The Perfect Camera Bag for Fell Walking

What is it about camera bags?  It doesn’t matter how many you have, none of them is ever quite right for the job you want to do.  I came across this post by Matthew Boyle recently which has got so many points in it which I can relate to. The camera bag manufacturer Kata also seem to be trying to solve the same problem – they recently ran a competition inviting people to design their perfect bag.  One way of keeping the R&D costs down, I guess.

My Bags

I’ve got two bags at the moment:


Photo rucksack
Lowepro Street & Field Light


  • Lowepro Street & Field Rover Light: a trekking backpack, with a padded bottom section for camera gear and the upper section for carrying other items, like rain coat, food etc (or more camera gear!).  It’ll take a tripod strapped to the outside, too.


Reporter-style top-opening camera bag
Lowepro Nova 5


  • Lowepro Nova 5: a reporter-style bag, top opening, space for all my kit (except tripod), carried on a shoulder strap.

They’re great bags for going out with the specific aim of taking photos, but I still have situations which they are less than ideal for:

  • Hillwalking: I need a rucksack to carry my walking stuff and this is always takes up much more space than the top section of my Rover.  I don’t want to be carting my full camera kit up a mountain because of the weight.  Also, with the camera in a bag strapped to my back it isn’t very likely to make it out for photos while I’m walking.  So why bother taking it at all?  And the Nova just isn’t realistic either as it’s just too big and ungainly.
  • Family days out: again, I don’t want to be carrying all of my kit so both bags are really too big.  I do sometimes struggle along with the Nova but I always feel like I’m carrying too much.

I’ve tried some alternatives.  I did the Fairfield Horseshoe with my old film SLR in a top-loading holster case which I kept in my rucksack.  I noticed the extra weight in the top of my pack and because it was awkward to get at I only got it out of the bag 3 times.  I also tried using the same case on my rucksack belt on Place Fell but it kept bashing my legs and ended up really annoying me.

As a result, I’ve taken to using my compact camera instead.  I keep it in a small pouch either on my belt or on a strap over my shoulder so it’s always to hand and I take a lot more photos as a result.

This is all fine, but the visitor statistics for the site are telling me that the majority of people arrive because of my Lake District walking photos and that makes me think that I should make more of them.  To really do justice to my shots I should be taking my SLR on these walks, but I find myself back in the bag dilemma.

The Plan

After a bit of research, I’ve decided on a plan.  I’ve ordered a new top-loading holster bag with a rainproof cover (a Lowepro Toploader 50 AW) which will take my SLR with a standard lens (it wouldn’t fit in the old case I had, of course).  I’m going to sort out some straps and clip this to the shoulder straps of my walking rucksack and wear it on my chest.   It will be accessible, it won’t interfere with my leg movements and it should partly counterbalance my rucksack.

If it doesn’t work for some reason, the bag won’t be a waste because I’ll still be able to use it for family days out as I do with my compact.  But then I’ll be back on the lookout for that perfect walking bag… 🙂

Update: the follow-up to this post can be found at The Perfect Camera Bag for Fellwalking – part 2.