There are a lot of really cool bagmakers out there that are producing their bags right here in the USA, and one of the classics in the camera bag industry is Domke.
I recently started taking some filming on the road with our Made in the USA factory tours and other projects, so I got a Domke camera bag to review and see if they are still just as good as they were many years ago.
I chose the F-8 shoulder strap bag because I don't have a ton of lenses or other accessories that I am carrying around all the time, but as you'll find out, my opinion is that your camera bag is probably something you can afford to "size up" on, especially if you're carrying a lot of awkwardly shaped gear.
Alright, let's get into the review.
Domke has been synonymous with camera bags for over 40 years and is even the official camera bag of the White House News Photographers Association.
These days, Domke is owned by Tiffen, a well know American manufacturer of camera and imaging accessories. Typically with a lot of these big acquisitions, you'll see the new parent company change up a bunch of operations and potentially move manufacturing overseas. That's not the case here - Tiffen kept Domke manufacturing in the U.S. and we're really glad they chose to continue supporting American workers.
Domke has about 20 different camera bags you can choose from that range from the small F-8 shoulder bag to the much larger J-1 and F-2 shoulder bags. They also have a few different styles to choose from, the most popular being the:
- RuggedWear (the one I have) - waxed cotton canvas
- Original - cotton canvas
The main difference is really just the look and feel.
Domke also offers some limited edition camera bags like their camo bag which helps benefit these great charities focused on veterans: Fisher House, Homes for our Troops, Gary Sinise Foundation, ECAD (Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities). I might pick up one of these camo bags next to show support!
What We Like Best
I've been testing out the Domke F-8 RuggedWear shoulder bag for a few months now and really love it. It is a smaller bag, but if you just need to carry around your camera with one or two lenses and a couple smaller accessories like mics, it's a really good option.
Starting with the feel and construction, I really like the RuggedWear waxed cotton canvas. It feels super durable and protective and it is water resistant.
The straps and hardware on this camera bag are super durable. The shoulder strap is easily adjustable and comfortable, and it's easy to clip on and off. I was carrying around this camera bag all morning during my Boardroom Socks factory tour and it never got in the way of any shots or felt unbearably heavy. The clip in the front is also easy to use.
When it comes to pockets, the Domke F-8 has a lot of them, which helped me fit a surprising amount of gear in such a small space.
There are two outside pockets on either end of the bag, one large pocket in the front, and a zippered pocket in the upper flap on the bag. I am able to easily fit some spare camera batteries, SD card, and charger in the side pockets; my mics in the front pocket; and a little notebook in the zippered pocket up top.
The adjustable interior is probably one of the biggest perks of this bag and Domke bags in general. The F-8 comes with two interior separators making three compartments when you first order it. For a medium size DSLR or mirrorless camera, that can make for a pretty snug fit. So, I removed one of the separators to make two roomier compartments which helped me fit my camera and lens in there perfectly. They still felt snug too so they aren't jostling around during travel.
Overall, I really like the Domke F-8 RuggedWear small shoulder bag for folks who are just carrying a small amount of equipment.
What We Don't Like
Like I mentioned above, this F-8 bag is a bit tight if you need to carry a lot of accessories. I'd say that I am close to max capacity right now with my camera, single lens, mics, spare battery and SD card, and a small notebook in there. If I keep buying new lenses or equipment, I will probably upgrade to an F-2 bag.
Also, if you're looking for a bag that you can completely close off with a zipper during some inclement weather or travel, this F-8 bag does not have that feature.
For what it is, the Domke F-8 RuggedWear shoulder bag definitely does not disappoint. This camera bag is incredibly durable with great adjustable interior space that is perfect for anyone with a small amount of gear that is shooting on the go.