The Best Camera Shoulder Bags for Photographers

Lugging that camera around just got a lot easier

September 9, 2022 11:47 am
The F-Stop Florentin Camera Shoulder Bag and PeakDesign Messenger bag on a collage gray and brown background.

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There’s a reason that conflict photographers, urban news photographers, and casual shooters alike often reach for a shoulder bag for their camera bodies, lenses, and accessories. A camera messenger bag or sling bag allows you to easily access your gear without having to remove it and makes for a convenient mobile office in a busy setting. Shoulder bags can also be easier to secure than backpacks in a bustling urban environment; simply sling the bag forward to monitor its contents.

Delve through images of war photographers throughout the years and you’ll see plenty of camera shoulder bags. Stroll through any city and you’ll see portrait and street photographers using them. Indiana Jones even famously favored a worn canvas cross-body bag, and though we never see him using a camera; it’s not a far cry to guess there might have been a few rolls of film rattling around in there.

Camera shoulder bags are a time-tested favorite. Here are a few of our favorites on the market from brands like PeakDesign, Bellroy, Domke and more.

An Old-School Classic

A Domke Camera Shoulder Bag on a gray background
Domke Camera Shoulder Bag
B&H Photo

Domke F-2 Original Shoulder Bag

This classic camera shoulder bag is beloved by White House photographers and war journalists alike. The F-2 was crafted in 1976 and was designed for pro photographers. It has instant access for up to two pro DSLRs, four to six lenses, flash, and accessories. The adjustable non-slip Gripper strap truly stays in place, while twelve internal compartments and pockets organize memory cards, batteries, and more. The bag has a bottom stiffener to give it shape and it comes with four compartment padded camera inserts. It also has water-resistant cotton canvas and the brand’s signature steel snap hooks for a look that’s been a classic for more than 45 years.

For Tech Enthusiasts

The PeakDesign Messenger Bag on a white background
PeakDesign Messenger Bag
Peak Design

Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag

Designed with famed photographer Trey Ratcliff, Peak’s Everyday Messenger offers form and function in a compact package. Easily accessible via a secure, single-handed closure, the bag has a 6-liter internal volume. Customizable FlexFold dividers organize camera bodies, lenses, drones, and more, and a dedicated sleeve can protect a 13” laptop. Weatherproof recycled fabric sheds rain, and a stowable strap system increases external carrying capacity.

For Minimalists

A Bellroy Sling bag on a gray background
Bellroy Sling Bag

Bellroy Venture Camera Sling

Slim and minimalist, this sling from Bellroy offers one-handed access and self-compressing gussets to fit a variety of camera setups while keeping the bag slim. A shingleback double-ended zipper creates a super-wide opening, and padded dividers can be adjusted per the user’s preference. Detachable tripod carry straps with integrated anchor loops make it easy to bring along a lightweight, small tripod.

For Street Photographers

The F-stop Florentin Shoulder Bag on a white background
F-stop Florentin Shoulder Bag
B&H Photo

F-Stop Florentin Shoulder Bag

Designed to blend into a trendy urban area such as Tel Aviv’s Florentin neighborhood, this bag is designed to hold a compact camera kit and a few other essentials. It’s also incredibly durable with water-resistant 420D ripstop nylon with a TPU laminate. There’s also a large front zipper pocket with internal organizers and a removable, padded camera compartment. You can also hold up to a 12” tablet behind the camera insert.

A Lightweight Durable Bag

The Think Tank Shoulder Bag on a white background
Think Tank Shoulder Bag

ThinkTank Retrospective 30 2.0 Shoulder Bag

The first iteration of ThinkTank’s Retrospective series proved to be a workhorse. The second version builds upon that foundation, with a lightweight form-fitting design that molds to the user’s body. A new, secure zippered opening under the main flap tucks away when not in use. Otherwise, it keeps many features of the classic, including a 15” laptop slot, hook-and-loop “sound silencers” for quiet opening when needed, and a generously-padded shoulder strap. The Retrospective series comes in six different sizes, pending both the user’s preference and what kind of camera gear is being carried.

The Basic Shoulder Bag

The Luke Case Camera Shoulder Bag on a white background
Luke Case Camera Shoulder Bag
Luke Case

Luke Case Canvas DSLR Bag

This waxed-canvas bag can be used with or without the padded camera inserts, which offers versatility when traveling. It looks like a traditional, basic shoulder bag, so you won’t have to worry about advertising if there’s an expensive camera inside. The insert fits a DSLR camera with one or two extra lenses, and the custom-designed padded insert offers removable dividers that can be folded out of the way when not in use.

The High-End Shoulder Bag

The Observer Collection Indy Bag on a white background
Observer Collection Indy
Observer Collection

The Observer Collection Indy Shoulder Bag

Described as “a camera bag for the photographer who knows the best place for a camera is in his hands,” the Indy’s 2.8-liter capacity can hold small and mid-sized DSLRs and rangefinder cameras. Made in the U.S. from Italian vegetable-tanned leather and lined with Italian suede, the bag patinas with use. An expandable internal pocket holds either a lens or a bottle, and hidden zipper side access allows for easy access on the move.

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