For all of the people out in the wild taking pictures and bringing their cameras along with them, there are surprisingly few capable camera bags. Lowepro makes one we tested and like, but it lacked some versatility and storage capacity. We've spent the last few months testing a new pack Shimoda Designs and it might just be the best camera bag ever made.
Camera bags often focus so much on holding cameras that they overlook crucial features like water bottle pockets, comfortable straps for all-day wear, or waterproofing to protect from rain and snow. But after a couple weeks of testing these Shimoda Explore packs, we can’t find a single thing missing.
Launched on Kickstarter, Shimoda Designs debuts with 40 and 60-liter backpacks, a carry-on roller, and a number of accessories. All the products are built around a lightweight and impressively water-resistant nylon material. I tested the 40-liter bag while fishing in Colorado over a couple weekends and was impressed with both the durability and waterproofness. The inside and outside of these packs can be configured in dozens of ways with generously-sized pockets, detached internal units for camera organization and protection, heavy duty straps, and access zippers everywhere you look.
Beyond the obvious stuff, it’s the little things—like the overall weight, phone pocket, compression molding shoulder straps, side handle, tripod pouch, and splashguard zippers—that show you these packs were made from experience and a need for something better.
Behind all of that innovation is Ian Millar, a photographer, graphic designer, and former editor-in-chief of Mountain Biking magazine who has lived in Whistler, British Columbia, and now calls Japan home. “I know what it’s like to be on a cold, windy winter summit and to have a zipper break,” says Millar. “I know how painful side release buckles are when your fingers are frozen numb. I know that the more you have to take your pack off to access food, drinks, and layers, the less you are going to take your pack off to take photos.”
Millar’s experience shows in the packs. Whether you are a pro taking multiple camera setups in the field or an aspiring shooter, these packs are some of the best you can buy.