In planning for our trip, I decided a bag that holds both my camera and other stuff (wallet, notebook, water bottle etc) would be useful. Even better, a bag that could carry those things and my laptop; I could use it as carry on luggage and for uni.
Camera bags and protection
What I found was,
- Sinking Barge by Crumpler – I would love to own this bag, it seems perfect for my purposes. However, it’s expensive (AU$275) and it’s also extremely difficult to get. There’s only couple of Crumpler shops in the city area, otherwise no one stocks it – even the website is out of stock.
- Tamrac bags – the Adventure 6 is ok, but pretty large for a bag that doesn’t hold a laptop as well. The Adventure 9 holds a laptop, but is enormous and holds more camera equipment than I own. The Aero 80 is also huge.
- Lowepro make good sturdy bags that are neither compact or cheap, nor particularly attractive. You get what you pay for in terms of functionality and protection with these bags, but they are fairly conspicuous as camera bags.
- DIY camera backpack – a bit of a scary concept. 😛
- Domke wraps – easily my second favourite choice. They wrap around your equipment to protect it within a normal bag. There is only one supplier in Australia who doesn’t have a shop, so you need to order online or over the phone.
Make it yourself
I could have ordered some Domke wraps from DVdreamtime, the guy on the phone was very nice and thought that he could get them to me in time. However, I thought it might be the kind of thing I could try to make myself.
Since I haven’t seen Domke wraps in person, I’m not really sure what they’re like. The pictures make them look more flexible than what I’ve come up with. The inner lining is non-scratch material and I think the Velcro is able to stick anywhere on the outer material.
Step 1 – the materials
You could use whatever you think would do the trick. I’ve used polar fleece (1m @ $6.99/m, quilt padding ($5 for the smallest roll… way more than I need!) and Velcro ($2.75/m).
Velcro doesn’t stick to the polar fleece, if you can find Velcro-friendly material, that would work well.
I used a sewing machine to piece it all together. If you don’t sew I’m sure you could come up with a way to use glue, double sided tape, or iron-on hemming (double-sided, sticks to material when heated).
Step 2 – the size
After wrapping some material around my camera (with the lens on) I decided that 38cmx38cm would be large enough.
FYI: 1 inch = 2.54 centimetres
So, 38cm is about 15in.
I cut a piece of fleece about 77cmx39cm (0.5cm extra each side for seams). Folded it, and sewed the two opposing sides.
Step 3 – sewing it up
Then I inserted a piece of padding into the middle of the square. The padding adds a few centimetres to the whole size of the wrapped up camera. It might not be necessary to use padding at all, since the polar fleece is quite thick and soft.
I sewed around all the edges and sealed the open edge.
Step 4 – adding the fasteners
I sewed 1 inch strips of Velcro (the hard side) onto three of the inner corners. I left one corner free because in most configurations it contacts the camera and doesn’t need to grip onto the wrap.
Then I sewed 2.5 inch strips of the opposing Velcro onto all four of the outside corners.
The other ideas I had for fastening were,
- Sewing velcro diagonally, corner to corner, on the outside of the wrap.
- Sewing velcro around the edges of the wrap.
- Using elastic instead of Velcro – sewing elastic from corner to diagonal corner, or corner to adjacent corner. You’d wrap your camera and then pull the elastic around the wrap.
- You could sew elastic or cord into the seams to make a bag-like thing that pulled shut over the camera.
- Using something akin to the clips that hold bandages shut, or – come to think of it – clips that hold nappies shut. My sewing shop didn’t have anything like that, so I didn’t try it.
That’s it! Now you can wrap up your camera and put it in your bag. I wouldn’t throw the bag around, but I wouldn’t be as worried as having the camera bare.
Yep, the Domke wraps are more attractive, but this wrap cost me a ball-park-figure of $3 (not counting the left over material) + a couple of hours. Also, I have plenty of material left to make a wrap without padding, or smaller wraps for lenses, or even some pouches for things like filters, memory cards and cleaning equipment.