Best Camera Backpacks

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
402 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best camera backpacks

Last Updated September 2019

When carrying photography gear, you’ll find camera bags in all shapes and sizes. But for comfort and convenience, it’s tough to beat a camera backpack.

This type of camera bag has a backpack-style design, which is similar to the backpacks kids use for school. The camera backpack has one or two straps designed to fit over the shoulders. This design creates a comfortable fit for heavy photography gear.

Importantly, the camera backpack has padded compartments inside, keeping your gear safe from jostling around inside the bag.

Camera backpacks are available in many different sizes, and they have many different features. We’ve put together a list of things you need to think about when purchasing this type of photography gear.

Water resistance is a nice feature in a camera backpack, as it sometimes will be laid down on top of wet grass or used in the rain.

Key considerations

Size is an important aspect of selecting the camera backpack model that will best meet your needs. Finding the right backpack depends in large part on the amount of gear you want to carry and how much it weighs.

Small and medium camera backpacks

Camera backpacks with a below-average size typically will be sling-style bags. They’ll have one strap and are designed to provide quick access to gear.

You can expect to fit one camera body in this style of bag with a few accessories, such as lenses or flash units. This size of camera backpack will not accommodate a laptop or a tripod.

Large camera backpacks

The large camera backpack is a popular size. It has room for two or three camera bodies and two to five lenses. You can add an external flash and camera cleaning supplies.

Occasionally, you’ll find a large sling-style backpack. However, most large backpacks for cameras resemble a traditional backpack, using two straps designed to be worn over both shoulders. A two-strap design distributes weight nicely and is comfortable to wear.

Large camera backpacks with extra storage

When you want to carry a tripod, a laptop, and other items with your camera gear, look for a large size backpack with extra pockets.

You’ll be able to use the extra pockets around the exterior of this type of camera backpack to carry any kind of gear. Because this camera backpack is designed to hold items as large as a laptop, they’re big bags.

Large camera backpacks will have two carrying straps with extra padding. They’re designed to carry a lot of gear, making them heavy, so you’ll want to spread the weight across both shoulders. This style of backpack is great for traveling.

Large specialty camera backpacks

Some photographers will want an extra large camera backpack. This model is designed to carry a drone along with the camera gear needed to shoot photos or video.

Select the items you’ll carry in this size of backpack carefully, as it will become extremely heavy quickly.

EXPERT TIP

When packing your gear in the camera backpack, try to spread the weight evenly throughout the interior. Uneven weight distribution will make the backpack uncomfortable to carry over time.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Some people drag a camera backpack bag on the ground occasionally, so the bag needs a sturdy exterior material and a thick base.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

When comparing camera backpacks, here are some features that you may want to seek out, depending on your photography needs.

  • Multiple zipper pockets: Having pockets of varying sizes in and around the camera backpack allows you to organize your gear. Zipper enclosures are the best way to avoid losing items.

  • Interior padding quality: Some backpacks for cameras have cushioned foam padding covered in vinyl, which is the preferred type of padding. Cheaper models may use corrugated cardboard as padding, which holds items in place but doesn’t provide much protection.

  • Adjustable interior padding: High quality camera backpacks will use sections of padding with Velcro edges on the inside of the bag. This design allows you to change the positioning of the sections to match the size of the gear you’re carrying that particular day.

  • Hard bottom: When you set the backpack down on the ground, having a thick, firm bottom section protects the bag nicely. The base is a common wear area for the backpack, so extra protection here is an important feature.

  • Padded straps: If you’ll be hiking long distances with the camera backpack, you’ll want plenty of padding in the straps. Thin straps will painfully dig into your shoulders, especially if the bag is packed with quite a bit of gear.

  • Water-resistant material: You may not plan to be shooting photos in wet weather, but chances are you will find yourself in an unexpected rainstorm at some point. Having water-resistant or waterproof fabric in the camera backpack’s exterior protects the gear on the inside from moisture.

Camera backpack prices

No matter what budget you have for purchasing a camera backpack, chances are good you’ll be able to find a model to meet your needs. As a general rule, smaller models cost less than larger camera backpacks.

Inexpensive: The least expensive backpacks will cost $25 to $40. These models may be sling-style camera backpacks, resulting in a below-average size. They won’t have thick padding inside or outside the bag, or they may use cardboard instead of foam padding.

Mid-range: In the $40 to $65 range, you’ll find full-size backpacks with two straps and sometimes water-resistant materials. These models often will have varying thicknesses of padding, so check the type of padding carefully. You’ll sometimes find extra pockets for laptops, tripods, and other gear in these models.

Expensive: Camera backpacks between $65 and $125 will have high levels of padding throughout as well as tough fabric exteriors. Some of these models may even be considered hard-sided, further protecting the gear inside. The largest capacity backpacks fall in this price range, too.

DID YOU KNOW?

Extra padding in the interior of the backpack camera bag is important to keep your gear from jostling around as you carry it.

Tips

To receive the greatest benefit from your camera backpack purchase, it’s important to use it properly. Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help you get the most from your backpack.

  • Don’t expect to carry all of your gear. Camera backpacks typically have a large capacity. It’s tempting to stuff them with as much gear as possible. However, we’d suggest only carrying the gear you’ll need for a particular photography session. Overpacking the backpack with extra gear just makes it heavier than it needs to be.

  • Buy the capacity you need for the future. To gain longevity from your camera backpack, buy plenty of capacity. Purchase a backpack that has space to accommodate all of the gear you commonly carry, while still having 30% to 40% free space. You then can fill the backpack to capacity if you need to occasionally.

  • Try not to advertise the contents. Some people will pick a camera backpack that’s clearly marked with the brand name that matches their camera gear. However, these markings let everyone know that the bag has camera gear inside it. This could draw unwanted attention from thieves. A plain camera backpack could have anything in it, as it resembles a standard backpack.

Other products we considered

The five camera backpacks in our matrix are excellent products. However, if you need something a little different, here are some other backpacks we considered. The Tarion RB-02 Camera Backpack has quite a bit of storage area, including pockets for a laptop and a tripod. It’s a little more stylish than some others, too. The CADeN Camera Backpack is another large size camera backpack with pockets for a water bottle or a laptop. It consists of a waterproof polyester nylon that protects your gear in all weather. If you’re seeking to save some money while still carrying a significant amount of gear, the Acuvar Camera Backpack is a smart choice. The foam padding in this bag is of a better quality than you’d expect at such a low price point. Another low-priced option is the MOSISO Sling Camera Backpack. It’s not very big, but it has a water-repellant design that’s perfect for hiking in rough terrain.

If you’ll be flying with the camera backpack, always be certain the size you purchase is permitted as carry-on luggage. You don’t want to check your expensive camera gear.

FAQ

Q. Why does a camera backpack always seem to have less storage space than its dimensions indicate it should have?
A.
When considering the storage size of a camera backpack, always read the interior dimensions, which can be an inch or two smaller than the exterior dimensions due to padding in the exterior walls. Separate padded compartments inside the bag can also reduce the overall storage space versus what you’d find in a backpack with no compartments.

Q. Why would I want a camera backpack instead of a traditional camera bag?
A.
Camera backpacks allow you to gain access to your gear faster than a traditional bag. Some backpack style bags have side access zippers, so you don’t have to take the backpack off to grab the camera. Backpack-style bags are more comfortable to carry than a traditional bag, because the backpack has two straps, spreading the weight between the shoulders.

Q. What extra features are important in my camera backpack?
A.
If you’ll be hiking in rural areas with the backpack, padded straps and waterproof material are important. If you will need to shoot spontaneous photos, you’ll want a backpack you can open quickly to grab your gear. You may want extra space for a water bottle or snacks for a long hike.

Q. Are camera backpacks available in bright colors and stylish designs?
A.
Not really. A few backpacks may have the style you want, but the majority of them emphasize function over style. Gray and black are the most common backpack colors. As a general rule, a photographer wants to blend into the background during a photo shoot, so a dull-colored backpack is a smart choice.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Taji
    Taji
    Writer

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