Whether you’re an amateur photographer with aspirations for the big time or a complete novice just dipping your toes into the world of photography, eventually you’re going to need a quality backpack. While quality DSLR and mirrorless cameras are lighter than they’ve ever been, they’re also expensive pieces of machinery, and you’re going to want something sturdy to keep them secure. That’s not even taking into consideration the wealth of lenses and other specialty equipment that more advanced photographers need to lug around.
Whether you’re hiking the trail looking for nature panoramas or shooting portraits, a backpack is a practical necessity. This list of the best camera backpacks can help you get your bearings and find a quality option that fits your budget and your needs.
- The Best Camera Backpack
- 1. Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack
- 2. Vanguard Alta Sky 66 Camera Backpack
- 3. LowePro Tahoe BP 150
- 4. TARION M-02 Canvas Water-Repellent
- 5. Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II
- 6. K&F Concept Waterproof Travel Bag
- 7. Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW
- 8. TARION RB-02 Camera Backpack
- 9. Incase DSLR Pro Pack
- 10. Vanguard Alta Sky 45D
- Best Camera Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
The Best Camera Backpack
1. Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack
Located in the upper mid-range of our list, this DSLR camera backpack is well worth the price. Thule is more known for their ski and bike racks, but their commitment to offering sturdy and rugged outdoor equipment makes them a surprisingly good match for camera backpack construction. Its muted design doesn't scream camera case, but its interior is well designed for the task at hand. The front pocket is designed for small components like lenses and smartly makes them readily accessible for work in the field, while a pouch on the side can work equally as well for tripod storage or carrying an extra water bottle. A rotating compartment gives you easy access to your camera while keeping it secure. Thule also had the foresight to include a sleeve for a tablet or computer, a smart choice given how important these have become in a photographer's tool kit.
2. Vanguard Alta Sky 66 Camera Backpack
As one of the three backpacks on our list exceeding $200, Vanguard's Alta Sky 66 has a lot to prove. But if you're a serious photographer looking for a rugged pack that can carry everything you need, it's sure to pass the test. This Canon camera backpack is also adaptable to work with Nikon and Sony machinery, and it's built explicitly with professionals in mind. The snug camera pocket is fitted for DSLR cameras with a 600 f/4 or 800mm f/5.6 lens, but there's plenty of room for accessories as well. Interior and exterior pockets are both built in, and it includes exterior straps for carrying tripods with you out into the wild. This is an enormous bag capable of holding a lot of gear, but Vanguard has fortunately included a padded waist belt to reduce fatigue and minimize the risk of injury.
3. LowePro Tahoe BP 150
There was a time when Lowepro was practically the alpha and omega of quality camera bag manufacturers, and while there's significantly more complication on the market, their years of experience puts them at a distinct advantage. The BP 150 may be one of their most inexpensive models, but it's still an impressive piece of work that benefits from their acquired knowledge. This is a travel backpack through and through. The strap can do a solid job of keeping a tripod secure even on long and arduous hikes, while the roomy front pocket should be able to hold all the necessary accessories you'd need for a full day's work. The quilted padding is weather resistant, but the biggest selling point here is likely the UltraFlex panel. Located in the main compartment, this allows you to customize the balance between your personal and your professional gear.
4. TARION M-02 Canvas Water-Repellent
There's a lot to like about the look of the TARION M-02. The vintage look of this canvas camera bag evokes nature and war journalism decades past, but this hiking camera backpack is fortunately not all style and no substance. While it doesn't offer a design particularly suited to quick access, it makes up for this with a respectable host of features. The buffalo canvas is weatherproof, and in an especially smart move, TARION has relegated tripod storage to the bottom of the bag to prevent instability when hiking. While it may look bulky at a glance, it's actually very ergonomically sound. Two side pockets and a larger main section take up the majority of the surface area here, and they allow a lot of space for gear and accessories. It may just be the best camera backpack for hiking in its price range.
5. Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II
For a modest increase in price, the BP 250 AW II offers a substantive upgrade on the BP 150, but its larger size means that it's not going to be the right fit for everyone. For others, that bulk is going to be an advantage. This Lowepro camera backpack is a beast capable of holding a zoom as well as three lenses in addition to the essentials, and that's not even taking into consideration the laptop/tablet pocket or the two zones for clothing and accessories. Thankfully, Lowepro has been thoughtful about the logistics in its structure. Everything you could need is easily accessible due to smart panel placement and design. A truly clever added convenience that other manufacturers could learn from is the inclusion of straps that allow you to hook it right up to rolling airport luggage.
6. K&F Concept Waterproof Travel Bag
K&F's sizable and stylish camera backpack may not be as monstrous in size as the the BP 250 AW II, but it's well in the same ballpark, and it offers all that size at a fraction of the cost. That's not to say the two are wholly equivalent. This waterproof camera backpack doesn't do as great a job at making everything eminently accessible, but the different compartments are orderly and clearly designated for different types of components. Three lenses can fit easily in addition to the camera and a laptop with plenty of room leftover. If you're a photographer who does a lot of traveling, you'll be relieved to know that it's small enough to work as carry-on luggage for most airlines. The build quality is remarkably high for a bag of this size, and that translates into a durable piece of work that's ideal for street photographers.
7. Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW
Lowepro's Slingshot Edge is a far cry from the massive fast pack, but it clocks in at a similar price and invests as much thought and craftsmanship into its core philosophy. The Slingshot Edge is more tailored to the needs of urban photographers, and it offers a slim and stylish design to match those needs. There's enough space here to pack in a DSLR with a lens attached and a spare lens to boot, and it maintains the commitment to providing quick access to everything you need. Theft protection is built right in, and the interior compartment is highly customizable to accommodate your personal needs. As far as comfort is concerned, there aren't a lot of options better than the Slingshot Edge, but you're sacrificing a significant amount of space in the process. But as long as you aren't using overly bulky cameras, you should still have plenty of room.
8. TARION RB-02 Camera Backpack
The classic leather design of the RB-02 makes it seem like an expensive designer bag. It's a pleasant surprise to find that it clocks in at under a hundred dollars and pleasanter still that it's a quality bag in addition to a good looking one. The front latches are deceptively easy to use, and you can reach your camera by way of a side zipper or the back panel. Functionally, that facilitates your security without sacrificing ease of access in the process. There's a lot of size packed away in this bag as well. The RB-02 can hold two compact DSLR cameras as well as up to five lenses with room still left over. A nice addition is the ability for the bag to scale up or down to your needs. Expandable pockets can increase the size by a fifth, and padded dividers can change its layout fundamentally.
9. Incase DSLR Pro Pack
Capturing the right moment in photography is all about alertness and being constantly ready to jump at an opportunity. It's a philosophy that Incase clearly understands, as their DSLR Pro Pack is built with accessibility as the top priority. If you need to just grab your camera, it's as simple as snatching it from the top compartment. But if you need the full range of available tools at your disposal, just set it on the ground and open up the back to have everything laid out in front of you. There's room in here for a DSLR with a lens attached as well as four other backup lenses. An organizer pocket on the front makes it easy to pack away all of your additional accessories. The dual slip pockets are a nice touch as they allow you to carry both a laptop and a tablet in the same bag.
10. Vanguard Alta Sky 45D
In terms of durability and storage space, the Alta Sky 45D can hold its own with just about any bag on the market. Its premium price tag is well earned and not just because it can hold a laptop, a tablet, two DSLRs, and four lenses at the same time. One of the biggest selling points here is how tightly it can be personalized. The 45D is split into two main sections that can be adjusted in a number of different configurations, and the lower selection contains dividers that can be taken out completely or adjusted to accommodate three additional lenses. This is a heavy bag even when there's nothing inside of it, but it can adjust easily to the needs of different photographers and even carry a drone comfortably. There's also a tripod balance carrying system for additional versatility and stability while out in the wild.
Best Camera Backpacks Buyer’s Guide
Evaluating Storage Space
Perhaps the biggest factor in picking a camera backpack is determining how much space you need. While having enough space to hold a camera, a lens, and some personal effects will be enough for brand new photographers, it’s always smart to invest in a bag that can grow with you. Considering what you’ll need in the future is imperative.
Take the amount of lens space into consideration as well. Additional lenses can bring an incredible amount of versatility to your kit, and having a bigger bag that can hold more can be a huge boon if you’re venturing far from home and looking to capture a diverse array of different photos. One of the best features of higher end models are the adjustable compartments. Being able to tailor the contents of your bag to accommodate different situations means that you can adapt far more easily to the circumstances of a given situation.
Photographers who want to have their cameras prepped and ready to go will want to consider bags that have a compartment large enough to hold a camera with the lens already mounted. That will allow them to access their bag quickly and get to shooting right away. Alternately, you may want to look towards cases that can hold two cameras at the same time.
Taking Comfort into Consideration
There’s a careful line to walk between being able to store everything you need in your bag and being able to carry it comfortably. Larger camera backpacks can serve as Swiss army knives for photographers, but they can be a heavy burden to bear. If you are going to invest in a larger bag, consider the quality of foam and other protective measures on the straps and how adjustable they are. The presence of a padded belt may seem excessive, but it won’t seem that way when you’re lugging pounds of equipment through the woods. There’s a reason why slimmer backpacks like the Slingshot Edge carry a cost on the higher end of our scale. While there’s less room for carrying extra baggage, the slim fit and comfort involved makes them an eminently sensible choice in terms of practicalities.
Weighing the Value of Security
Some of the bags on are list cost upwards of two hundred dollars, but that’s just a drop in the well when you consider the cost of a camera, lenses, and any other gear you need to bring with you. Security may be less of a concern for nature photographers, but if you’re an urban photographer, you should seriously consider investing in a bag that comes with security features. Typically this takes the form of compartments that face your back. Having to take off your backpack to reach your camera may be an inconvenience in terms of ease of access, but it also ensures that thieves will have a much harder time reaching for your camera in a crowded subway car.
Waterproofing is Practically a Necessity
Thieves aren’t the only threat to your equipment. Water can quickly turn even the best camera into a piece of junk, and while many modern cameras come with a level of protection against the elements, a little extra security is never a bad thing. All of the backpacks on our list come with some level of rain protection, but you should be careful to evaluate every aspect when making a decision. How waterproofed they are, whether or not they offer protection against dust and other elements, and how much padding is available can serve as de facto insurance for your camera and kit.
Camera backpack reviews are by their very nature certain to be subjective. The right camera backpack for a nature photographer trying to capture expansive shots could be very poorly suited for an urban photographer who needs to move nimbly and capture Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “definitive moment”. That’s why we’ve tried to cover a diligent range of different options with our list. Regardless of your budgets or your personal demands, chances are you’ll find something in our top ten that will leave you feeling satisfied and suit your needs for a long time to come. Regardless of their features or specializations, all of these bags represent superior value in a market flooded with a wide variety of options.