

These days, I just shoot with Panasonic DMC-LX3 compact… seems to do everything the DSLR did except telephoto. Sacrificed a bit of image quality, yes, but the size… oh, man, what a godsend.

Oh, you might also want to consider a photography vest. Good accessibility, secure since most your stuff will be right by your chest, you can fit other things in, etc. Match it up with some camo and you might look more like a merc than a photographer… if you don’t mind being an entirely different sort of target.

have a look at the Domke range of bags.
i use one of the smaller f-6 bags they are well made and dont stand out as obviously being camera bags.

Thanks - they look good - but don’t seem to be available in a backpack, which I’d prefer for stabillity if I am carrying around all day.

The backpack I have screams “camera bag” so I don’t carry it in every country, but around the US it’s quite nice. Its a Tamrac Digital backpack bag, Model 5371, which can be found on their website along with tons of others in lots of sizes.

ETA- Oooh, check out the model 3375 Aero Speed Pack 75 dual-access backpack. If your backpack is hanging off one shoulder, you can access your camera from the side as well as the front! Too damned cool!

I think I had a look at that - looks very cool, but I don’t think you could padlock the side pocket - it only had one zip pull. But I’m going to go out and have another look around, so might check it out again.

While it’s true that the point and shoot cameras are really quite good for many kinds of photography, it would be a shame to have the DSLR and not use it. Even dyed in the wool photography freaks, who own or have access to all kinds of fancy lenses and bodies, will travel with a smaller, lighter consumer grade DSLR, and a limited, light weight selection of lenses. It just depends on the nature of the trip. If you’re going somewhere specifically to take photos, then go all out. If it’s more about relaxing and seeing the sights, then trim the kit down. It sounds like the OP has just the one body, and a two lens kit. That’s probably not going to be too burdensome.

You don’t get the picture if you aren’t there because you’ve got too much gear weighing you down. You also don’t get it without a camera. The most important part is to have fun.

I’ve found Cambags.com to be a useful reference when pondering the eternal bag search thing.

I have a Lowepro Slingshot 100 and 200 and love them.
They don’t scream “camera”, and you can easily access the contents by slipping the bag around your side.

As far as securing it, it doesn’t really have lockable pulls, but there is an alternative.

Pac-Safe ( at pac-safe.com oddly enough) makes bags with integral security features, or an expanding steel net that you put your bag/backpack into.

I recommend both products highly.