A camera bag in disguise

Earlier this month, I finally bought a Kelly Moore bag after seeing them online sometime in February. Her bags are geared towards photographers who want a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag.

I’m not a “bag” person: I can’t imagine having more than two regularly-used bags at a time, and in fact I only use one bag at a time on a regular basis. I will switch to another if the occasion requires a different bag, but as much as possible I stick to my one bag. Also, I can’t imagine spending a lot of money for a bag; I once saw this fabulous, fabulous bag that I wanted really badly, but it was S$349 and no way in hell am I going to spend that much money on a bag.

However, I don’t think I’ve had as much fun buying a bag–any bag–as this. First off, I love that Kelly has posted video demonstrations of her bags on the website (warning, the first video plays immediately). I was immediately able to zero in on the bags that I wanted, namely the Posey and the B-Hobo bags, and I knew pretty much what I wanted to verify in person with the bags when I went down to TK Foto to take a look at them. The videos are a great, great idea.

The bags themselves are well-done. The Classic seemed a bit too big for me, and I liked the look of the B-Hobo and the size of the Posey. I was really torn between the latter two, but ended up with the B-Hobo because it was bigger (more things to put in!) and while I loved the cards area of the Posey, uh, I don’t have that many cards, digital or otherwise! :p Use of the Posey expects you to leave your wallet at home and use the Posey pockets for your cards and money and whatnot–hence its smaller size–but as an everyday bag, I can’t imagine bringing the bag with me as I nip out of the office quickly for lunch (since I have no wallet).

(I know there are things called pockets, but I don’t always have those contraptions known as pockets and face it, oftentimes on women clothes those pockets seem to be just for show.)

The B-Hobo bag feels very sturdy. It’s a little stiff new, so it needs a while before it softens up a bit according to your carrying style. I was honestly expecting to use it as a shoulder bag, but with the GF2 and a heavy Voigtländer Nokton 35mm lens (it’s heavier than the GF2 body!), I don’t think the weight is feasible for that kind of carrying. It’s padded–the bag isn’t light, but that’s what you get for wanting to bring a camera along everyday ;) As such I use it messenger-style, but I’m giving the shoulder bag way another try (without the Voigtländer lens!).

The adjustable dividers are an obsessive-compulsive organizer’s heaven. Okay, maybe not exactly heaven–what would be absolute heaven would be if there were more available dividers!! The B-Hobo comes with two, allowing you to partition the bag space inside into three variable-length spaces. I think I need at least two more :x I’m a stickler for pockets in bags and anything that helps me organize the inside of my bag. I would love things like a pen loop, and a pocket right in that velcro backing, too! All that said, I am perfectly aware that three partitions for huge-ass lenses are enough for most people–I don’t suppose many people who buy small m4/3rd cameras usually go this far in the bag department, after all. The dividers that came with my bag are a little skewed due to the packing, but hopefully they’ll get un-skewed soon.

(Just a note if you are in Singapore and are checking out these bags in TK Foto: as of time of writing the B-Hobo on display seems to be an older model, as the velcro backing does NOT wrap all around the middle–but the new bag I got from their storage does have velcro all around the center and as such is fully customizable.)

Cost-wise, these babies aren’t cheap–my B-Hobo is easily the most expensive everyday bag I own, selling locally in Singapore for S$209. However, the make of the bag and the feel of it during handling, I feel, makes the cost worth it and the bag a good investment:

  1. It looks like an ordinary, everyday bag. This is good for when you’re traveling, or you live somewhere where people might want to get your camera if you look like you have an expensive camera.
  2. I want to bring my camera every day, or almost every day, and this bag lets me do that and I don’t have to worry about padding for it. Of course, bigger, full-size SLRs will probably be way too heavy for everyday toting along…
  3. It’s very roomy, and can very easily carry all of your everyday things and your camera and lenses.
  4. It’s certainly going to see a lot of use. Specialized bags I have for laptops–my purple Crumpler, my olive Hello Lulu–are currently gathering dust in my shelf, taken out maybe about three to four times a year.

It’s not for everyone–if you don’t need a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag, there are likely a lot more cheaper options for you out there, not to mention just getting a camera insert (definitely cheaper!) to protect your gear in your ordinary, usual bag. But if you’re in the market for an everyday camera bag, then the Kelly Moore bags are likely worth a look. (Yes, there are bags for men, too!)