10 Best Camera Backpacks | April 2017

10 Best Camera Backpacks | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
★★★★★
Best High-End
★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you're traveling to parts unknown to capture images of nearly extinct wildlife or merely taking a trip across campus to photograph some unsuspecting students in their natural habitat, there's a camera backpack on our list that will hold just the right amount of gear and provide you with exactly the space and protection your equipment needs. Skip to the best camera backpack on Amazon.
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If you prefer versatile carrying options, the Vanguard Adaptor 46 is a good bet. Its straps can swap out and hide away to create slings on either shoulder in addition to its more traditional configuration, which is especially convenient if you're left-handed.
  • breathable fabric construction
  • lots of padding on the rear
  • narrow top makes for a tight fit
Brand Vanguard
Model ADAPTOR 46
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
9
The Abonnyc DRLBP-CZ boasts material that is both shock- and abrasion-proof, and it has reflective strips for nighttime safety, making it an ideal choice for shooters on a bike or motorcycle. It's also water-resistant in case you get caught in a storm.
  • velcro dividers stay in place
  • straps adjust easily
  • not enough access points
Brand Abonnyc
Model DRLBP-CZ
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
8
The Evecase Canvas is an ideal option for street photographers traversing a city on foot. It offers enough space for a day's worth of candid work, as well as a compartment capable of housing food, water, maps, and souvenirs.
  • padded laptop pocket
  • ergonomic shoulder straps
  • cheaply made zippers
Brand Evecase
Model 885157934459
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
7
The Case Logic SLRC-206 features a hammock system that suspends your DSLR above the lower compartment, providing superior impact protection in case of a drop. It also has a sturdy, waterproof bottom that can stand up on its own.
  • memory foam cushions
  • interior organizer is removable
  • a lot of wasted space inside
Brand Case Logic
Model SLRC-206BLACK
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
6
If you're trying to navigate through an airport or a train station with dozens of pounds of equipment, you'll need the help of the Ape Case Convertible AC Pro 4000. Like most modern luggage, it includes a set of wheels and a telescoping handle to pull it along.
  • bright yellow interior
  • cart system is removable
  • heavy even when empty
Brand Ape Case
Model ACPRO4000
Weight 11.9 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
5
For shooters who need to respect non-photographic aspects of their lives, whether those be scholastic, professional, or familial, the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 250 AW II offers a mid-sized gear compartment and a top pocket designed to carry whatever else your day demands.
  • cradle-fit tablet protection
  • all-weather cover included
  • limited space for equipment
Brand Lowepro
Model LP36958
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
4
The Manfrotto MB MP-BP-50BB can carry a pair of top-tier DSLR bodies along with up to eight lenses, depending on their size. Its tough, multilayered construction protects your glass from accidental drops and bumps, though it does add some weight to the bag.
  • holds laptops up to 15 inches
  • removable rain cover
  • wide top opening
Brand Manfrotto
Model MB MP-BP-50BB
Weight 5.2 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0
3
Intended to give you the most possible storage space when traveling by airplane, the Think Tank Airport Accelerator is compatible with both domestic and international carry-on dimension restrictions. Its laptop compartment is lockable, too, for added security.
  • pocket for boarding passes
  • holds up to a 600 f-4
  • air mesh back paneling
Brand Think Tank Photo
Model 004896
Weight 8.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
2
The straps on the Burton F-Stop that are designed to hold your tripod can also affix a snowboard or skateboard to the back of the pack, allowing you to transport your photographic and extreme sports gear in the same device.
  • cooler pocket for beverages
  • removable storage compartments
  • 28-liter capacity
Brand Burton
Model 110301
Weight 6.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
1
The Lowepro ProTactic 450 can hold two professional DSLRs, a 15-inch laptop, a tripod, and a wide variety of camera accessories. It also has four access points, so you can always grab your gear quickly and never miss a critical shot.
  • handles on either side
  • robust slip lock system
  • good lumbar support
Brand Lowepro
Model LP36772
Weight 5.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Guard Your Gear

As photographers, our gear is endlessly precious to us. Even the shooters among us who don't take very good care of their gear will often be surprisingly protective of it in transit or in the hands of others. If you look closely at it, what each of us wants much more than the camera and its lenses is the ability to shoot high quality images; images that capture our unique view of the world. If we could do it without a camera, we would, but what the camera sees is the closest representation of our singular point of view. For this reason, the camera becomes a very personal extension of our psyche.

So it wouldn't do to just strap the thing around our neck, lug an extra lens or two loose in a bag, and hope nothing bad happens. The camera backpacks on our list allow you to pack up all the necessary implements of your art without encumbering you beyond the point of shooting.

My first camera bag was a shoulder strap model that swayed and pitched with every movement of my body, taking my mind off of the task at hand. When I finally got a backpack, I was amazed at how a design that I knew to work from a dozen years of grade school could free me up to shoot with a kind of security I'd yet to experience behind the lens.

The other great thing about camera backpacks, and the backpacks on our list specifically, is their combination of size and flexibility. Even the smallest bag on our list can comfortably fit a mid-size to full-size D-SLR and a pair of long lenses. The biggest can accommodate pro-level bodies and a whole outfit of lenses, as well as all the accessories you might need in the field.

Of course, no two shooters are alike, so all of these bags also have removable, interchangeable pads inside them, allowing you to customize the layout of the bag to hold whatever implements you choose to pack firmly in place.

Pack For Your Style

When I started out in photography, I cut my teeth shooting wildlife in Alaska on an entry-level D-SLR with a pair of kit zooms, which are the small, inexpensive lenses that camera companies bundle with their less expensive bodies. The whole outfit could have fit in the pockets of a pair of cargo shorts.

If I had known what I was doing out there in the wilderness, I would have had better everything: a better body; better, longer lenses; a decent tripod; and a great bag. I had none of that, but to be fair, I didn't know what kind of shooter I wanted to be. I was still figuring that out.

Knowing the kinds of pictures you take, as well as the kind that you want to take, is all you need to know to make an informed choice among the camera backpacks on our list. While each could be configured for almost any kind of photography, certain features of one bag might suit it better than another for certain applications.

For example, a few years down the line I started shooting weddings. Everything we did was handheld, as the brand my friends and I had established was a journalistic, fly-on-the-wall style. A hair of motion blur here or there could actually enhance the effect of one of our images. For predominantly handheld shooters of any subject, a bag with a tripod loop designed to carry your sticks around for you isn't all that useful.

On the other hand, if I had been a more seasoned photographer in my days in the frozen north, I would have definitely wanted a tripod and a bag to which I could strap it.

Your shooting style will also help determine the size of the bag you want. For a year living in West Philadelphia, I sat around listening to a police scanner and jumped on my bicycle any time there was a violent crime within a mile of my house. I'd hop on the bike and head to the scene, then try to sell the shots to any newspaper or website that I could. For that task, I needed a lightweight bag that could hold a few items; nothing too crazy.

Take a good look at your style, your usual subject matter, and your ambitions (both in your work and in the acquisition of gear), and you ought to be able to find a bag on this list that works and looks fantastic.

Sized To Carry

In the early days of photography, equipment was a heck of a lot larger than it is today. Daguerreotypes and similar photographic methods required large exposure plates that created direct transfers onto other materials for prints at a 1:1 size ratio.

Photographers transported the cameras used for this and later large format film photography in large trunks that usually also held a wooden tripod modeled after the tripods used by land surveyors. They could also contain flash materials once that technology came about.

Once cameras got small enough and friendly enough for more shooters to perfect their skills, conflict photographers and photojournalists started to use hunting bags and fishing bags to carry their cameras in dangerous areas. These kept out most water and dust, but they were very soft and they had no internal divisions for organization or protection.

Later on, camera companies created bags and cases designed specifically for certain cameras, with specific moldings suited for the exact size and shape of a given model. When third-party manufacturers began to introduce bags that had interchangeable dividers, the rest of the industry responded in kind, creating the array of multi-purpose camera bags we have today.



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Last updated on April 29 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.