After accumulating an arsenal of photography equipment, consisting of a couple of cameras, several lenses, a drone, and a tripod. You finally have the necessary tools at your disposal to travel to the most remote of places and capture something no one has ever seen before.
Even though you have purchased the most high-end equipment, to ensure that you can take the best shot no matter the circumstances, one small little thing may have slipped your mind. How do you expect to carry around several thousand dollars worth of equipment, weighing well over ten pounds, up steep mountain paths and muddy humid jungles? In cases such as this, your simple run of the mill backpack just won’t cut it.
When packing lenses, tripods, and your precious camera all into a general backpack you are truly setting yourself up for disaster. Not only do you have expensive equipment all beating up against each other, but in such adventurous places where many photographers tend to tread, you run the risk of severely damaging your camera due to the unpredictable weather or by simply taking a heavy fall to the ground. Thus, precautions must be taken to guarantee the safety of your electronics and the assurance that you can still photograph the most out of reach landscapes and destinations.
The answer to keeping your camera and accessories safe and sound is quite simple: buy yourself a backpack for photographers. When browsing through these professional photographer’s backpacks, keeping your camera and lenses safe barely scratches the surface of what these cases can do.
Along with being extremely durable and waterproof, some even have the ability to swing around on a belt, giving you quick access to your equipment so you can be sure to never miss a shot. Others even include hydration bladders along with various compartments and functions which are built into the backpack.
For most travelers a backpack is so much more than a means to lug your equipment around, this will be the bag going with you on some of your most life-changing adventures. It is crucial to find a backpack that will be with you every step of the way and not hold you back. This list compiles the best camera backpacks on today’s market that are suited for all different kinds of photographers.
The Best Backpacks for Photographers
LowePro Fastpack BP250 AW II ($90)
This bag is a tremendous value and one of my favorite backpacks for photographers. The camera bag packs a punch with the number of features included in it. We had this bag for years before just recently upgrading to the more robust LowePro Whistler. The LowePro Fastpack BP250 AW II can carry a camera with an attached lens as well as three other lenses, a laptop, and several jackets or even other articles of clothing needed for the trip at the top.
On the side of the bag, it can accommodate a tripod or bottle of water. The backpack also includes a rain cover for protection from all kinds of weather from monsoons to sandstorms. It does feel a little limited at the top and I had a hard time accommodating all I need for travel like a jacket, water bottle, hard drive, sunglasses, and headphones. In terms of quality don’t expect a robust high-end bag, but it craftsmanship is admirable. Overall, the backpack is a really great value.
Canon Deluxe Backpack 200 EG ($50)
Even though it is the cheapest bag on the list, the Canon Deluxe Backpack deserves a spot for its durability, water-proofing, and amount of storage. The Canon Deluxe can carry 2 DSLRs and from anywhere to around 4-5 lenses. It’s a tank of a bag and has served thousands of photographers reliably for years now.
This backpack is not the most aesthetic looking bag, but makes up for its rugged appearance with practicality. Its sole function is to carry as much gear as possible and keep your camera safe. Although not the most comfortable of bags, it is definitely not the worst either.
The bag itself is also lightweight, making sure not to add unnecessary strain on the wearer. For its price and durability, the Canon Deluxe is one of the few bags that will continue to work for you for years to come.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack ($290)
This is an awesome daypack and backpack that works well for travel and everyday life. We love the gear we have from Peak Design and it’s all exceptionally high quality. Their Everyday Backpack provides a level of accessibility, organization, and quality we’ve seen in no other backpack so far. What makes it stand out is the backpack feels ready to take on everyday life in addition to your photography needs.
It starts off with the top access which uses a patented MagLatch technology that pretty nifty in use and makes for quick access. Access is not limited to the top as both sides open for quick access to your bag that can be section via padded interior sleeves similar to a camera bag. The side pocket also comes with a plethora of pockets and storage that makes for easy organization. For travel, the tuckaway straps and integrated luggage carry system to make it easy to slip on top of a roller suitcase.
The addition of a dedicated laptop sleeve for a tablet and documents is just icing on the cake for a great daypack. One big negative of this pack is the price, as the large 30L version is just shy of $300. While the 20L backpack is cheaper its size feels limited for photographers as fits only one camera and a lens. The backpack is now my go-to travel backpack and makes it on every trip.
Mindshift rotation180° 22L Panorama Camera Backpack ($200)
The wait is over, the famous rotating backpack is here. Mindshift has put an end to the constant taking on and off of the backpack with its rotating belt. This function allows the wearer to easily access his bag without ever having to take it off. It’s one of the best camera backpacks for hiking. Other than this ingenious invention, the bag can accommodate a camera with a lens attached as well as an extra lens in the neighboring compartment.
Just when you thought the bag couldn’t get any better, the Panorama also includes a 2-liter hydration reservoir. It does come with some negatives such as not including a rain cover like the Lowepro BP 450 AW.
The sheer amount of points of access to the bag, as well as comfort, make the Panorama worth its price. However, it does remain a quirky bag that might not be for everyone.
Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack ($140)
The Thule Aspect DSLR backpack can carry a bit of everything. One camera, two lenses, a laptop or tablet, a tripod, and even a small drone. Depending on what you want to carry, many of the compartments fold up to allow flexibility in what you may be hauling that day. Unfortunately, these dividers cannot be taken out of the bag.
Similar to many backpacking bags, this camera backpack also includes a hip belt to take some of the weight off of the wearer. On top of the amount of camera equipment this bag can carry, it can also hold a laptop up to 15-inches in size. The Thule Aspect truly covers all the bases for a camera bag and for a moderate price.
Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II ($175)
The first thing you may notice about the ProTactic 450 is the ease of access to your equipment inside of the bag. The compartments are all completely customizable, allowing you to determine which equipment will be needed to be carried on your shoot.
Also, the number of zippers allow your camera and lenses to be available at any time when needed. The ProTactic 450 can also hold a 15-inch laptop in a dedicated pocket guaranteeing its protection. Comfort is also a big part of the ProTactic 450. This bag includes lumbar support as well as a hip strap. Although priced a bit high, this is one of the best camera bags one can buy on the market today.
Manfrotto Street Camera Backpack ($100)
Carry your camera equipment in a more fashionable style with the Manfrotto Street Camera Backpack. The layout is similar to the Lowepro Fastpack with a large top section and lower section that is padded for camera gear. It’s got a lot of nice features and feels well built and looks very stylish for the price.
You don’t have a plethora of space down below and could probably carry one camera with two additional lenses at best. The organization is great with this bag as it has a dedicated laptop sleeve, side pockets, and multiple slip pouches in the roomy top section of the bag. At times that organization feels a little redundant. I’d prefer fewer compartments and for them to be a mesh to see what’s stored inside.
Additionally, the side pockets have no elastic of straps to secure necessities like a water bottle or tripod. Two things I can’t travel without. If the side pockets aren’t a deal-breaker for you it’s a stylish backpack for photographers with good value.
Evecase Classic Canvas Laptop Backpack ($50)
The budget-priced Evecase Classic should definitely be on everyone’s list when looking at potential camera bags. This canvas backpack can hold a professional camera as well as up to around four lenses. With all that this bag can carry it can get quite heavy. The Evecase Classic does include chest straps; however, it lacks a frame that will take the weight off of the photographer.
If you are of a bigger stature, the many full pockets and compartments may not affect you in the slightest. If you are smaller, however, this bag may carry more than you can handle. If you are able to distribute the weight properly, this can be the perfect bag for any occasion.
Ruggard Outrigger 65 DSLR Backpack ($50)
This is a backpack that is best for photoshoots and hauling a lot of camera gear. It’s large enough to carry two cameras and a plethora of lenses, that includes a large zoom lens like my 150 – 600mm telephoto lens.
Most important is the camera backpack is very effective at protecting gear. A padded interior provides ample shock protection and the nylon exterior is reliable in water resistance. The additional pockets are great for carry spare batteries, memory cards, or filters.
It’s not a great backpack for travel on planes as I prefer either a more versatile backpack or a hard side Pelican Case. However, it’s a workhorse for photoshoots around town or reached via car.
Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW ($200)
This is the latest addition to our collection of backpacks and I couldn’t be more stoked on the bag. The camera bag is purpose-built for those who shoot photos and videos in the harsh elements, specifically winter conditions such as climb or ski. It’s definitely one of the best backpacks for photographers, but it does come with a high price tag. Since it is designed for tough winter elements the build quality and design are truly impressive.
I love that the bag opens from the backside that allows you to comfortably throw the bag on the ground and reach for gear without fear of the bag tipping of getting gear wet. It also has side and front straps designed to carry a snowboard, skis, ice axes, or hiking/ski poles (massive win for our snowboard season).
I like the pullout rain cover for heavy weather. The suspension system is also the most robust I’ve found in a camera bag so far, which is great when carrying 40lbs of gear up a hill. My only complaints would be the size of the top compartment which is too small for storing things like phone charging cables, or whatever accessories I may need on the mountain.
There is a front compartment on the bag, but it’s one large section directly next to the camera gear so it needs to be able to bear weight. I’d also love a water bottle holder on the sides. For carrying such a large bag designed to be outdoors I need some form of hydration.
Despite my complaints, this bag is the perfect kit addition for any outdoor enthusiast looking to carry some gear high into rough conditions.
Things to Consider When Buying a Camera Backpack
As a photographer, the first thing you want to consider when looking at backpacks is, of course, how you can protect your slew of expensive equipment. It doesn’t matter if you are going out deep into the wilderness or simply exploring your city, the amount of a beating electronics can take is severely limited.
What you need is a bag that will be able to repel water just as well as it can absorb a fall to the ground. When spending so much money investing in your camera, an amount should also be used to buy a durable backpack to protect your priceless equipment.
Surprisingly, camera bags are not cheap. For the best shock absorption, waterproofing, comfort, lightweight, and numerous compartments you must be prepared to pay top dollar. Even though you may just be getting started as a photographer or be on a tight budget, that does not mean that you can’t keep your equipment safe. Our very first backpack for photographers was a Lowepro.
Most importantly, photographers need to decide what are their exact needs for their camera backpack. While on a budget, it may be necessary to sacrifice durability for comfort. There are other options, however, where you can still get the most out of your equipment and still have enough money to spare.
Cameras, lenses, drones, tripods; all the equipment the average photographer carries around nowadays slowly adds up to the point where they will be buckling under the sheer weight of their backpack. Ours weighs just under 50 lbs – no joke! The goal of many of these bags is to take the pressure off of the wearer’s back to allow the freedom of movement.
Nothing is worse than going on a hike or exploring rooftops and being hindered by the very equipment necessary to get your perfect shot. Taking the strain off of your back and to properly distribute the weight in a camera backpack is the gamechanger between a miserable trip and an excellent photo shoot.
Many photographers and travelers have painful memories of their backpack’s straps digging into their shoulders and ribs. The constant adjusting and readjusting of the harnesses quickly becomes a nuisance. Itching as well as twitching under the poorly made material and lack of padding is sure to ruin any trip.
It goes without saying that in order to truly focus and be immersed in your surroundings, your attention should not be on the pain pressing down on your back. With cushions, a well-built frame, as well as weight distribution, your camera backpack will be sure to keep your equipment safe without the painful reminder that you are carrying several pounds of equipment on your back.
Ease of Access
A factor many photographers may overlook when choosing their camera backpack is how easy they will be able to access their equipment when suddenly running across the perfect shot. Many people may find themselves stumbling with taking off their bag and then fumbling with the zippers until finally, the opportunity has slipped through their fingers.
Modern camera bags not only have your cameras and lenses organized in such a way that they are ready to be pulled out on a moment’s notice, but today’s bags even have the ability to swing around on a belt, allowing access without even having to set down your luggage. Some of the best pictures are those that are not planned, therefore it is critical to always have your tools ready at hand.
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