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DSLR camera bag / question for europe

I will be spending 3 weeks in Italy later this year. I will be backpacking and staying in hostels. I'd like to get your suggestions for a shoulder/sling/front bag that I can carry my camera in front while my backpack is on.

Ideally I'd like this bag to also be my day trip bag to hold items such as maps, snacks, a RS book, water bottle.
I need to carry a dSLR with a "normal" lens and a zoom lens (70-200).

Safety is obviously a key issue since it's a lot of expensive camera equipment. Style is not quite as important but I don't want a horribly ugly bag.

Also, I really think I want to take the zoom lens, but I wanted to hear from people who did / did not take it and what they thought.


Posted by
11805 posts

It sounds like you are going to be carrying a lot. Having more than you can reasonably keep track of is a bad idea. The best way to keep your stuff safe is travel light and keep your load compact.

Lots of people swear by their big cameras. I haven't taken a full body with lenses, filters, etc. since a trip through Asia years ago.

Now I take a small all-in-one digital on a neckstrap that I can stuff down my shirt or jacket when I'm not taking pictures. I carry a tiny tripod for putting myself in the picture or taking night (sometimes museum photos).

Posted by
852 posts

Hi Lauren,

At this Rick Steves site's Grafitti Wall, under "Packing Creative Extras", somewhere in there you might find a suggestion that a Wal-Mart diaper bag be used for cameras and accessories because IT'S CHEAP, IT'S WATERPROOF, and WHO WOULD STEAL IT?. All good reasons, I think, especially if style is not important... and those bags aren't horribly ugly (nor are they horribly cute)... lol
ciao ... P

Posted by
19 posts

First, I am with you - I won't go anywhere without the DSLR and atleast one extra lense (I actually find that I tend to keep the 70-300 on the camera more than the normal lense).

There are two approaches to a camera bag - I've done both - but as I get older and my camera equipment gets nicer I tend to go for the more safe route.

1st - do as the first poster suggested and just buy a cheap looking tote bag - the theory being that if the bag is cheap there's nothing worth stealing.

2nd - get one of the pacsafe city safe 200 purses. They have loads of features - mainly that the purse and the strap is slashproof and there's a hook you can use to "lock" the zipper. There's also a thing you can use to anchor the bag to a chair or table when you are eating. They are fairly plain looking (not ugly, but not what I carry in normal life) so won't draw too much attention. The main downside is that they're a little small for a camera, lense, RS Book, and snacks...

Posted by
19 posts

...the pacsafe bags also are a little heavy - even empty.

Personally, I find the peace of mind of putting the camera in the pacsafe bag worth the extra heft. As for the space issue - I tend to travel with a girlfriend who is happy to carry some of my extras in her non-slashproof bag in return for me holding her cash and credit cards. And when I don't, I find that you can cram everything in if you try.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks for the advice thus far...keep it coming!

I did look at the pacsafe bags and some eagle creek ones that zipper. has nice 3D images of all the bags but it's hard to see which ones might fit a dSLR and extra lens and which ones won't.

I am actually going to bring a small canon elph camera as well but I want I am pretty picky about quality photo shots and that doesn't quite do it for me.

Posted by
12 posts

Lauren, Go to and search "camera backpack". I purchased a backpack that is padded and has adjustable compartments for lenses. Depending on the number of lenses you take, you should easily be able to use it as a day pack. It's about the same size as a daypack and can be carried on easily. I think it is a "canon" pack. I plan on covering the name brand with a small piece of black tape to cover up the brand name. It costs $37 and is still available at this time. They also list a number of choices that might suit your needs. Have fun.

Posted by
769 posts

Lauren - Im with you - if youre comfortable with the bigger cam - they you know why your are taking it. Other who are not as photo crazy may differ. I still take a small pocket cam tho (coolpix style) for rainy days or going out for dinner.

Ive obsessed over the perfect bag too - I highly recommend the Crumpler Brand Bags. The "3 million dollar house" bag (all have funny names) fits my cam with 18-200mm lens. The next one down may fit yours too. Its mall enought to protect inside the day pack, abut also looks sort of uncamera-like as a shoulder bag- small enough to put under your jacket or am. Check out or your local big camera store. I took mine throguht the alps and scandinavia... works great!

Posted by
14 posts

I second the crumpler bags - I can't remember if mine is the three or four million dollar bag - but it is very sturdy, there is room for my camera and two lenses and the velcro attachment is stronger than I have ever seen (it also has a clasp). It is a decent color, and is small enough that it fits in my daypack as well. I like this post - it is a reassurance that bringing my DSLR is worth it - although I will have a point and shoot as well.

Posted by
95 posts

After reading the other postings, I went to Babies R Us and bought a plain, black, over the shoulder diaper bag. It zipped, had a ring to lock the zipper if I so desired, had waterproof lining, and two waterproof bottle containers that fit my lenses perfectly. It also had exterior pockets under the flap and inside pockets that will hold my water bottle and MP3 -- the other stuff that goes with me every day. It is from Columbia and had a pretty comfortable strap. Best of all, it was on clearance for 21.99 and doesn't say "NIKON, come steal me" on the outside or strap.

Posted by
1999 posts

Maybe it's just me...

I quit worrying about it. I made sure the equipment was covered by my homeowners and just went on with using it.

I acutally carry the DSLR in my daybag and IF I take the extra lens it just goes in a "sleeve" (I think mine is a water bottle holder) in the bag.

I do not always carry the zoom, it's heavy so I pick and choose.

I don't have a "Pacsafe" nor do I go out of my way to conceal the camera. When it's not in use I do put it away, but....

Posted by
1805 posts

If you want one bag that can do all things. check this bag from High Sierra on site.

It has a zip off day pack that attaches to the backpack to use in front of your body. Here you can keep your camera, and daily need items when in transport, and use the daypack for day trips.

One bag does both things for you.

The other idea, as I've seen tons of student travelers do in Europe, is just buy a daypack and wear it in front of you, your pack with your clothes on your back, but that involves two sets of shoulder straps, and I can't imagine that it's that comfortable, and I would imagine that the straps from the pack you carry in front would slip off your shoulders. This High Sierra daypack attaches by a hook to the larger bag you'll carry on your back.

Posted by
206 posts

For those interested in diaper bags, Eddie Bauer Outlet has some on sale for $20-$30 USD.
I like the suggestions on this thread, as we'll be bringing our DSLR and 70-200 lens on our trip, too.

Posted by
180 posts

I have a Crumpler 5 million dollar home model and it fits my Nikon D300 with 18-200 lens easily even with the hood attached. It doesn't look like a camera bag and is still small enough to be easy to carry.

If you want to carry a bit more, take a look at the larger Crumpler's or a Timbuk2 courier bag with a camera insert added. Bit pricey though.


Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Lauren. I think a shoulder bag (one padded strap, adjustable length) is best for day trips in Europe. The bag that I carry in Europe is the "Sunwashed Canvass Shoulder Bag" (not the Messenger bag) from L.L. Bean. For men or women. Choose from several colors. Price = $ 39. I think it can hold all of the things that you mentioned. I like its small size : width = 10 3/4 ", height = 9 ", 4 3/4 " thick. This bag is very well made, and the contents are secure. The bag is beautiful, but it does not attract attention. This bag is item number KK49552 in the L.L. Bean catalog, Christmas 2007. It might have a different item number at its internet website. ( A shoulder bag that is bigger than that (Messenger bag) looks awkward and conspicuous. L.L. Bean's shoulder bag can easily be put in the primary bag. Or it can be your carry-on bag in airplanes.

Posted by
5669 posts

I've tried a variet of solutions, but one of my favorites is the large Healthy Back Bag. The one I have has a lower zipper pocket that can just hold my gortex jaqcket rolled tightly and my SLR fit in the main compartment. I had room for a small guide book. And for really long treks it has a feature that turns it into a backpack with all the main zippers facing your back.