Who Do I Have To Kill For A Good Camera Bag For Women?

I dread buying a new camera bag just about as much as I do buying jeans. The struggle to find the right fit for either just leaves me frustrated and upset. Up until last August, I'd carried the same camera bag for about eight years. It was a small green backpack that Lowpro has since discontinued. My friend's called it my "turtle shell", and it fit me perfectly. At 5 foot 1 inches tall, the compact size of the backpack kept it from sitting too low on my back. Interior-wise, I could configure the inside anyway I wanted to hold the various lenses, camera body, flash, and whatever else I decided I needed on a shoot. But it only allowed me to carry my camera gear, I couldn't carry my laptop, iPad, or other things I might need as I was walking around. Carrying round the camera bag and a separate bag for electronics? Too much of a pain. I needed a single bag.

Over my eight-year stint with my Lowpro, I experimented with a variety of other bags. Other backpacks were often to big for my frame, usually with bottoms below my, well... bottom. Not comfortable. I tried a messenger-style bag, but carry far too much equipment to support slung across one shoulder. Worst of all, none of these bags were cheap. 

And then, the Portaré bag came in to my life in August. It was a backpack style that was just long enough to house my 15" laptop, keeping it comfy against my back and off my backside. That same compartment is just wide enough to also hold my iPad, because I need both! Two main front-loading pockets in the front allow me to to quickly access all my camera gear, and semi-rigid removable panels can be configured a myriad of ways. There's a multipurpose pocket on top that's great for keeping my personal stuff, and each side has a zippered area where I can pack in things like business cards or extra SD cards. There's a pouch on each side for quick-access to things like water bottles and snacks, And a convenient rain cover tucks away nicely underneath. It's everything I need in a bag!

After about two months, I noticed some fraying at one of the seams near the top pouch. And not near that zipper, handle, or anywhere else subject to wear-and-tear. So I contacted the company, sent in some photos of the problem, and they quickly shipped me a new one. Hooray! 

But two months later, I noticed fraying on the new bag, this time near a seam on one of the straps. Now, two months later, about the frayed area has traveled down the lengthy of the bag. The integrity isn't compromised -- it's not going to fall off my shoulder. But it looks crappy and exposes the interior fabric to the elements. Dammit. I really like the bag itself but the fabric and stitching is clearly of poor quality. 

So now I'm on the lookout for another bag. Betabrand has a bag they are working on called the Storrist Pack. The pictures of the prototype indicates it has the capacity to carry what I need. But it's still in production, and that means the final product is subject to change. I'm also looking at some of the Lowpro bags since my turtle bag served me so well. Currently, the Vortex 200 AW might be a possibility. It has a spot for my laptop, gear, tripod, and has a rain cover. On a recent blog trip, once of my companions showed me her bag from Think Tank bag. It wasn't perfect, but their Shape Shifter Camera Backpack might be. It looks like it will store my laptop, my gear, and the tripod... but I can't see that it has a rain cover. And just today, I found another one that interests me the Manfrotto Revolver-8 Pro Light Backpack. 

Ah, the tyranny of choice. And I'm a little gun-shy about finding that perfect fit, especially since we're traveling. It's just tough to have a package shipped! I'll probably just wind up using a bit of Duct Tape on the strap until we get to Thailand. We'll be there for three months, so receiving parcels shouldn't be an issue.

Got a recommendation for me? Or have some advice on where I should look? I'm all ears!