One of the joys of hiking and traveling is enjoying the beautiful scenery you will encounter and capturing the amazing moments you get to live. If you will be bringing along the best camera to capture your discoveries and experiences wherever your adventures take you, you will also need the best camera backpack to comfortably carry your photography equipment while protecting it from the elements and giving you quick access whenever a shooting opportunity presents itself.
To help you find and select the right camera bag to suit your camera and adventures, we’ve reviewed ten excellent camera backpacks for hiking and travel. They have everything you want in a camera bag for outdoor use when on the move – they are comfortable, rugged, weatherproof, protective, stylish, and more. We also go over the features you need to be paying attention to as you evaluate photography backpacks. Ready to go? Let’s get started with reviews of our top ten picks.
How To Choose A Camera Backpack For Hiking And Travel – Buying Guide
The best camera backpack comes down to personal preference but you will want to make sure it checks some of the boxes of what constitutes a great camera bag for hiking and traveling. Some of the must-have features include durability, adequate capacity, comfort, quick access, the ability to keep your precious camera and accessories safe, and of course, style.
Below is an overview of the factors to evaluate when shopping to choose the right camera bag with the features, functionality, and durability you need. This will also depend on what kind of photographer you are and the camera gear you will be carrying, and the kind of environments you will be shooting in.
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This is a backpack you will be used to carry hundreds or even thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment outdoors and on the move. It will be exposed to harsh weather elements, rough handling in airplanes, and abrasive surfaces.
For these reasons, ruggedness and durability are a must-have in any camera backpack for hiking and travel. To ensure that you choose a bag that will hold up well to demanding usage in challenging conditions, pay attention to the quality of the material, zippers, straps, and stitching.
The material a travel camera backpack is made of should be tough, weatherproof, and resistant to abrasion. Canvas, leather, and strong nylon are all strong materials that are up to the task. Since the backpack is going to be loaded with heavy equipment, the stitching should be top-notch so the bag can contain the gear without coming apart at the seams.
You will also be opening and closing it frequently, and it is important to ensure that you go for one with heavy-duty zippers that work flawlessly. The straps and buckles should be robust enough to handle the strain of supporting heavy camera gear for long hours on the go without failing.
For a rough outdoor environment and frequent travels, you may have to pay more for a high-quality backpack that is built to last but it is worth it, as it will offer you the best value for your money. Cheap, poor quality ones wear out fast and you don’t want to find yourself shopping for a replacement after only a few trips.
To get the right size for your camera backpack, determine your size needs and ensure the dimensions of the bag you want meets them. The size you need will depend on the dimensions of the camera you use, the kind of lenses you will be using, and what other photography equipment you’re going to be carrying.
Make sure the camera backpack you pick is big enough for all your camera gear and accessories. If you have a pro camera, big lenses and will be bringing along enough accessories to set up an outdoor mini studio wherever your adventures take you, you will need a large photography backpack.
Given that this is a backpack you will be using when traveling and hiking, a compact size that is easily portable is necessary. A meticulously designed camera backpack will utilize strong and durable materials, be spacious enough to accommodate your camera, lenses, photography accessories, and even some personal items, and still manage to be compact and portable on your back. This is exactly what you want.
Figuring out the right size for your backpack will also depend on the kind of adventures you will be bringing it along on and how you will be getting there. If it is a camera bag for camping where you’re traveling by car, you can carry a large bag that will enable you to fit all kinds of equipment and shooting accessories. A camera bag for backpacking and hiking needs to be lightweight and compact so it is easy to carry and doesn’t wear you down.
Will you be traveling by air and prefer not to check in your camera bag? Make sure you get a travel camera bag whose external dimensions are within airlines’ requirements for carry-on luggage. One that will not only fit in the overhead luggage but also fit under an airline seat is the best camera backpack for airline travel. Too big a bag will need to be checked in and the rough handling can damage your precious photography gear.
Another size aspect that you’ve got to consider is fit. You want to ensure you get a camera backpack that will fit well on your back, whether you have a petite build or are full-figured. If the backpack has a waist and a sternum strap, ensure they will fit around your waist and chest. The shoulder straps should also be large enough to fit and adjustable.
When it comes to gear for hiking and traveling, lightweight is always ideal. Every ounce counts and heavy gear can become a burden on the trail or road and lead to sore muscles and ruined adventures. This is also the case with a camera backpack. However, this shouldn’t be at the expense of quality, comfort, and durability.
The challenge is that the thick padding, heavy-duty zippers, straps and buckles, and rugged materials that ensure a camera bag is comfortable to carry, durable, and protective of the photography equipment it holds also add to its weight and bulkiness.
The best camera backpacks for hiking and travel are meticulously designed and constructed to offer quality, comfort, and protection while still keeping the weight of the backpack down. They are heavy duty as required while also being light to carry and handle. This is because the manufacturers utilize space and materials efficiently.
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The interior of a camera backpack is divided into sections using inserts to make it easy to organize your equipment for protection and quick access. Some bags have easy access compartments, pockets, and pouches on the outside.
If you’re serious about the quality of photos you take when traveling or hiking, you will need to pack a lot of photography accessories such as multiple lenses, filters, memory cards, lights, batteries, and a tripod or monopod.
The best camera backpack for you will have storage options that will let you organize your gear in separate pockets and compartments to keep it intact and scratch-free. Most also have a pouch to hold one leg of a tripod and straps for secure attachment.
If you want to carry your laptop in your camera bag, you will need a backpack with a compartment designed specifically for a laptop. Not all camera backpacks have a place for a laptop so it is important to confirm that the pack you get has one. Also, ensure the compartment is large enough to hold your laptop.
If you’re a minimalist adventurer, prefer to pack light, or don’t need to carry a lot of accessories, you may also prefer a minimalist and discreet pack that doesn’t have a lot of compartments and pouches. This will also help you considerably cut down on the weight of your bag.
As you shop, you will come across camera backpacks of all manners of styles, designs, and colors. If you want simple and practical, most camera backpacks cater to you as they come in black and simple, plain design. If you prefer a cool design and attractive colors, you can also find stylish options that will catch your eye.
Style is a matter of personal preference. You’re free to pick what you like and will feel good carrying. Just ensure that it also fulfills your needs and has the essential qualities such as comfort, durability, and ability to protect your gear.
For safety when traveling in urban and crowded areas, a sleek, urban-style backpack that doesn’t look like a typical camera bag is the best as it won’t make you a target for theft. The best thing is that such a bag will also be versatile and you can use it for other things as well.
Cameras and photography equipment don’t come cheap yet they can be very delicate and susceptible to damage. When on the road traveling or hiking, you will be using them in demanding outdoor environments and exposing them to all kinds of enemies such as moisture, dust, sand, physical trauma, and thieves.
You need a high-quality and rugged camera bag that you can rely on to keep your fragile camera, lenses, laptop, and other accessories protected from all these elements.
Weatherproof construction is essential. The backpack should be made from rugged, water, weather, tear, and abrasion-resistant materials such as canvas, leather, and high-density nylon. The zippers, seams, and buckles should be strong and function well to hold the expensive equipment inside securely. The pockets, compartments, zippers, and seams should be sealed. A built-in rain cover is also a nice feature that will offer additional protection in the event of rain and snow.
The inside of the bag should be just as protective as the exterior. Rigid storage spaces and dividers with substantial padding will absorb shocks from physical trauma in case of impact ensuring the equipment remains intact. The internal padding also prevents the contents in the backpack from banging against each other while moving. Quick access options also offer protection by making it possible to grab whatever you need quickly without exposing the rest of the equipment to the elements.
There’s also the possibility of a thief unzipping or cutting your bag and making away with your camera. Thieves love cameras and a backpack that is carrying camera equipment will make you vulnerable to theft. To avoid losing your precious camera this way, opt for a low-profile pack especially if you will be traveling in crowded, urban areas. You can also find travel camera bags with security features such as latches, locking zippers, and a tough material that can’t be cut easily. These features can make it a lot harder for a thief to get to your equipment.
In addition to the external dimensions, weight, and compartments considerations, you will also need to check how much gear the bag is built to handle. Determine what you be carrying and make sure the capacity of the camera backpack you’re considering will support the weight of all your gear.
All the best camera backpacks in our camera backpack reviews above can fit at least one camera with a lens attached, multiple lenses, photography accessories, and some personal items. They also have straps for tying a tripod or monopod on the outside. Most feature a padded laptop compartment.
The capacity you need will depend on the dimensions of the camera you use, the kind of lenses you will be using, and what other photography equipment you’re going to be carrying.
If you’re a serious photographer and want to take only professional-quality shots, you may need to pack a large pro camera, several expensive lenses that are also large, and an assortment of photography gear. You will need a large-capacity camera bag to accommodate all these. If you will be doing aerial photography and need capacity for a drone too, ensure you choose a bag that will accommodate the drone you will be using.
If you photograph for fun and will be taking with you only a standard DSLR camera or a simple point-and-shoot camera, a selfie stick, and a few accessories, you don’t need much capacity.
Camera gear is heavy, and when traveling, hiking or backpacking, you will have your camera equipment on your back for hours at a time. It is vital to consider how comfortable a camera bag will be. A backpack-style camera bag is the best way to haul heavy camera gear comfortably because of the way it distributes the weight to your shoulders, back, and hips. It is more comfortable than a camera shoulder bag or a sling pack.
To determine if the backpack you like will be comfortable fully loaded and on your back for hours on the move, look for an ergonomic design that sits well on your back and distributes the weight across your shoulders and to your waist well. Wide and sufficiently padded shoulder straps ensure you don’t end up with sore shoulders. A nicely padded back panel will protect your back from being hurt by the hard gear inside. Good ventilation at the back will also ensure your back stays cool and dry while sweating.
When carrying pounds of gear on your back all day, thick, wide, and adjustable waist and chest straps will help with support and weight distribution will make the backpack comfortable to wear. Camera backpack reviews by other hikers and travelers will also give you a good idea of how comfortable a camera backpack is on the road or trail.
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You also have to consider how easily and quickly you can access your camera. When hiking or traveling and shooting on the move, quick and easy access to your gear is essential. When that perfect photo moment presents itself or you notice the perfect natural lighting on the street, you need to be able to access your camera and equipment fast enough before the opportunity is gone. You also need to be able to change lenses without going through a lot of hassle.
The way some camera bags are designed, you have to take the bag off, set it down, fiddle with zippers, and fumble around to gain access to whatever you want. On the road or trail, this can get frustrating and lead to missed photo opportunities. Take a moment to think about how and where you will be using your equipment and what kind of access options would be the most convenient for you. When shopping, make sure you assess the kind of access options a backpack offers before you hit the order button.
The best camera backpacks for hiking and travel will have an intuitive or customizable interior layout, quick-access panels on the sides, external pockets, and compartments for organizing smaller, frequently used accessories. The zippers and buckles will also function smoothly. All these features make it possible to quickly reach your camera and other items you need without setting your bag down or rummaging.
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Type of Camera
Ensure that the backpack you pick is compatible with your camera model. Some camera backpacks are designed for specific camera types or models while some work for a variety of camera types, models, and brands.
The best camera bag to contain and protect your camera on your hiking and travel adventures will also depend on the camera dimensions and the size of the lenses. Ensure the camera backpack you pick is spacious enough and can carry them.
For example, the best camera bag for a point-and-shoot camera isn’t the same as the best mirrorless or DSLR camera backpack. If you have a drone camera, you will need a bag that can accommodate the drone too.
Q: Why Do I Need A Separate Backpack For My Camera?
The best way to carry your camera is in a separate backpack that’s designed to protect it from weather elements and physical trauma.
A camera and its accessories are likely to be the most fragile gear you will be carrying along on your adventures. They are also expensive and very susceptible to damage and theft when on the move. Bundling the camera and lenses in your hiking backpack or travel luggage together with the rest of your gear would be a really bad idea that you would come to regret.
You will also need frequent and quick access to your camera and other photo-taking gear and having a separate backpack designed for your camera will offer you the kind of access you need on the move.
Q: Are Camera Backpacks Safe? What If I Drop My Bag?
The best camera backpacks are designed to be safe. They are made from tough materials that can withstand the elements and are hard to tear or cut. They are also rigid and thickly padded.
In case of an accidental drop, a well-built and padded camera bag or backpack can mean the difference between a functional camera and a broken one. The impact from the drop will be absorbed by the materials and padding instead of your precious camera equipment.
However, camera bags aren’t impact-proof. While your camera and lenses may survive a minor, gentle fall if you have a bag with substantial padding, the physical trauma from frequent drops or a really serious drop can still lead to failure or breaking of your camera equipment.
Q: Can I Use My Camera Backpacks For Other Things?
It is up to you to decide whether to use the camera backpack specifically for your camera and its accessories or use it for other things as well.
Most travel camera bags have a compartment for carrying a laptop or tablet while some even have extra storage space for personal items such as snacks, maps, clothes, a first aid kit, etc.
There are also convertible camera backpacks where the camera compartment is removable to convert it into an everyday backpack you can use for things other than photography equipment.
Capturing the beautiful scenery and moments you enjoy on your adventures is a must, but taking your camera on the road or trail requires a high-quality backpack. It is important to invest in the best travel camera bag possible to protect your valuable equipment while making it easy to carry around and offering fast access to your gear.
A great camera bag for travel will be tough, comfortable to carry, and protective of your camera and accessories. Finding the best camera backpack is easier when you know what you want from the backpack and how you will be using it and our guide covers what you need to look for to determine your best choice. You also can’t go wrong with any of our top picks. Happy adventuring and shooting!
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How about you? Which of the photography backpacks on our camera backpack reviews is your top choice? Do you own a great camera bag for hiking and travel that we haven’t included here? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below!