For years, I’ve tried to find ways to travel less conspicuously with a DSLR camera and a healthy-sized lens. Of course, when the camera is out and working, the jig is up. But for all the times between point A and B—sitting in restaurants, walking through unfamiliar neighborhoods, or taking city subways—you don’t always want a bag that screams, “Check out my big old padded treasure box of camera gear!”
As you might imagine, this has led me to buy more purses than I will admit, always hoping to find that just-right combination of functional travel purse and under-the-radar camera bag in one. Happily, there are a few purses retiring to the Goodwill this week as I believe I have finally found it—and I had the chance to test it out on my recent solo trip to Beijing.
Meet the Baggallini Cargo Bagg, my new favorite travel purse for travel with a DSLR camera. Here’s why:
- Fits my Nikon D750 easily, even with the 28-300 mm lens on—even with the lens hood on, yet it doesn’t look like it’s loaded with anything unusual.
- The Cargo is not so big that it looks even suspiciously like a non-purse bag that some museums, for example, might ask you to check during your visit.
- With lens hood reversed, I can also fit another medium-to-large lens inside to one end, such as the Nikon 17-35 mm, in its padded neoprene sleeve, though this makes the purse start to look a bit stuffed when fully loaded (and I prefer to avoid changing lenses on the fly).
- I can wear it cross-body to keep my hands free while shooting photos and also to look like a much less easy target for a purse and/or camera snatcher, especially as I get completely distracted by a subject (you can also shorten the strap to wear it on one side—not as short as most hobo straps, however).
- The purse itself is very lightweight, which is important when your camera is not and you will be wearing both for many hours.
- The light-colored lining makes it easy to find what you need inside, and a couple of small open-top pockets on one side work well to keep cell phone and/or a small notepad inside for extra security.
- One zipped interior pocket where I kept my travel wallet most of the time for extra security.
- Two zipped exterior pockets (one on back, two on front) are great for keeping cleaning cloth/pen brush, lens cap, subway pass, map, and a little local currency handy for frequent access—a good idea when you don’t want to risk showing off your camera when you just need enough cash for Coke or a souvenir for your kid. 😀
- One wide snap-top pocket on back (the full width of the purse) is a useful option for longer items like airplane boarding passes or maps.
- Open-top pockets on both ends of the purse are big enough to fit a water bottle, a good friend’s sippy cup, compact umbrella, or small guidebook (or map).
I think what ultimately makes this the great secret camera travel purse is the extra wide bottom at 5.5″ and narrow top, so the fabric drapes giving it an un-stuffed and not padded look (unlike camera bags). Overall the Cargo Bagg measures 11″ x 9.5″ (center point) x 5.5″.
Tip: For just a little extra cushion, I lay this 4″W un-Velcroed beer cozy (shown in purple to the left of photo above) flat in the bottom of the purse and it adds no detectable bulk or weight–a great trick for any purse-turned-camera bag.
To Buy the Cargo Bagg:
While Baggallini has discontinued this exact style, the Cargo Bagg can still be purchased here in black and also in brown (and at discounted prices). Your clicks help support this site–thank you! 😀
Similar styles you might also want to consider:
Baggallini Harmony Large Hobo
Caveat emptor – At first glance you might easily mistake the Harmony Large Hobo for the Cargo Bagg, but it is actually a smaller purse at 11″ x 9″ x 3″ and does not have the end pockets for water bottles/umbrella. If your camera is smaller, this may not be a problem, but for my Nikons D90 and D750 I’ve found 3″ is not wide enough to be useful. For a mirrorless camera/lens ensemble, this purse may be ideal. Shop for it at Amazon
Baggallini Hobo Tote
Big Daddy – The Hobo Tote is slightly larger than the Cargo Bagg at 14″ x 10″ x 5.5″. While it lacks any zipped our secured outside pockets (it has four with open tops), it has the travel-friendly feature of an optional sleeve on the back so you can slide it over the handle of a rolling suitcase. It can also be worn cross-body. Shop for it at Amazon
Baggallini Everywhere Bag
The most comparable to the Cargo and (dare I say?) likely my next acquisition?! The Everywhere Bag is comparably sized at 12″ x 9″ x 5″ and offers added bonuses of a back pocket that converts to a luggage sleeve to slide over your suitcase handle, one flap and two zippered pockets on the front, and a secret side-zip compartment that opens to reveal a water bottle holder, and the same open-top water bottle/umbrella pocket as the Cargo on the opposite side. Can be worn cross-body. Shop for it at Amazon
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