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One of the most comfortable and efficient ways to carry camera gear is in a camera backpack. Designed like the bags used for hiking or carrying books to school, camera backpacks allow you to carry your most important gear hands-free while providing quick access to your photographic tools. Artists looking for the right bundle may feel overwhelmed by all the options available. We’ve narrowed the field down for you, picking our five favorite camera backpacks to suit a variety of needs to make your next photo outing a success.
Best Overall: Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II
The name may be long, but this sturdy and accommodating camera backpack offers enough space to carry all your gear without weighing you down. Plus, it’s available now at a great price. The ProTactic BP 450 AW II can accommodate two interchangeable lens cameras (DSLR or mirrorless models) as well as up to eight lenses, including zooms and longer telephotos. The best part is that it’s big enough to fit your camera with the zoom lens attached so you’re always ready to capture an artistic moment. There are four access points at the top, sides and back of the bag to allow you to quickly get your gear out. There’s extra room for multiple photo accessories, including flashes, a tripod, and a 15-inch laptop, and adjustable dividers let you customize the interior to fit just about anything you want. The pack’s modular strap system lets you add even more, including a water bottle pouch, accessory case, and tripod cup. The bag has a sturdy molded top shell and an integrated all-weather cover. For all its space and functionality, the ProTactic BP 450 AW II is surprisingly sleek, and its streamlined, all-black design looks sleek and professional.
Ideal for travelling: Peak Design 45L travel backpack
For artists who travel for their photographic inspiration, we recommend the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L. With a clean design that meets international carry-on requirements, this bag is extremely versatile. Scale it down to a 35-litre daypack when you want to travel light, or expand it to a 45-litre beast when you need to carry all your best camera gear. With top, front and rear access to grab your gear on the go, the 45L travel backpack is also protective and durable with its weather-resistant zippers and canvas outer shell of nylon. There are quick-access pockets for keys, glasses, passport, and other small items, and expandable side pockets let you store your tripod, water bottles, and more. The main compartment can be divided into two sections via a zippered mesh pocket, and there are also padded laptop and tablet sleeves. Travelers will appreciate that the shoulder straps and hip belt can be stowed away so they don’t get caught during transport. We also liked the concealable external carry straps.
Best for Adventure: Shimoda Designs Explore v2 30
Outdoor photographers with a taste for adventure should pack their gear in the Shimoda Designs Explore v2 30 Backpack and hit the trail. Although it may look like a traditional backpack, it is designed to carry cameras, lenses, photo accessories, etc. The Explore v2 30 backpack meets all international carry-on regulations and even fits under some airplane seats, allowing you to keep your valuable camera gear close at hand when traveling. For those new to Shimoda bags, we recommend the Explore v2 30 starter kit, which includes the backpack; a shock-absorbing, padded medium base unit that cradles your camera gear; a rain cover; and accessory straps. The pack has multiple access points, including rear and side openings. The bag can be adjusted to one of three height options that allow it to fit short or tall, male or female torso sizes. Other features we like are the quick-deployment tripod and water bottle pockets; the dual-access document pocket that gives you inside or outside access to passports, maps or notebooks; and the padded sleeve in the back pocket, which can hold up to a 16-inch laptop. And if you get thirsty on one of your photo hikes, the three-liter bladder will keep you hydrated.
Best Wheeled Bundle: Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 Backpack/Roller Bag
If you sometimes want to take off your backpack and pull it behind you, we recommend this Manfrotto wheeled luggage carrier. Designed for the “road warrior” performer, the Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 can hold a load of photography gear while offering two ways to carry it. Two padded shoulder straps and a chest strap allow you to comfortably carry the bag on your back. For wheeled transport, stow the straps, extend the telescoping top handle and set it on its sturdy wheels. The bag meets the international standard for hand luggage. For added security, there is an integrated TSA-approved combination zipper. To protect against the elements, the bag has a moisture-resistant coating and a fold-down rain cover for heavy downpours. You won’t need to leave anything with this bag; it fits two camera bodies (mirrorless or DSLR) and up to five lenses, including pro-level telephoto and zoom lenses. There are 14 removable protective dividers inside so you can configure the interior however you like. There’s also a large, easy-access front pocket for a 17-inch laptop and a second pocket for documents and personal items. Like all of Manfrotto’s best products, the Pro Light Reloader Switch-55 backpack/roller is made in Italy and features a beautiful black design with red accents.
Best Affordable Option: Bagsmart Camera Backpack
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money but still want an attractive and durable bag, the Bagsmart camera backpack is our choice. It looks and feels a lot more expensive than it really is. Made of durable, waterproof canvas, this classic-looking bag also features a rain cover so your gear won’t get soaked. It has a fairly large capacity, with room for a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a long zoom lens attached as well as up to five standard lenses and other camera accessories. You can organize the interior however you like with the bag’s removable padded dividers. The upper storage section is convenient for storing clothes or other personal items. There’s even a separate padded compartment with a shock-absorbing padded bottom that can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. The Bagsmart camera backpack’s side access design allows you to quickly grab your camera. Front and interior pockets can hold cables, memory cards and other large accessories. Two large side pockets can hold water bottles or even a tripod. Despite the affordable price, the designers haven’t skimped on comfort: thick back padding, wide shoulder straps, and adjustable chest and waist straps create a surprisingly comfortable fit. The Bagsmart camera backpack is available in five colors; we like the chic khaki look best.