For years my go-to travel day bag had been my Timbuk2 tote bag. The friend who I traveled to Argentina and Uruguay with had one and a couple of years later I asked for one myself for a birthday present. It’s a terrific bag that literally traveled all over with me (Ireland, Portugal, France, Belgium, Hawaii), and has major points for having a gender neutral look (i.e. guys can feel comfortable carrying it without getting any side eyes). However, once I got my DSLR its awesomeness faded slightly due to its not being designed to actually store a DSLR.
I purchased my “grown up” camera in 2012 and for years I simply swaddled it in a hand towel when packing it. While I’m sure the camera would have been fine in said Timbuk2 bag, I never liked the idea of nothing being between the camera and anything that could bump/break it except a rather thin piece of material. I had looked around at actual camera purses but many were a lot more than I wanted to spend (i.e. I’m not a professional photographer who travels with her camera multiple times in a week). So I continued to swaddle my DSLR until I learned of Johansen Camera Bags, thanks to a couple of bloggers who talked about the company themselves.
Johansen was started in 2009 by a woman who decided to create her own “stylish bag” that could fit all of her photography and handbag items. Too often photographers will have a camera bag but also a purse which equates to an unpleasant traveling experience. Over the years, Johansen Camera bags (or Jo Totes as they’re also known) has expanded its line to include a plethora of materials, sizes, and styles for anyone who wants to carry a camera, whether it be the amateur photographer like many of us are when we travel or a professional one.
When I’ve traveled to major cities in Europe or Latin America I always make sure to have an inconspicuous bag. I only use book bags when I’m traveling to and from an airport/train station to a hotel. I also like purses/totes that have full zipper enclosures and are also the right size that I can position the zipper end by my chest. Maybe some people think this is going overboard, yet in my nearly 15 years of international travel, I’ve never been pickpocketed. But back to Jo Totes.
One of the things I liked most about all of the selections on Jo Totes’ website is that the camera bags look like purses. Someone wanting to rip you off would never know that you’re potentially carrying around $1000 (sometimes more) worth of camera equipment.
While it was hard to choose I ended up selecting the Abby Black bag. I liked it because it had a simple design (I figured I can go design crazy with just a regular purse) and also didn’t feature a ton of outer pockets. Yes, maybe this is me being somewhat paranoid but too many outer side pockets on a handbag are just invitations for pickpocketers to try something. Although I know that yes, one doesn’t necessarily need to put stuff in them. I also liked that it was black; while I definitely could have seen myself with numerous other colors, black is traditional and works with anything and in any destination I felt (save for the Amazon or Southeast Asian jungles).
What I love:
The shoulder pad is removable.
There are three adjustable interior pads (you can customize your bag depending on your day’s activities)
The main compartment closes with a zipper
There is plenty of space for non-camera articles (i.e. wallet, phone, keys)
What I dislike:
Nothing, it’s truly perfect. The only negative is that since it looks more like a purse and less like a tote bag, I probably won’t be able to have D carry it…
The bags aren’t cheap-they range anywhere from $89 and up, but believe me when I say they’re worth it. I’ve used the bag all over Pittsburgh whenever I have my camera along and also took it on my trip to Utah back in March. I’m really looking forward to having it travel across the ocean when I go on my next European adventure next month!
Note: There was no incentive for me in writing this post.
I just wanted to rave about a product I really believe in and am extremely happy I own.