Riley J.B. - Photographer & Alchemist


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

The Brixton by ONA Bags:: A Review

Photographers are obsessed with two things. 1) Light & 2) Finding the perfect camera bag. At least that is how it is for me. I have bought so many different bags over the years. I am always trying to find perfect balance between fashion, function and comfort. 

There are some points that I like to think about when I am shopping for a new camera bag..

Does this look like a camera bag? If it does I put it back on the rack.

Does this look like a purse? As a man it is important for me to not have a purse.

Will my gear be protected if it slips off of my shoulder? It has happened once or thrice.

It is cool? This is not important to most people but I am still at the stage where I like things that are cool looking. 

While doing late night searches for camera bags on my iPad I came across ONA.. they make a variety of bags out of leather and waxed canvas. The leather Brixton was exactly what I was looking for. Initially the price put me off. $419US for a bag.. plus shipping to Canada! As my search continued I could not find a similar messenger bag made of leather that had the classic looks I was wanting.

As I found myself back looking at the Brixton and learned that it was being sold by B&H who had a better rate on shipping to Canada. Having just sold my entire dSLR kit I had some money burning a hole in my bank account. 

When the bag arrived I took it out of the box and then out of it's protective dust bag. My initial thought was "They sold me a used bag!" I had ordered antique cognac leather and yes.. it looked antique. In my my mind I thought it would be a fairly new looking bag that would age into a beautiful antique looking bag. It looked like I wanted it to but I was worried if it was already worn in, would it affect how long it will last? I eventually accepted how gorgeous it looked and was happy it would not take years of use to have it look like it did.


As a guy with a svelte built I did not want a bag that was too big like a duffle bag. I find the bag fits me great and the strap is adjustable so it can hang low or higher up. It has a pretty comfy shoulder bag that  it canvas on the underside. The pad also moved along the strap. I hate it when they are fixed on the strap since then I can only have it hang comfortably one way.

ONA bag + Red Wing Boots = Hipster Paradise {Photo by Curtis Gee}

The main theme of this bag is it is built to last. The leather is great and the hardware is antique brass. Looks great and functional.

Aged like it was handed down from your Grandfather.

Not into the antique leather? Or your bank account is not into antique leather? ONA also makes this same bag in a waxed canvas as well in a few colours for $269. Still not cheap. 


Once I had fit my Fuji gear into the bag I accepted that it was the best camera bag I had ever owned and it didn't look at all like a camera bag. It fit my gear perfectly. The inside is really soft with moveable dividers. There are two front pockets but do not expect to fit a strobe in them. I usually slide my ND filters in one of them but it is tight reaching in to fetch them.

The bag comes with 4 dividers that velcro into the bag. 3 short ones and a large one that makes a spot for a 13" laptop or an iPad. I will likely remove the large laptop one and buy some extra medium or large dividers that ONA sells to really personalize the inside. The 3 short ones work for me for now. What is missing on this bag is a small interior pocket for batteries or memory cards. They could even make a laptop divider with this built into it. I just have to have batteries and other small items punched together in one of the corners.

Interior Pockets

I have used the bag on short trips and also 7 hour expeditions. On shorter journeys and to and from shoots it is ideal. Very comfortable and can carry what I need. However, walking through downtown for 7 hours really did give me a bit of a knot in my neck the next day. Here is the gear I had in the bag on that trek and typical of what I would have in it at any given time:

Since my two cameras were on the floor this is an iPhone5s photo.. not too shabby, eh?

It is a small kit but keep in mind that the bag does weigh 4.1 pounds empty (A full pound lighter than the waxed canvas version). I probably will not have this hanging from a shoulder on a hike.. or another 7 hour trek on pavement. ONA does make a pretty cool backpack as well.. called 'The Camps Bay' that would be better suited to that.. but the bank account says "No more bags....... for a while."


The Good

-Has the best look of any camera messenger bag out there;
-You will be handing it down to your grandkids.. to probably carry a moon-ray gun or something in those times;
-Does not look like a camera bag;
-Very subtle ONA branding;
-Good protection for your gear;
-Adjustable strap;
-Can carry an iPad or 13" laptop.

The Not-So-Good

-It is expensive;-The front and side exterior pockets are not that useable;
-it weighs 4.1lbs empty;
-Despite not looking like a camera bag the leather version looks expensive and is not surreptitious.

You can check out the ONA Brixton bag at the links below:
{Antique Cognac Leather} {Dark Truffle Leather} {Smoke Canvas} {Field Tan Canvas} {Black Canvas} {}

And you can follow what I do on my social media at the links below:

{Instagram} {Tumblr} {Twitter}


*Note: I do not have any affiliation with ONA Bags and they have not asked me to review this bag. I just am passionate about photography gear and I want to provide some opinions on the gear I use for photography. And I do not use affiliate links on my blog.