Shimoda Top Loader Review – Great Rugged Camera Holster

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The Shimoda Top Loader is a holster-style shoulder bag made from water-resistant resin-coated nylon. Designed for a single camera and a single lens, the main compartment is expandable to allow you to use any lens up to a 70-200mm f/2.8. It offers multiple carry options that I will show in more detail later in the review, and it comes with a padded shoulder strap. I purchased this bag at full price through regular retail channels.

Video Review

If you prefer to read the written review, you can always watch the video review below. Remember to like, comment and subscribe! It really helps the channel.

Shimoda Top Loader Specifications

  • Weight: 0.8lb / 0.36kg
  • Outside Dimensions (in): 7.1W x 10.2H x 5.9D in.
  • Outside Dimensions (cm) :18W x 26H x 15D cm
  • Inside Dimensions (in): 6.3W x 7.9H x 5.1D in.
  • Inside Dimensions (cm):16W x 20H x 13D cm

Carrying Capacity

The Shimoda Top Loader is designed for mirrorless cameras or regular DSLRs. There is not enough room for gripped bodies or pro-sized DSLRs like the Canon 1D X series. You can comfortably fit a 24-70mm f/2.8 attached to a camera when the bag is in its standard mode. If you expand the bag using the zipper at the bottom, you can fit up to a 70-200mm f/2.8. The expansion mechanism is quick, smooth, and easy. This is the best implementation of an expanding camera case I have seen.

Expanded mode.

Carrying the Shimoda Top Loader

Shoulder Strap

The Top Loader comes with a lightweight shoulder strap that offers just enough in the way of padding. Those who think they will carry it should note the images above. If you carry it on one shoulder, the rear positioning of the strap attachment points (D-rings) causes the bag to hang awkwardly (left-hand image). Only the bottom of the bag contacts your body, and it tends to swing around wildly when you walk. If you wear the strap across your body (right-hand image), you’ll notice that the bag now hangs in a much better position. It’s flat to the body, and the added contact makes it much more stable when you move around.

I found this difference between strap modes to be unfortunate. I wouldn’t say I like wearing straps across my body, and I avoid it wherever possible. I have tried many similar bags to the Top Loader, and all have the shoulder strap mounted on the side of the bag, not the rear. Had the shoulder strap mount points been on the side in the middle, the bag would have worked equally well in either carrying orientation.

Backpack Waist Belt

The next option you have to carry the Top Loader is to mount it onto the belt of your backpack. While this would work with many different packs, the Shimoda Action X v2 packs are designed with this in mind. The waist belt of the Action X v2 series is tapered in width towards the body of the pack. This means that once you slide the wider part through the Top Loder’s belt loop, it’s fastened on incredibly tightly.

This clever piece of the design means that even with the weight of a camera in the Shimoda Top Loader, you can safely unfasten the waist belt of the pack and just let it hang. With most other packs, the Top Loader would slide right off onto the floor at this point, but not with the Action X v2 series.

I was really pleased with this setup, and I absolutely loved being able to undo the belt and not worry about the Top Loader coming off. The size of the Shimoda Top Loader bag is perfect for this application, too. It disappears out of your peripheral vision and doesn’t get in the way while you are hiking. Yet remains easily accessible in a hurry when you need it.

Backpack Chest Harness

You can also mount the holster on your chest if you purchase the additional accessory straps for the Top Loader. Again, many backpacks with daisy chains on the shoulder straps will allow this, but the Action X packs have been designed with the Top Loader to ensure a perfect fit. Some people like to use camera holster bags this way, but I prefer to mount them on the waist belt. I can’t see much of my feet when I have it on my chest. Still, the option is there for people who want it.

Jetpack Mode

I have to say that I haven’t tried this particular mode, but I saw the video of it on the Shimoda YouTube channel!

What about the weather?

The exterior material of the Top Loader is heavily weather resistant, but the main access zipper is not. It’s just a regular zipper, not a water-resistant YKK Aquaguard. I would have liked to see a waterproof rain cover included with the bag or at least to have one available as an optional purchase.

This bag was designed to work well with the Action X v2 backpack series. Those bags use the same external material but have an optional rain cover. What happens if you use the Top Loader externally mounted to your Action X pack and then find yourself in prolonged torrential weather? You can reach for the rain cover for your pack, but there’s nothing to cover your Top Loader. This means you have to hope you have enough spare room in your bag to pack the Top Loader into it. I rummaged around in my cupboards and found a cover from another old bag, which now lives in my Shimoda Top Loader.


This is another well-made product from Shimoda Designs. If you’re looking for a holster bag for a camera with one lens, it should be on your shortlist. For owners of the Shimoda Action X backpacks, the Shimoda Top Loader is a must-have accessory. It works well when attached to the bag’s waist belt, and it’s great to have a shoulder bag when you reach your final destination, whether in an entirely different country or simply your camp spot for the night.

One thing I would like to see for future iterations is a relocation of the D-rings for mounting the shoulder strap. If they were placed on the side of the bag and not the rear, the bag would be easier to carry on one shoulder. I’d also like a rain cover as an optional accessory or even included with the bag. Overall though, this is a great bag. The rugged materials are appreciated for days in the mountains, and the stealthy black design also makes it a low-key option for general travel and city usage.

Where to Buy + Save 10%

Shimoda Designs has offered Shutter Muse readers a 10% discount on anything purchased through their online stores. US, Canadian, UK, French, or German residents should use the discount code ShutterMuse10 after clicking here to access the store. Australian readers should use the same code on the local Shimoda distributor’s site, Maxxum, instead.

I recommend shopping directly with Shimoda, if you can, to take advantage of that 10% discount. However, using one of our other links is always appreciated if you can’t do that. Shimoda doesn’t ship directly to Canada, so fellow Canadians should buy from B&H Photo using the links below to take advantage of their free shipping and easy pre-paid duties.

Photo of author
Professional photographer based in Yukon, Canada, and founder of Shutter Muse. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, Apple, Adobe and Red Bull.

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