There was a time when I lived with a Timbuk2 messenger bag on my back. The thing accompanied me everywhere; in fact, years later I still have that damn bag, and although it looks a bit beat-down it is in decent shape and completely functional. Now that I’m 10 years older and my back started bothering me, I ended up making a switch to backpacks. Although I still have a few messenger bags around, I tend to go with packs.
These days I tote a camera with me everywhere. It started off as a point and shoot, holstered in a cell phone pouch on my bag. Eventually I realized I’d rather carry an SLR and deal with the extra weight. Since I became a full time photographer, it hasn’t been an option and I carry full size camera daily. My go-to walk around set up is a Canon 7d with a 17-40L lens, but I often carry spare glass, batteries, transceivers and a speedlite in addition to the lens and body. And while I have a few different packs I rotate through to tote my gear, sometimes it is nice to be able to stop and slide a bag around to quickly access my camera, so I picked up a Timbuk2 Snoop Camera bag to try it out.
The Snoop isn’t that much different from my classic bag from Timbuk2, but there are a number of nice features that have been refined since my first bag purchased back in the day. The cam buckle is improved over my vintage model, and a welcome upgrade. I also have an older commuter laptop messenger bag from Timbuk2 and unlike that model, the Snoop performs well when getting around by bike.
I couldn’t decide on which size to go with, so I went with the medium for maximum flexibility. I often have to carry clothing and accessories for shoots, and reasoned that a bit of extra space was better than not having enough. The medium has a good amount of storage capacity, and works well if you’re into carrying a one-light strobist style kit around with you. I can easily portage a speedlite, two pocket wizards, and spare lens and a lens attached to my camera body. There are also several zipper pockets for batteries, memory cards or whatever additional accessories you might want to tote around with you. I also am able to pack a few items of clothing on top of things, which is handy since I do a lot of lifestyle photography for a clothing company. The bag also boast the ability to carry a lightstand or tripod via two adjustable straps on the bottom of the bag.
The Snoop messenger bag doesn’t look much different from my standard messenger bag, which is nice when shooting in what could be sketchy urban environments. (like their other bags, it’s also water resistant without needing to pull our a rain fly) Other than the two cinch straps on the bottom of the bag (pictured above) it is a stealthy way to carry some high end gear. Like all messenger bags, access to the camera is quick and easy — just slide the bag around and retrieve your stuff. There are two velcro covers/ silencers for when you want to be stealthy, and I found them to be a nice addition as well as functional.
If you don’t need to carry your camera, the camera insert is removable. It also features movable walls that can be customized for your particular setup.
On the bike, you’ll want to load the bag carefully. (this tends to be true with any messenger bag) Messenger bags tend to carry their load and hang diagonally across your back. With the camera block inserted and loaded with gear, the bag is happiest hanging flat, and with a big load it can be weird to ride with. I pretty much have to always use the cross strap to ride with a loaded pack. Again, this is typical of a messenger bag, but if you’ve never ridden with a fully loaded bag it might be something helpful to know.
In hindsight, I regret going with the medium size and wish I had chosen the small or even the extra small. While the medium has great storage capacity, I’ve come to remember why I moved away from messenger bags in the first place. For short trips the load isn’t that bad. Unfortunately, like a number of photographers (or so my chiropractor tells me) I have back issues from time to time, that are aggravated by the single shoulder setup. The medium size is also pretty bulky if you’re trying to squeeze through a crowded bar in say, a music venue. Had I known what I know now, I would have chosen the small and gone with a bit of a more minimal setup and stuck to my regular pack for when I had bigger loads. All said, like other Timbuk2 bags, the Snoop is solidly constructed, and I have no doubt it’ll last.
Check it out: Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Messenger Bag
Buy it on Amazon.com (purchasing it via this hyperlink helps support this site)