Vanguard 53It is easy to scoff at “hoarders” and famous people like Imelda Marcos and her infamous shoe collection.  But, I probably purchase way more camera bags than it is necessary but just the tiniest inconvenience sends me out searching for the next Holy Grail of camera bags. Obviously, the type of shooting I am doing predicates the bag for convenience and the amount of gear required.  For road trips, I might have several type of bags on my front right floorboard and seat for quick access.

My most recent quest was  to find a good international travel bag.  Despite having insurance, I am not going to check a bag with my actual camera(s) and lens.  I might pack a tripod and any supplemental lighting in a suitcase but I need to be able to carry-on my camera bag and also have access to it before, during and after the flight.

The camera bag I have used most recently for travel and when I need to pack alot of glass was my Mindshift Backlight 26L.  Really a well-thought out bag and well-made.  BUT.  The inner sleeve intended for a laptop would at best only accommodate a tablet or 13″ laptop.  I have learned the hard way if I am going to post-process images during a trip, I need my Alienware 15. The result has required me to carry a laptop messenger bag along with the camera bag for carry-on luggage.  That is too much for me boarding and off-boarding a plane.

Six months ago I ordered the Vanguard Havana backpack with the assumed skepticism.  Vanguard does not have the name-brand recognition like LowePro but it was a larger replacement for my Lowe-Pro 22.  Wow….So impressed with the Vanguard pack.  It has been my go-to pack.  So, for an upcoming international trip, I wanted to forego the laptop bag and discovered how my Alienware 15 would fit nicely in this bag.  BUT.  I knew I will be packing some bigger lenses and needed something a tad bigger.

Below are my frank comments about each bag.  With the exception of the new Vanguard bag, the other bags have been used and abused and my comments are based on experience.  I don’t have any Google clicks or paid for ads, this is just for other photographers on the same quest for the perfect bag.  I hope this helps but I don’t doubt there will be more bags to come!

★ ★★★☆$359.99Vanguard Alta Sky 53 - I just received this bag today so I cannot offer any real world usage reports. But, this is intended to my my international travel bag and the first-glance features are amazing. I am still blown away that more working photographers do not showcase or brag about using the Vanguard bags. Most importantly, my 15" laptop and accessories will load up just fine in the bag. So many unique features that I encourage you to read more on their website. This was the best YouTube review I came across as well -
★ ★★★★$109.99Vanguard Havana 41 -Sometime around 2002+ the internet was just coming out of it's adolescent period for consumers and personal computers were becoming common place. People weren't quite saying "Google that..." yet. So, it struck me as particularly strange when a male acquaintance of mine gave me a CD-ROM with his fav porn links. Whaaaat? My first thought was "dude, I can find my own porn...". Nowadays, with Amazon and Google you would think that finding the perfect camera bag should be a no brainer, right?

I remember at some point I came across a fairly basic blog post by someone like me just trying to share photographic gear experiences. No click-bait or paid links, just the basic text. I searched Amazon and Google but I had never, ever heard of Vanguard camera gear. So, maybe I can give that previous acquaintance more credit now. What if he had given me a CD-ROM with truly unique camera gear links...I would have really appreciated it!

After reading all the specs on Vanguard website, I jumped over to Amazon for a better price. Sure enough, great reviews but Vanguard had never come up before in all my camera bag searches.

This Havana 48L bag is a fantastic bag. So many great features you can research on your own dime. But, even tho this is not that sexy of bag, this is my fav daily bag now and has been for 6 months. I just recently discovered I could insert my 15" laptop into this bag with no problem. This bag is good for any domestic trips, local trips, and mountain bike trips but not really big enough for international trips.
★ ★★★★$99.00Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L -Man, I got my moneys worth 100X from this bag! The layout was simple and the bag was designated my adventure bag. I could easily put my Sony a6000 and a6300 in the top compartment and then throw in a couple of extra lens in the protected dividers. I am not getting rid of this bag. But, now that I am shooting full-frame, I would only ever want to pack one camera and lens. The reality is I will probably now resort to using the Vanguard Havana pack for mountain biking and other adventure shooting. But, A GREAT BAG!
★ ★★★☆$249.00Mindshift Backlight 26L -The green Mindshift bag was like that girlfriend you finally married. Great looking bag, very well made, hung well on your back and you could hump a ton of camera gear. BUT, as I mentioned in my intro, on a trip to Kauai, I realized at the last minute my 15" laptop would not fit. Not the bags fault as it is only rated for 26 liters....but, back to the wife reference...she was great until she would not do "that". hahahahah I recently sold a ton of my Sony 4/3's gear to a local guy on Craigslist and unbeknownst to him, I gave him this bag. I mean, a good wife is hard to find, right? Why not share?
★ ★★☆☆$99.00Lowepro Nova 200 AW II - This is a great bag. But, it is purely functional. If this was my only bag, I would be photo dork. This is a good bag when I have a bunch of niggley stuff and parts and add-ons and stuff I probably won't use but always end up needing. This goes in the passenger side floorboard for roadtrips.
★ ★★★★$65.00Komal's Passion Leather 18" Messenger Bag -At the time, I had several photo gigs that were "cocktail party-esque" and I needed to somewhat blend in. I could not really find a cool "camera" bag but I found many cool leather messenger bags that I could just throw in a few padded dividers and end up with a svelte looking bag but highly functional.

These KPL bags are amazing for the price. If I am going to be amongst mixed company or I need to pimp-up my game, this is my go-to bag.

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I have been shooting for $$ since 2000 opening my shop with a Nikon D1.  I am primarily interested in shooting adventure lifestyle and travel with a host of my  day-to-day clients being within the industrial sector.

Many of my editorial stock photos have been published in all major news outlets, with my primary focus is distributing my images on a client-by-client basis to ensure their branding is unique and compelling.

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