We have all heard those horror stories of photographers being targeted by thieves because they are walking around with thousands of dollars in camera gear strapped to their back. It is easy pickings for would be thieves. This is one reason we designed the Shift Urban Sling Pack (dicontinued) and the Sentinel Padded Camera Insert to go with it. I am an active photographer and I travel a lot. Carrying a dedicated camera bag screams, “I am carrying expensive camera gear. Please rob me.” It is akin to carrying a tactical bag in some situations. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself and put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
The Shift Urban Sling Pack was designed to be functional and discreet. At the root of its design, it is a sling pack that doesn’t need to be removed for you to access your gear. You simply sling the pack in front of you, under your right arm, and you have immediate access to your bag. All of the main pockets and zippers are oriented to be accessible with the pack in front of you and still attached to your body. This makes it incredibly useful as a commuter bag where you can get to your laptop, tablet, or other items without removing the bag from your body.
After using the Shift for a little while, we soon learned that it would make an amazing camera bag. Most photographers are constantly in their camera bag. We are switching lenses, changing batteries, adding or removing flashes or audio equipment, or putting the camera back in the bag. I cannot tell you how inconvenient it is to remove your backpack, put it on the ground or bench, open the bag, switch lenses, zip the bag back up, put your camera down, put the backpack back on, and then pick up your camera again. It ruins your shooting experience, takes lots of time, and shows everyone what is in your camera bag. When you add the Sentinel Padded Camera Insert to the Shift Urban Sling Pack you remove all of the negative from a camera backpack with very few downsides. You can change lenses without removing the bag and never have to put your camera down. Simply, sling the Shift in front of you, unzip the main compartment, switch lenses, zip up the bag, and sling it in back of you. You can do all of this with the camera in your hand. Plus, with the sling bag in front of you, strangers can’t really see what is in your bag. It offers an extra step of security.
The only downside I see to using this system, is the size. I know a lot of photographers that carry 4-6 lenses, multiple bodies, flashes, lots of batteries, etc., etc. If that is your style of photography, then this is probably not the bag for you. Personally, I take a minimalist approach to photography and travel. 95% of my photography can probably be achieved with one lense, a 24-70mm. Sure, I may miss out on the wide-angle or telephoto ends of the spectrum but I find the 24-70mm range is perfect for travel or urban photography.
Adding the Sentinel Padded Camera Insert
The Sentinel is a padded camera insert that is sold separately but is designed to go into the Shift Urban Sling Pack or the Outlaw II Gear Slinger Pack. It fits perfectly in the main pocket but still allows you to access the padded laptop sleeve. The Sentinel comes with three moveable dividers so you can customize the padded case to your needs. This makes it convenient to carry a variety of gear. Everything from multiple lenses, full size DSLR, flashes, and more. We made a quick video showing how much gear you can carry and how convenient it is to load everything.
Using the Sentinel Padded Camera Insert makes the Shift sling pack incredibly diverse and actually gives you two bags in one. You get a camera bag and a sling pack. Simply remove the Sentinel and you have your regular Shift Sling Pack ready to be used in other ways.