We love our backpacks. Though we love the minimalist lifestyle, if there’s one thing we hoard, it’s backpacks.
When we decided to rebrand and come up with our new logo, our designer mentioned that she always pictured us wearing a backpack. Hence, our logo includes… you’ve guessed it, a backpack!
Over the years, we’ve tested out dozens of backpacks, and today we’ve narrowed it down to the best camera backpack of all time.
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Last Updated: August 29, 2021
We Found the Best Camera Backpack of All Time
Right now, we have 5 camera backpacks we rotate through based on the activity and how much gear we want to carry. We currently use two of them for travel, and we keep the others around when we adventure locally.
For years, we’ve been on the search for the elusive perfect backpack only to realize one bag can’t do it all. That being said, we found one that’s as perfect as it gets.
We’ll continue to update this post as we get more bags. It’s an addiction, and we can’t stop.
What to Look for in a Camera Backpack
Other than the prerequisite of keeping our camera gear safe, these are what we take into consideration:
- Weight and Fit
- Durability and Weather Resistance
- Access and Design
It’s always difficult to find the balance between being big enough to carry all our gear but not so big that it’s bulky and cumbersome.
Also, since we’re both on the petite end (Jacob is 5’7 and Esther is 4’11), many bags that look normal on others make us look like children.
- 1-15 L – These are small grab and go bags with space for one camera and small personal items.
- 15-30 L – It’s big enough to put a camera body and 1-2 lenses plus some space for other items. This is our sweet spot.
- 30+ L – For carrying a lot of camera gear. We only carry them for professional shoots or events.
Weight & Fit
Durability & Weather Resistance
Where will you be taking your backpack? We try to find bags made of durable weather-resistant materials because we never know where we’ll end up.
The last thing we want to do is worry about our gear if it starts raining or if we’re stuck in a sand storm. An additional rainfly can add more protection.
Access & Design
Let’s face it, we want easy access because we’re lazy. The harder it is to take our camera out, the less we end up using it.
We prefer bags that have side access to the camera so that we can swing it around and get it without taking the bag off.
Besides that, the design and how it looks matter too. There are some small design details that we’ve learned to love over time and we’ll talk about those with each bag. Some of the features we look for are:
- Compression straps to pack down the bag so it’s not bulky when the extra space isn’t being used.
- Organization for all the small camera accessories
- Sternum and Waist Straps to help distribute the load
- Adaptability – is there more than one way to use the bag
Best Camera Backpacks for Everyday
If we had to choose one camera backpack to keep, it would be this one.
I’ve worn the bag full of gear all day, and it’s still comfortable. I strap the tripod to the side where the water bottle goes, but you can use the additional accessory straps to put it elsewhere.
- Modular camera gear organization
- Side access to a camera
- Secret pocket for valuables
- Low profile
- Roll-top design makes it expandable
- Optional waist and accessory straps
- Dedicated rainfly pocket
- Camera side access is from the left side (it feels more natural on the right side to me)
- Roll-top is not as quick to access
- No dedicated storage for waist straps
- Limited organization if you have a lot of small accessories
We’ve had the Everyday Backpack longer than any other bag. I use this day-to-day in the city and especially loved it while living in NYC. Everything has easy access with zippers to both sides. Plus, everyone loves the stylish look of this bag.
It comes in two sizes, 20L and 30L. We use the 20L bag because we don’t need to carry as much gear anymore.
We still have the first version. Since then they’ve updated it, and I’ll post a review on their updates soon. They also came out with two variations of this bag, one with a zipper instead of the top flap and one that is a tote backpack version.
- You can configure the interior to fit your needs
- Easy and quick access from two sides and the top
- Access the sides and panel pockets while still wearing the bag
- Plenty of organization for smaller items in the side panels made specifically for camera gear
- Weatherproof shell
- Expansion on top doesn’t feel as secure when at it’s at max capacity
- Unpadded waist straps
- Not as easy to put back all the camera dividers
Jacob won the Freeline at a B&H raffle. When we started using it, it was eerily similar to the Peak Design Everyday Bag. It has all the functionality of the Peak Design bag and also a few added features specific for camera gear.
My biggest complaint is that everyone knows Lowepro makes camera bags, and it can be a target for theft in touristy areas. We still use it from time to time, but it’s more of a bench warmer at this time.
- Modular camera organization system that can be easily removed
- Organization pockets for camera gear
- Side access zippers on both sides
- Weather resistant
- Additional gear box included
- Looks very much like a camera bag
- Feels like a less-stylish copy of the Everyday Backpack
- Waist straps aren’t padded
- Doesn’t expand
The Manfrotto BeFree III is another great option for an everyday bag, giving you plenty of space for your camera gear, along with some general cargo space for everyday items.
- Weather-resistant material
- Doesn’t scream camera backpack
- Modular system
- Unique tripod pouch to protect your tripod
- Lots of organization
- Laptop is on the outside of the bag furthest from your back
- Straps are on the thinner side which could be uncomfortable if you have a full load
This backpack has a bunch of features and runs between 22 and 40 liters giving it a lot of versatility. One of it’s best features are the accessories you can add to customize it to you, including a wardrobe system and camera cube.
- Weather-resistant material
- Two access points to the bag
- Great accessories that are removable to customize the bag
- Removeable camera cube that has its own strap
- Expands from 22L to 40L
- Stowable hip straps
- Must open the back to access camera cube
- No side straps to secure a tripod
- The base pack is limited – works best with accessories
When researching the best camera backpack, we kept seeing the Prima System from Boundary Supply pop up. At first glance, it has a lot of cool features, and I really wanted to fall in love with it.
There are aspects of it that I like, but I think it misses the overall mark when it comes to functionality. I’ve included it in this review since so many people swear by it, so you can decide for yourself if it meets your needs.
- Very high quality and durable material
- Lots of modular organization that is removable and works on its own
- You can customize it to how you want to use it
- Camera bag can be removed and used on its own
- The bag is heavy on its own
- Top access isn’t fast and I don’t like the massive zipper down the middle
- Camera cube sits awkwardly in the bag making some of the space useless
Best Camera Backpacks for Adventure
Sometimes we need a more rugged bag that has more support. That’s where adventure camera backpacks come in. Right now we only have one that we use, but we also got a recommendation from a friend who’s always out hiking.
This backpack was perfect when we were in Portland because of the rainy weather. It’s got great support for hiking so we can carry a ton of gear, but we can easy access all of it without putting the bag down.
When it comes to everyday wear, it doesn’t really make sense for us since it’s a bit overkill. Plus, there isn’t a dedicated spot for a laptop so we rarely use it for that reason.
- Tons of storage for camera gear
- Weather-resistant material and a rainfly pocket
- Great support to carry heavy loads
- Easy to flip the bag using the waist straps so you can access your gear without putting it down
- Built primarily for camera gear with limited space for other items
- No laptop area
- Bulky waist straps can’t be tucked away
- Looks like a camera bag
The WANDRD FERNWEH is a mix of an adventure, travel, and camera backpack giving you tons of features. We got our hands on a prototype and did a video review you can check out below.
- Modular organization system that can be easily removed
- Tons of padding focused on comfort with heavy loads
- Four access points giving you plenty of options
- Water bladder on the flap of the bag putting weight far from your back if you’re backpack is emptier
I love that there are more and more options for backpacking bags that are made for camera gear. The LowePro Photosprt Pro III has great options to help you carry your camping and photography gear.
- Modular system that can be used in different ways, including smaller day bags
- Luxurious padding focused on comfort with heavy loads
- There is a larger version if you need more capacity
- Bladder on the side of the bag making it off balance if you don’t have a counterweight
We’ve been eyeing the Atlas Athlete backpack for a while, but until we get our own, our friend who swears by it has given us some feedback.
He travels with a lot of gear to capture amazing outdoor photos and put this backpack through the test in all types of environments.
- Modular and customizable to your needs
- Interchangeable panel that gives you more storage space if you take camera gear out
- Quick access through back panel
- Expandable giving you plenty of space for other gear
- Fits a water bladder with dedicated tube
- Can remove waist support when you don’t need it
- Have to take the bag off to get to your gear
- DSLR cameras have to sit flat without a lens which adds an extra step before you can take photos
- Outdoorsy look. Sure, you can wear it in the city, but you’ll look like you’re backpacking.
Best Lightweight Backpacks
These are some great options for those of you who want something smaller and lightweight. You sacrifice space for other personal items, but they’re much easier to grab and go.
We use this bag when all we need is our camera and some small items. We have the original 5L model (and it also came in 10L), but their newest version comes in 3L, 6L, and 10L. The 10L allows you to strap a tripod on it.
I especially love that I can conveniently swing it from my back to front to access my camera. I can even fit in an additional lens if I’m not carrying anything else.
- Easy to adjust the strap with one hand
- Weatherproof material
- Extra pockets to organize smaller items
- Smaller versions (3L & 6L) can be worn on your waist too
We just ordered a Wandrd VEER Packable Bag and will update this review once it comes in. Unlike most packable bags, they found a solution to give your gear comfort and protection while being lightweight and small. It’s genius! They do this through an inflatable back panel and inflatable camera cube.
- Packs small
- Inflatable Camera Cube gives your gear protection
- Quick side access to gear
- A surprising number of pockets
- Takes time to inflate and set up
- Not the best support if your gear is heavy
The Chrome Niko Camera Sling is a great option if you need a bit more organization. With additional pockets and a flap to tie down tripods, it packs a lot of punch for its size.
- Lots of organization
- Dedicated flap to carry a tripod
- Quick adjustable straps
- Can be worn on the hip
- Extra strong connection points to the strap
- Only comes in a 5L size
- If tripod is connected, it’s hard to access one of the pockets
Wandrd Detour Hip Pack also packs up small and uses the same inflatable Camera Cube system to save space and weight.
- Extremely packable
- Bottom straps to carry water pottle or additional gear
- Smooth back to front slide access
- Additional organization pockets
- Takes time to inflate and set up
- Requires two straps to be secure and takes more time to take off
Our Favorite Backpacks
Have you tried any of these? What do you think is the best camera backpack of all time?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.