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Timbuk2 Informant camera bag review: Little camera bag with lots of space

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Messenger-style bags, in my experience, aren't a great design for camera bags. They tend to be big, which makes them easy to overload, and that makes them uncomfortable and awkward to use. That's not the case with Timbuk2's Informant Camera Sling.

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8.3

Timbuk2 Informant camera bag

The Good

The <b>Timbuk2 Informant</b> camera sling gives you a lot of room in very little space. It's more comfortable to wear than a messenger-style camera bag, but gives you the easy access you get from a shoulder- or sling-style camera bag. It has room for a 10-inch tablet or 11-inch laptop.

The Bad

There are no silencers for the front hook-and-loop closures (and they are loud when opening), and the strap isn't removable.

The Bottom Line

A pretty great grab-and-go camera bag, the Timbuk2 Informant camera sling is a perfect fit for dSLR or mirrorless camera users who want a lot of storage in a little bag.

The Informant isn't a pure messenger bag, like those that Timbuk2 is best known for. It's also not the typical camera sling bag, which tend to be backpacks with single straps, or a regular shoulder camera bag.

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It has elements from all three bag types, though, which is probably why it works so well. The Informant comes in two sizes -- small ($99) and medium ($119), which is the one I tested -- and both are designed to be worn across your back like a messenger. They both have a tough nylon strap with a compact cam buckle for one-handed adjustments.

A big cushy shoulder pad is also a carryover from Timbuk2's messengers, as is the durable ballistic nylon construction and the included removable cross-body stabilizer strap, which helps keep the bag from flipping around when you're riding a bike.

It even has the traditional front flap of a messenger bag. Or, at least, that's how it appears.

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Unlike on a messenger bag, there isn't one big flap secured at the back covering everything inside your bag. On the Informant, it's sort of one big flap secured at the middle, basically covering two separate compartments. The top half covers the main storage compartment, while the bottom half (or front) of the flap covers two large storage pockets in front.

The left pocket has an organizer inside for a phone, pens, keys, earbuds, or whatever else you want to jam in them. The right side is just a big pocket, which, while testing out the bag, I used for a sling camera strap.

The flap is secured over the pockets with a strong hook-and-loop closure, so it'll keep big things from falling out, but anything small you'll probably want to put in the main camera compartment. Also, the closure is really loud and there are no silencers. If you're taking this to an event or someplace where you need to be quiet, I wouldn't store anything essential in these pockets.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On back, which would be the part against your body while wearing it, is a zippered pocket. It's a good place to stash the included rain cover; the nylon can handle minor splashes or a brief period of light rain, but for full-on downpours, you'll want to slip on the cover.

This pocket is also a good place to quickly store lens caps when shooting. It's big enough to hold a Kindle or even a Kindle Fire, too, though the latter isn't exactly comfortable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The base of the bag is actually flat and wide enough that you can set the bag down without having it roll over (assuming you have more weight in the main compartment than in the front pockets). A handle on top, something you don't typically find on messenger bags, makes for fast grab-and-go departures. However, because of the size and shape of the bag and the length of strap, it's easy to get the strap twisted. And, since it's not removable, straightening it out again requires more effort than it should.

There are straps on the bottom to give you a place to attach a small tripod or monopod. There's a good amount of padding on the bottom, too, so it can take some knocking around.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Again, the main compartment is sealed with a zipper, and the top flips open away from you. This means if you're wearing the bag when you open it, you don't have to hold back the top when you're getting things out of it.

The fully padded interior is lined with bright blue anti-scratch tricot with movable internal walls. The color makes it very easy to see your gear or spot that stray memory card that's fallen into the bottom of the case.

The Informant has enough room for one camera body with a medium lens attached and up to three additional lenses (depending on size, of course). There are also two zippered mesh pockets inside the top to stash essential accessories, spare batteries, and memory cards. It would be nice if it had a discrete pocket for a flash unit, but it doesn't.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There is also a separate section inside that runs the length of the bag that's big enough to hold an iPad or MacBook Air or similarly sized tablet or laptop. There's a strap inside to help keep a tablet or laptop in place, too.

The smaller version of the Informant fits one camera body with a medium lens and two additional lenses, but it will hold only smaller tablets, and there are no tripod straps.

Conclusion
The Timbuk2 Informant camera sling is a lovely little camera bag. It's a great fit for a day-trip bag for photographers who just want to bring just a little more than essentials. Its size also makes it nice for someone who is just starting out and maybe only has one or two lenses. It's something you can keep all your gear in so you can just grab it and go without worrying about leaving something behind.