Don’t miss shots because your camera’s out of reach: keep it ready for action
Keep your camera handy and ready for action by investing in a holster bag
Cullmann Panama Action 200 £27 1
Although it’s the largest of three holster bags in Cullmann’s Panama range, the Action 200 is still on the small side, with an interior measuring 17cm high, 16cm wide and 10cm deep. That’s spacious enough for an APS-C DSLR like a Canon 77D or Nikon D7500, fitted with an 18-135mm lens. Up front is a pocket suitable for stashing some memory cards and a couple of screw-in filters.
Cullmann’s construction and material quality are more than adequate for the money, as there’s a good thickness of padding all round, while the zippers and water-repellant outer fabric feel robust. We also like the soft lining inside the lid, which is designed to prevent your camera screen getting scratched.
You get a fairly narrow one-inch wide shoulder strap fitted with a very basic pad that easily slips off your shoulder, but the bag can also be attached to a belt.
Pros: Good quality and practical size for modest money
Cons: Cheap-feeling shoulder strap and shoulder pad; not large enough for a full-frame DSLR
Kaiser EasyLoader £33 2
Kaiser’s entry is the smallest bag here, measuring 15.5 x 15 x 10.5cm internally. It’s best suited to an entry-level DSLR equipped with an 18-55mm kit lens. Unlike the Cullmann bag, the lid doesn’t have a rim that protects the zip against water ingress, and although there is a protective flap on the underside of the lid for camera screen protection, it’s very basic. Behind this flap are two slots for memory cards, as well as a separate mesh pocket that could be used for a small filter.
Despite a small interior, the zippered front pocket is just about large enough to swallow a small pancake lens, and there are stretchy pouches at either end suitable for spare batteries.
While this isn’t the cheapest bag on test, it does feel it. Padding is reasonably thick, but the overall build feels very weak and squashy, and there isn’t a pad for the shoulder strap.
Pros: Very lightweight; fairly good accessory storage
Cons: Only suitable for small cameras; cheap-feeling construction
Manfrotto Advanced Holster L £43 3
Manfrotto’s entry is ideally suited to a full-frame DSLR. It’s capacious enough to house an ungripped body with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, and the extra size also creates room for sizable exterior pockets on either side. Each is large enough for some 100mm-square filters, or even a full-size flashgun. The top flap opens away from your body for easier camera access, and it conceals a couple of padded pouches for memory cards. However, it’s a pity there isn’t a front pocket for even more storage.
It may be keenly priced, but Manfrotto hasn’t skimped on quality. The fabrics feel like they could sustain abuse, and there’s a chunky top handle, oversized zippers for the main flap, tough belt loops, and even a separate rain cover included. The 1.5-inch wide shoulder strap also comes fitted with a good-sized padded section that won’t slip off your shoulder without a fight.
Pros: Practical size; large accessory pockets; well-made
Cons: No waist support belt or extra wear location options
MindShift Gear OutBound Holster 20 £76 4
The OutBound Holster is all about versatility. It can be hung from the shoulder as a conventional holster, with a supple neoprene shoulder pad making it very comfortable in this configuration. But you also get a selection of extra straps included, enabling the bag to strapped to your waist or positioned on your chest, the latter either by hanging the bag from your neck or attaching it to the straps of a backpack.
Size-wise, the Holster 20 falls in the middle of the OutBound range and is sized to store a 5DS/D850 with a 2470mm f/2.8 fitted. Accessory storage isn’t quite on par with the Manfrotto Holster, as there are no side pockets, but the front pouch is generously sized, and there’s a surprising amount of space beneath the domed lid.
Your camera will also be wellprotected, as everything about this bag feels top-quality and very robust.
Pros: Multiple wearing positions; superb fit and finish; versatile size
Cons: Exterior storage for accessories could be better
Think Tank Digital Holster 30 V2.0 £68/$80 5
This holster may look a little odd, but it conceals some clever touches. Its base can be extended by 8cm, giving up to 36cm of internal height. That’s enough for an ungripped full-frame DSLR with an attached 70-200mm f/2.8 that’s got its lens hood fitted. You may even be able to squeeze an even longer lens in here. If you don’t need all that length, a divider panel is provided to support a shorter camera/lens pairing.
Exterior storage comes courtesy of two zippered pockets and a large stretchy pouch that’s very convenient for fast accessory access. There’s more card or battery space beneath the lid, and a removable padded panel protects your camera screen.
This is also a very well-made bag. Solid metal carabiners attach the strap, and there’s a very strong belt attachment system, an included raincover, and quality YKK zippers.
Pros: Innovative adaptable design; top build and material quality
Cons: Needlessly large for carrying anything shorter than a 70-200mm
Thule Perspektiv M Toploader £90/$100 6
Thule’s holster is the only design on test to feature a rugged, semi-rigid construction.
It holds its shape noticeably better than the competition, and its base provides excellent drop protection. It’s a similar size to MindShift’s bag and will hold a full-frame DSLR with a sizeable large-aperture lens. Removable padded bolster cushions are provided to keep your camera held securely, but even with them in place, most APS-C cameras will feel a bit lost.
Whatever the contents, they’ll be well-protected from the elements. Taped seams, a built-in rain cover and a small lip to cover the top flap’s zip all help keep the weather out.
Two straps aid ergonomics. There’s the usual cross-body shoulder strap, plus an additional waist strap that’s useful when carrying lighter loads. Alternatively you can combine the two for extra stability and security.
Pros: Feels reassuringly solid and well‑made; multiple wearing options
Cons: Very limited accessory storage; cheap-feeling shoulder pad