Iconic Magnum Photogs Harvey & McCurry Set Out to Create the Ultimate Camera Bags


Outdoor-apparel company Filson has teamed up with two of the most notable Magnum photographers, Steve McCurry and David Alan Harvey, to create the ultimate set of camera bags. From simple totes to full-fledged backpacks, the line-up is impressive across the board.

The goal for Filson and the photographers was to create a bag that McCurry and Harvey would actually want to use, not just something they’d slap their names on. They want these to be field-tested and approved by these photogs’ decades worth of knowledge and insight into what is really needed in a camera bag.

Filson + Magnum backpack in collaboration with David Alan Harvey

McCurry had a specific goal in mind when creating his camera backpack in collaboration with Filson. First, strip the backpack down to its simplest form; then, rather than adding accessories, add only the necessities. Speaking with TIME LightBox, McCurry said:

Functionality is more important than style. Organization is so important, especially in photography. You really can’t underestimate it. You need a system that’s second nature, like a reflex, so you’re thinking about the picture or the situation and not the equipment. You want your full concentration on the work, not fumbling around for things. That would be counterproductive.

Filson + Magnum messenger bag in collaboration with David Alan Harvey

Harvey also had a specific goal in mind with his model. As a self-professed minimalist, portability and durability were two of the most important features — not only for the sake of the bag itself, but also for any photographer’s workflow in general.

“I’m a one-camera, one-lens kind of guy, I always have been, so I really took this down to the bare bones. There’s hardly anything to it, in one sense,” Harvey told TIME. “Photographers tend to think they need a lot more stuff in their bags then they actually do. They’re imagining pockets and padding and all that. I didn’t want any bells and whistles on this, because every extra zipper you add, adds more weight.”

Filson + Magnum messenger bag in collaboration with Steve McCurry

Filson + Magnum messenger bag in collaboration with Steve McCurry

These bags quite honestly look like something you’d see out at a military base or an Army surplus store. And as much as that may be a fashion-statement to some, to McCurry and Harvey, the decision to use the materials and colors they did was out of necessity. They wanted bags that lasted and they wanted bags that were unassuming, as to not draw any unnecessary attention. As McCurry told TIME, “I’m not trying to make a fashion statement.”

Filson + Magnum tote in collaboration with Steve McCurry

Launching tomorrow, May 1st, the bags cost between $245 and $425 a piece depending on which you choose. They’re not cheap by any means, but when you consider the fact that these bags are made to go through hell and back, the price might not seem so daunting.

Not only that, but they are, essentially, decades in the making, with McCurry and Harvey spilling out every bit of insight they have into making a specific camera bag.

As we said above, these famed photographers aren’t just slapping their names on a line of bags they’ll never touch. They’re using them in the field. That fact, more so than any specs or materials or info we could tell you about these bags, makes getting your hands on one a smart decision.

  • gochugogi

    Hopefully that’s not a brass zipper on the Magnum messenger–those wee metal teeth really scratch up your hands and gear.

  • SM

    where do I order one from?

  • cathpah

    Exactly. Filson zippers are great because they’re borderline indestructible, but they’ll scratch the hell out of anything.

  • Patrick

    Filson got its start selling gear to people leaving Seattle for the Klondike. Then they sold tough as nails outdoor clothes to people who worked outdoors, like foresters and loggers, etc. Now their targeting a much more upscale clientele, but they still build stuff the way they used to. These bags will be expensive (but not as expensive as i was expecting when I started reading the article), but it will probably be the last bag you would ever need to buy.

  • Gannon Burgett

    Exactly. You’re paying a pretty penny up front (though not as bad as I would’ve though, as you mentioned), but they’re going to last you at the very least twice as long as any other bag out there, really.

  • everardok

    Yes please

  • Patrick

    My favorite product from Filson is their “tin pants”. You can put them on and wade through a blackberry patch without getting a scratch. :)

  • roseskunk

    I’m a sucker for Filson gear. No doubt I’ll have to own at least one… sigh…

  • Mark Kauzlarich

    The backpack is designed by Mr. Harvey.

  • Gannon Burgett

    You are correct! Thank you, sir. Fixed.

  • Anomouse

    They look like Filson-styled Domkes except those flaps are going to let a lot of dust and dirt in.

  • Marc Weisberg

    Filson is legendary for making bullet proof stuff. I hope that these are made to repel rain too. And use some modern YKK zippers and padding for bumps.

  • Eugene Chok

    take my money !

  • Filson

    For these products, we didn’t use our brass zippers knowing that they can easily damage delicate camera equipment.

  • cathpah

    I’m happy to hear it. Care to shed any light on what type of zippers were used?

  • Bryan Williams

    Seriously. take my money. Where can these be ordered?

  • flightofbooks

    These look basically identical to several bags already on the market. Certainly not worth the 300% to 400% markup. Especially not for poorly designed straps that won’t distribute weight evenly and ridiculous buckles that will make sure the shot is long gone before you can get your camera out. It’s bad enough seeing $100 bags with these flaws, but asking people to pay this outrageous premium for the same bad design is just offensive to common sense. Clearly the involvemnt of McCurry and Harvey is little more than marketing gimmick. Who do they think they’re kidding?

    Oh well. A fool and their money are soon parted, as the saying goes. I see lots of people here are already lining up.

  • flightofbooks

    for $400 they better be able to repel rain, hail, sleet, blood, asteroids, your mother in law etc

  • Filson

    Hopefully, they will. Also, they’re made right here in Seattle, WA and are guaranteed for life.