Don’t you just love it when the forecast calls for sunshine and blue skies with a 42% chance that it will be rainy and miserable? When the day’s weather promises to be schizophrenic at best, photographers have some serious decisions to make. Do you take a risk and head out with your favorite camera, or leave it behind where it’s safe and dry? If you own a camera bag that comes with a form-fitting rain cover, you never have to second-guess the decision to walk out the door and shoot. But keep in mind that there are a few different ways that rain covers are incorporated into bags, and one approach may suit your needs better than another.
The first thing to note is that not all camera bags include a rain cover. It may seem like a given, but it’s actually a feature you have to look for when picking out a bag. If you already own a camera bag that didn’t come with a rain cover, you can buy them separately in various sizes from Tenba and Tamrac. However, the most satisfying aspect of included rain covers is that they’re built to fit the dimensions of your bag perfectly. This means you won’t be hauling around excess material and weight, and the bag will often feature a storage solution for the rain cover.
You may be wondering which bag stands out as the best choice for all-weather travel. The answer is that there simply isn’t a perfect bag for everyone. There are a number of manufacturers of high-quality bags, and far too many various-sized cameras, lenses and accessories to make one design the obvious best choice. Therefore everyone will have a different “ideal” camera bag. No matter what size or shape your ideal bag may be, you should still take unpredictable weather into account when making your selection.
There are several ways that manufacturers go about outfitting a camera bag with a rain cover. Sometimes it’s contained inside a dedicated pouch, which can be clipped inside the interior or exterior of the bag. The Kata D-Light Bumblebee and LighTri-312 LD Digital Torso-Pack are two bag designs that take this approach. Both models include form-fitting rain covers with an unobtrusive, integrated stuff sack. A short ribbon with a plastic clasp enables you to attach the collapsed rain cover anywhere you’d like.
If you like getting around with your photo gear and a laptop without announcing to the world that you’re carrying expensive equipment, the D-Light Bumblebee is a good option. It’s a roomy backpack-style bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. The LighTri-312 LD is an interesting compact camera bag solution that’s integrated into a weight distributing shoulder strap harness. It keeps your camera and accessories comfortably close at hand, so you’re more likely to use them.
Another way that manufacturers go about incorporating rain covers into camera bags is by tucking them into dedicated pockets, sometimes including labels to remind you that an all-weather rain cover is close at hand. The Lowepro Stealth Reporter is one such design. Its rain cover lives inside a hidden pouch at its base, which seals shut with hook-and-loop fasteners. The rain cover is permanently attached and features drawstrings for a tight fit. A weather-sealed zipper at the top of the Stealth Reporter allows quick access to the camera, while minimizing exposure to the elements. The larger Stealth Reporter bags can accommodate laptops as well.
When the rain cover is hidden underneath the bag in a dedicated exterior pocket, you’ll be less likely to ditch it so you can store something else in its place. Since the opening of the pocket is on the exterior, it’s much faster to grab and pull over the bag in the event that precipitation catches you off guard. The Tenba Shootout shoulder bag has multiple defense points to protect your gear from the elements. It features weather sealed, rubberized YKK zippers on every pocket that opens up to the outside world. The rain cover has a zippered pocket at its base and features reinforced snaps to ensure a snug fit, with exit loops on the sides so you can continue to use the strap. An opening on its rear panel allows you to slide the bag over the handle of a carry-on piece of luggage, for easier bag management at the airport.
The Vanguard UP-Rise 22 Shoulder Bag is another good example of a camera bag with a hidden exterior rain cover pocket. The rain cover on the UP-Rise 22 is fastened to the bag with an elastic ribbon. You can adjust the length of the ribbon, or completely remove the rain cover if you wish. The dedicated pocket is labeled and seals with a zipper. Another handy design feature of the UP-Rise 22 is that it can act as a shoulder bag, or you can carry it by its padded handle.
Thanks for checking out this B&H InDepth article! Hopefully you have a better idea about how you can keep your gear dry when you’re in the great outdoors. If you have any questions about camera bags with rain covers, we encourage you to submit a Comment below.