When selecting a travel bag to carry my SLR I was looking for a few things: camera protection, durability, security, room for a few other items, and style. The Domke F-5XB satisfies all those requirements and I couldn’t be happier with it. Carrying an SLR around the world is a commitment as it is both large and delicate. With the Domke I am easily able to keep it safe and always have it on hand to make the most of whatever photo opportunity may arise.
In this category the Domke performs as designed. With thick foam padding on the front, back and bottom of the bag and adjustable thin foam inserts on the sides, the F-5XB can keep your camera safe against everyday bumps and bruises. The foam is soft and durable, providing just enough secure protection without taking up excess space. In addition the Domke is pretty water resistant. In Bali we found ourselves caught in countless unexpected downpours and even under a fairly heavy rain the top flap design of the Domke kept the camera dry.
When you are travel long-term one of the most frustrating things is when a piece of gear or clothing wears out. Inevitably my equipment gets abused as I travel, using it daily and often in extenuating circumstances. The Domke has been up and down multi pitch routes, tossed around the belay ledge as we rock climb and has even served as a go-to handlebar bag on our thrown together bike tour of Bali. Throughout this process the Domke has gotten extremely dirty and has been washed three times. The first time I attempted to remove the Ton Sai filth by hand washing it before we left Thailand. The second two times I just threw it in the washing machine and left it out to dry. Despite the fact that the tag on the bag says it can be machine washed, I was a bit apprehensive about how that would affect the shape. After machine washing it twice, however, there are no signs of wear or changes to its shape. In fact, six months of extremely heavy usage hardly shows on the bag. The only wear I can see is that the color is very slightly faded and there are a few loose threads coming from the soft part of the Velcro in the inner top flap. The loose thread doesn’t seem to be affecting the attachment of the Velcro.
Capacity and Security
I want my SLR to be on me and accessible all the time. Because I am always traveling this also means that whatever bag I choose needs to be able to fit a few other items like my wallet and passport. The bag also needs to be secure from things falling out and an undesirable target for a pickpocket. The large and loud Velcro under the top flap in addition to the full zipper on the Domke F-5XB keeps my camera and other valuables secure. The F-5XB is one of Domke’s smaller bags and has barely enough room to cram a passport, moleskine notebook, pen ,small wallet, and cell phone. For me it works but just barely. I sometimes wish I had gotten the next size up, but I also appreciate that the F-5XB’s small size keeps me from carrying too much.
For me it was important to pick an SLR bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. Not only are most camera bags generally ugly, they also may attract thieves if they scream “camera bag.” The only other line of SLR bags that I found that were decently attractive and relatively incognito were the Crumpler Million Dollar Home bags. While not the most attractive bag I have ever owned, the Domke has a great casual look that can be worn by men or women. It comes in a variety of colors and fits in wherever you find yourself.
I give the Domke a 10 out of 10. The Strong construction and proven durability can’t be beat and the F-5XB has kept my Canon Rebel XSi safe despite the many abuses I have subjected it to. It is more attractive than your average SLR bag and also provides safe keeping for my valuables as I travel.
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