DIY Hack 2-for-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag


Can we really have enough camera bags? In this article, I will show you a DIY hack to easily convert a small travel bag with wheels into a camera roller bag. Basically, you get two bags for the price of one.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

A piece of luggage with wheels on the left and with a padded camera insert on the right – and voila it’s now a camera roller bag!

The one main drawback to being a photographer is the amount of gear you have and what type of bag to store your equipment in. This is especially true whether you are a professional, semi-professional or hobbyist photographer. There is no getting around it, once you invest in any type of camera with interchangeable lens, the add-on extras are similar to lego…you just keep building!

And herein comes the next must-have for any photographer, the camera bag.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

A very inexpensive luggage bag on wheels H54.5 X W34 X D20cm

So much choice

peak design everyday backpack

Courtesy of Peak Design – Everyday Backpack.

With such a plethora of camera bags on the market, it can become a bit of a quandary to know which bag to choose. For me, the one that proves the most comfortable in hauling around gets my vote. Although that said, I do love to see what company is launching the next must-have-camera-bag.

Peak Design’s marketing campaign video for their Everyday Backpack was just brilliant. I had to physically sit on my hands to stop myself pressing the buy button. Oh, I was so tempted!

Assess your needs

My main focus when going to a location shoot is to try and limit the amount of gear I bring. At the same time, I can’t afford the risk of not having that one extra bit of kit that may be crucial to a shot. As I do a lot of location shooting, there have been many occasions where I had to improvise and change the direction of the shoot. This was only possible as I had the extra camera gear with me in my bag. It is about good planning and being professional.

I also find it’s the non-camera gear that is really useful to have with you on a shoot. Even an elastic band comes in handy.

Look at options in non-camera stores

I was at my local shopping center recently and browsing at travel luggage bags. I was on the lookout for one of those carry-on size bags with wheels. Whoever thought of putting wheels on a travel case is a genius.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

This bag from itLuggage proved a great solution for my dual combo – a travel bag that converts into a roller camera bag!

My thinking was two-fold. I needed a small travel bag for trips away, plus I could use the same bag as a camera roller bag. I have always loved the idea of dual functionality with one product, especially when it’s not marketed as such. Plus, storage space in a house can be a premium, so the idea of doubling up on my bags to save space seemed an obvious solution.

The average camera roller case is expensive. One can range from €250 – €500 ($265USD – $530USD) here in Ireland (Europe). If you are a hobbyist photographer, this price tag may seem pretty high and way above your budget range.

DIY camera roller bag

The simple idea of turning a travel bag into a DIY camera roller bag is just brilliant. What I really liked most about this hack is there is no DIY or customization to be done to the actual bag and it looks great.

travel bag with wheels - DIY camera roller bag

An in-expensive travel bag from itLuggage.

I first saw the concept of turning a luggage bag into a DIY camera roller bag on Fstoppers a few years back. So, I’m in no way claiming this as my idea. However, it is so simple and easy that it is worth sharing the idea again in case you missed it.

This bag which caught my eye was ridiculously cheap at €39, approximately $41 USD. It is extremely lightweight and the size was perfect. H54.5 x W34 x D20cm (21.4 x 13.8 x 7.8”). Plus, this size of the bag meets the strict dimension requirements of European budget airlines.

Customize or DIY the bag

I was able to source this padded camera divider with an egg crate foam from B&W International. Even with the Sterling conversion to euros plus shipping. It cost me €50 ($53 USD) and in my opinion, was well worth it.

The dimensions of this padded camera divider were perfect for my travel bag:  H43 x W30 D12.5cm (with the egg foam 15cm). (16.9” x 11.8” x 4.9”). Do a search on Amazon for padded dividers by B&W or Pelican to find more size options to fit your bag snugly.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Inexpensive travel bag with wheels with a padded camera insert and egg crate foam from B&W International. DIY camera roller bag. 

I was impressed with the overall quality and robustness of the material. The dividers are all easily removable and can be configured to your own setup.

padded camera insert

Padded camera divider insert with modifiable velcro attachments, typical of most camera bags.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Quality padded camera insert from B&W International.

The whole camera bag insert fits snugly into the travel bag with ease.

Try it out

I brought my new roller camera bag to a local event recently and it worked a dream. More importantly, my shoulders were not screaming at me the next day, as those little wheels did all the work.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Camera gear packed into the padded camera insert with lots more room to spare.

Now, I can’t wait to go away on a trip and use my new travel bag with wheels. I’ll keep you posted!

Have you already done this DIY camera bag hack? Would you consider doing it? If so, please leave your comments in the section below.

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Sarah Hipwell is an independent professional photographer based in Dublin. She specialises in high-quality corporate, stock and portraiture photography. Her background is in Design. She received her BA in Hons Design from the University of Ulster, Belfast. She has many years commercial design experience working as a designer and as a trainer for large multimedia companies. See more of her work at or at 500px.

  • Lyric Dekho
  • Massimo

    Heck of an idea. Thank you.

  • outlawdealer

    My idea, which I have not tried yet, is very similar. Buy a rolling tool box and then get some foam for couch cushions and the like at Hobby Lobby or somewhere. Then cut out the outlines of your gear and you can customise it for your needs. While the box itself is a bit more cumbersome the foam would offer more protection in the long run without however the convenience of the clothing bag..

  • Edward Millership

    Roller bags are definitely the way to go. But, here’s another way. Next time you’re shopping for bodies or even better, glass, get your supplier to throw a trolley case in with the deal, you can then get one for low cost or free..

  • Facebook User

    I bought a Kiplinger roller bag and added a padded camera insert from b&h photo in NY. It is the BEST! Carry on size, it has a light colored interior which makes it SO easy to find little black camera flotsam that always seems to migrate to the bottom of a bag.

  • Sarah Hipwell

    I do love the little key-ring monkeys that come with Kipling bags:-)

  • pincherio

    Stick in a laptop sleeve and you’re golden.

  • Lisa Walker

    I source foam plug blocks popular in the firearm world. The foam is soft yet strong and by pulling the “plugs” from the block, I create cells and compartments that’s unique to my gear and create a shadow to instantly alert that something is missing

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