Caffeine Priority: Confessions of a bag-aholic


posted Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 8:15 AM EST


I think I have a problem: I keep buying camera bags. Backpacks, messenger bags, shoulder bags, even a roller bag! I've tried large bags, small bags, ones from tried-and-true camera bag manufacturers, and I've tried the DIY, inconspicuous camera bag route.

So far, nothing's really been ideal. Most of the time, the bags end up being too large -- I think out of fear leaving out some important piece of gear. Subsequently, the bag gets stuffed with too much gear -- more than I needed for the given task or outing -- and then everything's too bulky, heavy and uncomfortable. I'm enamored by the thought going "ultralight." It's one of the big reasons why I opted for Micro Four Thirds as my primary camera, but I'm trying to have my camera bag situation follow suit.

The Domke F-5XB shoulder bag. It can also double as a waist pack, if I'm feeling *extra* stylish.

My camera-bag-du-jour is a Domke F-5XB, one of the smallest bags they make. The bag is small, yet it can fit a surprising amount of stuff, I found. No, it can't fit a laptop, or an iPad, but that's precisely why I got it. I don't need to carry those things when I'm doing a day hike or walking around town.

I hated the super-noisey, metal YKK zipper pulls that were on the bag originally. So, after a surprisingly easy quick couple of snips with my pockettool pliers, I was able to replace them with quieter, cord-style pulls from another bag.

The bag carries my Olympus E-M1, 12-40 f/2.8 lens, a secondary lens or two (yay, for small Micro Four Thirds glass!), plus some odds and ends. If I'm only using a single lens, the Domke bag can carry stuffable lightweight jacket and small water bottle (a kids-sized Klean Kanteen fits rather well, I found). There are also other small gaps and spaces inside the bag, as well as a front sleeve pocket for small items like memory cards, batteries, and my small Ultrapod travel tripod.

Small and compact, yet can get a good amount of gear to get me through my everyday outing. Pictured here it my E-M1 with 12-40mm f/2.8 attached, plus the Olympus 75-300mm. There's still some room to spare in the third little compartment on the other size under the camera.

The other nice thing about the Domke is its quickly removable, non-slip shoulder strap. This instantly transforms the bag from a shoulder bag to basically a camera insert. Need to carry a laptop, more clothing or my DSLR? I can now easily slide this inside my messenger bag or a backpack very. Pretty sweet.

I've only had this bag for a couple weeks, but so far so good. Only time will tell if this bag survives my pickiness. How do you carry your camera gear? Ultralight style? Everything but kitchen sink? Messenger bag or backpack? Sound off in the comments below!

An example of some gear that's easily packable in this small shoulder bag.

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Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!