New Gear For 2007: PMA Report; Camera Bags And Cases

Camera bags are no longer a mere tool to convey photo gear from point A to point B. Nowadays many want their photo luggage to be as fashionable as any belt, footwear, or handbag. And we still want it to be rugged. The entries in this year's PMA report don't fall short when it comes to being stylish, although a few are more staid and traditional in design. Many, in particular the camera backpacks, aim toward being more comfortable than in the past. The few sling bags I saw have similar aspirations. There were also several new zoom/holster bags, but we've omitted these to focus attention on more utilitarian camera luggage. (Note: In the following report, a "D" attached to a number describing the nylon used stands for "denier," the fineness of the weave, with higher numbers used in the outer shell generally translating into more durable bags.)

Crumpler came on the camera scene several years ago with some alternative designs and a promotional campaign to match, and that has ensured the popularity of this bag line among fashion-forward photo enthusiasts. This year Crumpler entertained us with the Brazillion Dollar Home ($280), a name as unconventional as the design. It features a water-resistant 1000D shell, brushed nylon, and 300D ripstop lining with configurable interior and room for a 17" laptop. The bag can sit on a trolley handle of your roller luggage, rest on a shoulder, or even be backpacked.

Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home

The new bags from Delsey (distributed by Minox) incorporate technology used in this company's travel luggage. One of the featured bags is a roller case (model ODC 61) with very sleek styling incorporating a fully adjustable divider system, with the added benefit of a mesh cover to hold items in place when the front lid is opened. The interior fabric is scratch-resistant microfiber. There is also room for personal items in a roomy outside pocket. The bag also holds a laptop computer and features in-line skate wheels. Similarly styled backpacks are also available. Comes in silver and black.

Delsey ODC 61

The Domke division of The Tiffen Company brought out the Domke F-5XA, a small shoulder and belt bag designed to be rugged and lightweight. The padded interior sections are roomy enough for a D-SLR and accessories. It is made of water-resistant cotton canvas, a material that breathes, minimizing the risk of condensation on camera gear. As with all Domke bags, top-grade YKK zippers and metal hardware are employed. Tiffen points out that Domke bags are the preferred choice of the White House Photographers Association.

Domke F-5XA

Go Photo introduced the Protexx line of photo bags. What makes these camera porters special is a unique lining covering all interior surfaces that is said to neutralize corrosive gases and static electricity that may attack and potentially damage electronic equipment. The company's tests show the benefits after 10 years. Granted, I've never seen camera gear damaged while in any ordinary camera bag, but one never knows what cumulative effects are building up over the years. Currently, the only bag in the line-up of interest to me is the largest shoulder bag, which is actually fairly small, but it's fully padded and will hold an SLR, extra lenses/flash, and accessories.

Go Photo Protexx

The Kata division of Bogen Imaging Inc. extended the scope of the Global Digital Collection (GDC) with the R-101 Rucksack and W-94 Waist Pack, among others. A trademark of these bags is their brightly colored, scratch- and static-resistant interior added to a solidly constructed, reinforced outer ribbed shell that keeps camera gear safe and dust/moisture-free. The new R-101 Rucksack holds a D-SLR with lens attached and more, along with a 12" laptop. The W-94 belt bag is similarly appointed, minus the laptop compartment, and is the big brother to the W-92, with added room for all the gear photographers on a nature hike need.

Kata R-101 Rucksack

Lowepro celebrated its 40th anniversary with the introduction of the Primus AW photo backpack made largely from recycled materials ($279, MSRP). Funds raised from the sale of the Primus AW will support Polar Bears International (PBI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear. This modest-sized bag splits the load, with camera gear in the lower section, which opens at the back. Also new is the Vertex series of backpacks designed for the serious outdoors enthusiast and sports photojournalist (available in three sizes: $189.99, $249.99, and $289.99, respectively). These packs have been ruggedized for all-terrain portage, with a seam-sealed rain cover for added protection. You might say this series is a throwback to Lowepro's roots, with the entire interior section fully compartmentalized, padded, and customizable for camera gear inside a durable padded outer shell. Each pack features an adjustable tripod carrying system.

Lowepro Primus AW

M-ROCK displayed the M-ROCK Extreme modular camera bag system, an extensive line-up that builds upon this company's popular fashion-forward designs with major enhancements, modestly priced and topping out at $200. The medium and larger shoulder bags feature scratch-free interiors and water-resistant shells, with plenty of pockets, and a rain cover. Two new Extreme backpacks accommodate an SLR with 8" lens attached, with room for other lenses/flash. The Zion 523 Outdoor pack comes with a hydration system, neoprene waist belt with compression straps, and a tripod carrying system; the McKinley 524 City pack is a roller case with a laptop compartment. Both packs sport an accessory pouch that sits inside the apex of the bag. Store personal items here or use the additional padded dividers (provided) to hold more camera gear. Both packs come with a rain cover for added protection against extreme weather conditions. Also part of the line-up are two sling bags.

Zion 523

Mountainsmith added a number of roller cases, shoulder bags, and backpacks to their line-up of camera luggage. For the day-hiker there is the Spectrum clamshell-type pack which splits the load between personal items on top and camera gear below ($89, MSRP). Designed for more adventurous touring, the Borealis AT ($189) is likewise a clamshell design but tricked out with all the straps serious hikers expect for lasting comfort. The Traverse AT ($149) is a more traditional pack with an interior devoted to camera gear but with the addition of a waterproof injection-molded rubber bottom. The Flightpath AT ($177) and Correspondent ($229) are roller cases sized to fit FAA carryon regulations, both with adjustable padded interiors and in-line skate wheels.

Mountainsmith Borealis AT

Naneu Pro has revamped the popular Adventure K3 photo backpack, renaming it the K3L, with some very noteworthy modifications. To begin, the bag now features a 15.4" laptop compartment. They also made it more rugged with a water-resistant 1680D ballistic nylon shell and added to the comfort factor with a unique AirFlow Suspension System that improves air circulation and reduces sweat on the back. It also has a durable steel spring frame for better back support. The K3L is a split-level design with room for personal items in the upper section and camera gear in the custom padded section below holding an SLR with lens (up to 5" long), plus other lenses (to 6") and a flash. Available in black or blue for $149 (MSRP). In addition, the Military Ops series features two redesigns: the Tango ($119) and Sierra ($89) shoulder bags, adding a laptop compartment to each with a 1680D ballistic nylon body (black, olive, or navy blue).

Naneu Pro K3L