Domke F-5XB Rugged Wear Shoulder Bag
If you’re anything like me you’ve never given your wife a hard time about the number of handbags that over-populate her wardrobe. Why? Because you probably have just as many photo bags and other canvass and leather transportable goodies. I was introduced to Domke bags back in the 90s. I spent two decades of my life travelling and working around the globe and needed a bag for my photo equipment that could take a severe beating and still look the part. I also wanted something that didn’t look like a standard photo bag as I knew beady eyes were constantly scanning me, especially in countries where the colour of my skin didn’t quite match that of the general population. When others used backpacks for travelling I’d long since learnt that a sports bag thrown casually across the shoulder attracted far less attention and made me considerably less of a target. In fact, in over 20 years I managed to avoid being robbed or mugged in close to 40 different countries. At the time I was using a Leica M6 TTL and had three or four lenses and a flash to accompany it. A good friend who was also well travelled showed me his Domke F-6 made from ballistic nylon and immediately I knew that was what I’d been looking for and within a day one was winging it’s way west from the US. Since that day my photo equipment has been entrusted to no other brand but Domke and I’m guessing things will stay that way. I’ve since purchased an F-2, an F-1X and I still have my trusty F-6, so when I recently purchased the Fujifilm X100 it was time to do a bit of research and see which bag would suit. I decided to be a bit more open-minded with this purchase so I diligently read up about a plethora of bags from several manufacturers as this market area is not short of makes and models. After a week of reading, however, it was a Domke which, once again, seemed to cater to my exact requirements..
So what were my requirements? Well, it would need to be:
1. Fairly small and compact, circa half to a third the size of my current smallest, the F-6.
2. Tough as nails, made of the kind of material that gets better looking with age.
3. Well padded inside.
4. Spacious enough to accommodate the X100 with hood, half case and strap attached, the BX100 as well as filters, wallet, phone, cards, knife etc..
5. Equipped with good quality, secure fastenings.
6. Complete with a hard wearing and comfortable shoulder strap.
7. Sexy as a sexy thing to match it’s new owner!
Enter the Domke F-5XB Rugged Wear. (click on any of the images for a larger version)
The , F-5XB is produced in either black, olive, sand or rugged-wear. It’s really just personal choice but for this bag I preferred the latter, despite all my other bags being black.
In the above photograph the bag looks quite large in comparison to the X100 but in reality it’s probably 4 times the overall size of the camera. The actually measurements are as follows:
External Dimensions = 254(w) x 114(d) x 184mm(h)
Internal Dimensions = 241(w) x 102(d) x 152mm(h)
The bag is made from the same kind of rugged, waxed material that Barbout jackets are made from and I have to say I prefer it to the standard Domke canvass type material, which is why I went for this rugged-wear version. The material is impregnated with wax, making it at least light rainproof and inside the bag you’ll find an extra tin of that very wax, allowing you to apply more when you deem it necessary. Apparently, heat should be applied after re-waxing, though I’m wondering what my wife will say when she finds me perched on the bed blowdrying a man-bag..
The shoulder strap is soft but substantial, as strong as you’ll ever need and then some and wide enough to be comfortable without the need for a shoulder pad.
At the rear there’s a belt “loop” (for want of a better word) which will allow you to wear it like a front end belt pack. For me, it’s a tad too large to wear like that and be comfortable and you’ll certainly not be getting any dates with this thing strapped round your mid-rift. What I have found that “loop” useful for is holding a small table tripod..
The main flap over top is held in place via to pads of strong (and I mean “strong”) industrial velcro. Once opened you’re met with an equally industrial zipper with double zips. These open to reveal the main compartment which is big enough to hold the X100 in place and still provide another 60% overall space for your other “must carry” items.
Inside is the usual thick Domke padded compartment which can be partitioned into two sub-compartments using the included divider. The divider can be placed anywhere along the main compartment and is held firmly in place by the same kind of velcro used to fasten the main cover.
At the front you have a pocket that runs the width of the bag. It’s not a particularly generous pocket and holds things firmly in place as a result. It’s ideal for holding items about the thickness of a plastic filter case or iPhone with cover but don’t expect to get anything much larger in there.
If this is the kind of size bag you’re looking for then for my money it doesn’t get much better than this. Your grandchildren will still be using this bag long after you’ve stood at the pearly gates, it look great yet subtle, isn’t obviously a photo bag and has enough space to hold your X100 (or any other X series body) and your essential bits and pieces.
If, like me, you’re an avid traveller, this is probably the perfect bag, especially if you plan on just taking your X100 with you during the day. The only real drawback I can see is the price. In the US you’ll find them for around $75. In the UK and Europe be prepared to stump up £90 ($145). If you do, however, it’ll be the last photo bag of this size you’ll ever need to buy.