We usually talk about what’s in a photographer’s bag. But the bag itself, although often overlooked, is just as important.
As a photographer, you need a bag that is up for the job. It not only needs to hold all your gear, but it has to protect it too. You want something spacious and durable. And why not stylish too?
The messenger camera bag has become a classic. And it remains popular with working photographers today. We’ll take you through our list of the best camera messenger bags available in 2021.
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Why a Messenger Camera Bag?
The messenger camera bag is a satchel-style bag with a single shoulder strap. You wear it across one shoulder, with the bag resting on the opposite hip.
The messenger bag remains one of the most popular camera bags amongst photographers. And for a good reason.
They are comfortable and hold all your gear. They’re stylish and inconspicuous. But most of all, they are convenient. Wearing them over one shoulder makes your camera easy to access.
You can dive in and grab your camera before the moment is gone. You don’t have to stop and take your backpack off. And you don’t need to waste time with a bunch of zips and locks. Your hand goes in, and the camera comes out.
10 Best Messenger Camera Bags in 2021
If a messenger bag is what you need, this list is for you. No matter what your budget is, there is a messenger bag for you and your gear.
Here’s our list of the best camera messenger bags in 2021.
Black Forest has a clear philosophy as a camera accessories manufacturer. All of their products are hand-crafted with high-quality materials. Their design strategy is a simple and classic style.
The Rimo I Messenger Bag is the perfect example of the Black Forest philosophy. It’s a bag with a timeless look of effortless sophistication. It’s a bag for professional photographers—smart yet understated. It’s perfect for business meetings or casual trips with your camera.
The most striking thing about the Rimo I is the quality. The bag is made of genuine vegetable-tanned leather. From the feel and the look, you know there’s nothing faux about it. It even has that unmistakable smell of genuine leather.
The leather strap has an adjustable shoulder pad that cushions the weight. The bag isn’t heavy. But the pad protects your clothes underneath when the bag is loaded with your camera gear. It prevents creasing if you’re dressed for a meeting.
At first glance, you might not think the Rimo I is cheap. But once you get your hands on one, you’ll see the quality first-hand. It’s excellent value for money. And we think it’s the best camera messenger bag for professionals in 2021.
Peak Design is one of the leading producers of camera bags. They’re renowned for their durable and protective bags. And the Messenger V2 is a continuation of that trend.
Their backpack camera bags are very popular. And this shoulder bag is just as durable and reliable. The whole bag is well-padded to protect your photography gear.
The main compartment is spacious, with ample room for your DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. You can pack a couple of cameras and still have space for extra lenses. And the Flexfold dividers keep everything separate and safe.
The Flexfold dividers are customisable, so you can change the layout to suit your needs for each shoot. You can also remove them completely, turning the Peak Design Everyday Messenger V2 into a standard messenger bag. It’s ideal for photoshoots as well as short trips.
The Peak Design Everyday Messenger V2 comes in black or ash grey. No matter which colour you opt for, it’s a sensible and stylish messenger bag for photographers. It’s not the cheapest on the list, but it’s one of the best camera messenger bags on the market.
The Billingham Hadley Pro camera messenger bag looks great and performs well. It’s a brilliant combination of form and function.
There are different colour options to choose from. And all of them are a combination of thick canvas and good leather. You can see the quality a mile off and even more so when you look even closer. The Hadley Pro is a well-constructed camera bag.
It has a padded interior pouch that offers good protection for your camera gear. The padded inserts can be taken out and moved around for a customised compartment. And there are two hinged dividers that are great for stacking lenses.
The main compartment is large enough for most modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. And there is enough space for at least two extra lenses. The two smaller front compartments provide storage space for smaller items. (But they have less padding.)
The adjustable shoulder strap is a bit thin. It’s a canvas strap, but there’s no pad for the shoulder, so it can dig in if you’re carrying a fully loaded camera bag. There are also no feet on the bottom of the bag to protect it from wet surfaces.
The Billingham Hadley Pro is on the pricier side for a messenger bag. And it’s not the most spacious. But the build quality is excellent. And it remains one of the top camera messenger bags.
The Lowepro ProTactic MG 160 AW II Messenger bag is versatile and durable. It’s made for photographers who love to work. It’s the perfect bag for if you’re shooting from dawn till dusk.
It’s a messenger bag that chooses function over fashion. And that’s not a criticism in the case of this camera messenger bag. Lowepro proudly put focus on the bag’s functionality rather than how it rates on the catwalk.
The central interior compartment has excellent padding. And it’s spacious enough for two cameras, whether DSLR or mirrorless. You can throw a lens and a small tripod in there too.
The interior is customisable, and you can remove the padded dividers completely if you need to. It was made to be versatile, and it is. You also have a dedicated impact-protected pocket for your laptop. And you don’t have to remove other pouches to access it.
The shoulder strap is adjustable, with a broad pad. It’s comfortable, even if you’re wearing it for long periods.
It’s designed for a life of work, so function comes first. It’s not the most stylish option, but this camera messenger bag shows that you mean business. And it’s excellent value too.
Much like the Rimo I, the K2 from Black Forest demonstrates their philosophy for product design. It blends quality and style without showing off.
The K2 functions well too. The waxed cotton canvas offers excellent protection from the elements. And the interior compartment is padded with closed-cell foam pads that can be changed or removed.
It’s a smaller camera messenger bag. But it will happily house your DSLR or mirrorless camera, along with a separate lens. You can fit your notebooks and a laptop in there too.
The side and front accessory pockets provide additional storage space for pens, pads, and rolls of film.
The K2 has a canvas shoulder strap that can be adjusted for comfort or even detached. There’s a handle on top if you prefer to carry your bag that way.
The Black Forest K2 is a top-quality small messenger bag for pros and enthusiasts. There are cheaper options available. But I doubt they’ll have the same quality. It’s a pleasure to use.
The Tenba DNA 16 Pro Messenger is another camera bag that has been designed for a lifetime of work. The Tenba DNA range has a good reputation in the photographer community. And the DNA 16 Messenger is another great instalment in that line.
The camera bag is entirely weather-proof, so you don’t need to worry about difficult working conditions. And the TPU-coated base is completely waterproof. You can place the bag down on any surface, and your camera gear will be perfectly safe.
The main compartment has plenty of room for your DSLR or mirrorless camera. And there’s a separate protected laptop sleeve. There’s a removable compartment in the central area so you can transform the DNA 16 into a travel bag.
The front and side pockets give extra storage space. And the front two are well protected. The side pockets are mainly for bottles of water, but photographers have to stay hydrated too.
The Tenba DNA 16 camera messenger bag was designed with photojournalists and sports photographers in mind. It’s durable and offers excellent protection. It’s a reliable camera bag for working photographers.
Vanguard has an excellent range of messenger and shoulder bags. And their Veo Range 38BG is the best of their messenger bags.
The Veo Range 38BG Messenger has a ‘double-decker’ design. The upper deck is used to carry your camera bodies and lenses. And the lower deck can store a small tripod and other photography equipment.
The padding throughout the bag is excellent. And the padded dividers can be moved or removed, depending on your needs. The secure rear pocket is an added bonus. It’s perfect for keeping your wallet and personal belongings safe.
The polyester body doesn’t make for the most stylish design. But that’s good if you want to maintain a low profile. It functions well and is affordable. It’s a perfectly reliable messenger bag for photographers.
The Photo Retrospective from Think Tank is a messenger bag for photographers who don’t want too much attention. It’s inconspicuous and doesn’t have any tells of being a camera bag.
The black design is simple and subtle. It’s nothing flashy, but black goes with everything. There’s a basic hood that protects your gear and allows for quick and easy access.
The adjustable canvas strap is comfortable even after carrying the bag all day. But I feel there could be a bit more padding in the dividers.
The main compartment does get a bit cramped once your camera and lens are in there. But there is an array of small pockets for your accessories. And the padded laptop pocket is a definite plus.
It’s a minimalist camera messenger bag for photographers that want to fly under the radar. It does the job, but you may find it lacks space if your photo gear is on the larger side. It’s a reasonable price for a no-thrills messenger bag.
With the CF-EU14 camera messenger bag, Nikon has gone for simplicity. The design is a mix of black and grey. And the structural design hasn’t been over-complicated either.
The main compartment is spacious enough for your camera body and a lens or two. The pocket offers plenty of protection, but you can’t fit a lot of extra camera gear in there.
It’s lightweight and allows for quick access. And the Nikon branding helps you look the part, especially if you use Nikon gear.
As a basic camera messenger bag, it might not meet the demands of professional photography. But it’s good quality and reasonably priced, so it’s a great bag for beginner photographers.
The Peacechaos Messenger Bag offers excellent usability at a very good price. It looks good and it’s perfectly functional for an enthusiast photographer.
Made of cotton canvas and leather straps, it has a classic messenger bag look. It’s casual yet stylish. It’s not appropriate for business meetings, but great for photography trips.
The interior pouch offers good protection. A DSLR or mirrorless camera will fit without issue. You can pop an extra lens in there too.
Once your camera body is in, there isn’t enough room to add a laptop. But you can remove the padded pouch, transforming it into a standard shoulder bag. In this configuration, there’s ample room for a laptop. But you can’t carry your laptop and camera at the same time.
It may not match the build quality of some of the other bags on this list. But it’s a camera bag for casual shoots rather than the rough and tumble of professional photography. And the price is more than reasonable.
When it comes to photography bags, messenger bags are your best option. They’re easy to carry and give you easy access to all your gear. And they look good too.
There are many camera messenger bags to choose from. And I hope our list of the top 10 camera messenger bags has helped you find what you need.
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, there’s a perfect messenger camera bag for you.