Whether you’re a professional photographer or just a casual shutterbug, at some point you’ll find yourself looking at bags, trying to find the perfect one for a long trip. The requirements for a travel bag are a bit different than a standard bag you’d use to carry your camera and gear to a photography site for an afternoon. Although you’ll still want easy access and lots of room, you’ll be concentrating more on what makes a bag sturdy enough for traveling long distances.
If you’re going to be flying across country or hopping on and off trains, you’ll want a bag that makes it easy to cart your gear around when not in use. Since you’ll also probably be contending with luggage and a laptop, finding a selection of bags that make it easier to juggle everything is crucial.
Look for bags that are sturdy enough to haul everything you plan on carrying without sagging or wearing out too quickly. High density, closed foam dividers are an important feature. You won’t always be in complete control of your bags when traveling. Don’t let your equipment be damaged because someone on the plane manhandles your bag while they’re trying to cram their own carry on luggage into the overhead bin. Most travel worthy bags will be fairly large, but you do want to try out all of your gear inside it before you actually take it on a flight or train trip. Does it hold the heaviest equipment without straining at the seams? Is there sufficient cushioning around the outside edges to protect your camera in the event the bag is dropped?
Consider bags that feature a separate laptop compartment. Let’s face it; if you’re traveling with your camera, you’ll want your laptop along for the journey so you can download pictures any time you want. There are several really good camera cases that feature padded laptop compartments that you’ll really appreciate the longer you’re traveling. It’s one less bag to have to lug around between locations and keeps all of your sensitive gear in one bag, which is a bonus when going through airport security.
Rolling bags are very popular with frequent travelers because you can simply pull the bag along behind you rather than carrying it. It takes the strain off your shoulders and helps you breeze through airports and train stations without constantly bumping into others with your oversize camera bag. Look for rolling camera bags with adjustable handles to give you some versatility. Ball bearing wheels or swivel casters are both good options for a smooth ride and easy maneuverability.
One great option for photographers who travel a lot is to get a removable trolley, sometimes called a modular trolley, that works with your camera bags to convert a standard bag to a rolling camera bag. These usually come with an adjustable handle and fasten securely onto your current camera bags with Velcro straps. The beauty of these is that you can use any of your camera bags with it, so if you’re going on a long trip you can take that industrial sized camera bag, but switch to a smaller bag for a shorter excursion. You can easily detach the trolley and fold it up to stow in a luggage compartment or closet, then reattach it to any of your camera bags the next time you need it. It saves having to swap out your gear while on the road.
Once you’ve decided the key features you need for your next trip, be sure to compare features of several travel or rolling camera bags and then pick the one that seems right for you. michael kors bags blue