Searching For The Perfect Camera Bag – Kelly Moore Thirst Relief Bag

by Ed Lau on October 24, 2012

Nearly every photographer I know is in a constant search for the perfect camera bag, the one that fits the equipment they need, looks good and comfortable enough to carry around for a long period of time. However, unless you’re a very specific type of photographer and really specialize in one particular style of photography, there is no such thing as the perfect bag. There’s a different perfect bag for every situation given the gear set you need that particular day.

As such, I know photographers with entire closets full of camera bags and I’ve got four or five myself. However, none of them were ideal so I decided to sell as many as I can and search for bags that work for me and that I’d keep for a very long time. Personally, I think I need just two, maybe three “perfect” bags. One for every day use and one for hauling everything, probably a backpack that fits in the overhead compartment that’s isn’t too enormous to hike with. However, since I recently sold a lot of gear and condensed my kit down to a single 5D Mark III body and three prime lenses, I decided to search for an every day camera bag first.

My requirements were simple and I only have three.

  1. Fits my 5D Mark III, lenses, memory cards, 580EX II flash and sometimes my 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display. I wouldn’t carry my laptop all the time but it’s important that it fits so that I can.
  2. With all my gear in it, I didn’t want a bag that’s more than 6″ deep. Experience with thicker bags has taught me that if they don’t stick close to your body, they feel unwieldily.
  3. It has to look good. I’m tired of the black nylon and canvas bags that look like camera bags. I was looking more for something Indiana Jones or Jack Bauer might carry if they needed a great camera bag.

My first choice was the ONA Union Street but after reading a little about it, the front pocket is almost inaccessible and it bulges greatly when it’s full of gear. At $289, it wasn’t exactly thrifty either but damn do these bags look fantastic.

Your choices are rather limited when it comes to bags not made by Lowepro, Kata or Tamrac. Billingham bags are even more expensive and smaller. The one I was looking at would’ve been quite a tight fit for my laptop.

I don’t know how I stumbled upon Kelly Moore Bags but the Thirst Relief bag checks off all the boxes above and at $229, it’s $60 less than the similar looking Union Street but with usable front zippered pockets. Strangely, there’s very little on the interwebs about the Kelly Moore bag, which one only one of two the company designs for men (all the others look like purses) so I guess I’ll have to write one after I’ve lived with this bag for a little longer. The waxed canvas will only get better looking with age.

I’ve only had it for a couple weeks so I can’t tell if it’s the “perfect” camera bag yet but it’s doing a great job so far. Look for a full writeup sometime soon!

in Fashion,Photography,Tech and the Net,Travel

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dental Clinic Gurgaon November 6, 2012 at 3:59 am

my brother also have bought a professional camera for photography…he is a student of fashion designing…he also have a need a bag for his i will tell him about this…nice information


Ken H November 7, 2012 at 3:24 am

Way to go to both provide practical direct advice on the camera bag, and along the way also point out the benefits of becoming organized and refining your photography operation by selling certain equipment and moving forward in a specific manner that works particularly well with a compact equipment bag.


Tampa's Best Wedding Photographers November 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Yup! I’d say that looks pretty perfect! Way stylish and cute. Good find.


Leonard November 9, 2012 at 8:29 am

Neat bag!

The really nice thing that I like it that it does not look like a camera bag;)


Foil Pouches December 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Way to go to both provide realistic immediate guidance on the photographic camera bag, and along the way also point out the advantages of becoming structured and improving your digital cameras function by promoting certain devices and advancing in a particular way that works particularly well with a lightweight devices bag.


Jon Anscher December 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I’m in a very similar boat to you and have been trolling the nest for that perfect every day bag. I’ve been circling around the Thirst Relief for a while. My only concern is that it’s too big, but I do like that it’s not very thick. How has it been now that you’ve been using it for a little while?


Ed Lau December 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm

The problem with a narrow bag is that it won’t fit a laptop AND my 5D comfortably. It fits but it’s a tight squeeze. When I just have my camera stuff in there, it’s great.

One of these days, I’m just going to design a camera bag and have it made.


atividades January 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

It is a quite nice bag! But i wonder if you will be able to fit everything on it! If you combine the camera with a laptop and extra lenses might be a little tight.


DVDs April 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

Looks like a good bag. Looks a lot more stylish than most, which is nice! It doesn’t look too obviously a camera bag, so won’t draw as much unwanted attention as to what’s inside.


TexEsq June 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm

So, I went to my local camera shop, which has a wide selection of everything camera. My goal is to find a bag that I can carry in European cities and try to look discrete (but not European man carryall). The leather Boy Bag by Kelly Moore is, in my opinion, a little feminine. I was hoping to get something all leather, like the Ona Bixton. At $420, the price isn’t right for me. I was also hoping to find the Ona Union Street to inspect, which they didn’t carry. I stumbled on the Kelly Moore Thirsty bag hidden in the vast array of women’s bags by the same maker.

Here are my thoughts.
1. Good size. I can carry a netbook or small laptop, dslr, three lenses, accessories and some reading material on my flight.
2. The outer pockets may not bulge as some have suggested happens with the Union Street. But, the zips are a little low, so I am concerned about losing something when I access the pockets and their size. I might be able to overload the Union Street, but I worry about having enough organizable space.
3. The look. I’d like to think that I can stay under the radar with something that doubles as a satchel. There are attempts by Lowepro, Tamrac, etc. to make a messenger bag. But, these scream — Look at how much equipment I have in here! Will you please rob me when I get separated from the tour bus?
4. Price. At $230.00, you’re paying more than the Lowepro tarmac version. These bags are much cheaper around $100.00.
5. Flexibility. The removal padded shell for camera equipment is removable, meaning this bag can easily be used when you’re not shooting.

I think the Thirsty bag is the way to go.


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