Rough Guide to Bags - Anatomy of a Bag
Many bags feature a laptop compartment, but check that it can accommodate your particular laptop.
If buying a shoulder bag make sure the strap has a padded section for your shoulder. With rucksacks, check the shoulder straps to make sure that they are a comfortable fit.
Most bags provide a range of front and side pockets for filters, media cards, remote releases and the like. Some feature a full-width document holder on the back into which you can put maps, hotel reservations, your passport or any other important paperwork.
Clasps, Zips, and Seals
Pockets and compartments may be sealed using a zip or a simple flap with a clasp or buckle. Make sure zip closures are good quality and watertight. With decent bags the zip will be concealed below a lip. Look for metal clasps and buckles rather than plastic, which tend to break easily.
Some bags come with wrap-around rain covers, or a mat for kneeling on or spreading out your gear. Larger bags and backpacks may also include loops for a tripod, or a sleeve so that it can slide over the handle of a wheeled trolley.
This is where your main gear is housed. Most bags provide a series of movable velcro-ended dividers to enable you to configure the space to your needs. Some compartments use removable modules in various configurations, with additional ones available according to your needs.
Getting Into the Bag
To provide protection from the elements or even theft, there is often an outer flap covering the main section of the bag. With some bags, lifting this exposes the main section while others offer a further seal around the zip or buckle. You may also want to consider a small padlock to help protect from thieves grabbing at your gear while you're walking along.