Bag Within a Bag

By February 2, 2011Products

When I’m on the road, I often use the “bag within a bag” approach to carrying a camera so I can keep a low profile in urban settings. This is particularly important when exploring parts of a city that I’m not familiar with.

In this situation, I’ll work with a smaller camera, such as an Olympus E-PL2 and a handful of lenses. In addition to being easier to pack, the micro four/thirds body attracts less attention because it doesn’t look like an “expensive pro camera.” Acting like a tourist adds further to the effect.

Lowepro Exchange Messenger (left) and ILC Classic 50 with Olympus E-PL2 camera and 17mm pancake lens.

A typical kit might be an ILC Classic 50 holding the E-PL2 that is tucked inside an Exchange Messenger. I position the ILC 50 standing upright inside the Exchange Messenger, like a lens case. I keep the ILC unbuckled, but do keep the lid closed using the hook-and-loop fastener. If I need the camera quickly, I just pull back the flap on the Exchange Messenger, then grab the camera out of the ILC Classic.

As I’m walking around, I look like a guy with a small messenger bag. Yet, there’s enough room inside for a light jacket or lunch next to the camera bag.

You can use many different combinations for a similar set up. The idea is not attract attention to yourself, yet still have the protection you need for your gear.

Derrick Story is the Photography Evangelist for Lowepro.


About Derrick

Derrick Story is a professional photographer, writer, teacher and photography evangelist for Lowepro. He has authored several digital media books, including his latest, The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers and The Digital Photography Companion (O'Reilly Media, publisher). Derrick is a Senior Contributor for Macworld magazine where he writes a digital photography column, and he's a regular presenter on the popular training site, Online, Derrick has formed a virtual camera club called The Digital Story ( that's open to all photography enthusiasts. The site features weekly podcasts, daily posts, training videos, and reader-submitted photos. You can reach Derrick at


  • Graham says:

    I just bought the exchange messenger and a Canon S95. The bag is a bit disappointing, very little padding, and to carry anything larger such as a keyboard or iPad means the velcro dividers must be removed, this leaves one open space in the bag for stuff to roll around in.
    However, the size is nice.

  • Great idea! I actually do something similar with my camera by keeping in in a separate but secure pouch inside my Ogio Hip Hop messenger bag.

    I keep it in the middle zippered compartment – zippers toward me, not to the opposite end – along with my netbook and other gear. It definitely keeps me incognito when out and about.

    Question: how would you do a similar set up and include a tripod?

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