Camera Bags: Lowepro Street and Field system Lowepro Toploader 75 AW Lowepro Toploader 65 AW

Important: I recently switched to the Think Tank Belt System, see my review here

I have a modified version of the Lowepro Street and Field system. It has taken me years to perfect this system. With help of a shoe repair guy down in the Peruvian Amazon, who finally permanently sewed it all together, I now have created my perfect system. It works for travel and for shooting out of, if necessary due to weather conditions. Please note: I much prefer going "naked"...that is, carrying my cameras, unprotected, over my shoulders, ready to shoot, but this belt system is necessary for inclement weather and while traveling.

Here's a photo of what my modified Lowepro Street and Field holster system looks like.
Total weight of this is 21 lbs or just under 10 Kilograms.

To see what's inside these bags click here !

Here are the components that make up my system. You can attach them to the belt using the built in straps and loops, but I found that the camera bags "rode" too high on the belt and tended to tip outward, so I had mine hard sewn onto the belt with super heavy duty twine by a shoe repair guy in the Amazon basin in a town called Pucallpa...he charged me about $1.50. I have supplemented his handiwork with a few, strategically placed, small, lightweight keychain carabiners as a fail safe backup in case the twine ever wears out and fails.

For your Mark II with 70-200 attached: you need the Lowepro Toploader 75 AW
Description A pro-quality holster bag that's designed to accommodate a Large Pro SLR (including Nikon® F5) with attached 80 - 200mm f/2.8 lens (most makes) and hood (reversed), is a shoulder bag, chest pack, or (with an optional S&F Deluxe Waistbelt)— a beltpack. Great for sports, nature photography and travel, with hands-free movement and instant access to gear through the reverse-open lid. Includes a DryFlo mesh-covered backpad, All Weather Cover, Chest Harness, and attachment loops for SlipLock Pouches, Lens Cases and other SlipLock add-ons. Specifications Internal Dimensions 7W x 6D x 12.5H in. (18 x 15 x 32 cm) Weight 2.4 lb (1088 g) Material Water-resistant 600D TXP ripstop and 2000D ballistic nylon Capacity Large Pro SLR (including Nikon® F5) with attached 80 - 200mm f/2.8 lens (most makes) and hood (reversed) Colors Available Black
order it here from Adoramas page for $78.95

For your Mark II with 16-35 attached you need the Lowepro Toploader 65 AW
Description This compact Toploader designed for an SLR with attached small-to-medium zoom lens and accessories, has closed-cell foam protection, plus an All Weather Cover. A generous front pocket organizes the small stuff and simplifies film and filter changes. A belt slot lets you slide the bag onto your belt. Optional Chest Harness and Cinch Straps are available. Features For smaller Pro SLR's with shorter lens (with hoods) Front pocket with 2 compartments, Interior mesh pocket inside lid Easy access with Reverse-open lid All Weather Cover for pro-tection Attaches many Street & Field or SlipLock accessories through loops Specifications Internal Dimensions 6.5W x 6D x 8H in. (16.5 x 15 x 20cm) Weight 1.25 LB (567 g) Material Water-resistant 600D TXP ripstop and 2000D ballistic nylon Capacity SLR with attached small-to-medium zoom lens and accessories Colors Available Black
Order it here from Adorama's page for $51.95

The belt you need is a Lowepro Street & Field Deluxe Padded Waistbelt #11, #13 or #15 depending on your waist size , #11 Fits 28" to 34" Waists. #13 fits 34"-42" and the #15 fits 42"-48" waists (be sure to order the correct size) Shown below with stuff attached...(you only need and get the belt)
Order it here from Adorama's page for $26.95 or two dollars more for the larger sizes

Get one of these Snap Pouches for easy access to your flash and other items:
Description Lowepro's revolutionary one-handed, quick-access pouch for film or accessories. Features patented MagBag spring ring for instant access and closure All Weather Cover for protection against extreme elements and dust SlipLock attachment tab to fasten to many Lowepro bags, packs or a belt Specifications External Dimensions 6W x 4D x 7H in. (15 x 10 x 18 cm) Material water-resistant 600D TXP ripstop Capacity up to 30 rolls of 35mm film in canisters, or accessories Colors Available Black,
Order it here from Adorama's page for $27.95

Of all the Lowepro accessory bags, I find the snap pouch to be the most unique and convenient. My Canon 580EX flash lives in there, along with a lens brush, lens cleaning cloth, press passes, aspirin, and Rolaids.

Although the Lowepro bags have built in "rain covers" I always carry a few medium size garbage bags in my camera cases for rain or when situations requiring protection from water pop up. (overloaded ferry boats, canoes and other water transport in the developing world).

In addition, as a secondary safety measure, and as a convenience handle, I have two full sized carabiners linked together with a 6 inch strap which I fasten to the top carrying handles of the camera bags. This keeps the waist pack from falling in the event the buckle fails or is accidentally opened. When not around my waist, the 2 carabiner and strap, doubles as a great "handle". (photo coming soon

Total cost for this set up is $240 plus a few carabiners, and a bit of sewing work by a shoe repair or upholstery shop.

Using the belt system means that during travel between countries, my shoulders are free so that I can carry my backpack (luggage).

When traveling with all my stuff, the cameras are safely around my waist, my large backpack with my clothing is on my back and in one hand is my small day-pack (with all essential photography support items, like battery charger and laptop). This leaves my other hand free for handling airline tickets, filling out entry visa paperwork etc.

Having all your personal belongings "on your person" while still having a free hand is absolutely essential...this stops porters from grabbing your bags and trying to hustle you off to a cab, or worse yet having two porters grab two different bags and each taking off in different directions.

Often times I arrive extremely tired after a long international flights...scammers know that most people arriving are in the same situation....not only tired, but confused by the new unfamiliar surrounding and not 100% alert. In order not to be taken advantage of, one must be as "together" as possible on arrival.

When stepping out of the relative "protection" of the airport arrival area, into the sea of waiting taxi drivers, hotel hawkers and other folks, I want be perceive as having all my gear "under control".

If I appear to be in control of all my stuff, opportnists will look for "softer targets"....While the "sharks" hassle all the other arriving travelers, I am free to look around, find the transportation I need, select an honest looking cab driver, negotiate a fare and get on my way.

Once I get to my hotel, check in, safely lock up my computer and other vauable equipment with my PacSafe, I can head out into the world to start working...often times that means getting my own transportation...a scooter.

Wearing this camera bag system I can travel easily on motorcycles, my favorite transportation option in most countries. As opposed to a backpack system, I am ready to pull over and shoot at a moment's notice..

.Laos 2003


Read more about transportation in developing countries here on my "Honda Dream page"