5.11 Tactical Banger Bag – Camera Bag Conversion
5.11 Tactical Banger Bag – is it any good as a camera bag? Can you easily convert a tactical bag into a camera bag? The answer is yes, here’s how [and why you might want to]
Why the 5.11 Banger?
In 2021 I made the decision to semi retire all my DSLR gear, it kind of coincided with overlanding, everytime I packed up the Shogun I’d wonder if I really needed all that camera gear or if something more simple would suffice for our trips as a family.
Having collected several camera bags over the years the plan was to remove the foam inserts from a couple of them and create some padded protection that would fit into a smaller, more tactical style of bag.
The camera of choice was the Fuji X100v, not a large unit but not really pocketable either and my issue was that all the camera bags I already had where simply too big, designed for DSLR bodies and lenses a fixed lens mirrorless was going to be lost in the likes of a Lowepro Protactic backpack…
So, a much smaller bag was required, I don’t like small bags, my wife tells me I don’t suit them as I’m quite a tall feller, this applying to camera slings and suchlike, going ‘tactical’ would sort the aesthetics while keeping functionality.
Camera bags are tremendously expensive for what they are, sure, they are some very good bags out there and when you consider the value of the gear you lugg around there would be little point in a cheap bag, it’s quailty though that is the key… Ultimately any bag can pretty much be converted into a camera bag, you just need the right protection and a little creativity.
Tactical Bag Converted to Camera Bag
Converting the 5.11 2-Banger bag into a camera bag was one of the easiest, straight forward things I have ever done, people have visions of stitching, cutting fabrics and all kinds of nonsense but it really is very simple.
If you don’t already have padding from other camera bags then you can buy it or you can buy ‘foam padded inserts’ from the likes of Amazon for between €10 – €20 euros depending on the size. The latter is designed exactly for the purpose you are intending to use it for, just mak sure to get the right size to fit into your tactical bag.
Word of warning: Some tactical bags [like many in the 5.11 tactical range] have breather or drainage holes on the floor of the bag, to remedy this simply tape over the holes on the inside of the bag using Gorilla tape or duct tape.
Multifunction modular bag. Offers plenty of space for documents, maps, wallet, additional charger, etc. These shoulder bags can quickly become a chest bag thanks to their quick transition from back to chest.
- Length: 18cm
- Width: 24cm
- Depth: 8cm
- Weight: 500 Gr
- Capacity 3ltr
- Padded shoulder strap.
- Front storage pocket.
- Hidden rear GLK compartment.
- Constructed of tough 1050D nylon.
- Waterproof coating.
- YKK zippers.
So what do these specs mean when it comes to converting this tactical bag into a camera bag? For a Fuji X100 series camera the dimensions are near perfect, shoehorn the padded inserts into the bag and the camera fits snug and comfortably tight while still being easy and smooth to take out at a moment’s notice.
The set up is simple, a zippered front reveals pockets for batteries, USB cables, wallet or keys etc and the small but present molle system on the outside means you can attach smaller items such as a pen torch or similar.
On the inner of the bag one side is all velcro which might come in handy when attaching your padding and there is elasticated webbing to secure more if you need to. The 5.11 Tactical Banger Bag is first and foremost created for use by the police/special forces, it is however a modular system and is just as functional as an EDC bag or in this case camera bag.
On the back of the bag you have a mesh pocket and also a deeper more protected pocket which while being designed for gun magazines actually does extraordinarily well at holding a pair of two way radios.
In conclusion, converting a tactical bag into a camera bag is very easy and the 5.11 Banger was just the right size, for a fixed lens camera you don’t need much in the way of space, just spare batteries and cables etc, the 5.11 Banger is pretty much perfect for that.
For larger systems this approach would also work, a DSLR setup in a tactical messenger would be highly fucntional or you could mix and match depending on your requirements. As for price we paid €46.00 euros for the the Banger, reasonable enough when you consider a half decent sling bag of comparable size would be twice if not three times that.
Where to buy: This one is easy – MasterXtreme [based in Spain] are a premium 5.11 dealer. The service and transaction in general was one of the best I have experienced in Spain and they have a comprehensive selection of 5.11 gear and good prices too.
Have you converted a tactical bag into a camera bag? How did it go, did it last and do you still use it?