Whether you’re a full-time photographer, a weekend warrior, or a part-time hobbyist, it’s important to utilize adequate safety precautions when lugging around your ultra-expensive gear. A fantastic day shoot can come crumbling down thanks to unexpected weather, unforeseen circumstances, or a failure in your camera storage system — and if you’ve been there, you’ll understand how much of a killjoy it is to lose valuable pieces of gear thanks to unpreparedness. To combat the ever-present threat of gear expiration, one of the first things you should do as an aspiring photographer is invest in a trusted storage solution — while it might seem moot, a modular protective system that can comfortably house a camera body and any peripherals you plan to use on a shoot will give you a variety of advantages over someone who isn’t utilizing one.
Within the photography industry, the need for gear-oriented backpacks, protective systems, and storage compartments is a necessary evil — but that doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to find the perfect minimal ecosystem based on your technical needs. That’s why we’ve decided to round up a number of the market’s strongest low-profile photography storage offerings, giving you the capability to store and protect your precious gear without lugging around a gigantic hard-shell carrying case. The latest and greatest innovation for purpose-built photography comes in the form of backpack camera inserts, allowing consumers to customize and determine the perfect carrying solution based on their needs — and better yet, these inconspicuous modules keep the presence of your favorite gear masked beneath durable, aesthetically pleasing designs that will fit into almost any run-of-the-mill backpack. So grab your old Jansport, get rid of all those collegiate notebooks, and prepare to build your quintessential gear bag. The camera and lenses, however — are all on you.
Ape Case Cubeze 39
Ape Case is providing photographers with an affordable storage system that rivals the best brands around, utilizing a yellow interior that makes tracking small accessories a breeze. A well-planned, aesthetically pleasing silhouette couples with the insert’s durable construction. The Cubeze 39 fits within another bag or storage item for modular use, while a variety of the insert’s interior panels adjust to best suit your needs. A drawstring closure allows for easy access, alongside padded sidewalls for added durability.
Tumbuk2’s Sneak insert is the perfect “incognito” DSLR camera case, constructed with a durable, Tricot-lined interior, an easy grab handle, and a detachable shoulder strap that allows it to transition into a self-sufficient pack. The peripheral will fit most DSLRs with a medium-sized zoom lens attached, making the transition from bag to bare hand easy. Internal and external mesh pockets are included for additional storage, holding anything from memory to battery packs. A separate protective zip pocket is perfect for housing your extensive collection of lens filters.
Mountainsmith Kit Cube
Mountainsmith’s Kit Cube is made from high quality, 500D S-Kodra High Tenacity Nylon, giving this utilitarian module a jump on the competition. It features a roll-top divider with a side release buckle closure and even offers a removable padded compartment that utilizes internal dividers for custom layouts — providing photographers with a slew of different storage options, depending on their gear loadout for the day. The Kit Cube is designed to fit within Mountainsmith backpacks, but it’s also compatible with most camera bags from other manufacturers. It’s the quintessential insert that organizes and protects your camera gear for any commute, travel day, or backcountry adventure.
WANDRD Medium Camera Cube
WANDRD’s Medium Camera Cube was created by and for photographers, sporting a lightweight nylon divider that’s perfect for mirrorless cameras and up to three additional lenses. It also features a number of padded, touch-fastening dividers, an interior clear-mesh zip pocket to hold your important gear, a slew of zipper closures, and a great looking design principle.
InCase Camera Insert Lite
InCase’s camera inserts are a staple in the photography world, and their Insert Lite is an exemplary look into an all-around carrying solution. It’s been crafted using a durable 600D polyester and features a standalone, removable camera organization system that can be modified to fit a variety of camera and lens ecosystems. A zippered mesh hood provides the perfect space for your small peripherals and electronic gear, while top and side carry handles help you to keep track of the case while you travel from shoot to shoot.
LEXDRAY Monterey Camera Insert
LEXDRAY’s modular Monterey camera insert is an exceptional system to keep all your expensive gear in check, all while providing a simple carrying solution. It was originally designed to pair with their San Francisco Camera Pack (which can house up to three of the Monterey inserts) and features secure dividers that have been stitched to the interior, reverse zippers and water-repellent fabric. A military-grade lash tab and high-quality D-rings provide exceptional carrying capability — providing photographers with a well-protected system that looks great, to boot.
DSPTCH Small Insert
DSPTCH’s camera insert might look a comparatively small package, but it’s a big value proposition. It was made with today’s modern mirrorless cameras in mind (although, it’s still suitable for DSLRs), and features a padded insert with a single wall of velcro to give you the option to create multiple compartments from a single partition. Each insert is made with a water-repellant 420D nylon packcloth exterior, ensuring that your gear stays dry and protected, even in the most moisture-ridden climates.
Peak Design Camera Cube
Peak Design’s Camera Cube is an easy-access, protected, external carry solution that utilizes a number of low-profile, FlexFold dividers to make customizable organization a walk in the park. The insert’s tear-away opening has a tuck-able flap that gives busy photographers faster access if the cubes are packed in your bag. The Cube also features movable pockets to house your ever-expanding collection of filters, lens caps, and other small essentials. Alongside top-of-the-line design choices, a weatherproof, recycled 400D nylon canvas shell combines with a high-density foam sub-lining to keep your gear isolated and safe. With 6 liters of volume, the Camera Cube can hold a max lens length of 11 inches, which is more than any mid-range photographer will need.
ONA Roma Insert
ONA’s Roma insert is a handcrafted storage solution that’s built with waxed canvas, sturdy leather side handles, and a proprietary design that makes it easy for you to remove from your bag. Five exterior organizer pockets combine with a snap closure flap to make room for a camera and one small lens or accessory, making this insert the perfect minimal carry solution. As a side note, the Roma also fits in most small-to-mid-sized bags, allowing photographers to adapt for a wide range of use.
Pacsafe Camsafe PCI-L
Pacsafe’s Camsafe PCI-L is a top-of-the-line insert that utilizes padded, touch-fastened dividers and straps for the ultimate in modular camera and lens storage. It’s constructed with a 210D nylon double ripstop, PU1000mm, and a PE foam that ensures adequate protection for all your most important gear. It even supplies you with a compatible system that works synonymously with Pacsafe’s Venturesafe and Travelsafe bag variants. It can hold one full-sized DSLR and up to four accompanying lenses — giving photographers the quintessential power of choice for every situation.
F-Stop ICU Shallow Medium Insert
F-stop’s Shallow Medium insert is a low-profile offering that’s perfect for ungripped camera ecosystems. It provides a well-built space to protect your most prized possessions, and even a 70-200mm lens mounted on your favorite photography device. This heavy-duty industrial cross-stitch insert utilizes a brushed polyester lining, a tough, water-resistant shell material, and high-density cross-link foam that protects your gear in the event of a spill.
Mission Workshop The Capsule
Mission Workshop’s Capsule camera insert system was built with the same quality as all of their well-received gear. A top and front panel allow easy access to your favorite DSLR or mirrorless setup, while a 1000D nylon and MultiCam Black Camo Cordura fabric ensures adequate protection from a variety of elements. Configurable interior dividers allow a wide range of layouts for any gear setup — and, alongside a polyester microsuede interior that comes complete with a variable 8-liter insert, it would be hard to find a storage solution as promising as this one.
12 Best Camera Backpacks
Now that you’ve got a good idea about how to prep your run-of-the-mill backpack for the ultimate photographic expedition, why don’t you take a look at our guide on the best camera backpacks for a taste of all-in-one storage solutions that were built with one thing in mind: capturing the perfect moment.