One of my first camera bags for my digital camera equipment was the Bob Krist Travel Bag sold by L.L. Bean. It had the distinct advantage of being taller than wide, thus allowing for a full size camera with a mounted long telephoto to be dropped into it. At 14" X 12" X 5" and with a vertical configuration, it always felt a little awkward to carry. While it had some endearing features including the ability to transform into a backpack, after a couple of years I was back to looking for a different bag.
The other bag I have used is the oddly named Crumpler Geekstar that had a unique lower horizontal compartment for storing lenses. It also looked for all the world like a large, royal blue diaper bag but ultimately, like the Bob Krist bag, proved to be too large and cumbersome to easily carry around.
Today my over the shoulder travel camera bag is a ThinkTank Urban Disguise 40. Into this 13" X 10" X 4" black ballistic nylon bag goes as much gear as I would normally want to carry. Typically I put a Canon 5D Mk II body with grip and separate 70-200 f/2.8, 24-105 f/4, 2X extender and a digital derringer of some sort. Without the grip on my 5D, I usually store the camera with a mounted 16-35 in the middle compartment, a 70-200 f/2.8 on one side and a 300 f/4 on the other. Again, this still leaves room for a digital derringer to be stored in the central compartment giving me more than enough equipment for almost any circumstance.
As with most other camera bags, the inside can be configured in many different ways by attaching various partitions and platforms using hook and loop attachments. The folks at Think Tank provide a huge selection of these partitions with the bag so there is no shortage of ways to configure the inside.
The rear zippered compartment holds my netbook and power cable. The two expandable front pockets can hold portable hard drives, small prime lenses or an external flash. This still leaves another zippered compartment between the main one and the front pockets. Here there are pockets for pens, paper, lens cleaner and cloth as well as a "Pocket Rocket" - a folding wallet that will hold CF and SD cards and clips to an lanyard mounted in the bag for security. Soft, stretchable outside pockets on each end of the bag allow for water bottles or the like to be stored where they can be easily accessed.
It's really the little extras that set this bag apart and shows that photographers were involved in the design and testing of this product. While most bag hardware is now made of plastic, all clips, rings and zipper pulls on this bag are of metal to stand up to the most severe wear and tear. The zippers are weather resistant and the bag comes with its own rain jacket that can be installed over the bag on rainy days. There is an open pocket on the back of the bag that can be used to hold paperwork or, with the bottom portion open, it becomes a sleeve that will fit over the upright handle of a rolling suitcase.
The adjustable, curved and well padded shoulder strap makes this bag relatively easy to carry even when loaded to the max with gear. The zippers are lockable with any luggage lock you would care to use. Most importantly, this bag is airplane friendly and will fit under the seats or in the overhead bin on the tiny CRJ's that fly in and out of Saskatoon.
As the name of the bag implies, it is meant to be non-descript rather than shouting out that it's filled with expensive cameras. Short of carrying around a converted diaper bag to discourage thieves (I've done that, by the way), this bag will limit unwanted attention during your travels.
The best indication that a bag works is how long a photographer uses it and this one has been my primary travel bag for four or five years now. The bag still looks great - as the photo above will attest - and is large and flexible enough to carry all manner of camera gear. If you are still looking for that perfect bag, this one - or another in the Think Tank lineup may be in order.