Pensicola – Feb and March
Olympia – Jan/Feb 2018
Cannon Beach – February – April
Seaside – Jan/Feb/March 2018
Medford Rogue Valley Feb – March

Great Gifts for Photographers

Cotton Carrier VestWith the holidays fast approaching, it’s always a scramble to find just the right gift for loved ones. If you have a photographer on your list, we’ve got some terrific gift ideas. Each of these products has been thoroughly field tested under all kinds of conditions by RFT’s Photo Editor Anne Weaver and come with RFT’s enthusiastic seal of approval.

Cotton Carrier Camera Vest for One– This amazing camera carrying vest may be one of the greatest inventions ever created for photographers. At least that’s what our Photo Editor says. Every photographer knows the pain and strain on the neck that carrying a camera and lens of any size can cause. The Cotton Carrier Camera Vest completely eliminates neck strain, swinging cameras, and keeps your camera handy and accessible so you won’t miss that once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Cotton Carrier photo vest

The Cotton Carrier Vest for One fits snugly and comfortably and eliminates neck strain.

The Cotton Carrier one-size-fits-all vest unit, made from durable polypropylene, slips over the head and has adjustable straps to snug it up. In the front is a Lexan camera receptacle and backup camera tether. You screw the universal camera hub onto the bottom of the camera (where a tripod mount normally goes) and the camera slips securely into the camera receptacle in the front of the vest. Secure the camera with the tether straps and you’re ready to go. The camera automatically locks into the vest and quick releases with one hand whenever you need to shoot. For those who want to use a tripod or monopod, you can get a Universal Adapter Plate compatible with Acra Swiss, Manfrotto, Gitzo and other brands of quick release tripod systems.

The Cotton Carrier Camera Vest is perfect for photographers who shoot sports, nature, wedding and studio photography. Pro photographer/RFT Photo Editor Anne Weaver says the Cotton Carrier Camera vest has made all the difference when she’s in the field shooting., enabling her to shoot more comfortably and for more hours than ever before.

Cotton Carrier photo vest

The Cotton Carrier Photo Vest for One allows for fast release so you always get the shot.

For casual photographers who love the outdoors, but don’t want to wear the full Cotton Carrier Camera Vest, they offer the Strap Shot, a camera carrying system that straps onto any backpack, sling-style pack, or even your pants belt (smaller cameras only for belts). The system, which includes a camera hub, safety hub and bonus hand strap, is perfect for those who want the comfort, security, and speed of a Cotton Carrier Vest while keeping it light and simple.

Cotton Carrier also offers a two-camera vest system as well as the Endeavor Belt that fits around the waist. While we’re confident you’ll like these products, we did not field test them.

Think Tank Airport Commuter Backpack– This is a great choice for photographers who travel, especially those who fly internationally. This high-capacity, carry-on camera backpack meets domestic and international size requirements (12.5” W x 8.5” D) and the thick, removable, closed-cell dividers keep all that delicate (and expensive) equipment safe, yet it weighs only about 4 pounds.

The Airport Commuter is for serious photographers who are willing to carry lots of gear, including a DSLR, four to six lenses, a tablet and a 15” laptop. It’ll hold a 400 mm lens attached to the camera or a 500 mm unattached. There’s even a tripod/monopod mounting system and a see-through laminated mesh pocket for carrying accessories like note pads and snacks.airport-commuter-8 (1280x1280)

This camera travel bag is made of super-sturdy nylon and polyester and features a durable water-repellant coating for keep everything dry. There’s also a polyurethane coated, seam-sealed nylon rain cover just in case things get really wet. With its contoured adjustable harness with lumbar support , Air Mesh to keep your back cool, adjustable sternum straps, and removable waist belt, this is a bag you can wear comfortably even while traipsing through huge airports.

Photographers can safely carry everything they need--and more--with the Airport Commuter.

Photographers can safely carry everything they need–and more–with the Airport Commuter.

Think Tank’s Airport Commuter will keep your gear safe too. It not only doesn’t look like a traditional camera backpack, it comes with a security cable and combo lock that allows you to lock the laptop case or the entire bag to immovable objects. The tough YKK zippers lock for added security.

Perhaps best of all, this smart Airport Commuter Backpack comes with Think Tank’s No Rhetoric Warranty. Don’t like it? Return it with no questions asked. But you won’t be returning this one. The only problem you may have is getting your gallivanting photographer to stay home.

PacSafe Slingsafe 200 GII Cross-Body Shoulder Bag– You don’t have to be a photographer to appreciate (or want) PacSafe’s Slingsafe 200 bag. Stylish and lightweight, this purse-style anti-theft bag is perfect for the photographer who shoots with an iPad, a SmartPhone, or small point-and-shoot camera. It’ll keep your camera gear and everything else secure from thieves.

The Slingsafe 200 GII Cross-Body Shoulder Bag is made by PacSafe, the company that specializes in anti-theft travel products. At, we’re big fans of PacSafe products (we’ve reviewed their MetroSafe bag, CamSafe 200, Venturesafe Hip Pack, and RFID wallet,) and the Slingsafe 200 shoulder bag joins the family of anti-theft travel products we love.

slingsafe 200

The Slingsafe 200 iPad Shoulder bag is only one of a family of beautifully-designed, anti-theft products by PacSafe.

With a traditional shoulder bag, thieves can easily slash the strap and make off with it. Or they can cut the belly of the bag or just reach in and steal the contents. Not so with the Slingsafe. This water-repellant bag features eXomesh® slashguards in the lower front, side and bottom panels and a detachable slashproof Carrysafe® shoulder strap that can be anchored to a secured fixture. In addition, the bag has a turn and lock strap hook, smart zippers that can’t be easily opened by intruders, and an RFID-blocking pocket to prevent thieves from electronically stealing your credit card information.

This bag has room for everything yet keeps things organized. It comes with a padded iPad/tablet sleeve, a large front zippered compartment, a large zippered main compartment, a passport pocket, and even an internal electronic pocket. It’s large (14.6”x 12.”x2”), yet it weighs only 12 ounces. This bag is so lightweight, versatile, and stylish that Photo Editor Anne Weaver has adopted this one as her everyday bag. She loves all the pockets that keep her organized and secure. And the Slingsafe 200 comes with a full two-year warranty.

Flipside backpack

LowePro’s FlipSide is the ultimate outdoor photographer’s backpack.

LowePro Flipside 400 AW Photo Backpack– This is a high-performance, large-capacity photo backpack that will thrill any outdoor photographer. When we went looking for the most functional photo backpack, we looked at what legendary Oregon nature photographer Art Wolfe uses and found the LowePro Flipside 400. This backpack is not only highly functional and easy to use, it provides extra security, body-side access, and all-weather protection.

Consider what professional or serious amateur photographers deal with in the field. They need a backpack that will not only comfortably carry all the lenses, camera bodies, tripods, and accessories they might need, but also a backpack that offers fast and easy access. With the LowePro Flipside, you get all that and more.

Slip off the adjustable, padded shoulder straps and you can easily pull the backpack around front, open the silent zipper (great for wildlife or around film crews), and access all your gear. There’s no taking the backpack off or having to set it on the ground. Everything is accessible, right where you need it.

Body-side access makes the Flipside quick and easy to use.

Body-side access makes the Flipside quick and easy to use.

With contoured shoulder straps and padded waist belt to evenly distribute the weight, the Flipside 400 is comfortable to carry even in the most rigorous settings. Its large capacity fits a professional DSLR with up to a 300 mm lens, an extra camera body, four to six lenses, a flash, and accessories and small personal items. All the internal compartments can be adjusted to your needs. There’s a Hideaway Tripod Mount™ to secure a tripod or monopod to the pack and the built-in all-weather cover keeps things dry. The dimensions are 11.93”x9.96”x18.11” yet it weighs only 3.52 lbs.

And, of course, LowePro, a leader in camera cases, stands firmly behind the Flipside 400 AW for as long as you own it.



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Bobbie Hasselbring

RFT founder and the website's former editor-in-chief, Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. She's been an award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook.