I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect camera bag since I started taking photos. Bags that look good aren’t durable or functional; bags that perform like champs tend to fall way short in the style department. Happily, I stumbled on F-Stop bags, which manage to combine the trinity of good looks, performance and durability in backpacks for rugged, outdoor, beardy pursuits. The only downside is that with so many zippers, straps and aluminum support systems, every time I wear it in the city I end up looking like Sir Edmund Douchebag. And so the search went on for the perfect walkaround camera bag. Whether by chance or by fate, the beautifully simple ONA Brixton ($289) recently came across my desk, and after two months of near daily carry, the search might be over.
The Brixton has no zippers, no accessory ports, no Gore-Tex membranes or mesh. It’s a medium-sized swath of waxed canvas, a couple leather straps and a few hits of brass to keep the bag closed. You can get the whole bag in leather, but to me that makes it too precious. While this recipe isn’t new — Billingham has been doing it forever — the ONA is even more discreet, wanting to stylishly blend in, even before the eyes of photo geeks. Inside it’s more of the same minimalism: you get one laptop pocket big enough for a 13-inch laptop and a big padded pocket that can be subdivided into three smaller padded pockets using included inserts — and that’s about it. It’s enough to safely store a DSLR and three lenses, or daily kit for the bag during our Wyoming trip of a Leica Q, Mamiya 7ii and some miscellaneous film, cards and Coors Banquet cans in the third pocket.
Thankfully, that’s about all I can say about the ONA Brixton. It’s good-looking, it’s held up fantastically during two months of heavy use and it carries everything I need for day-to-day shooting or easier-location shoots where the F-Stop bag is too big. In short, it’s the perfect everyday camera bag.