Out of all the quotes that have been attributed to Woody Allen, the most enduring may be his saying that ’80 percent of life is showing up’. The insight rings true when applied to everything from relationships, to work, and even art. But one field in which the saying feels especially on-point is photography.
Pushing your finger down on the shutter button, doing post-production, and printing or sharing a photo online are relatively concrete, technical skills that can be picked up with enough practice. But having the sense to know where to be and when? That’s elusive. So elusive, in fact, that it casts Allen’s saying in a slightly different light. Showing up requires more than just gumption. It takes anticipation – both of where the action will happen, and what you may run across trying to get there. That is why camera bags are such essential tools for photographers. They guard against the bumps, scrapes, and downpours that inevitably come between a photographer and their shot. Yet, for better or worse, there are more bags out there than anyone can count. So to help you narrow down your favorite picks, we scraped together a list of what we think are the best camera backpacks out on the market today.
Case Logic CPL-108BK
This pack from Case Logic has enough room to fit a large DSLR camera along with a flash, two or three extra lenses, and accessories. The backpack also has a dedicated tablet compartment for storing tech on the go. Heading into rainy territory or striking out on a bumpy trail? Case Logic’s pack can be fitted with a waterproof hood for extra protection and boasts adjustable dividers for securing your gear inside the pack. And to top it off, this bag comes with a 25 year warranty against defects.
Dakine Mission Photo Backpack
Dakine may not be a photography company, but they know what it takes to build a pack that’s though enough to withstand the outdoors. This camera backpack from the brand uses a unique removable padded camera block within the backpack that can safely carry equipment, or be taken out for full use of the bag’s 25-liters of storage. In addition to that functionality, the bag boasts a rain cover, a snowboard strap, and comfortable straps for a long day of carrying.
Burton Zoom Pack
There are a lot of great camera backpacks out there, but in Burton’s opinion, there aren’t enough built for the slopes. The legacy brand is changing that with the Zoom pack. It has the room to fit two big DSLRs with accompanying lenses and equipment while also featuring a rugged build and ergonomic design to withstand the mountain. And for good measure, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Chrome Niko Messenger Bag
Chrome has a long track record of building tough-as-nails backpacks for commuting in the city. This sling keeps with that tradition while adding in some special features for photographers. For light carry while riding, the pack boasts just one seatbelt buckle strap designed to go across a rider’s chest. Side-zip compartment opens up to reveal adjustable interior padded panels for storing lenses and other gear essential to getting the shot.
Lowepro Pro Tactic BP 250 AW Backpack
Making great backpacks and cases for carrying lenses, equipment and camera bodies is how Lowepro has buttered their bread since 1967, so you better believe their gear is among the best. This particular pack features an attractive exterior design with the molle webbing, and an interior fitted with adjustable padded compartments capable of holding multiple camera bodies, a drone, a laptop, and lenses. Going where it is wet? The pack features an all weather slip cover for easy protection.
Topo Designs Field Bag
Sometimes all you need for a photo expedition is your camera body and a couple of lenses. Colorado-based outdoor equipment company Topo Designs’ Field Bag is perfect for doing just that. Made right here in the U.S., the 1000D Cordura bag is designed to fit against your waist comfortably with its breathable padded back while protecting your equipment with an internal organizer. For smaller, miscellaneous items, the pack has a mesh lining and side-pockets.
Thule Aspect DSLR
Some of our favorite bags are ones that manage to pack in a bunch of utility while still maintaining a minimalist look. A camera backpack that does just that is Thule’s Aspect. This bag is capable of storing a 15-inch laptop and tablet along with a DSLR, and up to four extra lenses. Like others on this list, the bag also features a rain cover and hip-belt for extra protection and support.
Tamrac Anvil Slim 15 Backpack
For those who want to bring their entire arsenal with them (or at least a good deal of it), this is the perfect bag to do it with. Where it lacks in good looks it makes up with a crazy amount of storage and capability. The bag can store up to 6 lenses with plenty of room to spare for camera bodies, accessories, and a laptop compartment.
F-Stop Dalston Nasturtium
One of the questions a lot of photographers ask themselves when hunting for a camera bag or pack is whether they want a backpack or a sling-bag. Sling’s are really nice because they allow for easy access to other lenses, while backpacks manage to be more comfortable to carry. This bag from f-stop manages to split the difference. The top-loading pack looks and feels like any modern bag, but it has a zipper along the side for quick, easy access to the internal adjustable padded dividers within the pack.
Incase Reform Action Camera Backpack
Incase took a similar approach to increasing accessibility with their camera backpacks. With this model they used two large side-access zippers to allow photographers to easily grab at their gear. And to top it off, Incase also threw in a sleeve for bringing along a 13-inch laptop.
Pelican S115 Elite Sport Backpack
For photographers who are just as worried about what happens in those overhead bins as they are about unforeseen issues in the field – the Pelican S115 Elite Sport backpack is a great grab. Like most everything from the rugged brand, the bag is built to be watertight and crushproof – keeping your most precious gear totally protected whether your’e going through TSA or the jungle.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
Peak Design is not the oldest or most experienced brand on this list – but they are without a doubt the most innovative. This camera backpack from the San Francisco-based company is built for easy access and customization. Photographers can re-organize the internal FlexFold divider system in a myriad of ways – allowing them to bring along everything from drones to telephoto lenses and point and shoot backups.
12 Best Vintage Cameras
Ok so now you may have an idea of what kind of bag you want. Now what will you put in it? Take a look at our rundown of the best vintage cameras and find out.