The 10 Best Camera Bags

Updated May 26, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Choosing a camera bag is a deeply personal process. You have to ask yourself what kind of shooter you are and really evaluate the lenses you use most often, so they'll be there when you need them. Or you can get a giant roller bag that holds everything you own. Either way, your choice should still suit your personality, and we've got enough great options here for every possible style. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best camera bag on Amazon.

10. Think Tank Photo Holster

Sometimes all your setup needs is one body and one good, long lens. If that's the case, the Think Tank Photo Holster is designed specifically to house a single telephoto setup. It even contours to the shape created by your grip.
  • built for professional dslrs
  • side attachment rail
  • not all that versatile
Brand Think Tank
Model 008818
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Altura Photo Sling Backpack

If you need the carrying comfort and quick access to your gear that only a sling can provide, the Altura Photo Sling Backpack is quite possibly the most effective, budget-friendly option on the market. You can also use its separated top compartment as a small day pack.
  • internal mesh accessory pockets
  • limited storage space
  • strap is not reversible
Brand Altura Photo
Model KM0596
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Lowepro ProTactic 350

If you've ever lugged a heavy backpack around, you know the toll it can take on your shoulders and back, which is precisely why the Lowepro ProTactic 350 comes with padded lumbar straps to situate all that weight on your hips.
  • all-weather cover
  • five modular accessories included
  • belt pouch underperforms
Brand Lowepro
Model LP36771
Weight 4.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Tamrac 5611 Ultra Pro 11

If you're looking for a shoulder model that can serve as your all-day utility for event photography and travel, the Tamrac 5611 Ultra Pro 11 will fit the bill. It can accommodate a healthy amount of gear without risking the integrity of the seams.
  • two drop-down zippered front pockets
  • memory and battery management
  • may be unwieldy for some
Brand Tamrac
Model 561101
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

6. Think Tank Urban Approach

The Think Tank Urban Approach looks deceptively small from the outside, but inside it can hold a surprising amount of gear. Its low-contrast, matte black exterior is nicely accented by subtle elements of full-grain BBG leather.
  • adjustable padded dividers
  • best-suited for mirrorless systems
  • difficult to use tripod holster
Brand Think Tank
Model TT853
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Ona Bowery Waxed

When you only need a small messenger around your shoulder, but you want it to look as good as the pictures you're planning to take, the Ona Bowery Waxed is your best choice. It's better suited for mirrorless outfits, however, due to its size.
  • functions as a protective insert
  • antique brass hardware
  • looks a bit too much like a purse
Brand Ona
Model ONA5-014GR
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Ape Case Pro4000 Backpack

The Ape Case Pro4000 Backpack is meant more for traveling than for toting along with you on a shoot. It ought to hold just about everything you'd need when boarding a plane for a distant photographic expedition, and it qualifies as carry-on luggage.
  • in-line-skate-style wheels
  • telescopic handle
  • removable cart system
Brand Ape Case
Model ACPRO4000
Weight 12 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW

If you want to take you gear out into nature, you'd do well to invest in the Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW. Its N100 nylon with UTS coating is sure to keep your goods safe and dry, and its all-weather cover and cinch are vital if you get caught in heavy rain.
  • dedicated bladder compartment
  • hip straps for weight distribution
  • external attachment points
Brand Lowepro
Model LP36891
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Tenba 638-371 DNA Messenger

Intended for use with mirrorless camera systems, the Tenba 638-371 DNA Messenger runs pleasantly smaller in every respect compared to models designed for DSLR outfits. It also features an adjustable security strap that connects to D-rings on the unit's rear.
  • tapered front flap
  • water bottle pocket
  • strong magnetic closures
Brand Tenba
Model 638-371
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Ona Prince Street Cognac

The Ona Prince Street Cognac combines simple function with top-tier style. It's handcrafted from fine Italian leather, and it comes equipped with secure antique brass tuck-clasp closures. It doesn't look like it contains expensive gear, so it's less likely to get stolen.
  • holds an 11-inch laptop comfortably
  • side weather flaps
  • 1-year warranty
Brand Ona
Model ONA5
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

One Bag For All Of Your Tricks

For all the wonderful advantages of shooting with a camera that utilizes interchangeable lenses — better low-light performance, sharper pictures, more options in focal length, etc.—, the one hassle remains that you have to lug all of those lenses around if you want to keep your options open.

Fortunately, there's a whole slew of interesting and efficient camera bags on the market for you to fill with all that tasty gear. The only downside to all that choice is that the options can become a little overwhelming. But before we can get into what you need specifically from your camera bag, we should look at how they are designed to function.

Given how fragile certain parts of a camera system are, it's imperative that a camera bag provide a significant degree of cushioning. All along the edges of any good camera bag (and certainly on all the bags on our list) is an additional layer of shock absorbing material, usually a synthetic foam, that will protect your gear in the event that you drop the bag or slam it into something.

In order for that shock absorbent lining to be most effective, and to guard against damage caused by pieces of gear bumping into one another within the camera bag, each of these bags comes with little foam dividers that provide internal cushioning. The edges of these dividers are equipped with Velcro material that sticks to the insides to the bag, allowing you to customize the layout of the compartments. That way, each lens and body in your bag will fit snug as a bug, preventing unwanted additional movement that could cause damage.

The other thing that camera bags offer that you won't see in any old messenger bag or backpack is an array of slots and pouches designed to carry accessories. In the old days, these pouches fit filters and film, two things that the advent of digital photography has all but done away with. Now, those slots will fit batteries, memory cards, and other implements of the digital medium.

Protect You Gear From More Than Just Impact

The first time I traveled overseas to shoot a wedding, I spent a week in Paris wandering around and taking pictures. At one point, crossing one of those bridges that are covered in padlocks, a middle-aged English couple stopped me and engaged me about my gear. I had a pretty nice Nikon body and one third of their holy trinity of lenses attached to it, and the guy in the couple was also a Nikon shooter.

He told me that just that morning he and his girlfriend had been held up on a side street not far from the bridge where we were standing, and that the muggers made off with the lion's share of his gear. He hadn't thought at the time to ask them to let him keep the memory cards, so they ran off with a week's worth of travel photos.

He also told me that he blamed his bag for the mugging, which didn't make sense to me at first. Then he explained how much he loved being thought of as a photographer, and how he'd purchased the one bag in the store that looked more like a camera bag than any other. He figured that tipped off his muggers, since he didn't even have his camera out when they approached him.

It's an interesting thing to think about when evaluating not only the camera bags on our list but also your personal aesthetic. Does your taste put you more at risk for such a crime? I've always preferred camera bags that look like old rucksacks, slung inconspicuously over the shoulder and containing many secrets.

Of course, it's important to consider how much gear you need or want to carry, and whether a given bag can fit it all. It's also important to consider your shooting style and whether a sling bag or a messenger bag would get in the way more or less than a backpack might. While you're at it, though, keep in mind where you do the bulk of your shooting, and whether you ought to consider concealing your cargo more effectively from the dastardly types out there.

Bags Before And After The Great War

The pioneers of photography, the men who took the ancient technology of the camera obcsura and invented ways of preserving their captured light, didn't have to worry too much about camera bags. Their equipment, and all of the photography equipment that would dominate the scene for the ensuing century, was so large that it required full trunks for transportation.

It wasn't until smaller film formats hit the scene in the early years of the 20th century that cameras became more portable. Even then, though, there wasn't a market for carrying cases or many interchangeable lenses. In the 1930s and 40s, cameras built by Leica and other foreign manufacturers eventually settled around a standardized 35mm film format, which also began to standardize the relative size of cameras and their lenses.

War correspondents in the Spanish Civil War and the second world war made great use of these smaller cameras, but they relied on hunting and fishing bags to lug their gear around, putting their lenses at risk. At around this time, camera makers began to produce fitted casings for their cameras, but these were only good for certain bodies and lenses.

Eventually, in the decades that followed WWII, third-party manufacturers made bags intended to be more universal, to allow shooters of different brands and kits to use the same bags. Companies like LowePro and Manfrotto have continued this trend, making a wide variety of bags designed to appeal to every kind of shooter.

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Last updated on May 26, 2018 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.

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