Vanguard CAMERA BAG BUYING GUIDE
DID YOU KNOW: Vanguard are a family owned business that has been designing and manufacturing camera bags since 1986?
Camera bags are difficult category to break down into a simple buying guide. The decision on which bag is right for you is filled with variables that are incredibly personal, from the design or colour of the bag, through to the functionality for an individual's kit. So this guide tries to group Vanguard bags together so that you can get a feel for the bags we offer and shortlist your favourites.
FOUR KEY THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A BAG
With a choice of cameras from Micro Four Thirds to Pro DSLRs with grips, the depth of your bag will be key to a secure fit. Too shallow and you'll struggle to close the zip. Too deep and there's space in your bag for the kit to move as you travel.
What do you need to carry?
How many bodies and lenses do you need to carry? What accessories do you need? Do you need to carry a tripod? What about personal kit like a jacket or snacks? Writing a checklist before you start looking will help you shortlist the bags to consider.
What laptop do you have?
At Vanguard we try to indicate what size laptop will fit in a bag, but this can be way out as laptop brands shave millimetres off the dimensions all the time. So look out for laptop compartment dimensions in the specs, as it may be that your 15" laptop can fit into our 13" guide.
Each body and lens, alongside all the other bits and pieces can quickly add up to a hefty weight you need to carry so comfort is key, especially for larger kits and longer distances. Look for well padded straps and harnesses that will spread the weight, and ideally try the bag in store before you buy.
WILL THAT BAG FIT IN AS HAND LUGGAGE?
This is (understandably) a common question, but it doesn't necessarily have a simple answer as every airline has different criteria, and they are always changing.
There are two key elements to consider:
External Dimensions: The IATA guidelines are (at time of writing) 56x45x25cm, but few airlines are this generous. The key challenge for photographers is normally the depth, which can be as little as 20cm (meaning internal depths of as little as 12cm)
Maximum Weight: This is often overlooked, with airlines having limits as low as 6kg. That can be swallowed up with a roller case, a body and a few decent lenses. Let alone personal kit.
Unfortunately these limits are not only an issue on budget airlines. Even premium airlines like Emirates can catch you out with a maximum depth of 20cm and a 7kg weight limit. So always check with your preferred airline when you're planning your trip.
We have done a blog on the subject with some suggestions based on years of working with photographers that may be of interest if you want more information:
Or Skyscanner is a great resource that summarises and maintains the main airlines restrictions (but please note that there may be a delay in updating if the airline changes their rules):
Supreme Cases are ultra-tough cases that are designed to protect your kit through the toughest environments.
Waterproof to 5 metres and capable of withstanding up to 120kg of external pressure with a choice of divider or foam inserts deliver the protection you need.
For travelling the automatic air equalisation valve and padlock loops keep it secure between locations.
Roller Cases are great for travelling in the city, or between cities, where surfaces are smooth. They allow you to transport large kits with relatively little effort.
Traditional roller bags tend to be that bit lighter, but can be difficult to carry over everyday obstacles like a patch of grass or a muddy path. As a result, you may want to consider roller bags that come with a backpack harness or a shoulder strap.
Vanguard designs and manufactures a range of traditional roller bags, as well as models that include backpack or shoulder straps.
While it adds a little weight, we'd always recommend a double bar handle as this is more robust than a single bar handle, but it also allows you to attach your laptop case onto the handle without it rotating round the handle as you travel.
Pro-Trekking Backpacks are happy enough strolling down your local high street to your next assignment, but are really designed to carry heavier loads in comfort and safety over longer, more rugged terrain.
They are constructed of the highest quality materials that is designed to be maximise the weatherproof qualities (with rain covers for the worst days), and resist tears on the go.
They are designed to carry and protect significant loads of kit, and the VEO Active is designed to incorporate more personal kit with additional pockets.
They also incorporate the most comfortable harness systems to help you reach your destination as easily as possible.
PRO-LEVEL CAMERA BAGS
A key criteria for camera bags is what is the depth of the bag.
Pro level cameras are larger and tend to need bags that are 150mm or deeper, especially if they are fitted with a battery pack.
Here we list the products based purely on the depth of the bag so you can see what bags we'd recommend for pro-level cameras.
STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
We know from all the shows we've attended that not all photographers want a boring black bag. As a result, we launched the VEO CITY Collection where we decided to exclude black as an option!
VEO City brings a new collection of sleek and modern bags to the Vanguard portfolio that break the mould in terms of design, durability and functionality.
Available in a choice of blue (NV), green (GR) and grey (GY) these bags will look at home in the most sophisticated of settings, with a heavy duty 1040D nylon outer to make sure they continue to look great over the years.
When you open the waterproof zip, you'll see the clever storage solutions go beyond the camera to include solutions for batteries, cables, SD cards and more.
Backpacks are designed to carry larger kits which can be anything from 100% camera gear to 100% personal gear (all Vanguard inserts can be removed).
Using the straps across both shoulders spreads the weight and minimises fatigue and discomfort.
Because we all have our personal preferences, they also come in a range of styles and colours.
Here we bring all the different styles of everyday backpacks together so you can decide what works best for you.
EVERYDAY SHOULDER BAGS
Backpacks tend to be big and bulky and so their not ideal for every trip. for shorter trips with a smaller kit a shoulder bag is ideal.
Here we share the shoulder bags from Vanguard so you can see if there's a perfect bag for you.
At shows we come across photographers who have their favourite everyday bag that they stuff their camera into, wrapped in a towel for protection.
We understand this and we've developed the VEO BIB Collection to give you an alternative to the towel.
VEO BIBs come in three styles that allow you to choose the model that's best for your choice of bag and your camera kit.
Each bag includes the padding you'd expect, along with additional storage and a strap for carrying if you want to use it as a camera bag at your destination.
If you have a larger kit, or a series of kits for different styles, then it's likely you'll rarely (if ever) take out everything for one shoot.
As a result, you need solutions to store the larger kit at home or in the car, and then you would take out the kit you need for a specific shoot and pack it into a more suitable bag.
Vanguard have a range of solutions that we outline through the link below.
Bags are a tricky category to summarise due to all the variables and we'd strongly recommend that you take your kit in to your local dealer to ensure it all fits, the access is right for you, and it's comfortable. No camera dealer can list every size and colour variation, so if you have a specific model in mind we're recommend you call ahead so they can get that model in for you. If they don't stock Vanguard, then we'd suggest you ask them why they're not offering you the full choice of camera bags, then get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you sorted.