Time to Retire?

My Tamrac camera bag, bought in the mid-1990's

My retirement is sadly still a couple of decades away, but it may be time to retire my Tamrac camera bag. I bought it when I first got into photography in the mid-90’s and for over twenty years it’s been with me on every hike and every trip and stores my gear in the days in between. Built so long ago it was actually made in the United States, I don’t know its model number as there is no branding except the Tamrac logo on the front. Tarmac had just upgraded this model with a clever organizer system that could be moved around to suit the user’s needs, common today but seemed new back then, so I was fortunate to buy when I did.

For a little perspective, the bag has been by my side for every single wildlife picture I’ve ever taken (and most of my pet photos). In the past few years I picked up a couple of smaller bags when I’m just taking a single camera and lens while walking Ellie, but I don’t like either of them nearly as much as this one. Thankfully I rarely fly any more, but one of its charms is that it can go in the overhead bin of even the little puddle jumpers, so I was able to take the bag with me when I went to Japan on a business trip and bring along my nicer cameras, I hard lesson I learned after taking only a pocket camera on an earlier trip to China and regretting it later (small cameras back then weren’t very good, unlike some of the marvels available today).

Long ago a prong on one of the side buckles broke, but now one in the front has broken as well, and that’s the one that really matters. The other prong still works so the bag still closes, but if it breaks it could spell trouble. There are two buckles on the side, and a zipper underneath the big flap, so there are some extra precautions I can take in the meantime. I’ve thought about getting someone to undo the straps so we can replace the buckles, but I’ve never liked the shoulder strap which is harder to replace. I’ll look around at newer bags but can’t imagine I’ll find something as well made, functional, and lightweight.

Between this and my Tom Bihn messenger bag, I’ve had good luck with bags.

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