Over the past year I have stopped purchasing specific camera backpacks / messenger bags as I found the mass majority either didn’t leave enough space for my odds and ends (water, food, sweater, sunglasses etc.) or it was well over $200 which left me feeling vulnerable in theft prone areas. The goal is to have my bag disguise the fact that I have thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment in there and not draw attention to it!
Now I’ve been enjoying utilizing everything from trekking backpacks to hand bags and using customizable inserts to keep my gear safe. It’s a great alternative for those of you that use your cameras in a wide variety of situations.
Here are my favorite camera bag inserts
PROS – 8 dividers (2 long 4 short 2 shelf dividers), 1 floating pocket, 2 access points, exterior grab handles
CONS – Expensive, no side pockets
Yes, the Peak Design Camera Cube is a pricey option, BUT this weatherproof insert is very high quality and provides a lot of compact and well deigned storage spaces. I especially enjoyed the floating shelf which has tiny compartments for your SD’s!
PROS – 4 dividers, 2 mesh side pockets, 1 interior mesh zipper compartment, reasonably priced
CONS – Only 1 internal mesh compartment, Lightweight
Usually when I see BYOB my thoughts go else where but it stands for Bring Your Own Bag (clever right?). Tenba has done it again with this spacious and well designed insert, the interior is very well padded and can hold up to 4 lenses with ease. I wish the exterior had a closed compartment but there is still lots of open storage with its front, rear and side pockets.
PROS – 5 dividers, 3 elastic straps for added security
CONS – No Compartments or pockets
This spacious and high quality insert has 2 access points and a water resistant exterior. I loved the quality of materials used right down to the YKK Zippers and foam dividers that adjusted with ease. The only negatives I have about this insert is the price tag is a bit high and the lack of compartments and pockets.
PROS – Inexpensive, 3 padded and adjustable dividers, very lightweight
CONS – No Compartments or pockets, only fits a DSLR and 2 lenses
I like this extra lightweight budget option as its simple yet effective. The Drawstring opening is an added bonus for those of you in need of quick access to your gear. Its only downside is the lack of compartments or pockets. It would have been nice to have my batteries/chargers/SD’s to have a place in this insert.
PROS – 1 zippered interior compartment
CONS – Only 2 dividers
This insert is only $18 or so, so it’s very basic, no frills, no extras, you get what you get. That being said its nicely padded, the zippers are sturdy and reliable and the mesh compartment on the top is a great place for additional storage.
PROS – 3 Dividers, clear mesh compartment with zipper closure, comes with shoulder strap
CONS – No exterior pockets, small
I’ve always called this insert my “lunch box” as its outside appearance is almost identical to the lunch box I had growing up, which means it instantly becomes less of a target for thieves.
My favorite aspects of this insert are the shoulder strap, which allows me transform my insert into a stand-alone carrying case, and the zippered mesh compartment at the top which gives me a secure place for my SD’s and batteries etc.
The only thing missing from the Evoc Camera Bloc is some exterior pockets, with all that unused surface space it would have been a great place for added storage.
In my opinion, yes, camera bag inserts are worth it. Like I said at the start of this post I’ve been using them instead of expensive standalone camera bags lately and I prefer it that way!
Take your favorite ordinary bag and transform it into something extraordinary with any of the padded inserts listed above! No need to drop hundreds on a camera bag when you can make a perfectly customized version for a fraction of the cost.