domke-2

Domke F2 Rugged Wear Shooter’s Bag Review

The Domke F2 Rugged Wear Camera bag evolved from the original F2 Camera bag which is billed by Domke as “The bag that started it all. Jim Domke had the first one custom made for his own use in 1976, and the F-2 is still one of the most popular Domke Bags today. Designed so that the photographer could get at equipment instantly, without having to take the bag from their shoulder.”

The bag I’m reviewing here is the the Domke F2 RuggedWear version, made from waxed cotton canvas, which I have owned for just over 12 months, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to put it through its paces.

Domke reckon “Like your favorite pair of jeans, Domke camera bags get better with age and with the new Domke RuggedWear™ collection you don’t have to wait. The fabric produces a unique distressed and weathered look right from the start.” Well, I can’t argue with that, I think the bag looks great. I know looks are a very personal thing but I really don’t like that brand new look in a bag. It’s a bit like going to the gym in a brand new pair of trainers, you look like a first timer. I think the rugged wear finish gives the bag an understated, utilitarian, built for the job appearance.

I needed a bag that allowed me to get at my gear and I quickly dismissed rucsac type bags. The times that you need these are limited, your kit is inaccessible and they are usually very bulky. When I’m going hiking for landscape shots I don’t just need my camera so I need a proper rucsac anyway and I can stash my camera gear in that. I also dismissed many bags just simply because they looked naff, shiny or simply overloaded with padding. Some bags are literally built to allow you to put your gear through as airline hold luggage. Now if you plan to do that, don’t let me stop you but I don’t, so why should I carry several kilos of padding around with me when I take good care of my kit anyway?

Manufacturer’s Specs

The Domke F2 RuggedWear is made from high-quality, weather-tough, durable cotton canvas that is treated with special non-solvent, environmentally friendly waxes to afford the fabric a lifelong resistance to inclement weather. The special formula allows the fabric to breathe while the waxes produce a unique, timeless, weathered, distressed patina finish.

Includes an adjustable non-slip Gripper™ Strap with durable cotton webbing, removable bottom stiffener, removable hand carrying strap, YKK zippers, and steel snap hooks.

Weight: 3lbs. 2oz.
Warranty: 2 years
Material: RuggedWear Canvas
Exterior Dimensions: 17″W x 6.75″D x 9″H
Interior Dimensions: 11″W x 6.5″D x 8.5″H

  • Twelve compartments and pockets
  • Patented four-compartment Padded Insert included
  • Adjustable non-slip Gripper Strap runs completely around the bag
  • Removable padded bottom stiffener
  • Removable hand carrying strap included
  • 6 Pockets
  • Additional inserts available
  • Not machine washable

Ideal For: 2 Pro SLRs, 4-6 lenses, pro flash and accessories.

In Practice

When you first look at a Domke bag you’ll be forgiven for thinking “where’s the padding?”. The F2 is not much different; there is a very sturdy removable stiffener in the base of the bag and a four compartment removable padded section. Apart from that, it’s just the thickness of the canvas protecting your gear. However, this is plenty enough protection for everyday carrying around, hand luggage on flights, putting in the boot of the car. Bag makers over the years seem to have managed to convince us our gear is made of balsa wood so we end up carrying our gear round in a bag designed to save it from being chucked off a mountain top that probably adds 25% to the load. Believe me, the F2 provides plenty enough protection for normal use.

The shoulder strap is nice and wide and the rubberised thread that runs through the underside works perfectly to stop it slipping off your shoulder. The additional removable hand carrying strap is also very useful and well thought out.

There are plenty of pockets, including a big zippered pocket in the lid, two large end pockets, two front pockets and a large back pocket perfect for passport, documents etc. There are even two slim pockets at the front that I use for a pen and a torch. One thing this old design doesn’t cater for is memory cards or other small items. I have ended up keeping them in the big zippered pocket in the lid but you have to be careful not to lose them as it is a big pocket.

Domke claim up to 2 pro SLR bodies and 4-6 lenses. The bag does seem to be bottomless and it’s design allows it to move, expand, collapse and mould to your body whatever you put in it. I usually keep a lens attached to the camera and comfortably fit that in with 3 additional lenses and various bits and bobs. There is still room for another lens, this space is currently taken up by my rocket blower as you can see:

Here is all the stuff I have in the bag: Nikon D90, Nikon 70-300mm lens, Sigma 10-20mm lens, Sigma 150mm Macro lens, Nikon 16-85mm lens, Nikon SB 600 Speedlight, spare batteries for flash and camera, flash extension cable, Yongnuo wireless remote release, Giotto Rocket Blower, 10 x Hitech resin filters plus two filter holders, mini mag-lite, pen, pad, card reader, memory cards, camera & flash manual. I also add the camera battery charger if I’m away for any length of time.

Verdict

Overall the Domke F2 RuggedWear has been, and continues to be, fantastic. I love the look of it which I know is very subjective and it may not be to everyone’s taste. It doesn’t scream “I’m full of expensive camera gear”. It’s functional, looks business like and does the job it’s meant to do. It can be wiped down and re-waxed if it needs perking up and will probably last a lifetime. In the 12 months that I’ve owned it I not seen a bag I’ve come close to preferring.

Pros: Looks great, easy access, light, plenty of room for loads of kit. Collapses and moulds to your body if the bag is not full. Plenty of big pockets for roll film, spare batteries, flash, filters etc.

Cons: Could do with a few memory card specific pockets but then this bag was designed some time before digital cameras!
 
🙂

 

Mark

 

8 thoughts on “Domke F2 Rugged Wear Shooter’s Bag Review”

  1. Thank you kindly for the review of the Domke F2 Ruggedwear Shooters Bag. I’ve been using a very nice backpack style bag; however, it does not allow for easy, fast access to my gear. Because of your review, I’ve ordered my own and can’t wait for its arrival! based on another’s recommendation, I’ve also ordered a Ciesta Flexible Partition Camera Insert (Large) to enhance the internal organization and protection of my Canon 7D and several lenses that have each taken months for me to save up for.

    Regards,

    Ken

  2. Thanks Ken, glad you found it useful and I agree; backpacks are great for transporting your gear but not much use if you need to carry and use it. If you find the bag pulling on your shoulder, lengthen the strap and put it over your head so the strap lies crossways across your chest and back – access is probably even easier that way as there is no worry of the strap slipping off your shoulder.

    Hope you like it

    Best regards

    Mark

  3. I have an F3… The same bag, just smaller. I love it, but don’t expect yours to last a lifetime. Mine is 10 years old and the strap is falling apart.

    Changing the strap will be enough to have a perfectly functional bag though…

  4. Thanks for the thorough review, Mark. I have my F2 Ruggedwear on order. In the past 4 years I’ve gone through so many bags trying to find the perfect one. There’s always something cumbersome about each bag I’ve tried. I hope this F2 will be the one.

  5. I’m a former photojournalist who’s used a Domke F2 for close to 30 years. It’s a great bag that holds 2 Nikon bodies, 4 lenses, a flash and memory cards. I love Domke bags. This is the second F2 that I’ve owned and my first one lasted almost 20 years. The thing I love about the bag is that looks worn and if you were the average person they’d never realize that I was carrying thousands of dollars of photo gear.

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