You don't want to store expensive camera gear like accessories and lenses, in any type of bag or backpack. You want a specialized camera backpack for travel to carry this expensive equipment around. If you can't decide what camera backpack to buy, here you'll find everything you need to know about the best camera backpacks for travel and things to consider before buying one. This isn't the cheapest travel gear, so it's important to choose the right one for you.
There are several considerations you will want to keep in mind like the amount of equipment you're carrying, where you travel to, and other specifications. If you're a photographer who loves to travel and want's to get the best pictures, here are some of the top camera backpacks to carry your expensive equipment around.
Camera Backpack For Travel Buying Guide
Here are some of the important things you need to consider before you buy travel backpack:
Equipment You'll Carry - When looking for a camera backpack, you must know precisely what you'll be carrying — including the type of camera. Some equipment comes with super-specific needs/size requirements.
Think about whether you'll be lugging the following around:
- DSLR camera
- Mirrorless cameras
- Point and shoot cameras
- Different lenses
Environment - Each environment and subject brings different challenges that you, as the photographer/videographer, will need to meet. This likely determines the exact equipment you'll be carrying.
Urban and Street Environments - You'll need quick access to your equipment and ease of movement when you're on the street. It's a good idea to have a backpack with side access so you can rapidly reach your camera and keep your belongings safe.
Nature and Wildlife - Depending on the type of animals you're filming, getting close won't be a good idea, so you'll need a bag that can carry long-distance lenses. They can be quite heavy, so a harness and waistbelt will be desirable here too.
Outdoor Adventure/Challenging Conditions - Whether you're climbing, mountain biking, or performing a different extreme sport, an all-weather camera backpack is necessary when photographing.
Ever-Changing Environments and Vacations - A hybrid backpack is typically a good choice for vacations so that you can carry non-camera gear too, especially if you're going to the beach or some other tropical places. However, long-term travel may call for something bigger and sturdier.
Destination and Duration of Trip - For day trips or short hikes, you should look for a flexible backpack. If you're traveling under tumultuous weather conditions, it's a good idea to find a travel camera bag that has an integrated weather barrier for ultimate protection.
For backcountry and longer on-foot expeditions, you'll benefit from a multiple suspension system. This helps distribute the weight of your gear throughout the body to aid comfort and decrease the risk of injury.
Activities and Travel Type - If you travel via airplane, you don't want to check in your camera and photo equipment. It's expensive, and the risk of breaking is pretty high if you do decide to throw it in the luggage area. So, finding a backpack that fits all the carry-on requirements is essential.
For those of you like me who like to participate in lots of dramatic activities (hiking, trail-running, mountaineering) on your travels, a light camera backpack is the one for you. However, if you're on a slow-paced jaunt and fancy bringing a tripod along to get the perfect shot, the backpack’s capacity is more critical.
Camera Backpack Specifications
Once you've figured out your requirements above, you need to consider the specifics of your camera backpack for travel.
Size and Weight - The best bags tend to come with a compartment for your laptop, SD cards, cables, external hard drives, lenses, and everything else you could possibly want. Typically, you'll also find a place to secure a tripod. Just remember that the more equipment it fits, the bigger it will be. As for the weight, they are usually on the heavier side because of the excessive padding and sturdy construction. However, there are light options available between 1.5 to 5 pounds. If you're about to hop on a plane, aim to keep the total weight of your backpack under 15 pounds.
Price - For most photographers, the price is the ultimate decider. Camera backpacks are typically affordable, but, of course, there are costly options on the market. If you constantly take your camera out with you, investing a bit more than usual into your backpack is wise.
Construction and Material - Traveling means you'll meet all kinds of weather conditions. Whether it's raining, sunny, cloudy, or snowing, you'll likely have your camera with you. So, a weather-proof, waterproof, durable backpack is necessary.
Canvas is the most cost-effective and popular material for camera bags. Synthetic materials offer the same qualities but come with a higher price tag. Similarly, you will also want something that's safe and secure if you plan on carrying expensive equipment. Some anti theft travel bags and backpacks have slash-proof fabric to protect your belongings.
Protection and Comfort - Your friends and family might be telling you to "just buy a regular backpack," but this simply won't do. Why? Because camera backpacks have thick foam inserts that protect your gear. The best models come with all-around foam padding and dividers inside to stop your equipment from butting heads on your travels. Since you're traveling a lot, you need this protection to come in a comfortable form. Ensure the shoulder straps are padded and find the hip straps that will help distribute the weight.
Discreteness - Thieves target cameras. Sadly, the only way to deter them is to carry a discrete camera backpack. Don't buy one that screams, "PHOTOGRAPHER.” However, if that is your only option, ensure it comes with latches, locking zippers, and other mechanisms to stop pickpocketers from trying their luck.
Customization Opportunities - A high-quality camera bag will come with multiple customization options to allow for all kinds of equipment. The interior padded compartment dividers should move to make sure everything fits tightly.
Types of Travel Camera Backpacks
By now, you have a very good idea of the features you need in a camera backpack. So, take this newfound knowledge and compile it to find out which of the following types of camera bags is your perfect travel option.
Camera Pouches - Camera pouches are ideal for small cameras. They come with a tiny bit of extra room for a few memory cards and a couple of cables. If you just want something to clip onto your belt, you can't go wrong with a camera pouch. Just consider the fact that you'll only have room to carry camera gear and any tripods or drones will need to be carried separately.
Waist Belts - Think fanny pack but for your camera. Waist belts have moveable dividers, allowing you to customize the space in whichever way suits you. Generally speaking, waist belts fit a camera, some accessories, and one or two extra (small) lenses. If you don't need to lug around heavy gear, waist belts are perfect.
Shoulder Bags - Sometimes called messenger bags, they come with a lot of space for the following:
- An SLR camera
- Two lenses
- A flashgun or other large accessories
- SD cards
- Extra batteries
Remember, all of the weight will be on one shoulder, so try not to overstuff it.
Backpacks - Camera backpacks hold DSLR cameras, up to four lenses, some accessories, and, depending on the model, a tablet or laptop. There are two straps that distribute the weight evenly between your shoulders. You should be able to carry your gear — including a tripod — over long distances without causing injury or getting tired.
Sling Bags - Sling bags combined the easy-to-reach qualities of a shoulder bag with the large capacity of a backpack. However, you need to ensure you don't overload a sling bag. You'll be able to comfortably fit lenses, an SLR camera, accessories, and sometimes a thin laptop or tablet inside. You can fit most of your camera gear in a sling bag, but anything else will need to be stored separately.
Rolling Cases - If you have a lot of gear, these rolling cases are perfect. A hard model is preferred as it can withstand being dropped, kicked, submerged underwater, and being in all kinds of weather conditions.
Top 7 Camera Backpacks For Travel 2021
The Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II Black Module Backpack
The LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II can fit a bunch of gear, including 2 DSLR cameras, eight extra lenses, 15-inch laptop, flashgun and extra accessories. It's on the expensive side but, it's totally worth it since you get a lot of bang for your buck. This bag is accessible from the top, both sides, and the back.
Plus, the entire interior is customizable and the padded straps make it comfortable when carrying for long periods of time. You also get a bad weather cover so you can bring it with you if you're traveling during the rainy season in certain spots. It comes with quite a few side pockets and a main pocket that's concealed.
The size is another of its great features. It's large enough to carry most of your photography gear, yet small enough to fit into the carry on section of an airplane and without the need for wheels. If you want to keep a low-profile when traveling, it's not as flashy so you're less likely to become a target.
NOMATIC McKinnon Camera Pack
On its own, NOMATIC is a top-tier backpack manufacturer. But what makes this camera bag unique is its collaboration with Peter McKinnon, a popular photographer who uses his platform to share his love for the outdoors. His vast experience helped NOMATIC create this awesome camera pack!
If you watch any of McKinnon's videos on his self-titled YouTube channel, his attention to detail is quite apparent. You'll quickly find lots of tips on how to best pack your equipment for any journey you'd like to take.
The bag's design features plenty of compartments that let you bring everything you need to capture the perfect shot. Plus, there's still plenty of space for you to pack clothing for a one- to five-day trip. The clothing compartment is separate from the camera compartment, meaning you won't have to dig through your socks to locate an extra SD card.
The main compartment and all the other compartments for the camera equipment come with customizable folding dividers, and you can situate these dividers in many ways. If you're more of a barebones packer, you can remove most of them. But if you like to pack a lot of extra accessories, feel free to set up multiple compartments for lenses, chargers, and any other items you'd like to bring.
This product is one of the top camera backpacks for travel for organization, especially if you want to go on excursions.
PGYTECH OneMo Camera Backpack 25L with Shoulder Bag
The PGYTECH OneMo Camera Backpack is a great choice if you're looking for something versatile. You can carry this 25L backpack wherever you go, and it'll expand to as large as 35L if needed so you can store everything that comes with your camera kit.
Plus, the camera bag comes with a smaller built-in pouch. This pouch attaches to the main backpack, and you can wear it like a fanny pack. If you're traveling lightly, you can detach the pouch from the main product and go about your adventure with only the essentials.
When it comes to the main backpack, one of the favorite features is the battery storage area. There are three dedicated pockets for your batteries, and each one comes with a charge level indicator. You'll never reach for a dead battery ever again.
Do you plan on conducting an off-the-grid photoshoot? You can blend in with your surroundings with this neutral-colored backpack. Or, you can even select the Olivine Camo option so that you and your camera can become one with the trees.
Brevite Jumper Photo Compact Camera Backpack
If you fly on airplanes a lot, you can't go wrong with the Brevite Jumper Photo Compact Camera Backpack. This product is small compared to most camera backpacks, as it’s 18L. You can easily take it on any airline as your personal item or carry-on bag.
Despite its smaller than average size, this bag has many convenient features to note. For one, it has a bottom and side tripod holder, meaning you don't have to leave your camera stand at home. Plus, you can carry your water bottle in the handy outside water bottle pocket and stick all your valuables in the concealed inner pocket.
If you plan to edit all the shots you take while you're on the go, this is the right camera backpack to go with. Apart from its camera compartment, it also has a laptop compartment you can store your laptop in. As long as your computer is 15" or smaller, it should slip in without taking up too much room in this small camera bag.
Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag Backpack
One of the most important considerations when choosing a travel backpack is comfort. You might have to travel wide and far searching for the perfect shot, and your backpack should be able to keep up with your body's needs.
The Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag Backpack was designed with the user's well-being in mind. This product comes with padded shoulder straps to minimize the strain of carrying it. Plus, the air mesh rear panel will prevent the bag from digging into your back.
Better yet, it comes with a padded hip belt. You can secure the buckle around your waist to take some of the pressure off your shoulders. Feel free to remove the belt if you have a lighter load and don't require it.
But if you're carrying around a lot of your equipment, you can secure the sternum strap and stabilize the heavier load. This bag makes it, so you don’t have to leave anything behind, as it offers many accommodations to help you carry more weight.
Endurax Extra Large Camera Backpack
If you have a lot of bulky equipment that you never know how to pack strategically, the Endurax Extra Large Camera Backpack is one of the best camera bags.
This backpack is perfect for packing cameras with long lenses, such as the Sigma or Tamron 150-600mm. You can also store your drone confidently, as this bag features extra padding to prevent your equipment from shaking during transport.
The Endurax bag's outer shell features a PVA armored panel, providing excellent protection. You can set your bag down without worrying about rattling your delicate items, which is a lifesaver for any busy photographer. And, the bag comes with a standing pad, which prevents it from tipping over in bustling public transit situations.
The bag's outer shell is quite water-resistant, as the droplets will roll-off. But for more peace of mind, you can pull out the included waterproof rain cover. The rain cover extends around the whole bag and holds up well in even the heaviest of rainstorms.
NOMATIC McKinnon Camera Cube Pack
Remember the NOMATIC Camera Pack reviewed first? If you loved the concept but are looking for something smaller and more affordable, the NOMATIC Camera Cube is one of the best camera backpack. The manufacturer made this camera backpack with McKinnon's input.
This 21L backpack features the same customizable folding dividers that the bigger version also has. The bottom third of the backpack is detachable, meaning you can take it off and use it as a day bag.
Though not waterproof, the outer materials are exceptionally water-resistant. You can carry it in humid conditions and through light rain showers without worrying about damaging the equipment inside. Plus, you can benefit from 360° protection, as this bag has cleverly placed padding on every side.
If you love both NOMATIC products inspired by McKinnon, you can purchase both. The Cube works as a standalone product, or you can use it with the Camera Pack to ensure you always have all your gear with you.
No matter what kind of camera backpack for travel you end up purchasing, make sure it's right for you, your gear, and your environment.