Have a Holly, Jolly Bag-Free Holiday

Shopping season is upon us, but let’s not kid ourselves. This isn’t entirely about giving to family and friends. It’s also about the sweet savings that are about to fall upon all of that gear. You can practically smell the stench of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) wafting off of the photography masses. Our greed for new stuff reeks like the belly of a ship hauling squid legs from Tokyo to New York in mid-August. Long after the turkey legs are wrapped in tin foil and the gelatinous blobs of cranberry sauce are sealed up in the freezer, the deals will emerge. It might be a new lens or a camera upgrade that has you breaking down the door of Best Buy or your local camera shop like some geeky, sweaty villager storming over the moat of his local lord’s keep, but just make sure you don’t waste your time on a new bag.

You don’t need it. “But, but…” but nothing! You do not need a new bag. If you’ve spent years of your life with an eye pressed up to a viewfinder, as either a professional or hobbyist, you’ve no doubt acquired a massive collection of gear-toting devices that would put my Pokemon card collection to shame. You know you have, so bite your tongue with any retort.

If I’m honest with myself — and I’m trying to be — I’ve amassed enough camera bags to make a trip to my basement closet feel like wandering an accessory aisle at B&H in Manhattan. What was I thinking when I bought all of these? This one looks cool, this one has a water bladder, this one is tough, this one is small, this one’s waterproof, this one fits on my waist, this one… well, at this point I should just use this one as a coffin at a guinea pig funeral! You all get the point? Bag hoarding serves no one well.

What compounds the ridiculousness is that I probably touted most of these bags as being a “really smart choice,” “an amazing value,” “awesome,” or “the best bag ever” at some point in their short term of service to my professional hauling needs. I loved each one of these bags (which would make them a fitting resting place for said rodent companion, right?). However, at the end of the day they are hollow bundles of fabric, leather, and canvas that hold stuff. That’s it. They hold stuff. I can’t, in good conscience, tell you that any of them failed to hold stuff.

Let’s be crystal clear here. I’m aware that by going on this little tirade, I’m throwing stones from inside a glass house that just added a fifth story of new windows. That is to say, yes, here at Fstoppers we sure do show you guys a lot of bags.

Heck, even sometimes bags with guns next to them. Because at the end of the day, even if my fellow staff writers are only admitting it subconsciously, new bags are little more than pretty accessories used to match our hipster belts and finely polished cameras — or, guns? Feel free to read Jason’s amazing article where no cared about the bag, only about the ammo in the front pouches (that Ranger does look pretty nice though).

Search “camera bags” right at the top of the Fstoppers page and you’ll get just shy of 2,000 results. We love bags. I mean, we joke about banning bag reviews when you all aren’t looking, but really we can’t even help ourselves. How could we? Google gives me a staggering 57 million results for the same search, and yet only 172,000 for “guinea pig coffin.”

This leads me to believe that the ethical thing to do would be to go downstairs, fill up my car with camera bags and donate them to a pet cemetery. Or, I could just fulfill my lust for a new bag by dusting off my old Domke Canvas bag that’s been rolled into a burrito for eight years. Wow! Look how vintage it looks now! I think that’s it. That’s what we should be doing to cure camera bag GAS. Shopping our own stash. Or, heck, find a friend and do a swap! It’s not like they have any more use for their closet full of empty vessels than you do.

Every time a new bag hits the market, it fill us with dreams of wandering the streets of New Orleans in your Vans Classics, dressed like road-worn Marcus Mumford, and clicking away with reverence like a modern day Cartier Bresson. Only we’ll look cooler with our new vegan, airplane vinyl, Kickstarter-funded, what the f$!& bag. It’s a fantasy that we seem to get wrapped up in every time, when at the end of the day, bags hold shit. That is all.

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Kyle Hall's picture

Can't believe I read every word. Ha, good one but camera bags are probably the last symptom I would suffer from if I were to be diagnosed with GAS.

Mike Freestone's picture

Lol, I couldn't finish it. Not because I didn't enjoy the writing, but because I don't even own a convenient camera bag. Too new to the game I guess, haha.

Maybe I'll read the rest in 5 years when I'm rifling through bags in my basement? ;)

Adam Sparkes's picture

Give it time.

Prefers Film's picture

I just arranged for another bag to review. That would be number 11. But I haven't bought one in a while.

Scott J's picture

What bag is that in the lead image?

Adam Sparkes's picture

LOL .... It's a Think Tank Retrospective

Anna Dabrowska's picture

love the writing!

Paul Watt's picture

Thank you! You've just staved of an acute bout of GAS for me lol

Mr Blah's picture

You guys have a fetish for bag pics.

Admin it, this was just an excuse to endulge in it... ;)

Adam Sparkes's picture


Jeffrey Johnson's picture

You can ship me one of your extra bags - I am looking for medium sized durable water resistant over the shoulder bag for a body with lens, and a long lens, and maybe a hand full of filters and a remote shutter release. Thanks. PS: if you have any old unloved lenses, you can throw them in the bag. ;-)

Maarten Deckx's picture

"Bags hold shit. Thats all"... This so many times.
I love a good bag as much as the next guy and because i always have one on me or near me i tend to buy a more expensive kind of bag, but at the end of the day its a carrying device. I rather put my money in a new lens or a trainticket to some cool location :-)