Camera bag DISGUISES for theft protection?
Most of our camera bags very obviously look like camera bags, which can tell thieves there's some expensive equipment inside. Some camera bags try to look stylish without looking like a camera bag, which is an improvement, but potentially we could take this to a new level to deter thieves by making a camera bag look like something else completely. Not necessarily for constant use, potentially it would just be for when you need to go through a "dodgy" area. And as I explain in this article, it doesn't mean you need to carry any more than you already do. Lets discuss some various disguises in various sizes..
One example could be a kids backpack, which is maybe the least attractive bag to a thief. The potential of stealing some crayon drawings and an old sandwich should give the bag a very low perceivable value to a thief, which is the most obvious reason this might help, and bright colors might also make it harder to sneak away with.
This could be done most easily by keeping your camera in a standard padded camera bag of your choice and then simply placing that entire bag inside a suitably sized kids backpack when traveling. This would allow you to take the real camera bag out of the kids bag for when you arrive at your destination. There are folding backpacks that are very thin so that they can fold away and take up almost no space or weight inside the real camera bag when needed. Most of them are designed a little too stylish for this use, but a few have some animals on them.
A more "extreme" example could be an animal shaped kids backpack on eBay, which a can be bought from £5 or even less. I like the look of these ones.
For the internal "real" bag, I am a huge fan of the Crumpler belt packs for their superb comfort and versatility. I actually just ordered another smaller one from Crumpler to fit just a mirrorless camera with a small lens. A bag like this should be perfect to fit inside a kids backpack.
Alternatively, you could add your own padding inside any whacky looking bag of your choice. Padded camera compartments can be purchased from about £2.50 on eBay.
Remember to check the quality of the bags you are using! You certainly don't want a bag that would easily rip or allow someone easy access to reach inside the bag, as this might just put your camera in more danger than it was before. This could mean gluing the sipper shut and cutting a small slit in the top of the back padding of the backpack to allow you to take stuff out, or strengthening the bag's strap connection to the bag using needle and thread or maybe even just some super glue. Remember that locking carabiner clips are your friends, when things are clipped to each other it is much harder to steal anything.
An option that could also work for larger camera bags could be a cover that sits on top of the camera bag but does not actually replace the camera bag's own straps, which would likely be my preferred choice of disguise for my uses. This could be done by just making a huge hole in the back of any kids backpack and slipping that over your camera bag, or maybe use a rain cover (which can be bought very cheaply on eBay) and paint a big piggy or bee onto it using some suitable fabric paints, although this rain cover might not look as convincing as a real kids backpack.
This may be unnecessary for many people, but for some who would like some additional deterrent from thieves this could be a very helpful trick. On the down side, you may end up looking a bit stupid, which is a small price to pay for keeping your camera safe in my opinion.
WARNING: YOU are responsible for your bag and equipment, this article is just some ideas without any guarantees whatsoever.