I’ve had my ‘new’ camera for nearly two years at this point. When I travel, usually I put it in a neoprene case and toss it into my carry on bag (you can find these nifty pieces on Amazon, highly recommend). But as I started packing around multiple lenses too, I realized sometimes it would be nice to have an actual camera bag so I’m not digging around trying to locate the lens hood, filter, or lens.
But camera bags. I have a giant black one where I store all my gear when I’m not traveling (it was free with the camera), but I don’t really want to lug that thing around on a trip. First, it screams camera bag, which wounds my vanity (yes, yes it does) since I love having practical and stylish bags to travel. Second, it also makes me a bit nervous in places where I don’t need people to immediately know upon first glance that I have lots of camera gear. Third, it does not multi-task. I couldn’t take it out to dinner or make it work with a casual dress and pretend it was just a handbag.
Finally I stumbled upon ONA, which offers casual but very classic bag designs made specifically for cameras. But like many good things, these bags aren’t cheap. So excitingly, my travel-loving mother gifted me the ONA Bowery Bag for Christmas! I took it to Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Dubai to test it out.
Now, the real downside that I had to overcome in taking a camera bag is that I usually travel with a carry-on and a personal item. So the camera bag either has to fit into one of those, or act as my personal item. Since my toiletries are usually in my personal item, this is a bit tough with the Bowery bag that isn’t that big. Fortunately, the Bowery actually sat perfectly in the bottom of my personal item–which in this case, was a Vineyard Vines tote bag for the beach! If you want a camera bag that doubles as a personal item, I’d suggest that you probably opt for a slightly bigger ONA bag.
I chose a coated-canvas version, because I liked the classic and slightly rustic look. It is trimmed with leather and the strap is a really heavy duty smooth nylon. The coated canvas is not waterproof, but it does give some water protection and in a downpour, you would have a few minutes to figure out where to put it/cover it/move it before your camera even started to be in danger. The inside of the Bowery is all lined with super soft, camera appropriate material. So no matter where you put your camera or lenses, you can be sure they are protected. There is also a removable, padded divider that you can use to separate the main compartment if you like.
The Bowery perfectly fits my camera (the SL1), as well as a 50-250mm lens and the kit lens I have on my camera right now. One of the reasons I like the Bowery is because I can stick my camera in with either lens (or one of my husband’s lenses) on it, and with just a tiny bit of reorganization, everything fits just fine. No more changing lenses just to store the camera.
When we missed our flight in Dubai, I didn’t feel like carrying my huge Vineyard Vines tote around the city, so I put our valuables and my camera in the Bowery to go sight-see in Dubai. It worked perfectly. It was small enough to not make my shoulder and back tired, and looked classic with jeans and a chambray shirt. It also has nice little pockets in the front that were perfect to stick a little bit of cash, our metro cards, and a little map. The buckle on the front both closes with a clasp mechanism, as well as also buckles closed so it is easy to get in and out of. It’s the perfect day-bag for a city outing or a day out on safari.
I’d highly recommend the Bowery if you are looking for a small camera bag that can double as a handbag for travel! You can find the ONA Bowery bag here. It also comes in nylon and leather.