Best Camera Backpacks, Tested By a Pro

Camera equipment can be some of the trickiest gear to carry. Fragile and often pricey, it needs to be well protected on the move while also remaining accessible. And since camera gear isn’t known for its light weight, you need a bag that will comfortably carry your setup wherever the next shot takes you. So we set pro photographer JT White the task of testing out the best camera backpacks for a range of loads and environments.

Whether you’re an enthusiastic amateur or well-seasoned pro, snapping pictures in the city or scaling mountains for epic scenery, these camera backpacks have proven themselves as dependable, functional pieces for a range of photography needs.

Best Small Camera Backpacks:

ONA Clifton (Best Small Urban Option)

Like your camera bags compact and multifunctional? The ONA Clifton is well worth a closer look. The key to its versatility is an understated silhouette paired with two removable inserts. Padded dividers in the inserts let you tailor the organization to a range of setups, while an additional front quick-access pocket and dedicated internal sleeve for a 13″ laptop offer additional organization for day-to-day use. The pack is available in a full leather or waxed canvas and leather combo to suit your personal style and is a great option if you want a camera backpack that can do double-duty as an everyday bag too.

Nomatic x Peter McKinnon Cube Pack

The collaborations between Nomatic and photographer Peter McKinnon have proven themselves to be well-considered designs that address many pain points in camera carry. Such as how to get more out of your camera carry with limited travel capacity? Enter the innovative McKinnon Cube Pack 21L. The clever design functions as a 7L camera cube to fit inside a larger bag. But once you’ve reached your destination, it expands into a 21L backpack, becoming a handy day bag for exploring with camera gear and personal items in tow. The cube comes with customizable dividers and the expanded pack is durable and water-resistant for peace of mind on the move.

Best Medium Camera Backpacks:

Tenba Axis V2 MCB 24L

The Axis line takes inspiration from Tenba’s military bags, with tough and adaptable designs that can accommodate a range of additional organizer accessories courtesy of the MOLLE webbing. The webbing is also reflective, helping keep you visible in low-light conditions. The 24L size is a great all-rounder for a range of loads and settings, though the Axis V2 line does offer multiple sizes including 16L, 20L, 24L, and 32L packs. Plus it’s also available in black if MCB isn’t your jam. The Airflow harness features 3D airmesh for breathability and Tenba’s Pivot-Fit auto-adjusting straps for comfort. A nifty feature is the dual sternum strap setup to enhance load balancing for both male and female users, with the option to remove the bottom sternum strap if needed. And for airport carry, the rear trolley strap lets you combine the pack with wheeled luggage.

Since easy access to camera gear is key, you’ve got three points to choose from. Side access to quickly reach a camera while wearing the pack, top access to work out of the bag in confined spaces, and full rear access when you want all of your gear close at hand. Included security straps let you carry larger items like tripods too and there’s even a hidden pocket for an AirTag or Tile Bluetooth Tracker.

Nomatic x Peter McKinnon Camera Pack 25L (Best Option for Pro Photographer)

If customizability is a key priority in your camera carry, look to the McKinnon Camera Pack 25L. This is a bold collaboration to create a bag that meets the needs of everyone, from full photography setups to travel and daily use. One of the key features of the bag is the included interior Articulating Ladder system. This system allows you to separate gear and expand the top section of the bag, while also being removable if desired. The pack can also be paired with optional cubes to further increase the customization. An assortment of interior and exterior pockets including exterior magnetic water bottle/tripod pockets, front attachment points, and an externally accessed laptop compartment round out the organization. Gear can be quickly accessed from the top or fully from the rear, while a luggage pass-through adds to your travel ease too.

Best Medium / Large Camera Backpacks (30L-ish):

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L

It’s safe to say the original Peak Design Everyday Backpack was a game changer in the everyday/camera carry scene. And the updated 30L Everyday Backpack dials the design in even more. This pack puts access front and center, with quiet one-handed top access courtesy of the MagLatch system and dual side access to fully reach the contents throughout the pack. The Everyday Backpack offers a range of thoughtful organization options including FlexFold dividers, dedicated externally-accessed laptop storage, and a choice of pockets. Plus the pack is expandable for an extra 8L using the MagLatch system and comes with external carry straps, so you’re sorted when you need to squeeze a little extra into your carry setup.

Add in the sustainable construction with a weatherproof, 100% recycled 400D nylon canvas shell and the sleek, urban-friendly design and this pack is a solid pick for both everyday and photography setups when you need to carry a fair amount of gear.

Shimoda Explore V2 30 (Best Option for Adventure Pro)

When you’re heading into demanding locations to shoot landscape photography, you need a dependable pack. The Shimoda Explore V2 30 is built to handle the trials of tough travel while keeping your photography gear protected, organized, and accessible. Designed to meet strict EU and Asian carry-on regulations, the pack offers a range of travel-friendly features such as lockable zippers, a luggage handle pass-through, a hidden pocket for a passport, a rain cover, and a base handle for two-handed carry and maneuvering in tight spaces. The pack also offers quick side access and full back panel access from the rear.

Dual side pockets accommodate water bottles or tripods and the pack can pair with optional Core Units for shockproof interior organization. And since comfort is key when traveling with heavy gear, Shimoda also offers thoughtful design here too. The torso height can be adjusted to three different options and female-specific shoulder straps can be included free of charge, accommodating a range of users.

Wotancraft Pilot 20L

If you love vintage military styling with durability and flexible practicality, the Wotancraft Pilot 20L could be your ideal camera companion. Made with durable and water-repellent CORDURA ® waxed canvas, the pack offers dual side access and a choice of pockets throughout the bag. The front Kangaroo flap is handy for storing bulkier gear such as an outer layer or shoes. A tripod strap lets you secure extra gear, while a pass-through strap enables all-in-one luggage carry. The pack is also expandable up to 36L through the use of three optional modular add-ons, giving you flexible storage to suit a range of changing setups. Of course, there’s no reason the pack won’t pair with existing MOLLE-compatible pouches you might own as well.

Boundary Supply Errant Pro (and MK-1 LT Camera Cube / Bag)

With its clean aesthetic the Boundary Supply Errant Pro slips under the radar without advertising the expensive camera gear inside. But beneath the understated exterior you’ll find plenty of useful features for a range of photography setups and excursions. Side zipper access to the main compartment as well as a clamshell opening keeps your gear close at hand. Dedicated storage for a laptop and tablet, along with additional pockets in the main compartment and a zippered divider panel give you flexible organization options for day-to-day, photography, and travel setups. Externally you’ll find further pockets and attachment points for organizing gear, though the 30L pack is compressible to 25L for smaller setups too. Comfort hasn’t been overlooked either, with padded shoulder straps, a ventilated and padded back panel, an included magnetic sternum strap, and a removable waist strap.

The MK-1 LT Camera Cube is the perfect partner to the Errant Pro. Designed to store inside the pack, it can also be used independently as a backpack with included modular shoulder straps. The cube offers three access points and an assortment of padded dividers, so you can adapt it to a range of camera and drone gear setups.

Mission Workshop Integer MCB 24L (Best Large Urban Option)

If you’re seeking one pack for travel and photography needs, the Mission Workshop Integer should be on your shortlist. The pack provides side and front access to the removable padded camera insert, with further top access also available for either camera gear or personal items. An interior divider allows you to keep camera and personal items separate, while a host of pockets provide storage for smaller items as well as a tripod. Additionally, inbuilt Arkiv® rails allow you to add a range of optional accessories. The burly, weatherproof build provides the protection you need for photography in all the elements. And with the option to configure it in flap or roll-top mode, you have some flexible expandability available too.

Best Large Camera Backpacks:

f-stop AJNA 37L DuraDiamond® Travel and Adventure Camera Backpack (Best Outdoor Option)

When adventure photography calls, this pack is built to confidently step out and embrace it. It’s made with proprietary DuraDiamond 315D HT nylon diamond ripstop material that offers lightweight durability and protection from the elements. The pack comfortably handles heavy loads with its molded EVA shoulder straps and back panel, adjustable sternum strap, and wide hip belt. Compatible with a range of optional camera inserts, the pack offers full access via the rear panel to create a workstation that keeps gear accessible but protected in rugged or wet terrain. And you also benefit from a choice of interior and exterior pockets to store smaller items. Add in its hydration bladder compatibility and you have a functional pack that’s ready to roam far and wide while comfortably carrying heavier loads.

WANDRD FERNWEH 50L (Best Adventure Option)

The WANDRD FERNWEH 50L offers a variety of well-considered features in a burly bag designed for backpacking, photography, and travel. It’s made with waterproof tarpaulin and Robic 1680D Ballistic Nylon, with weather-resistant zippers. The pack does a great job of keeping gear accessible throughout the bag. Four access points including top access, quick side access to a camera, and both front and back clamshell access keeps gear readily accessible. Highly adjustable to dial in a comfortable fit, users can adjust the shoulder straps, sternum strap, waist strap, and waist load to their preferred positions. And there are different size options to suit different torso heights too.

Internally you’ll find a removable bucket system that allows you to divide the pack into two compartments if desired. The pack comes with dedicated storage for a hydration bladder, plus a waterproof lining that separates it from the main compartment for added peace of mind. Further features include dedicated laptop storage, a luggage handle pass-through, and exterior pockets and attachment points for quick-access and larger items such as a tripod or skis.

Nomatic x Peter McKinnon Camera Pack 35L (Best Travel Option)

Carry needs change from one trip to the next and you’re unlikely to always carry the same photography setup. So the Nomatic x Peter McKinnon Camera Pack 35L offers savvy storage with a customizable design that easily adapts to changing loads. Through removable folding dividers you can tailor the organization to suit a range of photography gear and personal items. Nifty bonus? The pack easily expands through a zipper from 35L to 42L and includes exterior carry straps too. So whether you’ve picked up a few souvenirs on your trip or want to stash bulky items externally, this pack adapts on the fly. Quick side access along with a full clamshell opening at the rear gives you flexible ways to use camera gear. And since larger loads are heavy, the pack ensures comfy suspension too with interior aluminum stays, load lifters, a sternum strap, and a removable waist strap.

NYA-EVO Fjord 60-C (Best Adventure and Travel Hybrid Option)

The NYA-EVO Fjord 60-C offers a highly flexible design that can expand from 44L to 60L, so you’re well covered for a variety of loads. The top expansion pocket increases the pack from 44L to 52L, while the front expansion pocket increases it further to 60L. The torso height is adjustable to suit different users and the well-padded harness and waist belt keep larger loads comfy on the go. Since protection from the elements is key on photography adventures, the pack is made with thermoplastic polyurethane-coated nylon and YKK AquaGuard zippers, with an included rain cover for added protection if needed. The main compartment is accessible from the top as well as fully from the rear. Inside you’ll find a removable divider to keep camera and personal gear separate, while an external stowable gear net and attachment straps accommodate bulkier items.

Our Pro’s Favorite “Non-Camera” Bag

GORUCK GR2 26L

While the GORUCK GR2 26L isn’t a dedicated camera bag, its travel-friendly features make it a solid all-rounder for trips and photography use alike. The clamshell opening makes it easy to pack and access gear and dual compartments with inbuilt pockets allow you to organize camera and personal items separately. You can also tailor the internal and external organization courtesy of multiple MOLLE webbing attachment points. Built tough and backed by GORUCK’s Scars lifetime guarantee, the pack is carry-on compatible, with an externally accessible laptop compartment and well-padded shoulder straps to help distribute the load.

The post Best Camera Backpacks, Tested By a Pro appeared first on Carryology – Exploring better ways to carry.

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