Converting a Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 to a Discrete Camera Bag

The Idea:

A couple of weeks back, I was thinking about some of my experiences from earlier in the semester, such as photographing the True/False Film Festival, where I tried cramming a couple of spare lenses in my small messenger bag in lieu of my normal shoulder bag (which, frankly, screams “camera bag!”).  There are times when a traditional camera bag is fine–going to an assignment where I’m expected to come and photograph, for instance.  But what about those times when I just want to walk around on the street and carry an SLR and a couple of lenses, but not be “noticed” as a photographer.  Then, I stumbled upon Timbuk2’s own Web site where they explained how to use Domke inserts to transform one of their messenger bags into a viable and discrete camera bag.

Anyone reading this may wonder why not one of the new Think Tank “retrospective” bags, or even their “urban disguise” series, and the reason is that I wanted flexibility.  I want the option of pulling the inserts out of this bag, and using it as a normal messenger bag.

The Bag

Last weekend, a local store in Columbia, Mo. had a 25% off sale on Timbuk2 messenger bags, and I chose a medium-sized Commute 2.0 to transform into a camera bag.  Unlike some other bags, it has a laptop pocket on the outside of the bag, and can be unzipped to lie flat, such as on the conveyor of an x-ray machine at the airport–I won’t have to remove my laptop for TSA any more!  Also, the bag has the ability to be slipped over the handle of a rolling suitcase (as photographed below).  This can be a tremendous advantage in an airport.

So, using the Commute 2.0 as the starting point, I purchased two Domke 720-210 “Standard Single Compartment” inserts, and a Domke 720-2JM “Adjustable” insert.

What can it fit?

Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Camera Bag
Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Camera Bag sitting on top of a rolling suitcase (the messenger bag has a slot to slip through the rolling bag

While I certainly wouldn’t load this bag like this for anything but travel–and even then, I’ve filled it to the gills, so there’s not even room for a book to read on the plane!–I was curious just how much I could carry if I wanted to cram it absolutely full.

So, what’s in the bag?

1. Canon 5D Mark II body with a 24-70mm f/2.8L lens mounted

2. Canon 7D body (no lens)

3. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens

4. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens

5. Olympus LS-10 audio recorder

6. Two Western Digital Passport hard drives

7. Delkin Devices ExpressCard 34 CF memory card reader

7. Moleskine reporter’s notepad

8. ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card wallet

9. laptop & power cord

2 thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *