12 Best Camera Backpacks in 2017
There are many different backpack options out there for photographers, and finding the right one for your equipment requires a bit of research.
Are you walking down graffiti-filled allies in the big city or trekking along rugged trails in search of the best shots? How many lenses do you have? Where you go and how much equipment you carry will determine what kind of backpack you need.
To help you simplify the process for you, our experts have made a list of the best camera backpack models and provide you with some useful shopping tips that will help steer you toward the right one.
Top 12 Camera Backpacks Ultimate Table
*This model can accommodate a tablet.
Start by Considering Your Shooting Location
The needs of an urban photographer are much different from those of a nature photographer, so narrow down the options by considering your shooting location first.
- City – Whether you’re exploring a foreign destination or your home town, the constant movement around you means that you need to be ready to snap photos at a moment’s notice.
Some of you might appreciate a backpack with a laptop sleeve or at least a place to store your tablet if you’ll be stopping to upload photos after shooting, but if you’re close to home and you don’t want as much weight on your back, a simple backpack would do. Check out the Altura Photo DSLR Camera Backpack or the Vivitar Camera Backpack.
Avoid bags with a lot of outer pockets that someone could easily reach into and swipe your gear.
- Nature – Shooting in nature might require a long hike or a short hike, but either way, you want to make sure you have something suitable for outdoor use.
Bags with a rigid, waterproof base are great, as well as a waterproof cover that you can slip over the bag in case it starts to rain.
The length of the backpack depends on the type of lens you’ll be using. There is a huge difference between a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens that you would use for shooting wildlife and a Nikon AF-S 70-200mm ƒ/2.8G ED VR II lens for shooting landscapes, so choose one that is long enough to accommodate the lens(es) you’ll be carrying.
For serious trekking adventures where you’ll be camping out, opt for something like the Naneu K5 v2 Camera Backpack. While it didn’t make our list, it would be a great choice if the purpose of your camping adventure was centered around photography.
For day hikes, you won’t need to carry as much gear as you would for overnight camping excursions, which is why a backpack like the Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW II would be a great choice.
Check the Compatibility
Never assume that a camera will fit in the backpack you would like to purchase.
Most manufacturers will list what camera brands and lens brand are compatible with their product, and since some backpacks are brand-specific, make sure you avoid purchasing one that can’t accommodate your gear.
You should also pay attention to the backpack material and the different features that it offers before choosing one.
- Canvas. Canvas is usually made of cotton, which soaks up water like a sponge. If you know you’ll be exposed to any moisture, stay far away from a product like the Evecase Classic Canvas Camera Backpack. While it may work well for students or hobbyists in dry weather, you would put your gear at risk if you used it for outdoor adventures.
- Nylon. Most backpacks are made of Nylon, which is both durable and slightly water-resistant when untreated. Some manufacturers will add a layer of waterproofing to the material, but not all backpacks will resist water very well.
If you want to use yours outdoors but it doesn’t come with a rain cover, see if you can purchase one separately that will fit it so you will be safe if you’re ever caught in the rain.
Features and Hardware
Finally, you should consider the extra features that the bag offers.
Does it have any outer straps or hooks where you can attach a tripod or a helmet if you’ve been biking?
Does it have any hip fins and a sternum strap to help you secure the load and disperse the weight more evenly?
Check the zippers for durability, and if you know you’ll be setting the bag on the ground, a backpack with a waterproof base like the Case Logic SLRC-206 would be a good choice.
Be sure to calculate the extra space you will need, whether for extra batteries and cables or if you’ll need to pack along some snacks.
Top 5 Best Camera Backpacks Reviews
Use – Travel, Urban, Day Trips.
Since this backpack can accommodate up to 16-inch laptops (or a 17-inch MacBook Pro), we highly recommend it for urban photography or anyone who shoots a mixture of photos and video.
In addition to being very comfortable, it has plenty of storage space and a waterproof EVA base that will allow you to set it on damp surfaces without having to worry about water soaking through. The base also allows it to stand on its own so you don’t have to lean it on anything.
The straps have a generous amount of padding, and the back has a nice mesh layer to allow air to flow through and keep you cooler. You can attach a tripod to the outside, but only the smaller models since the Velcro straps won’t fit around the larger ones.
They make it really easy for you to access your camera quickly since the front flap zips down partially and reveals the hammock suspension system. You can drop your camera in here with the lens on and still have room below without it touching anything. Open the pouch further, and you can reveal all of the other storage space for your lenses and flashes.
Overall, we would have to say this is the best camera backpack on our list for general photography needs. If you’re carrying around the basics and want a reliable, well-padded backpack protecting your gear, this is it.
Use – Hiking, Climbing, Biking.
Adventurists love the Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW II since it is designed with their needs in mind.
They offer this backpack in two different sizes: the 200 (this one) and the 300.
The 200 is perfect for mirrorless cameras while the 300 is designed to accommodate standard DSLR cameras.
It is extremely lightweight, and the body is made of a weather-resistant nylon that will keep your gear safe and dry if you get caught in an unexpected shower (or at least until you can get the rain cover on it).
The suspension system is designed like that of an external frame trekking backpack, only they’ve hidden the frame and added padding to make it comfortable for you to wear. It even has a special pocket for your hydration system.
We liked how the camera chamber was located on the side because all you have to do is release the pack from one shoulder so that it falls and makes the pouch easily accessible.
It really is a hiker’s best friend and great for many other outdoor activities where you’d like to bring your nice camera along!
Use – Travel, Urban, Day Trips, Hiking.
If you’re looking for something with numerous different compartments and enough room to take your laptop and DSLR camera around for photo shoots, urban/street photography or even if you’re taking a day trip somewhere, Evecase’s X-Large Professional Backpack is one to consider.
After handling and using the other two backpacks, we noticed that the internal walls dividing each camera component were a bit flimsy, but they are padded so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your gear. We just expected them to be a bit more rigid.
In terms of versatility, it was one of the best on our list. You can take out the dividers and turn it into a normal backpack when you don’t want to use it for your camera, and it even comes with a nice rain cover for outdoor use.
It would also work great as a carry-on travel backpack if you’re looking for something versatile for airplane travel.
Use – Hiking, Day Trips.
This may be one of the most expensive products on our list, but it is the best camera backpack for light hiking and outdoor day trips that are centered around photography.
The design of the bag is unique since you can unzip the back panel to access your gear. When you have the hip fins buckled across your waist, you can simply take the backpack off your shoulders, flip it around to the front, and then unzip the panel to access your gear quickly and easily. You don’t have to take the backpack off, making it very convenient.
It will fit up to a 300mm f/2.8 pro lens (great for nature and wildlife photographers), along with everything else you’ll need to take professional photos out on the trail.
On the outside of the back, it has a strap to attach a compact tripod or monopod and there is a small pocket for a few personal items like your phone. It comes with a weatherproof cover, too!
Use – Travel, Urban, Day Trips.
Are you a photographer on a budget and don’t have much gear to carry around? If so, AmazonBasics has an affordable backpack that will meet your storage and pricing needs.
It can hold two small DSLR cameras along with up to four lenses (depending on their sizes) as well as a small tripod on the outside of the pack.
The padding on the inside was thick and rigid, and the pockets are useful for all camera-related items, but there isn’t much room for anything else.
For the occasional outing or budding photographer, this is an excellent choice, but don’t expect it to hold up for years of use since it isn’t the sturdiest option out there. Get it as a starter pack, and you can always upgrade to something more professional later.