We both tested and reviewed the best camera backpacks of this year. Overall, the LowPro Photo Hatchback is a great backpack at a reasonable price point for the photographer who wants to take their valuable equipment almost anywhere without the feeling of bulkiness.
We recommend the Lowpro Hatchback if you want thick, adjustable padding for a DSLR or mirrorless camera, an extra lens or two, and the extra necessities like snacks or your tablet. This one is better for parents, hikers, and travelers on the go than, say, wedding photographers with a multi-camera rig.Click For Pricing
Table of Contents
Top 5 Camera Backpacks
1. Overall Best Camera Backpack
LowPro Photo Hatchback 22L AW
When it comes to day trips, most of us bring the same stuff with us, and we want to be able to get to it quickly without digging through millions of straps. This bag has space for a DSLR or mirrorless camera along with a tablet or laptop, water bottle or small tripod, and a largish compartment on top holds lunch, keys, and even diapers and wipes if that’s important to you.
We liked the LowPro Hatchback for ease of access to the main camera carrying compartment, which has padded sections that can be easily reconfigured to nestle your particular camera model comfortably. This part includes a drawstring that quickly converts into a daypack, which is nifty but not the most necessary since that’s what you bought a backpack for, right?
It’s important that a camera bag be adjustable, and this bag fits the bill along with a waist band that evenly distributes weight. It fits a lot in a streamlined profile, which is nice if you’re trying to avoid the overburdened hiker look.
A matte gray design is simple and will fit with most styles without being distracting. While it would be nice if the whole backpack were waterproof, we liked the All-Weather cover that pulls up over the backpack in case of rain, snow, or heavy dust.
- All-Weather Cover
- Roomy Accessory Compartment
- Reconfigurable Compartments
- Convertible Camera Compartment
- Not Waterproof
- Not Large Enough for Some
2. Best Camera Backpack for Tons of Gear
Ape Case ACPRO4000
Sometimes you just need to bring it all with you, so for the maximalists out there we recommend the Ape Case ACPRO4000, which is basically a tackle box for your cameras, lenses, cords, and laptops. This bag is definitely next door to a piece of luggage, so if you’re looking for something lightweight it might not be the pick for you.
The Ape Case has a detachable wheel set so you can use it as a plane carryon if you need to bring your whole camera rig, so this might be a great pick for photographers shooting destination weddings or distant nature shots. You can wear it as a backpack once you get where your going, which is nice if you have to hike to the top of a hill or along a beach.
The inside is yellow, which is great since you’ll need the bright background to help you find what you need in the 9 main compartments and the smaller compartments inside the front cover. There’s a removable weather-resistant cover that protects all your gear, which is helpful if you plan to be shooting outdoors.
This thing is heavy, over 9 pounds on its own, plus the weight of all your gear, so you probably don’t want to carry it on your back all day. But you will be able to fit just about anything you want in here, so this could be a good pick if you have a lot of gear.
- Fits a Ton
- Yellow Interior
- Weather Resistant Cover
- Detachable Wheel Set
- Not Waterproof
3. Most Customizable Camera Backpack
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
All good camera backpacks have some level of customization, since you need a close fit for your delicate equipment to actually be protected and not bounce around too much in the bag. We liked that the Peak Design Everyday Backpack is extremely reconfigurable around specific pieces of your camera equipment, in the form of shelf, cubby, and pass-through pockets, which can all be set up with Velcro straps, and the 20-liter capacity should be plenty for most people.
We also liked that the interior is a light tan, which is helpful if you need to locate equipment quickly. It also has a dedicated sleeve that can hold up to a 15” laptop, which is nice if you want to view or edit your shots on-site.
We thought that the latch system that allow the backpack to expand was a little complicated to figure out, so if hate fiddling with buckles this might not be the bag for you, but it’s great if you want a slim bag for regular use that can expand to accommodate 3 or 4 lenses for special occasions.
As far as comfort goes, we thought the shoulder straps could have benefited from a little more padding, but the added waist belt helps distribute weight well. It’s a simple style, with a black body that won’t clash with anything and a reasonably weathertight outer bag, though it’s certainly not 100% waterproof.
Overall, this is the best camera bag for those wanting really specialized and reconfigurable compartments, like if you travel with different camera configurations regularly.
- Contrast-Color Interior
- Dedicated Laptop Sleeve
- Lots of Buckles
- Shoulder Straps Need More Padding
- Not 100% Waterproof
4. Best Multiuse Camera Backpack
Evercase Extra-Large Daypack
While it’s nice to have a dedicated camera bag that only carries your photographic equipment, a lot of us only have room for one bag to bring on a trip, whether it’s something that will fit on an overhead compartment or in your tiny car.
The Evercase Extra-Large Daypack is big and not the most stylish out there, but you could probably travel for several days using this as your only piece of luggage, so if you’re looking for a single bag to hold everything, this might be a good pick for you. Backpacking through Europe, anyone?
We liked that the compartments use zippers that are easy to use, and they’re laid out intuitively, so the sizes correspond to what most of us use backpacks for. For example, there’s a dedicated tripod sleeve and the accessory pockets let you bring extra clothes, a laptop, snacks, whatever.
Most importantly, this thing is really padded, which is great since it will undoubtedly get heavy once you add all your gear – some users reported that they easily got 75 pounds in it.
Like most of the bags we reviewed, it has a waterproof cover, which is good if you’re carrying it outside.
It might be a little large for some international airplanes and isn’t for you if you’re looking for a slim profile, but for domestic flights it should serve your purposes as a heavy-duty, all purpose carry on bag with specialized compartments for your camera gear.
- Lots of Compartments
- Very Comfortable Straps
- Carries up to 75 Pounds of Gear
- Serves as All-Purpose Travel Bag
- Lots of Zippers
5. Best Compact Camera Backpack
Think Tank Photo Airport
Simple and slim are the words to describe the Think Tank Photo Airport Essentials Backpack. If the idea of fidgeting with buckles, zippers, and 30 different compartments gives you a headache, then the Think Tank camera bag is probably a good bet for you.
There are basically two main compartments to this bag. The main padded section with an adjustable divider is where you stow your camera and lenses, plus small accessories like cables and batteries.
The front pocket is subdivided into two main sections that can carry your smaller laptop or tablet, plus your phone and charger and some pens. It won’t be your main travel bag for a long trip, but it’s good if you just want something dedicated to your camera equipment.
We liked that the Think Tank camera bag has handles on the top and side, so it’s easy to carry along with you and store on an overhead compartment on a plane. There’s a lock too, which is a plus if you’re concerned about security.
The shoulder straps and waist strap are adjustable, though they could use a little more padding. We really wish that the weather proofing cover didn’t take up so much room in the main component, but you can decide to bring it or not. Overall, this is a good, small bag that’s lightweight enough but still protects your camera gear.
- Simple Dividers
- Weather Proof Cover
- Not for Carry-All Use
- Straps Need a Little More Padding
What to Look for in a Camera Backpack
You’ve spent hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars on your camera equipment. The last thing you want is for a precious lens, DSLR, or tripod to get smashed because you dropped the bag you were carrying. To transport and protect your precious camera equipment in style, may we present the Lowpro Photo Hatchback 22L All Weather (AW). While the whole Lowpro camera backpack line is, frankly, fantastic, we thought that the 22 -liter model was just enough for the average photographer while traveling and the all-weather feature on the exterior seals the deal if you’re worried about rain, snow, or dust.
While the best camera backpack for you is going to depend on your personal sense of style and the size of your camera setup, we felt that the Lowpro Hatchback was a great all-purpose model. If you have other preferences, that’s fine too – check out the Top 5 Roundup that we’ve put together just for you.
Unless you plan to take pictures exclusively in a home studio, you need to figure out a secure and convenient method of transferring your cameras and gear.
Carrying your camera gear around shouldn’t require you to look like a pack mule. There’s really no use in having a bunch of fancy lenses and tripods if you can’t transport them to the mountains or street cafes where the amazing shots are waiting.
You can’t transport delicate cameras and equipment in the tote bag kicking around in your trunk. Trying to form a makeshift camera bag is taking too big of a risk with your equipment.
Cameras and lenses require thick padding that, ideally, fits their shapes exactly to minimize movement and since cameras come in all shapes and sizes, the ability to reconfigure that padding is key.
When we reviewed camera bags for our Top 5 Roundup, we prioritized these features:
- Customizable Compartments
- Ease of Transport
- Option to Use as a Carry-All
While there are more options available, like weatherproofing and portable charge bags, we felt that for the average photographer carrying a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, along with some special lenses and personal items, these were the most important features to look for in a multiuse camera backpack.
How to Travel with Your Camera
Have camera, will travel – but there are some ground rules you have to learn first. Experienced photographers learn over time that you don’t need to bring every single piece of gear you own to every event.
While there are some circumstances where you need the whole rig, you probably just need to pack your main camera and an extra lens if you’re going for a casual afternoon hike.
If you’re a travel enthusiast who needs to bring a couple wardrobe changes and your tablet along, then you might want to opt for a bag that can serve as a carry-all. Make sure it meets the dimension requirements of the airline you usually fly on or that it fits well into your car trunk, depending on how you usually travel.
The first rule of thumb for traveling with your camera is to bring the smallest camera and the least amount of equipment you can. If you have to dig through layers of equipment, you won’t end up using it because of the hassle.
It’s best to bring a bag that fits your camera and equipment perfectly, so they’re not rattling around in a too-big camera bag or stuffed into one that’s too small.
The second rule of thumb is to detach all of your camera components and make sure they’re stowed inside of individual components. Please don’t pack up your camera with your telephoto lens attached, since it’s much more likely to get damaged that way!
Third and finally, make sure that you bring the necessities, like lens wipes, chargers, and converter cables. Again, remember the overpacking rule, but you don’t want to find yourself stranded with a dirty lens or a dead battery.
Since cameras come in multiple brands and sizes, all the best camera backpacks have a special padded interior with sections to hold each of your camera components still and absorb any impact.
For our money, buying a camera backpack with easily reconfigurable compartments makes life much easier. Velcro is a great way to easily move sections around, or some bags use zippers.
Some camera backpacks use bright colors on the inside so that you can locate your gear (which is usually black) quickly, since small pieces tend to get lost inside dark interiors.
The number of compartments you need will depend on the number of camera components you plan to bring, but most photographers bring the following:
- DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
- 3-4 Lenses
- Lens Wipes
- Laptop or Tablet
- Phone and Charger
- Snacks, Sweater or Jacket, other Personal Items
If you only have one camera, then an all-purpose backpack with one specific padded compartment for your camera will probably be good enough. If you have a lot of gear to transport to a big event, then you probably want a larger bag with 6-12 compartments that can hold everything.
Just like with all backpacks, it can look great and store everything, but if it’s not comfortable then using it will be miserable.
You’re more likely to actually bring your camera along with you on your daily adventures if you don’t mind wearing it.
When choosing a camera backpack, look for the following comfort features:
- Strap Padding
- Waist Belt
- Proportion to Your Body
- Adjustable Shoulder Straps
This will vary widely depending on your height, weight, and build, but you don’t want to pick a super-tiny backpack if you’re tall that will ride up on your shoulders, or a bulky backpack could overwhelm you if you’re extra petite.
Adjustable shoulder straps serve the same purpose: making sure that the backpack rests properly in the center of your back to prevent injury or soreness.
We felt that a waist belt was important for long-time wear, since it keeps all of the weight from being carried on your back, which causes fatigue. Strap padding prevents the backpack from chafing on your shoulders, which is important if you’re packing fifty or more pounds of gear on your back.
Although camera bags are primarily utilitarian, anything that you’re wearing immediately becomes part of your outfit. While there are some trendy patterned models available, we chose classic colors like black and gray that should blend in well with anyone’s style and give a modern, classic feel.
If you’re a professional photographer, you know that there is a bit of a controversy around what photographers should wear to a shoot. While many opt for an all-black uniform, others try to stay as trendy as possible as a subtle advertisement of their stylish eye.
Either way, the outside of a camera bag should broadcast professionalism as well as the interior protects your gear.
If you’re travelling with your camera and gear, there’s a good chance that you will run into some adverse environmental conditions.
Protecting your camera from rain is an enduring problem of photographers, and while there’s a myriad of specialized products out there designed to keep your equipment safe, at minimum you should make sure that your gear is protected as you haul it back and forth in between shoots.
A bag that is truly waterproof will set you back a pretty penny, but most camera backpacks on the market these days come with a removable weather proof cover that can be stored inside of the bag in a compact fold or roll when you’re not using it.
They’re basically ponchos for your camera backpack – they can be spread over the bag and pulled tight with a drawstring or secured with Velcro for a reasonably tight seal. They do a good job of keeping off light rain, snow, or sand, but we definitely don’t recommend letting your bag sit in a mudpuddle for a long time!
These covers can be a bit of a pain, as they restrict your access to the zippers and buckles of your backpack, but they are invaluable if you are stuck in a drizzle and don’t want your cameras ruined.
While we liked the Lowpro Photo Hatchback for it’s sturdiness, reasonable weight and size, and ability to fit most of the necessities, any of the camera bags from our Top 5 list will protect your gear well.
Before you choose the best camera bag for you, it’s a good idea to take inventory of everything you really think you’ll be bringing. Do you really need three different sweaters? Probably not. But will you be needing a dedicated space for your tripod? Maybe!
Whichever camera bag you go with, make sure each of your camera’s components fits snugly into its own compartment. After all, you don’t want to arrive at a once-in-a-lifetime destination only to find your equipment broken when you get there!
Protect your cameras and lenses with a bag designed especially for your valuable photography equipment.