Camera Bags

Domke DSLR camera insert for hiking backpacks

Written by Bernard Dery

After finding the perfect hiking backpack, I needed to find a padded insert to protect my camera equipment. The Domke DSLR camera insert is near-perfect.

Domke insertAs en enthusiast hiker, I have long been looking for a photographer’s hiking backpack. Many manufacturers sell camera backpacks with varied features.

However, as many hikers will tell you, a backpack needs to be selected with care, and not all backpacks will suit every person. What’s more, camera backpacks rarely offer features that hikers find useful, such as a hydration pouch, waist and chest support, extra-strong zippers and so forth.

Backpack from a sports or camera store?

Because of this, I much prefer to select a backpack in an outdoors sports store instead of in a camera store. I found a backpack that I love, and can’t see why I should pay more than a hundred dollars for a dedicated camera bag that’s not designed as well.

The bag, like most hiking bags, has a pocket for a hydration pouch. The side pockets can hold my tripod and has many smaller pockets to hold accessories. It is weatherproof but lets air circulate; in short it’s perfect…except that inside it obviously does not protect the photo gear.

So after finding my perfect backpack for me, I now had to find an insert that matches it. Not an easy task, since not many manufacturers sell inserts without a bag.

I finally decided on the Domke digital SLR camera insert. It is the insert that best matches common 35 or 40 liters backpacks.

Domke insert and camera gearJust the right size for most DSLR & lens combos

The Domke is eight inches tall, which is just the right size for most DSLRs and lens combos when placed vertically. It has two square (3×3 inch) divisions, perfect for regular-sized lenses. It also has two small rectangular divisions (about 3×1,5 inches), which can hold smaller lenses, flashes or accessories.

The main division is shaped like a T, so the camera and lens can be placed either vertically or horizontally. The insert is flexible enough that it will adapt itself to the shape of your gear. It occupies about half the size of my backpack, leaving room for other things like a jacket and food.

Backpack and tripodI can also attach a small Point and Shoot camera bag to my hip and use it to store one extra lens that I might use often. There is no need to remove the bag to swap lenses that way.

Sides are well padded, the bottom is not

The sides or the insert are very well padded, and the padding can be removed or replaced if needed. The internal divisions are more lightly padded but offer sufficient protection.

The only flaw of the insert is that the bottom, for some strange reason, is not padded. This is an important flaw. However, it can be solved easily by placing small foam pieces inside the divisions, or a larger foam sheet at the bottom of your bag.

I am glad I found this insert. My hikes will be much more fun and much more comfortable that way!

About the author

Bernard Dery

Bernard was born and still lives in Quebec City, Canada. A doctorate candidate in Physics, Bernard works full-time as an optical designer at EXFO, a world leader in telecom tests and measurements tools. His professional interests go from fiber optics to atmospheric data collection and lasers.

His first contact with photography was a Vivitar fixed lens camera that he had purchased at age eight. His interest developed slowly, and for many years Bernard limited himself to family and travel pictures.

Bernard discovered the world of digital photography in February 2004, when he purchased his first digital camera. Developing an interest for composition, he experimented with many subjects: landscapes, nature, cities and architecture.

soon began to invest more time and energy into his new found hobby, finding new and beautiful subjects to capture everyday. His challenge is to capture the mood and emotion carried by a scene as it presents itself to him.

A trip to Italy in
September 2004 fueled his growing interest with numerous magical photography opportunities.

Bernard and his wife like to spend free time near a lake at his family's summer house, where he finds new subjects to capture every day. His interests are varied and include hiking, camping, swimming, boating and reading, as well as most winter

Bernard, known as bdery on forums, uses a Pentax K20D and W80, Canon S2 and a Nikon SQ as a backup.

Thumbnails are of photos by Bernard Dery - used with permission
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