Even though I have a garage full of different camera bags, I tend to stick to one or two backpacks and one messenger bag for almost all my photo outings. The messenger bag I almost always turn to is the Exposure 15 from Mindshift. I have been using this bag regularly for multiple years and still love it.
While I still get out and hike and go on as many photography adventures as possible, my photography has changed a lot in the past decade as I have had kids and been immersed in my career as an attorney. Now I find my camera accompanying me on a lot of car rides, family outings, city walks, and business trips.
These uses is where a good messenger bag becomes super convenient. It takes up a lot less room in the car and provides easier access to your gear than you get with a backpack.
The messenger bag is also a great way to be able to take your camera with you on work outings. I travel a bit for work and find myself with lunch breaks and evenings in different cities. It is great to walk straight from a deposition to a photography walk using the same bag.
The first camera messenger bag I used was the kickstarter star Everyday Messenger bag from Peak Design. While that messenger bag is pretty sweet, it didn’t work for me all the time because it didn’t fully fit my laptop.
I went through a couple other messenger bags after that before Mindshift Gear launched the Exposure series. I have always been a big fan of Think Tank and Mindshift so I got an Exposure 15 right when they were launched.
I have not purchased another messenger bag since getting the Exposure 15. It is a very well made bag that is comfortable and easy to use and is still in great shape after multiple years of use.
I Appreciate the Adventuring Features of the Exposure
Even though the Exposure is designed with tougher materials to be used on outdoor adventures, it is still a pretty inconspicuous bag and could be mistaken for a normal laptop bag or casual briefcase. This is great for being able to use the Exposure 15 as a work bag in addition to just as a camera bag. I use it all the time in business meetings and nobody has any idea my camera is inside for me to use after work or during a lunch break.
You can really see the outdoor-friendly ability of the bag when you get into the construction details. The Exposure bag is built with waterproof sailcloth panels, strategically placed storm flaps, water-repellent DWR fabric, and a sturdy Tarpaulin bottom.
The Exposure isn’t waterproof of course, but it holds up great in bad weather. I am pretty confident this messenger bag will provide more weather protection than any other messenger bag on the market. Even though the bag construction will protect in most shooting weather, it does come with a separate rain cover if it is pouring down rain and you need a little extra protection.
Other Features I Love
Just like and every other Think Tank or Mindshift Gear bag I have ever used, the zippers on this bag are top notch. Just the zippers used by these brands keep me loyal.
While zippers are not exciting, a cheap zipper ruins a bag and nobody wants to have a $200-$300 bag where the zippers break, the zipper grip comes off or the zipper tread comes apart. All of those things have happened to me with fairly expensive camera bags, but never on anything made by Think Tank or Mindshift Gear.
The shoulder strap on this bag works really well for me. It is not too bulky, which would get in the way, but the bag still has a nice shoulder pad with enough padding to make the bag comfortable to carry.
The shoulder strap adjustment is really smooth and easy to use such that adjusting is really simple. This is nice because I find different adjustments can make the bag more comfortable depending how heavy the load is or what type of activity you are doing.
This bag also has a separate cross-body stabilizer strap that you can attach if you want some more comfort during a hike or longer walk. Honestly, I have only used it for the sake of testing and reviewing, but it could be convenient for someone who is being more adventurous with their messenger bag.
The front flap on the Exposure connects to the front of the bag with a normal buckle that is easy to use, and which is also really easy to adjust. This is nice as there is no learning curve to getting easy access to your gear like with some bags that over-engineer that attachment.
The big flap also has a quick-access pocket on the outside that is convenient for storing things like batteries, memory cards, remotes, microfiber cloths and so forth.
One of the coolest things about Exposure bag that isn’t a given with messenger bags is the ability to carry a tripod. The tripod attachment straps on the Exposure fit on the bottom of the bag and and make carrying a tripod really easy and comfortable.
The tripod straps are easily removable, leaving nothing that gets in your way when you aren’t carrying a tripod.
The inside of the Exposure bag
The Exposure bags come in two sizes: the 13 and 15. I tested the Exposure 15 because at the time I was using a 15 inch laptop computer. I always appreciate finding a 15 inch messenger bag because a lot of companies only go up to 13 inches now.
Even on bags that do carry a 15 inch laptop, I often had issues with my laptop being a very tight fit. That was not the case with the Exposure. My computer easily slides into the laptop pocket, even when the bag is fully loaded. This is great for anyone that uses a laptop a lot to have easy access, even when travelling and you have to get it back in with a long line of people behind you at security.
This bag doesn’t look huge, but the inside has a surprising amount of space. In the main part of the bag, I easily fit my Fuji body with four lenses, a ball head, a filter set and a few other things.
In front of the main part of the bag, there is a zipper pocket that can also fit quite a bit. This zippered pocket is great for carrying anything you want to keep secure while also maintaining the ability to reach it pretty quickly. I use this pocket all the time to hold things like my Platypod, filter sets, keys, phone, spare batteries and lens cloths.
In front of the bigger zippered pocket, there are a few open pockets where you can fit a fair amount more that you want easy access to but don’t need secured with a zipper. I have used these pockets for my rain cover, paperback books, my cell phone, a map, snacks and much more.
The next pocket is a small zippered one on the flap. You aren’t going to get a lot in this, but it is perfect for spare batteries and memory cards.
The final pocket on the Exposure is a pouch on the side of the bag. This is great for carrying a water bottle. I wouldn’t buy another messenger bag without this pouch as it just doesn’t make sense to make it without one.
Finally, there is a small strap on the other side of the bag which works well to attach a Peak Design Capture Clip or something similar so you can carry your camera easily on the outside of the bag, which I like to do if I am doing street photography.
After a couple year, I am still regularly using the Exposure bag, which is saying a lot since I go through camera bags pretty regularly.
As of the writing of this article, the Exposure 15 can be picked up on Amazon for $139 and the Exposure 13 is available on Amazon for $129. Unless you love Amazon though, I highly recommend you buy it directly from Think Tank. They take great care of you and You can also get deals from time to time (20% off as I am writing this)