Choosing a proper hiking camera backpack can be difficult. You’re taking your beloved and expensive photography equipment out into nature to capture that perfect hiking moment – there’s a lot of pressure! What if it rains and all your gear gets wet? Or what if your bag gets dropped, bumped, or scrapped on rough terrain? Is there enough space in your pack for your camera, lenses, and other hiking gear?
Thankfully, there’s a solution to all these problems – a photography-focused backpack that’s designed specifically for hiking! These packs take most of the features we know and love from camera bags and give them a rugged overhaul to take on the outdoor elements head-on. So, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the best camera backpacks for hiking, then move on to our list of the top options on the market today.
Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking
Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II
- Price: $170
- Volume: 25L
- Dimensions: 14.17 x 8.66 x 20.47″
- Weight: 6 lbs.
- Holds 2 Pro DSLRs
- Can hold 8 Extra Lenses or Flash Units
- Laptop sleeve
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 gear you carry on a shoot.
Also, the number of zippers allows 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.
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Thule Aspect Hiking Camera Backpack
- Price: $120
- Volume: Approximately 25L
- Dimensions: 20.5″ x 11.8″ x 8.7″
- Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz.
- Removable Hip Belt
- Tripod Side Storage
- Dedicated Laptop Sleeve
Don’t let the Aspect’s small size fool you. The Aspect is a tough little hiking pack with great looks, easy handling, and excellent camera storage. For those of you looking for a compact pack for an adventurous day hike with your favorite camera, this pack’s for you.
We have an open compartment flanked by internal mesh pockets for the hiking side. Although not cavernous, this space is adequate for your day-hiking essentials, from a coat to snacks. The padded back also features an airflow mesh to facilitate cooler hiking. We also have a removable hip belt, allowing for customization depending on your adventure.
Now, onto the camera storage. The side-access zipper reveals a well-organized area with dedicated cubicles for one or two lenses, a flash, a DSLR camera plus lens, and a few other accessories. So, while this bag doesn’t hold quite as much as some of the more extensive options, it offers an array of storage space so you can snap that perfect hiking shot.
We’re also very impressed with the relatively accessible price. The tradeoff is a smaller pack overall. But for light packers or frequent day hikers, the Thule Aspect is all you need for an excellent experience!
We’re surprised and saddened for such a phenomenally designed outdoor bag that Thule doesn’t include a rain cover. This oversight leaves the bag vulnerable to rain intrusion, a definite threat to our camera gear. Therefore, we highly recommend investing in a rain cover to be on the safe side.
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Vanguard Alta SKY 51D Hiking Camera Backpack
- Price: $270
- Volume: Not Available
- Dimensions: 22.25″ x 14.62″ x 10.25″
- Weight: 6 lbs. 7 oz.
- Side, Front, and Top Access
- Tripod Compatible
The Vanguard Alta SKY can be your best camera backpack for hiking for serious travelers who are equally serious photographers. We have meticulous internal storage paired with multiple access points and an incredibly comfortable harness system to make this bag an excellent option for all the adventurers out there.
First off, this bag can carry a lot of gear. If you focus solely on your camera equipment, you can fit two pro DSLR cameras with lenses mounted, plus three to four extra lenses – along with a flash. That’s not to mention the extra space and pockets for even more camera accessories!
Alternatively, you can use this bag’s dividers to separate your hiking gear from the camera supplies and carry plenty of supplies for a full day on the trail. The shoulder straps and torso support can hold plenty of weight for all-day comfort on a hike.
However, while great at protecting your gear, the slightly boxy shape is a little cumbersome during hiking and other adventures. But don’t get us wrong! It is still a phenomenal backpack designed to bridge the gap between the airport and the outdoors, and it does so very well.
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Mountainsmith Tanuck 40L Hiking Camera Backpack
- Price: $220
- Volume: 38.5L Normal – 59.5L Expanded
- Dimensions: 23.5″ x 15″ x 13″
- Weight: 5 lbs. 5 oz.
- Expandable Storage Pocket
- Organizer Cube Compatible
- Chest-Mounted Camera Case
Rugged durability meets camera organization in the Mountainsmith Tanuck 40L. This sturdy bag includes many outstanding features for a successful hiking excursion and several handy additions that allow you to snap pictures of your adventure with ease.
Our favorite feature is the versatile top lid with an internal pocket. It securely caps the top of your pack, or you can remove it, snap it to the front shoulder strap, and voila – you have a secure chest-mounted camera carrying case!
For durability, Mountainsmith has opted for very tough and water-resistant 610D CORDURA. This material can hold up to even the most rugged hiking conditions and will keep your gear safe from the occasional drizzle. Mountainsmith has included a rain cover in a dedicated zippered pocket if the weather turns sour.
The bag’s interior is plenty spacious for your hiking gear – whether it’s a single day or backpacking trip. You can purchase Mountainsmith’s Kit Cube organizers for an even more specialized camera carrying capacity, which fits perfectly in the Tanuck 40L. These cubes can organize several lenses and cameras to keep everything secure and protected during your hike.
We’re a little saddened that the camera-specific cubes do not come with the bag – especially for the steep investment. However, the chest-mounted camera case plus this bag’s rugged design make the Tanuck 40L one of the best camera backpacks for hiking, which can be made even better with the kit cubes.
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Atlas Athletic Hiking Camera Pack
- Price: $350
- Volume: 20L Normal – 40L Expanded
- Dimensions: 24″ x 11″ x 13″ (HxWxD)
- Weight: 4 lbs.
- Water Repellent Material Finish
- Adjustable Integrated Camera Equipment Storage
- Multiple Sizes Available
When a bag is crowned National Geographic’s top recommended camera backpack for travelers, you know it’s a serious adventure pack. The Atlas Athletic has everything a hiking photographer needs in a bag – from organized storage to a comfortable fit.
Let’s start with camera storage. The Atlas Athletic features an ‘origami camera core.’ The adjustable padded integrated organization system includes lens and camera storage to accommodate camera equipment. Adjusting this system for less camera gear makes that space instantly usable for your non-camera hiking gear, such as clothing layers or snacks.
Speaking of space, the Atlas Athletic is incredibly versatile! The standard configuration can fit around 20L worth of gear plus a few extras in the top lid pockets. But in its full expanded glory, the pack can hold up to 40L of hiking gear and camera equipment – plenty of space for an epic hiking trip!
We’re also fond of the 2L dedicated hydration bladder sleeve with tube routing. This feature is perfect for staying hydrated on the trail and segregating your water from your delicate camera equipment at the same time.
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Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 Hiking Camera Backpack
- Price: $200
- Volume: Approximately 30L
- Dimensions: 22.05″ x 9.45″ x 10.63″
- Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
- Side Access Zipper Pocket
- Dedicated Water Reservoir Sleeve
- Good Cinching Mechanism to Secure Gear
The Photo Sport BP 300 from Lowepro is for hiking with a camera! This smaller 30L pack can fit all the essentials for a day on the trail, plus a DSLR with an attached lens along with an extra lens.
The lower portion of this pack is a dedicated, padded, and secure camera gear storage area. We’re also very pleased with the handy side access zipper. This side access allows you to quickly shift the bag to one shoulder, pull the pack around so you can reach the zipper, and have immediate access to your camera to catch that impromptu shot. No more setting the bag down and wasting time as you dig through your gear to find your camera.
The upper portion of the pack, accessible via the drawcord cinch top, provides ample space for trail snacks, extra layers, and any additional hiking gear you need. However, the bag’s smaller size makes it most suitable for day excursions only and likely won’t have enough space for overnight trips.
While the padded shoulder straps, back, and hip belt provide ample cushioning for a comfortable hiking experience, we’re a little disappointed that Lowepro didn’t include breathable mesh material. As a result, it’s straightforward to develop a sweaty back on warmer days. However, the trim and well-thought-out organization and durable materials help mitigate this drawback.
Speaking of materials, the Photo Sport 300 utilizes weather-resistant fabrics to withstand drizzles and includes a built-in rain cover for heavy precipitation.
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Mindshift Rotation180° 22L Panorama Hiking Camera Backpack
- Price: $160
- Volume: Approximately 22L
- Dimensions: 9.8 x 19.7 x 8.3″
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Can Hold iPad or Similar-Size Tablet
- Rotating Beltpack for Camera Gear
- Two optional seam-sealed rain covers
The Mindshift has ended the constant taking on and off the backpack with its rotating belt. This function allows the wearer to access this bag without taking it off. It’s one of the best camera backpacks for hiking. Besides this ingenious invention, the bag can accommodate the camera with a lens attached and an extra lens in the neighboring compartment.
When you thought this hiking camera backpack couldn’t get any better, the Panorama also includes a 2-liter hydration reservoir. It has 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 and comfort make the Panorama worth its price. However, it does remain a quirky bag that might not be for everyone.
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Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW
- Price: $200
- Dimensions: 12.2 x 11.9 x 22.5″
- Weight: 7.3 lb
- Padded Touch-Fastened Interior Dividers
- Front, Rear & Top Access to Gear
It is the latest addition to our collection of hiking camera backpacks, and I couldn’t be more stoked on the bag. This hiking camera bag is purpose-built for those who shoot photos and videos in the harsh elements, precisely winter conditions such as climbs or skis. It’s one of the best backpacks for photographers, but it comes with a high price tag and is heavy. The build quality and design are impressive since it’s for harsh winter elements.
I love that the bag opens from the backside, allowing you to comfortably throw the pack on the ground and reach for gear without fear of the bag tipping or getting wet. It also has side and front straps designed to carry a snowboard, skis, ice axes, or hiking/ski poles (a 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 complaint 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 bear weight. I’d also love a water bottle holder on the sides. I need some form of hydration for carrying such a large bag designed to be outdoors.
Despite my complaints, this bag is the perfect kit addition for any outdoor enthusiast looking to carry some gear high in rough conditions.
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Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
- Price: 219 $$
- Volume: ~40.0 L
- Dimensions: 12.2”x9.45”x21.26”
- Weight: 3.72 lbs.
- 10” Tablet Sleeve
- Exterior Straps for Tripod
- Dedicated Compartments for Multiple Lenses
Lowepro hits the nail on the head with their Flipside Trek when it comes to versatility. This pack strikes the perfect balance between dedicated camera storage, useable gear storage, and all the rugged features we look for in a practical hiking bag.
Let’s start with camera storage. The 450 version of the Flipside Trek provides ample storage space in cushioned dividers for a professional DSLR camera, battery grip, and attached lens. We also have space for 2 to 3 additional lenses and plenty of accessories. Moreover, the straps on the outside of the pack provide ample opportunity to secure a tripod so you can capture those perfect landscape shots. True to its name, the flipside allows you to ‘flip’ the bag across your body and easy access to your camera gear through a body-side access zipper without having to take the pack off.
The upper portion of this pack features open space for all your hiking incidentals, such as snacks and layers. We also have a mesh pocket for storing keys, wallets, and other small items you’d like to keep secure. We’re also particularly pleased that Lowepro saw fit to include a 10″ tablet sleeve. While you may not use it on the trail, it adds to this bag’s overall versatility and makes it ideal for any travel to and from your hiking destination.
Overall, the Flipside Trek is a phenomenal camera bag for hiking, and we have no complaints to discuss. Also, if the 450 is a little too big for your needs, the Flipside Trek 350 offers all the same great features in a smaller size.
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What to Look for in a Hiking Camera Backpack?
When hiking, you’ll need to bring a significant amount of non-camera gear – such as food, water, layers, and potentially a tent and sleeping bag. Keep an eye on how much free space the backpack has available for this additional gear after loading it up with your camera equipment. As a side note, a dedicated sleeve or compartment for a water bladder is a remarkable feature to include in your bag, as it will separate your water supply from your sensitive camera gear.
Pay attention to adjustability. Customizing the camera storage area for more or less equipment is incredibly useful for hiking. This adjustability means you can open up more space for your hiking equipment if you take less camera gear. Conversely, you can add additional slots for extra lenses or cameras if you’re heading out for the day and don’t need a significant amount of extra hiking gear.
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 beating electronics can be severely limited.
What you need is a hiking camera backpack that will be able to repel water just as well as absorb a fall to the ground. Rugged and weather-resistant materials such as ripstop nylon with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) are better suited to the great outdoors than their weaker counterparts.
Hiking camera backpacks are far from cheap. You must be prepared to pay top dollar for the best shock absorption, waterproofing, comfort, lightweight, and numerous compartments. Even though you may just be getting started as a photographer or on a tight budget, that does not mean you can’t keep your equipment safe. Our very first backpack for photographers was a Lowepro.
Most importantly, photographers must decide their exact needs for their camera backpack. While on a budget, it may be necessary to sacrifice durability for comfort. However, there are other options where you can still get the most out of your equipment and still have enough money to spare.
Cameras, lenses, drones, tripods, and all the equipment the average photographer carries around nowadays slowly add up to the point where they will buckle under the sheer weight of their backpack. Ours weighs just under 50 lbs – no joke! These bags aim to take the pressure off the wearer’s back to allow freedom of movement.
Nothing is worse than going on a hike or exploring rooftops and being hindered by the equipment necessary to get your perfect shot. Taking the strain off your back and adequately distributing the weight in a camera backpack is the game-changer 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 a harness can become a nuisance. Itching and twitching under the poorly made material and lack of padding are sure to ruin any trip.
It goes without saying that to truly focus and be immersed in your surroundings, your attention should not be on the pain pressing down your back. With cushions, a well-built frame, and weight distribution, your camera backpack will be sure to keep your equipment safely without the painful reminder that you are carrying several pounds of gear on your back.
Ease of Access
A factor many photographers may overlook when choosing their hiking camera backpack is how easy they will access their equipment when suddenly running across the perfect shot. Many people may stumble with taking off their bag and then fumbling with the zippers until, finally, the opportunity has slipped through their fingers, especially out in nature.
We love camera bags that organize and protect our gear and provide easy access to pull out at a moment’s notice. It is critical always to have your tools ready at hand.
There you have it, adventurers! We’ve covered the best camera backpacks for hiking, so no landscape or sunrise is out of your camera’s reach. From day hikes to multi-day excursions, you’re sure to find the best hiking camera backpack to suit your needs. We also discussed the prime characteristics of the ideal camera backpack for hiking. So, go forth and start adventuring!