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Best Backpacking Camera Bags: Always Carry a Camera for Memory Lane

Rita Warfield
Written by Rita Warfield

If you are an avid photographer, your camera is never far out of your reach. Having the right carrying case is essential.

Not only are you looking for protection, but you also want convenience to get to your camera and gear when you want to without any hassle. In this article, we are going to cover the features of the best backpacking camera bag.

There are times when you need to take your camera and gear on longer trips. Your camera and equipment are investments you want to protect. We will compare the list of products and help you identify what it is you may be looking for in a camera bag.

Product NameDimensionsWeightAccessory PocketsWater ResistantPrice
Powerextra Professional DSLR11 x 4.9 x 13.7 inches1.4 lbs.4YesCheck price on Amazon
Anvil Slim 158.27 x 12.2 x 18.5 inches4.9 lbs.7Rain coverCheck price on Amazon
Professional Camera Bag14 x 8.5 x 7.5 inches1 lb.6Rain coverCheck price on Amazon
Acuvar DSLR11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches2 lbs.7Rain coverCheck price on Amazon
OneTigris11.8 x 8.8 x 4.3 inches0.66 lbs.1YesCheck price on Amazon
DSLR SLR14 x 10.5 x 5 inches1.1 lbs.4Yes & shockproofCheck price on Amazon
ProTactic 350 AW12.13 x 9.06 x 16.93 inchesN/A8All weather coverCheck price on Amazon
Amazon Basics Backpack11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches1.9 lbs.4Rain coverCheck price on Amazon

Camera Bag Buying Tips – What Should You Consider

It’s not all about your camera. What you put it in matters a lot, especially when you want to take care of this gear. So what you should look at before sticking the lens in the bag?

Dimensions & Weight

There are a few issues to consider when choosing the size and weight of the camera bag you need and want. First, the amount of gear you need to carry. Some smaller bags will only accommodate one camera body, a couple of lenses, and a few accessories.

If you have more than that, consider a larger bag. You want enough room to hold everything with ease. Do not pack the bag so tight that it takes away the power of the protective padding.

Second, your body stature may make a difference. For this, it is good if you can “try before you buy” to get a good fit. Some backpacks are smaller in length; therefore the hip belt will not fit a taller, larger person well. Some bags are larger and will not fit a smaller person.

backpacking camera bag

If the bag you like comes with a hip belt, make sure it rides on your hips where your hip bones can carry a significant portion of the weight.

The weight of the bag is also significant. A heavier bag may be extra sturdy and provide excellent protection for your gear, but it may be too heavy to be comfortable for a long trek.

Lighter bags will work fine as far as weight goes, but it may sacrifice protection. Inspect the bag you desire and make sure it fits and offers the protection and features you need.

Water Resistance

When it comes to camera equipment and gear, it doesn’t take long until you have a rather significant investment. Protecting your investment becomes critical in outdoor situations. When out in nature one of the issues you may encounter precipitation.

It can come in the form of mist, dew, rain, snow and has one name – moisture. The last thing you want to expose your gear to is moisture. Water resistance is an essential feature.

Some packs label themselves as water resistant based on the nylon/polyester fabric construction. Yes, this type of material has some water resistance. Bags coated with a durable water resistant (DWR) chemical will bump up the protection. Others have a rain cover or all weather cover that will yield even more protection from moisture.

You will be the one to determine how much protection you need. If you live in an arid climate and this is the climate where you shoot your images, then you may not be concerned with this type of protection.

taking pictures of waterfalls

If you live in or travel to climates that have a considerable amount of rain or you plan on hiking near large waterfalls, you may want to consider water resistance as integral to your backpacking camera bag.

Main Compartment Details

The main compartment of the pack will hold the majority of the gear. The versatility of this compartment is a key feature. The more dividers, the easier it is to divide the space into the sizes and shapes you need. Some lenses are small, and a small partition is sufficient.

A camera body with a large lens attached will need a T-shaped space. You want to be able to configure it in such a way that all the equipment you want to bring will be in a padded cell for protection.

Other issues to consider are the way the dividers connect, with Velcro or some other way; the thickness of the padding in the dividers; and the padding around the outside of the main compartment.

camera bag

Accidents do happen, and the last thing you want is to drop your bag or hit it against something and found out the hard way there was not enough padding.

Accessory Pockets

Not only is the main compartment important, but accessory pockets are essential. Depending on where you are hiking, you may need a water bottle. Of course, you want to bring your tripod. Then maybe you need a tablet or laptop.

Don’t forget the many cables, cords, batteries, and other gear you will need. Personal stuff like keys, wallet, and jacket all have to go somewhere. So you see there is a need for many pockets.How these pockets close is another consideration. Zippers are excellent and offer the most security.

Velcro closures are good too and may be easier to get into than zippers. There are also drawstrings that work great for bigger items. Some of these pockets are interior and others exterior. Wherever the pockets are located you want them to be easy to access. Your water bottle should be on the outside for example.

camera bag with accessory pocket for water

Your car keys might be in an interior zippered pocket for extra security. These are the types of things to consider as you look for a camera bag that fits your style and requirements.

Hip Belt

A hip belt may come in very handy if you have a lot of gear and are going a longer distance. The hip belt will help distribute the weight of the pack and can carry as much as 90% of the load relieving the pressure and weight on your shoulders and allowing your hips and legs, which are stronger, take the majority of the burden.

Another great feature about a belt is that they keep the bottom of the pack close to your body and prevent the bag from bouncing around. The belt helps to stabilize the load.

Remember, the belt must fit across the top of your hips, this is why the size of the bag is important. If the belt doesn’t hit in the right spot, there is no reason to use a belt because there is no transfer of weight.

Best Backpacking Camera Bags – I Like to Know Where the Camera Is

When you will reach for your camera to get it out of the bag, it won’t be a simple reach and grab. Most of the time you’ll look at the bag. Wouldn’t be nice to see a good one holding the memory lane “gun”? Let’s see what the market has for you when it comes to camera bags.

Powerextra Professional DSLR Camera Backpack Powerextra Professional DSLR Camera Backpack

Price: Approximately $22

Dimensions: 11 x 4.9 x 13.7 inches

Weight: 1.4 lbs.

Material: Exterior – waterproof nylon/polyester; interior – nylon

Specific features: Customizable partitions, water resistant, value

Best use: Day hikes and shorter excursions; beginner photographers with a smaller arsenal of gear

Description: The Powerextra Professional DSLR Camera Backpack is a great lightweight bag that is perfect for day hikes. The interior foam partitions are customizable to fit your specific camera and gear. This pack is small but will hold a camera body, 2-3 lenses and a couple of smaller accessories. If you work with the layout and your specific equipment, you may be able to fit more into the pack. Also, the smaller size makes it a good choice if children or women who are smaller in stature will carry it; it will fit their bodies better.

There are only two exterior pockets constructed of nylon mesh. While they will hold a water bottle, they will not carry a tripod. So, if you are attached to your tripod, this may not be the right pack for you.

This pack has a top carrying handle so you can grab and go. It also has padded, ventilated and adjustable shoulder straps so you can wear it like a backpack.

PROS:

  • Customizable foam to configure it to fit your gear
  • Compatible with several top name brand cameras: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Olympus
  • Price is right, especially for a beginner

CONS:

  • Small in size
  • Only two exterior pockets that are mesh
  • No room for a tripod

Related: The K&F Travel Backpack is very similar to the Powerextra Backpack. Both are similar in shape, but the K&F bag is slightly larger (11 x 5.5 x 17.3 inches and 2.2 lbs.). The extra length and added strapping allows room to carry a tripod. There are also additional exterior pockets to carry personal items such as car keys, money, and other small items. Finally, this bag will accommodate a 10-12 inch tablet as well. At approximately $50 it is worth it to get these extra features not available in the Powerextra Backpack. Beginner and novice photographers alike will like the versatility of this bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Anvil Slim 15 Backpack Anvil Slim 15 Backpack

Price: Approximately $200

Dimensions: 8.27 x 12.2 x 18.5 inches

Weight: 4.2 lbs.

Material: Polyurethane coated polyester

Specific features: Compression straps, removable hip belt, many pockets

Best use: Day hikes, long excursions

Description: The Anvil Slim 15 Backpack may be high on price, but it is also high on features. First off, the size of the bag is large enough to hold multiple cameras, lenses, and accessories all at once. The exterior pockets are perfect for items you need to grab on the go. You will find there are plenty of pockets to protect your valuables and help you stay organized.

A nice feature of this bag is compression straps that will help secure your cargo beyond the zipper. So, if the zipper should fail, the straps will hold your equipment in the pack safely.

Not only is the fabric of this backpack polyurethane coated, but it also comes with a rain cover. So, if you like to hike in rainy climates, this pack has gone the extra step to keep water out and your gear dry.

The removable hip belt is possibly one of the best features of this backpack. If you are carrying a heavy load of gear, it would be excellent if you could transfer that weight to your hips and save your back and shoulders.

The fact that the belt is removable just adds to the versatility in that when you have a lighter load and are going shorter distances you can remove the belt.

PROS:

  • Removable waist/hip belt
  • Versatile accessory pockets
  • Can accommodate a tripod

CONS:

  • Heavy – adds an extra 4 lbs. to the weight to carry
  • No place to carry a water bottle
  • High price tag

Related: Since this pack does not come with a water bottle pocket, the Tamrac Water Bottle Carrier seems like a fitting accessory. The cost is approximately $20. This carrier will fit on the belt of the Anvil Slim 15 Backpack making it a secure attachment. It weighs about ½ pound and is of polyurethane coated polyester construction. The inside utilizes a lighter weight Oxford nylon fabric as the liner. This carrier is rigid and could be used to carry a lens instead of a water bottle. It would provide fast access to another lens for a quick change out.

Check the price on Amazon

Professional Camera Bag / Backpack Professional Camera Bag / Backpack

Price: Approximately $30

Dimensions: 14 x 8.5 x 7.5 inches

Weight: 1 lb.

Material: Nylon exterior

Specific features: Sling-style, side access to main compartment, top opening compartment

Best use: Day trips and longer excursions

Description: The Professional Camera Bag/Backpack has plenty of versatility found in the many openings into the main compartment. The beauty of this bag is you do not need to take off the whole pack to gain access to your camera. There are side access openings. As a sling-style bag with only one shoulder strap, you can swing the bag around your side and access the camera and gear from the side.

There is also a top compartment where the contents are accessed. This system would be ideal when shooting wildlife; minimal zippers to handle and movements to make to get to the camera.

On the side of the pack are straps that are perfect for strapping on a mini-tripod. The tie-down cords on the front also can be used for a tripod, a jacket or other such items.

PROS:

  • Versatile accessory pockets
  • Reinforced top grip handle
  • Ergonomic design

CONS:

  • The Velcro compartment dividers stick to the openings of the compartments making it hazardous to open a compartment since the divider will be pulled out.
  • Seems too small for larger guys
  • Plenty of pockets but they are small and do not hold much

Related: A perfect match for the Professional Camera Bag is the Altura-Photo-Neck Strap with Quick-Release. The price is about $18. Not only does it provide a thick comfortable padding, but it also contains a small, long pocket integrated into the strap. This product also includes a plate for mounting your camera on a tripod. The plate and screw are compatible with most camera models. The quick release clip will allow you to quickly release the camera from the strap for easier installation onto the tripod. Also, there is a camera safety tether, so there will be no accidents dropping your camera.

Check the price on Amazon

Acuvar DSLR Camera Backpack Acuvar DSLR Camera Backpack

Price: Approximately $27

Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches

Weight: 2 lbs.

Material: Nylon/polyester exterior

Specific features: Waist belt

Best use: Day hikes or city walks

Description: The Acuvar DSLR Camera Backpack is the perfect setup for small day hikes or city walks. It is not big enough to carry everything you would need for a longer, more remote hike. However, it has plenty of pockets placed in strategic locations that are easy access; they will accommodate smaller accessories. None of the pockets are large enough to hold a laptop; it may hold a tablet, depending on the size.

The Acuvar features adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt. The hip belt might not fit you correctly if you have a long torso. The hip belt should ride on the hips, and this pack is small so that the belt will hit you across the midsection instead. Body measurements are a must before buying.

The rain cover is a nice feature, especially for longer trips where you may get caught in the rain. It could also be used as a protective covering if hiking through thick brush or heavy forests.

PROS:

  • Adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt
  • Many pockets and adjustable dividers
  • Perfect for day hikes

CONS:

  • May be too small for larger framed people
  • The main zipper can unravel mainly due to how it is sewn in and if you have a heavy load that puts pressure on the zipper
  • No room for a laptop

Related: Acuvar also sells a nice Set Of Padded Lens Pouches for approximately $8 for a set of three. They are water resistant neoprene. Each pouch has a drawstring for closure and an external clip to clip it on your belt, pack or another place as you see fit. The large pouch has a belt loop to attach it directly to the belt for more stability. The height of the pouches is 8″, 6″, and 5″. The circumference is about 13″. For the best satisfaction, measure your lenses to make sure they will fit within these dimensions.

Check the price on Amazon

OneTigris Camera Bag OneTigris Camera Bag

Price: Approximately $20

Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.8 x 4.3 inches

Weight: 0.66 lb.

Material: Nylon Oxford EPE waterproof exterior

Specific features: Rain-proof, small enough to fit inside another bag

Best use: Best used in conjunction with another pack or bag

Description: The OneTigris Camera Bag is designed to turn any pack into a camera bag. The One Tigris is a compact bag with two removable partitions. Velcro runs the full length of the bag so your compartments can be different sizes to handle the variable sizes of your camera body and lenses. This small bag is foldable. It has a flap cover with a zippered pocket. There are two front pouch pockets with no closure. The bag’s enclosure is Velcro.

The One Tigris does not have a strap; therefore it is used in conjunction with another bag. It will protect your camera and gear with the padded liner and dividers. It might be small, but it will accommodate a tablet along with your camera and lens.

The fabric is soft and pliable; the bag will not hold its form. It is a soft cover for your gear set inside another bag. It fits nicely into a messenger style bag that has one strap that you can wear cross-body for easy access to your camera. It would also fit inside your hiking pack if you wanted to bring a small amount of camera equipment with you.

PROS:

  • Soft and pliable; able to fit inside another bag.
  • Can accommodate a camera body, two lenses and a tablet.
  • Zippered pouch is perfect for personal items such as wallet, car keys and such

CONS:

  • No shoulder straps or handles
  • Fabric is pliable and will not hold its form on its own
  • No zippered closure to secure equipment inside

Related: The Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag is a perfect companion for the One Tigris, especially if you are not attracted to traditional camera bags. It costs approximately $55 for the medium. The Timbuk2 has a wide cross-body strap. The flap closure has durable, easy release buckles. Also, there are a couple of small zippered pockets on the outside. The inside is lined with waterproof fabric, giving an extra layer of protection for your camera and gear.

Check the price on Amazon

DSLR SLR Camera Bag DSLR SLR Camera Bag

Price: Approximately $26

Dimensions: 14 x 10.5 x 5 inches

Weight: 1.1 lbs.

Material: 100% waterproof nylon

Specific features: Accommodates tripod, versatile compartments

Best use: Multi-function camera backpack for day trips

Description: The DSLR SLR Camera Bag has a lot of versatility in that there are seven moveable compartments inside the body of the bag. The configuration allows for at least one camera body and several lenses and accessories depending on your setup.

You can also totally remove the dividers and one just one compartment; easy to use this bag for other purposes. There are two mesh pockets with Velcro closures on the inside flap. On the exterior of the bag, there is a place for a small tripod or monopod on one side and a mesh water bottle holder on the other.

The backpack closes with double YKK zippers. It is constructed of 100% waterproof nylon, keeping your gear safe even in damp conditions. The bag works great for men and women.

The padded shoulder straps are adjustable to fit most. There is a top reinforced handle so you can grab it and go if necessary. This pack is compatible with many cameras.

PROS:

  • Ample, heavy duty Velcro to hold compartment dividers in place
  • Easy to organize gear with all the extra dividers
  • Accommodates a tripod

CONS:

  • Needs a couple more exterior pockets for other items
  • Depending on the weight of your gear, it could use a chest strap for extra carrying comfort
  • Sides and back of pack could use a bit more padding

Related: If you don’t already have a tripod, the Photography Monopod with Fluid Pan Head Quick Release Plate may be the perfect addition to your setup. Not only is it a monopod, but it has a base with three feet to give you extra security and the freedom to use both hands at once. Use the base alone, and it becomes a tabletop tripod. The pan head has a standard ¼” screw. The rocker arm allows for easy adjustments and setting the angles. There is a foam handgrip.

Check the price on Amazon

ProTactic 350 AW Camera Backpack ProTactic 350 AW Camera Backpack

Price: Approximately $194

Dimensions: 12.13 x 9.06 x 16.93 inches

Weight: 4.4 lbs.

Material: Hardshell Nylon

Specific features: Four access points; modular accessories with the slip-lock attaching system; an ergonomic system to help with shoulders, back, and hips.

Best use: Perfect for a longer backcountry hike

Description: The ProTactic 350 AW Camera Backpack has just what you are looking for in a handy camera pack. The first notable feature is the four access points. There are two side points, one on either side. There are a top access point and the main body side access. These access points make it very easy to grab your camera and get the prized shot.

Next up are the modular accessories. The pack comes with five of these unique “sides.” There is a water bottle pouch, an accessory case, a tripod cup, and two cinch straps. These are attached to the back of the pack using the slip-lock system. Each mod has straps that slip through the bands that are sewn directly into the bag.

You can design where you want each mod placed. The tripod cup will hold the feet of the tripod, and the two cinch straps will be used to strap the mid and upper portions of the tripod to the pack.

The ActivZone System provides targeted support at the shoulder blades, the lower back, and waist. These sections are reinforced with a ventilation system to gain maximum comfort. There is also a removable belt that will give extra support when needed or remove it if you need a low profile pack.

This pack has many pockets and compartments. It will accommodate a laptop as well. All of the top-of-the-line features may justify the hefty price.

PROS:

  • Extreme versatility inside and out with added accessories
  • Constructed of hardshell nylon
  • Heavy duty zippers

CONS:

  • Molle system straps are not standard size, and some accessories from other brands may not work well on this pack
  • Small pack and may not fit some cameras with larger lenses

Related: Another accessory for the molle system is the Lowepro S&F Filter Pouch 100. By using the slip-lock system, this pouch will attach securely to one of the backpack’s many locations. The bag will hold up to 10 filters that fit inside the removable organizer. The organizer is color coded to help you quickly identify your filters. There is plenty of room to hold filter attachments and other accessories if necessary. The pouch provides moisture and abrasion protection. The pouch has an easy access lid with snap closure.

Check the price on Amazon

Amazon Basics Backpack Amazon Basics Backpack

Price: Approximately $27

Dimensions: 11.5 x 7.2 x 15.6 inches

Weight: 1.9 lbs.

Material: polyester/nylon exterior

Specific features: Ample exterior pockets, straps for tripod, flexible cord on the front to hold a jacket or other items.

Best use: Backpacking; day trips; excursions

Description: The Amazon Basics Backpack will take care of your SLR/DSLR cameras, several lenses, and accessories. Moreover, this versatile pack will hold a tripod using the side straps. There are two exterior pockets with Velcro flap closures that are perfect for your phone, keys, and such.

The flexible cord would hold your jacket. Inside, there are two clear zippered pockets for small accessories. The beautiful thing is you can see them and are easy to grab. The main compartment is lined with fabric covered foam and has several moveable padded dividers so you can customize the compartments to fit your needs.

These dividers are completely removable if you want just one main compartment. For carrying this pack, there are padded, adjustable shoulder straps. Also, there is an adjustable chest strap for times when you have the pack extra loaded. There is also an adjustable hip belt to help distribute the weight.

PROS:

  • Ample pockets and compartments to organize all your gear
  • Value for the money
  • Lightweight, leaving room for heavy equipment

CONS:

  • The top handle is made of webbing and has a tendency to pull out from the pack at the seam.
  • Not a good fit for those of larger build
  • Inadequate side and bottom padding

Related: There is no doubt that carrying a bag loaded with camera gear can cause shoulder pain. These Memory Foam Shoulder Strap Pads may be the answer to your problems. The pads can work with straps up to 2” wide. The pad wraps around the original strap and attaches to the strap with heavy duty Velcro. These pads can alleviate neck and shoulder pains. The pads are designed with ergonomics in mind to help distribute the weight of the pack over the length of the straps. The pads work well with backpacks, cross-body bags, messenger bags and more. The price is about $12 per pad.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up – Capture the Good Times

Two things that go together perfectly – backpacking and photography! No matter where you like to hike, the city or the great outdoors, there will be plenty of subjects on which to focus. The critical feature is the ability to access your camera and gear quick enough to capture the image you see.

hiking with camera backpacks

The backpack you carry will work the best for you if it is easy and comfortable to use; you can access what you need when you need it. The fit will be an essential component. Make sure the pack fits your hips and shoulders. Do not always load it to the maximum; take what you need and leave the rest at home.

Carrying around a 25-pound bag all day is not comfortable. Make sure the fabrics are water resistance and coated with something to keep the moisture out of the backpack. Finally, keep the main thing, the main thing – capture the good times!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rita Warfield
Rita Warfield

Fully passionate about the outdoors and totally committed to a life of exploration and learning, Rita is the perfect guide when it comes to choosing the right gear for your adventures. She gathered years of practical experience in testing her survival skills and knowledge in a wide range of difficult situations but she is also a passionate mountain climber. Even more, Rita loves hunting, she knows her way around a weapon, and she doesn’t back off in a difficult situation.

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