Barber Shop Bags is a brand of stylish, Italian-made, (mostly) leather camera bags.
They offer a large range of bags from small (like the one I’m reviewing here) to large, laptop to backpack, as well as accessories, straps, and more.
The main thing that separates Barbershop Bags from other brands you may be familiar with is that most are made almost entirely of leather, and they’re reasonably (and you could argue justifiably) expensive.
A small disclaimer to start with: I received this bag for free in exchange for a review. This has not affected the outcome of the review and I’ve been using it for the past six weeks.
With that aside, let me get started:
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I travel full-time, and although I’ve only used this bag for six weeks, it’s already been to four countries and on six flights.
It’s also been on countless photography adventures, the most recent of which was to the Eiffel Tower in Paris (where I took these photos on the lawn).
The point is, when you live out of bags, and use the bag as much as I do, you want to make sure that whatever you’re using can stand up to repeated, stressful use.
And I have to say, even though I’ve only been using it for a relatively short period of time, the quality seems to be quite remarkable.
There have been multiple instances where the leather could have and even should have scratched, but it didn’t — and there’s no loose stitching.
Of course, it’s too early to give a full testament to quality, but I have to say that I think it’s going to last the test of time.
My favourite thing about this bag is the size. For me, small is essential, as I travel with hand luggage only. That means one backpack and one small personal item.
This is one of the only bags that you can carry as a personal item that Barbershop Bags currently offer.
It’s actually much smaller than I’d have liked, but I’m limited by travel restrictions. My cameras have to go in my backpacks, so I use this bag for my lenses.
If you configure the bag just right, you can fit three lenses inside, just like in the photo below.
This bag contains a Canon 50mm f/1.2, a Canon 135mm f/2, and a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8.
The Rokinon (the centre lens with the Canon cap) is narrow at the base, but wide at the top, so I put that in upside down to allow all three lenses to fit. I did, however, leave the lens hood of the 135mm back in England as it would not fit.
My favourite thing about this bag is that it doesn’t scream “I’m a camera bag, steal me”. There’s nothing to give away the fact that this is anything but a small personal bag.
It’s also very stylish, especially in timeless black, and the small detail of the barbershop stripes is a nice touch.
On the inside, you’re provided with separators to keep your camera and lenses from knocking against each other, and there’s a small interior pocket for wires, filters, cable releases, etc.
There’s a second pocket on the back, and it currently has my cable release in it, but I usually keep my Kindle in it for easy access on flights.
One detail I particularly like is the extra leather in the corners, which also adds to the durability.
Ease of Use
I’ve owned a lot of camera bags — ones that opened from the front, the back (why?), the side, and the top. They all have their uses, but for a bag of this size, I’m glad it opens from the top.
It makes for very easy access, and it remains in sight — good for navigating through crowds and keeping the contents safe.
I did face one issue though, and that’s the strap length.
I’m 6’3″ (190cm), which means that I tend to use longer camera and bag straps, and this one isn’t quite long enough for my liking.
I find myself wishing I had just a few more inches, to keep the bag at a similar height to my camera.
I do like the fact that there’s only one clasp, which makes it easy to get into. Don’t over-pack the bag or leave the hoods on in the wrong orientation though, otherwise it can be difficult to close.
Attention to Detail
Included in the price of every bag is a personalised initial tag, displayed below, with my initials, JMD.
It’s a very nice personal touch. Although I have to say I was a little bit disappointed by the stamp of the letter J. It wasn’t filled in nearly as much as the M or D.
Aside from the very high-quality leather, fine stitching hold the bag together, which really adds to the look of the bag.
The interior fabric uses very complimentary colours and is stamped with the logo of the brand.
Final Notes & Conclusion
If you’re looking for a small, durable, stylish camera or lens bag, then I could definitely recommend The Barber Shop PageBoy Bag.
However, at €319, only a very small number of people would consider this bag cheap, especially for the size. I am a firm believer in that you get what you pay for.
So while it’s a great bag for anyone concerned about carrying too much gear, you might find you get more bang-for-your-buck with one of the larger bags on Barber Shop Bags.
Regardless of which one you choose, I have confidence that the design and the build quality will impress you.
And for extra assurance, I will be updating this review over the next year if any part of the bag doesn’t live up to my expectations.