How to choose the right
camera messenger bag.

Camera messenger bags (also known as camera shoulder bags) feature toploading openings that give photographers fast access to their camera and gear. Messenger bags are built in a large range of sizes making them ideal for fitting a photographer's exact gear requirements.

How much gear are you carrying?

Camera messenger bags range in sizes to fit a small mirrorless kit up to a full pro set-up.

Here are two questions to answer as you find your ideal camera shoulder bag: what subject(s) will you shoot and how much gear will you need? Camera shoulder bags come in a large range of sizes and are built to carry the range in gear photographers need when out in the field. For instance, photographers who want to stay light and nimble with a small mirrorless camera or compact systems camera will find the size of the StreamLine 150 ideal.

Photographers who carry a pro body with grip such as the Nikon D4 camera with a large range of lens sizes will appreciate the carrying capacity of the Magnum 650 AW. You can see our entire list of camera messenger bags here, which range in all sizes for your specific gear set-up.

Where are you shooting?

Get outdoor protection from the elements or stay discreet for shooting in the city.

Whether you are heading to the great outdoors or going on a photo walk around the city, there are purpose-built camera messenger bags to help make sure your gear is safe and help you get that magical shot. Photographers traveling in climates where weather conditions can rapidly change need the added weather protection found in the Nova Sport AW Series. You can check out all of our camera shoulder bags that have built-in All Weather AW Covers.

Photographers traveling in the city streets want to be discreet and not call attention to the fact they are carrying expensive camera gear. Photographers looking to travel around the city need a bag that is discreet such as the Urban Reporter 250. You can also see a full list of our urban shoulder camera bags.

Carrying a laptop or tablet in your camera messenger bag?

Don't just stuff your expensive devices anywhere, make sure it has a dedicated protective compartment.

Carrying a laptop or tablet is a must for many photographers. Having a camera shoulder bag that not only protects a camera but a laptop or tablet as well is a requirement for the traveling photographer. Look for laptop shoulder bags such as the Passport Messenger that have dedicated compartments built in to protect these devices.

To assure all your digital devices are as protected as possible look for a camera messenger bag designed to protect your specific size of device. 12" laptop or smaller, 13" Laptop, 15" laptop or tablet.

Traveling by airplane?

Make sure your camera shoulder bag is carry on compatible and travel worry free.

When traveling by plane there is always a balance of bringing all the gear you need and being able to stow it in the overhead compartment. Checking in your equipment can lead to gear damage and loss. Airline carry-on requirements differ by country and airline, but typical domestic carry-on requirements cannot exceed 45 inches or 114.3 centimeters (length + width + height). Also look for a camera messenger bag that has a trolley sleeve, to make navigating through an airport a breeze.

A messenger camera bag that is great for travel and fits comfortably in the overhead compartment is the Magnum 400 AW. You can also check here for a complete listing of carry-on compatible shoulder bags.

Next Step: Select Your Messenger Bag

If a messenger or shoulder bag is right for you, but you need help finding the right one, our Bagfinder tool will help you find the size to fit for your equipment.

Additional Guides

If you think another carrying style may suit your needs better than a shoulder bag, you may want to check out our other guides.

Camera Backpack Guide
Camera Sling Bag Guide
Rolling Camera Bag Guide