Do you travel light with your equipment? Take a look at this review of a shoulder messenger bag, which may just fit everything you need.
I have sometimes struggled to find shoulder photography bags that are light enough to make traveling easy and inconspicuous yet still fit my most important pieces of equipment. For that reason, I always defaulted back to my trusted backpacks, but for street photography or lighter client's shoot in the city, although I don't exactly enjoy carrying around a large backpack when I only have one body and a couple of lenses in it. That's why I was thrilled to review the K&F messenger bag and see how it performs on those days where you don't want to carry all of your equipment with you.
This messenger bag measures 11.81" by 6.30" by 9.45" and is designed to hold one camera, multiple lenses, and a few other accessories. It is made of splash-proof and tear-resistant nylon material and features thickened outer walls and a handful of removable inner dividers.
The bag is opened with a zipper on the top. The front has a magnetic closure and the back has an open pocket where you can slide in accessories. The handle has a cushion for your shoulder that you can adjust to make sure it's in the right spot. The shoulder handle can be easily removed, and the bag can be carried using the shorter handles if preferred. I also received a small equipment cleaning bag with a variety of small accessories inside to look after my lenses, which I thought was a nice touch. The bag retails for $59.99.
First of all, I am definitely not a shoulder bag person, as most of my photography journey, I have always carried either a backpack or a heavier case on wheels, which is great at protecting your equipment as you load it in the car and go to wedding venues to shoot. At first, I was dubious whether I would be able to fit everything I might need, but it felt great to travel to my shoots so light.
For the first shoot, I took out all dividers to test out if I could fit two Nikon D750 bodies, both with a prime lens on. They fit snugly, and although I didn't put a divider in, it could have fit it in, but I wanted to leave some extra room to make it more comfortable reaching in and taking out whichever camera I was using at the time. This bag isn't advertised to fit more than one camera body, but I was glad I managed to fit mine in to save time swapping lenses. For cameras with larger zoom lenses, you may struggle to do that, though.
The second time, I fit my much smaller Fuji XT-3 with a lens attached as well as a spare longer lens in case I needed to swap them. There was plenty of room left for other accessories, and it was very comfortable to reach in and take my camera out and put it back in as I was doing street photography and there were moments where I had to put my camera back in.
Traditionally, if you look at other messenger bags, most tend to have either magnetic clasps or buckles that you need to open to get inside the bag. Personally, I don't find that a comfortable way to reach inside the bag to get my camera and prefer a zip. This may stem from many years of carrying handbags with zippers and simply building up that preference.
The bag was comfortable to carry on my shoulder for several hours with the two larger Nikon bodies and lenses, and because it has a hard bottom, I didn't mind putting it down on the wet pavement as I stopped to take shots. The front pocket fit my spare batteries and other small items, while the back pocket was handy for sliding my lens caps in and knowing where they were instead of having to rummage through the whole bag as usual.
The color and design of the bag are quite classy, but I think it would appeal more to city shooters, even though it is waterproof. It is definitely a unisex design, and to me, it doesn't necessarily look like a camera bag, rather a regular messenger bag. This is more confirmed by the fact that the dividers can be fully removed, so you can use it as a padded shoulder bag to carry other items. When it comes to the outer design of bags, you need to weigh whether branding and more stylish design are what you prefer or whether you want something that is more neutral, blends in, and doesn't signal to others that you are a photographer carrying valuable equipment with you.
What I Liked
- Neutral color yet still stylish enough design for regular shooting in the city and with clients
- Unisex design
- Zipper to get into the main compartment
- Big enough to carry light equipment and accessories, yet doesn't look too bulky
- Removable dividers and strap
- Came with a small lens cleaning kit
- Feels comfortable on the shoulder after several hours of wear
- Very reasonable price
What Could Be Improved
- K&F has other bags in black and blue, and it would be nice to have a choice of several neutral colors
- If the back pocket also featured a zipper, it would make for a secure place to store phone and keys, but I didn't feel comfortable leaving them in the front pocket and had to store them inside with the camera
Honestly, there wasn't much to criticize this bag. Mind you, I always prefer minimalist design and build, so it fit my style, but I understand that it may be too neutral for others who want to inject more personality and elegance in their equipment bags. It isn't an expensive brand bag, but equally, it does not feel cheap either. For photographers who enjoy accessories that are ergonomic and don't necessarily make them stand out in the crowd, this is a great choice. As someone who does street photography as well as fairly often shoots in the city for work, I would prefer something like this over a luxury brand bag. Also, if you are bound to carry at least two bodies with several lenses for all of your shoots, this isn't the right option, but if you want to give yourself a reason to start carrying and using less equipment, a messenger bag like this one will do the trick. Get yours here.