Choosing the Best Camera Backpacks
A backpack is one of the best ways to carry your gear. With two straps, the weight is evenly distributed across both shoulders. They’re often big enough to carry all your gear, or at least the gear you’ll need for that particular shoot. Comfortable enough to hike with or wear for extended periods, they’re often the favored choice among many photographers.
But when it comes to actually choosing a camera backpack; the options are rather overwhelming, and span anywhere from $30 to several hundred. So what camera backpacks will carry all your gear without leaving you aching after the first five minutes? Here is a detailed of what to look for in a camera backpack; as well as listed five of the best options on the market.
What to consider before buying Best Camera Backpacks
Like buying any piece of gear, it’s not a matter of finding the best one; but finding the best camera backpacks for you. There are a few different features that may make a backpack more comfortable to you, or help you accommodate all your gear.
- Split pack vs. full backpack. Both split backpacks and regular backpacks are a similar size, but the split pack is split in two, with the bottom portion for your gear and a roomy top pocket for stashing accessories, your wallet, or even your lunch. It leaves a lot of room for extras, but full backpacks can accommodate more camera bodies and lenses, and usually have a small pocket for accessories too.
- Strap thickness is a big factor in whether or not a bag is comfortable. Every bag will have stiff straps at first, but thin straps will quickly leave your back aching. Look for lots of strap padding, especially if you have a lot of heavy gear.
- Waist straps are also a big help for making backpacks more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. By allowing you to support some of the weight on your hips, heavy backpacks don’t feel so heavy. Of course, they can also get in the way sometimes.
- Tripod straps are also handy to have, especially if you’re a landscape photographer that hikes with a tripod.
- Is there enough room? Camera backpacks come in all sizes. Some will only accommodate a body and two lens kits; while others will carry multiple camera bodies plus several lenses and flash units.
Best Camera Backpacks
The Lowepro Flipside 500 AW is designed to carry a lot of gear, comfortably. The thick straps are accompanied by a well-padded waist strap, so even when you fill this bag, it’s pretty comfortably to carry considering all that weight. The bag will fit a DSLR with an attached 500mm lens along with seven other spots for lenses, flashes or an extra camera body. If you don’t have a 500mm lens, you can fit even more lenses inside with the customizable dividers. If you don’t have that much gear, the Flipside comes in a few different sizes: the 200, 300, 400 and 500. But the bag also does a pretty good job of keeping all that gear easy to get to. Access to the main compartment is actually through the backside of the pack, so if you leave the waist strap fastened and slide the shoulder straps off, you can swing the bag around on your waist and access all of your gear, not just the camera and one lens like bags with quick access side compartments. You can usually find this backpack for $124 at Adorama.
The Manfrotto Bumblebee is another comfortable bag that fits plenty of gear. Pack in two or three DSLR bodies and up to eight lenses, even a big 500mm with the tripod mount off. Oh, and there’s space for a 17” laptop too. The designers of this bag spent a bit of time working on a harness system for the most comfortably carry. Thick foam straps are comfortable on the shoulders and the waist and sternum strap help ensure the weight is distributed for the most comfortable carry. There’s no quick access zipper, but this pack carries a lot of gear without too much backache. It’s a bit more expensive, but the comfort is worth the extra cash.
The ProTactic 350 AW delivers high performance to pro photographers who need an urban-inspired pack that delivers on all fronts: accessibility, versatility, comfort and organization. It is a professional camera backpack that delivers mission-critical access for two cameras and features multiple accessory attachment points.
The Lowepro backpack is an excellent bag for carrying Pro DSLR Cameras and 6 Lenses, 13″ Laptop. Also Fits DJI Mavic Drone and Transmitter with GoPro or DSLR with Lens. Never miss a critical mission thanks four access points: the molded, turret-loading top, quick-grab from both sides, and full, back entry for set-up and security. Create limitless set-ups with a robust, SlipLock compatible strap system. ProTactic features ActivZone System technology to deliver targeted support at shoulder blades, lumbar and waist for comfort on the move. Pack the maximum amount of gear and micro-adjust for a snug and secure fit with the patent-pending MaxFit System of padded and adjustable dividers.
Lowepro ProTactic store laptop in the CradleFit pocket that suspends and protects device within the pack. Keep accessories neat, organized and easy to access with multiple interior and exterior pockets. Safeguard valuable gear with the patented, built-in All Weather AW Coverthat protects pack from the elements. You can find at Adorma at $124.
The Kata 3N1-Pro 25 is a comfortable bag, whether you’re carrying around a five lens kit or just one or two. The design makes it easy to fit multiple lenses inside, including some telephotos. There are still plenty of pockets left for organizing filters and other accessories too. A tripod can also be strapped on to the outside of the pack. The bag is also both a sling and backpack in one, so you can use one strap instead of two to quickly access your gear from the side, or use both straps when comfort is top priority. The bag retails for about $189.
The Hoodoo 20 is actually three packs in one; a fully protective camera backpack, stand-alone camera shoulder bag or stylish day pack. As a camera backpack, the Hoodoo 20 has easy access through the front of the pack to grab your camera. The fully protective camera module carries compact DSLRs and mirror-less camera systems with extra lenses. The top portion of the bag carries personal items as well as most 15″ laptops in its own protective sleeve. Or take out the protective camera module and use as a shoulder bag with included shoulder strap. The included dividers are fully customizable to adapt to your camera gear. Hoodoos are tall thin spires of rock that are common in one of our favorite places to hike, explore and photograph, Bryce Canyon National Park.
Designed for adventure, the Hoodoo series of packs take you and your camera anywhere you want to go. Hoodoo packs are made with water resistant waxed canvas and PU coated ripstop, comfortable harnesses and YKK zippers. With two sizes/styles and three vibrant colors, the Hoodoo series is destined to be your go to camera bag for hiking or traveling.
Best Camera Backpacks
Shopping for a good camera backpack is no easy task. Along with accommodating all your gear, it’s tough to find one with comfortable straps and space for extras like a laptop or tripod. Lowepro, Manfrotto, Tamrac and Kata make some of the best camera backpacks on the market, with plenty of space without sacrificing on comfort.
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