Best Backpacks for Cameras and Lenses in 2022 (Real Tests)

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Camera backpacks reviewed

After spending 150+ hours testing over 70 different bags, this is our guide to the best camera backpacks of 2022.

This guide has already been viewed thousands of times by photographers around the world – we’re all obsessed with how we carry our cameras and lenses!

Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

Award-winning camera backpack with unrivalled features, robust build and all-round good looks.

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If you’re anything like me, you never settle on just one camera bag – finding the perfect backpack to carry all your precious camera gear is a never-ending quest.

Whether you’re looking for something to travel with or just carry around every day, there are lots of amazing mirrorless and DSLR backpacks to choose from.

To save you some time trying to find the best camera backpacks of the year, we’ve handpicked this selection for you. Here are the results of our tests.

What is the Best Camera and Lens Backpack in 2022?

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imagePeak Design Everyday Backpack V2BEST ALLROUND
  • 100% Recycled Waterproof Shell
  • Expandable
  • Flexfold Dividers
  • Instant Access
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shk2-table__imageWandrd PrvkeBEST FOR TRAVEL
  • Quick Side Camera Access
  • Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Sleeve
  • Magnetic Tote Handles
  • Removable Camera Protection
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shk2-table__imageBrevite JumperBEST SMALL BACKPACK
  • Stealthy
  • Holds a Decent Kit
  • Strong & Robust
  • Easy Access
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shk2-table__imageTarion DSLR Backpack BEST BUDGET
  • Moulded EVA Base
  • Slim
  • Quick Access
  • fully Customisable Interior
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shk2-table__imageShimoda Explore 60BEST FOR HIKING
  • Multiple Access Points
  • Height Adjustable Harness
  • Modular Interior
  • Carry on Friendly
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shk2-table__imagePeak Design Travel BEST FOR AIRLINE TRAVEL
  • Versatlie
  • Ultimate Accessability
  • Sustainability Built
  • Huge Capacity
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shk2-table__imageWontancraft NomadCOOLEST
  • Adjustable Dividers
  • Expandable Rolltop
  • Hidden Wing Pockets
  • Quick Access
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shk2-table__imagePeak Design ZipBEST FOR WOMEN
  • Instant Access
  • Pockets for Days
  • Weatherproof
  • Comfortable
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shk2-table__imageF-Stop DalsonLIGHTEST
  • Durable
  • Padded Back Panel
  • Removable Storage Compartment
  • Roll Top Design
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shk2-table__imageMindshift BacklightBEST FOR SAFARI
  • Back Access to Camera Gear
  • 9L of Personal Capacity
  • Integrated Tripod Carry System
  • Camera Gear Layout
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Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 | #1 for Photographers

man wearing best peak design everyday camera backpack in woods

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Capacity: 30L (-8) | Dimensions: 24.5 x 14.2 x 7.8 in (62 x 36 x 19.8cm) | Weight: 4.65 lb (2.11 kg) | Peak Design Everyday Backpack Review

  • Build

Peak Design recently updated their hugely successful Everyday Bag lineup and with it the Everyday Backpack. In our tests, we chose this as the top backpack for photographers of the year.

The build quality is still excellent, with a 400D double poly-coated DWR-impregnated nylon canvas shell, 900D waterproof bottom liner, anodized aluminium/glass-reinforced nylon and durable ‘UltraZips’.

To top it all off, everything is made from 100% recycled post-consumer material!

If you already own the V1, no matter when you bought it, I’m guessing it’s still in good condition – such is the build quality of these bags. Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 is similarly built to last.

9/10

  • Weight

Without the internal dividers, you’re looking at around 3.8lbs (1.7 kg), but adding them in brings the weight of the 30L version to 4.65 lb (2.11 kg). This isn’t heavy for a 30L backpack with this many features, but it definitely isn’t light either.

Give some thought about how you intend to pack it, and whether you need it to be within any strict airline carry-on luggage allowances, and you should be fine.

8/10

  • Fit
best bag for camera and lenses

Sliding the backpack around to your front to gain side access is fast and efficient.

I always found the padded shoulder straps on the V1 fine, but apparently, some people complained… so Peak updated everything for the Everyday Backpack V2.

Even when fully loaded, it feels great on the shoulders and back, and adjusting things while the bag is on your back is simple.

It’s important for the best photography backpack to be comfortable to carry, even when fully loaded with your camera gear. Fortunately, this one hits the mark.

9/10

  • Looks

Available in black, charcoal, ash and a brand new ‘midnight’ colour, this may be the hardest decision you have to make when buying a new camera backpack!

The all-black variant is my favourite, but the other colours include brown leather accents, which really add a certain something.

The Everyday Backpack V2 is without a doubt very modern (futuristic?) looking, resembling some kind of rocket pack strapped to your back.

This will definitely appeal to many, but I imagine for some, it can be a little too much. (Check out the Everyday Backpack Zip review for something a little more refined.)

9/10

  • Capacity

The 30L version fits 2 full-size cameras and 4-5 lenses, a 15-inch laptop, 10-inch tablet, and lots of pockets and pouches for accessories. I also like the 20L version (reviewed below), but it’s more suited to smaller setups (obviously), and hence, not quite as versatile.

With the 20L version, I managed to fit a Fujifilm X-Pro3 and a handful of the best Fuji X lenses to go with it (all primes), and still had room for plenty of small accessories and my sandwiches.

The capacity on both sizes of Everyday Backpacks can be collapsed or expanded – on this 30L version, the collapsed capacity is 22L, while on the 20L version it’s 17L. Changing size is simple and quick, using the re-designed MagLatch system.

9/10

  • Unique Features
detailed images of peak design everyday camera back pack v2

(Clockwise from left): Customizable flexfold dividers; Improved Maglatch closure; Magnetic shoulder straps; adjustable laptop sleeve.

Remember that this is the camera backpack that introduced the world to various features, which have since been ‘borrowed’ by other brands.

Let’s start from the sides, with two ‘UltraZips’which run the entire length of the flanks, opening easily with one hand – Peak Design’s weatherproof zips are easily the best I’ve come across, and those on the Everyday Backpack V2 are even smoother than before.

The MagLatch on the front is more ergonomic and sleek than the V1 and can be opened/adjusted easily with a quick tug. This may not have all the hipster-value of a roll-top for increasing carry capacity, but it’s far more practical and fast. You can also do it one-handed.

The internals feature customisable ‘FlexFold’ dividers – basically padded origami ‘shelves’ for your gear, all attachable by some mysterious hook and loop material that never pulls the ‘receiving’ fabric off. One thing to note – the padding on the dividers is quite minimal.

The 15″ protective laptop sleeve has a unique adjustable feature, making sure those with smaller laptops can easily retrieve their device, without having to ‘fish’ for it.

On the outside, there are 4 external carry straps for cinching down bulkier items like jackets, via a unique Cord Hook system – I never use it but it’s nice to have it there all tucked away neatly for times of need.

Finally, there’s a luggage pass-through, which doubles as a bit of extra back-padding, and a place to store the straps when not in use.

10/10

  • Ease of Use

Dual side access points provide fast, one-handed entry. Zippers are smooth and durable. Adjusting straps is quick. It’s dead-easy to get your gear in and out of the Everyday Backpack V2.

The only small niggle is that the zippers on the inside of the side access panel aren’t completely covered when stowed, meaning it can come in contact with your gear.

9/10

  • Value for Money

At around $290 for the 30L version, we’re in premium camera and lens backpack territory… but not overly so. For a product that will last a lifetime without looking like it’s made for the army, I think it’s still good value for money, and covered by Peak’s excellent lifetime warranty.

8/10

  • X-Factor

There’s no other camera backpack that looks like this. You’ll get compliments and questions from any tech-nerd who hasn’t seen one before, but that’s arguably very few people. Using it will make you feel like you’re from the future.

Also, the midnight blue colourway with brown leather accents is a really unique look.

9/10

WANDRD PRVKE | Best for Travel

Camera backpack Wandrd Prvke best backpack with laptop compartment

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Capacity: 31L (+5)| Dimensions: 19 x 12.5 x 7.5 in (48 x 31.7 x 19 cm) | Weight: 3.4 lb (1.5 kg) | Wandrd Prvke review

  • Build

This is one of the most durable camera backpacks I’ve come across (that doesn’t look like it’s come out of an army surplus store!). Built from waterproof tarpaulin and Robic 1680D Ballistic Nylon with weather-resistant zippers, the Prvke will last a lifetime of abuse when travelling.

10/10

  • Weight

For a 31L camera backpack, it’s surprisingly light at 3.4 lb (1.5 kg). There are obviously lighter products on the market in 2022, but none with this level of durable build. The 21L variant (available here) is 2.8 lb (1.3kg), but I recommend sacrificing that extra bit of weight for an additional 10L storage capacity.

8/10

  • Fit

The padded shoulder straps and foam back panels distribute the weight nicely, even when fully loaded. Despite being a relatively large 31L, it’s not overwhelming for smaller frames – my wife found it comfortable for travel too.

9/10

  • Looks

Available in black, green and blue, this is another hard decision to make. I usually default to an all-black camera backpack, but the ‘wasatch green’ and ‘aegean blue’ look amazing too.

The WANDRD PRVKE has a great minimal look, with branding that’s large but the same colour as the rest of the bag so doesn’t stand out (a similar aesthetic to the Boundary Errant). The logo on the included rainfly looks great too, as do the trademark tote-style grab handle and oversized buckle.

It’s hard not to use the ‘h’ word when describing roll-top travel backpacks, but this good-looking bag is definitely going to appeal to a certain Instagrammable hipster crowd!

9/10

  • Capacity

backpack capacity wandrd prvke - best camera bags for additional lenses

The 31L version accommodates a Medium camera cube, which can house a pro-size DSLR with a lens attached and 3-4 lenses, or 3 small lenses and a flash. If you decide to use the rest of the capacity for camera gear too, you can obviously take much more, but it won’t be well protected by the cube. You can also carry a 15-inch laptop.

With the 21L version, you can fit one lens, a camera, a couple of lenses, and a 13-inch laptop – a perfect travel backpack combo.

The best part of the WANDRD PRVKE is the expandable roll-top, which creates an additional 5 litres of space on top of the quoted sizes.

9/10

  • Unique Features

There’s not a lot going on with this backpack, but it has all you need. My favourite feature is perhaps the simplest – magnetic tote handles that snap together, providing a comfortable and useful grab handle.

The durability of the tarp material is also unique, especially since the backpack isn’t excessively heavy.

There’s also a rainfly hidden away in the base of the backpack, and a handy top pocket for your phone/passport at the upper back, not visible when wearing it.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Getting things in and out of the WANDRD PRVKE is simple. The zippers feel good, but they’re not quite on par with the glidyness of the Peak Design bags.

The roll-top buckle looks like it should be fiddly, but it actually isn’t and is quite fun to use. I also appreciate the velcro on the roll-top fabric for a more secure (water-tight) closure, although the noise when opening could annoy some.

Side access when the backpack is on your back is simple too and can allow a ‘quick-draw ‘when a photo opp presents itself.

The front pocket is a little tight when the bag is fully packed, but you can still squeeze in a tablet or some documents.

9/10

  • Value for Money

At around $204 for the 31L version and $184 for the 21L, the larger capacity PRVKE is definitely the best value.

It’s definitely a premium price tag, but not overly so, and a good deal cheaper than the aforementioned backpack. It’s also covered by WANDRD’s ‘Wander more, worry less’ lifetime, no-questions-asked warranty.

9/10

  • X-Factor

It’s definitely a unique look, and miles apart from any other camera backpack currently on the market. I love its minimal-but-still-present branding, and the overall look of this bag – you’re sure to get compliments and questions.

9/10

Shimoda Explore | Best for Hiking

Shimoda-explore best hiking camera bags for photographers needing lots of compartments

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Capacity: 60L | Dimensions: 24 x 11.4 x 11 in (61 x 29 x 28 cm) | Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) | Shimoda Explore 2 Review

  • Build

Construction quality is top-notch. Coated nylon exterior similar to mountaineering bags feels tough and rip-proof, and shoulder straps feel secure, an essential feature for a good camera backpack for hiking.

9/10

  • Weight

Despite being the biggest camera backpack in this review, the Shimoda Explore 60 still remains relatively lightweight. Obviously, the (empty) weight will vary depending on the modular accessories you add to it, but these are all lightweight too.

9/10

  • Fit

Feels like a hug from a good friend! The fit can be tailored via height-adjustable padded shoulder straps. The hip strap is one of the comfiest I’ve used on any hiking backpack. EVA compression moulding in straps feels like a child standing on your shoulders wearing Nike Air shoes…amazing.

10/10

  • Looks

It’s hard to make a hiking camera backpack look cool, but Shimoda has managed it. Designed by the ex-lead designer of F-Stop Gear, it’s easy to see why. My wife’s first reaction: “I love the colour!”

Both the ‘Blue Nights’ and the ‘Sea Pine’ look like no other bag I’ve seen – really unique tones, tastefully complimented with brown accents on the zipper pulls.

9/10

  • Capacity
shimoda explore details - compartments, adjustable belt, removable separators

Leather zipper pulls; spacious upper pocket; storage pouches on straps; adjustable strap height.

At 60L, there’s not a lot that can’t fit in the Shimoda Explore! Depending on what modular unit you insert, prepare to shoulder every item of camera kit you own…and then some.

10/10

  • Unique Features

The height-adjustable shoulder straps are unique in the way that they can be adjusted – a lot of design consideration has gone into this. The straps themselves are amazingly comfortable with their moulded design.

Hip straps feature cutaways to prevent bone-rub – the first time I’ve seen this on a backpack, and a great feature.

Rear padded portion features some serious padding and a unique design to increase airflow while hiking.

Pockets on front of the shoulder straps are great – one zippered, the other elasticated. Both are large enough to hold a mobile phone.

9/10

  • Ease of Use

Easy to slide on and off the body. Getting gear in and out is easy too. The strap system takes a bit of getting used to, but this is to be expected on a technical outdoor/hiking camera backpack.

As with all backpacks that feature a separate internal camera bag, it’s never quite as quick as simply opening the main bag and getting to your gear – you need to unzip the internal one too.

7/10

  • Value for Money

Yes, it’s expensive (see here), but you’re paying for function and years of design experience via F-Stop, and now Shimoda – the cool styling is just an added bonus. Compared to some of the heavy leather camera backpacks costing the same amount or more, this is actually a good value.

Remember to take into account the cost of the modular accessories (the ‘Core Units’) too, though.

7/10

  • X-Factor

This is the first hiking backpack that I want to wear with casual clothes! The colour is really unique, and putting it on and securing it to your body is a joy too. I never expected to want to use a hiking backpack this much.

8/10

Tarion for SLR Cameras | Budget Option

tarion

Capacity: 20L (+3) | Dimensions: 11.8 x 6 x 17 in (30 x 15 x 43 cm) | Weight: 1.87 lbs / 0.85 kgs

  • Build

The Tarion is made from high-strength, tear-resistant nylon and includes an all-weather waterproof rain cover. It definitely feels sturdy, despite being a budget backpack.

8/10

  • Weight

At just 1.8 lbs when unloaded, the Tarion is pretty light for its size. It’s also fairly difficult to overload, as the bag’s outer material doesn’t really have much stretch, so if packing light is important to you, this can be useful.

9/10

  • Fit

Felt a bit small on my back, but I think it would fit fine on someone smaller or less broad in the back. The padding on the shoulder straps and on the back is ample, so again, it might be great on a smaller person. It doesn’t come with a hip belt, though since the bag itself is light and it’s difficult to overload, this probably wouldn’t be a problem.

7/10

  • Looks

I gotta be honest – I’m not too impressed with this budget backpack’s looks. It seems more like a kid’s school bag than a bag I’d like to be seen on the street with or at a shoot with, but for some photographers, this won’t matter.

6/10

  • Capacity

The Tarion doesn’t hold a huge amount of gear. That’s good if you want to keep things light, but not so good if you travel with multiple cameras/bulky lenses. It fits 1-2 camera bodies (only one with an attached lens), 1 telephoto lens, and 2-4 other lenses. Can also fit a DJI Mavic Pro.

There’s also a pocket for a water bottle, a tripod holder on the bottom and a zippered mesh pocket for storing smaller accessories. The laptop compartment can fit up to a 15″ computer.

7/10

  • Unique Features

The 8 padded dividers allow you to customise the inners to suit your gear and you can remove them all to use it as a daily backpack for carrying larger items. There’s nothing particularly unique about the Tarion, except for its low price and decent quality.

7/10

  • Ease of Use

The top access panel combined with the fact that the Tario stands up on its own makes it pretty easy to get at your DSLR. Everything works well on this bag, from the zippers to the straps. No complaints.

8/10

  • Value for Money

At around $60, this bag is excellent value for money. It’s often reduced on Amazon to under $40, so tap the link below to check.

10/10

  • X-Factor

Style-wise, this bag definitely won’t turn any heads, but perhaps that’s a good thing if you want to remain unseen!

6/10

Peak Design Travel Backpack | Best for Airline Travel

Capacity: 35L (+10/-5) | Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 9 in (56 x 33 x 23 cm) | Weight: 4.52 lbs (2.05 kg) | Peak Design Travel Backpack Review

  • Build

100% recycled 400D nylon shell feels tough and rip-proof. Zippers and straps are good quality too. A lifetime guarantee is a welcome addition, especially if you’ll be using this for airline travel.

9/10

  • Weight

This is the only thing that lets the Peak Design Travel Bag down in my opinion. It’s rather heavy when empty, so packing it to meet carry-on limits on some internal airlines is difficult. The weight is largely justified by the number of features, but still, a slight disappointment.

However, there’s also a 30L variant which is lighter (1.44kg / 3.17lbs) – we only tested the 45L for this review.

7/10

  • Fit

Comfortable shoulder and hip straps. The back panel allows you to fold in the sides to increase ventilation by raising the centre padding. Feels good even when fully loaded. A minimal sternum strap does the job.

8/10

  • Looks

I can’t think of any improvements I’d make to the aesthetics of this bag. My preference is black, but Ash is beautiful too.

10/10

  • Capacity
PD Travel Backpack

Dual flaps for storage/separation; side access to camera cube; rear panel conceals straps; dividers in the cube.

This is designed primarily as a versatile 45L travel backpack with an optional camera insert (the ‘camera cube’), which is available in S, M and L sizes. I managed to fit all my mirrorless camera gear (body + lens attached, 2 primes, 2 flashes and batteries) into the S, leaving the rest of the bag free for clothing, etc.

If you’re not making full use of the upper storage area, you can pinch the top together to create an angled upper, reducing the overall size appearance – can be handy for sneaking through check-in. ;-)

9/10

  • Unique Features

Too many to list here, and slightly over-designed if I’m being honest. It all gets a bit overwhelming, so I recommend you get used to just one way of using the features and sticking with it! Have a look at all the features here.

10/10

  • Ease of Use

It takes a little bit of getting used to since there are so many pockets/sleeves/zippers, but once you’ve decided on what to put where it’s a very well-thought-out backpack. Zippers are wonderfully smooth, as with all Peak Design products.

9/10

  • Value for Money

The backpack itself is priced at a premium, and adding in the various Packing Tools (like the camera cube) really starts to push the price up. Slightly hard to justify, despite the great build and unique features…But there’s a no questions asked lifetime warranty, so this could be the last backpack you ever need.

8/10

  • X-Factor

Whilst I haven’t ever got any compliments per se, I absolutely love this bag and have chosen it as my travel backpack for destination wedding photography gigs. Despite being entirely stealthy and unassuming, it still manages to stand out with a unique design that’s genuinely useful. You’ll want to keep touching it and experimenting with all the zippers and pockets too.

9/10

Brevite Jumper

brevite jumper bag

Capacity: 25L (+5) | Dimensions: 11 x 5.5 x 17 in (28 x 13 x 43 cm) | Weight: 1.7 lb (0.77 kg) | Brevite Jumper Review

  • Build

The construction feels good although fabric material may not stand much abuse over time – may also get stained if you’re not careful. Zippers feel solid and have nice long grab cords which come in useful in cold weather – they’re also water-resistant. Buckles are a mixture of plastic and metal.

8/10

  • Weight

At just 1.7 lb (0.77 kg), the Jumper is the perfect small camera backpack to carry around everywhere all day. It’s a great backpack for women and men alike due to its being so lightweight.

10/10

  • Fit

Since the Jumper is such a small camera backpack, it’s not really suited to someone like me at 6ft4″ (195cm) tall. The straps still accommodate my arms alright, but the bag looks a little ridiculous on my long upper body.

For anyone who is average height, the fit is much better. Shoulder straps are comfortable even when the bag is fully loaded, and the back offers sufficient padding for all-day use.

7/10

  • Looks

The Jumper is a cute camera backpack, reminiscent of a fashionable kid’s school backpack. It’s small, compact and minimalist, with the logos in the same colour as the fabric, which is a trendy touch. It’s available in 11 attractive colours, most of which are only available on the Brevite website.

brevite back

Branding is on point and subtle.

9/10

  • Capacity

Although the Jumper is small, you can fit a surprising amount of gear in it – I managed to squeeze my full-frame camera, drone, 14″ laptop and two medium-sized lenses, plus a load of smaller gadgets. It’s more of an everyday camera bag than something that professionals with multiple camera bodies would use.

Since it doesn’t have a camera cube (opting instead for padded dividers), the Jumper remains compact even when fully loaded.

8/10

  • Unique Features

The luggage pass-through can come in handy if you travel with a suitcase, and a small passport pocket is nicely hidden away in the side of the back panel. There’s also a pair of tripod holders on the bottom for a small travel tripod.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

There’s one quick-access door so you can get your camera out quickly, and getting into the main compartment via the upper zip is easy enough. I found myself using the front pocket a lot, with the mesh dividers helping to keep small gadgets organised nicely.

8/10

  • Value for Money

Make sure you purchase the Jumper from the Brevite website – it’s available elsewhere, but it’s much cheaper if you buy direct from Brevite. At around $135, it’s excellent value for money and would make a great gift for a photographer friend.

10/10

  • X-Factor

The Brevite Jumper is definitely a trendy small camera backpack designed to appeal to fashionable men and women. Its branding isn’t overbearing and it certainly doesn’t look like it’d be packed with nerdy camera gear! The fashionable colours and fabric choices elevate it above other bags at this price point.

9/10

Wotancraft Nomad

Capacity: 18L | Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.6 x 5.3 in (42 x 27 x 13.5 cm) | Weight: 3.75 lb (1.7 kg) | Wotancraft Nomad Review

  • Build

Wotancraft loves using a blended material called ‘Cordura’, which is lightweight and apparently 5x stronger than waxed cotton! The Nomad looks like it’s made for the army out of heavyweight canvas, but Cordura is thankfully much lighter, while still providing the durability of a much heavier material.

Zippers all feel rugged and are weather-proofed, complete with good-looking leather loops to ease opening/closing.

10/10

  • Weight

At around 3.75 lb (1.7 kg), this isn’t a light camera backpack by any means, but it looks and feels like it should be much heavier – I was pleasantly surprised when I first picked it up, especially since Wotancraft’s other creations are mostly on the heavy side.

8/10

  • Fit

Wotancraft has nailed it with the Nomad. Despite having somewhat WWII aesthetics, it’s thankfully quite modern on the rear where the bag meets your back – the padding is thick and aerated, ensuring plenty of airflows even in hotter climates. I’m happy to use this fully loaded here on the Gold Coast…

The padded shoulder straps are comfortable, and the whole thing feels great on the back even when fully loaded. The removable hip straps help distribute everything nicely and don’t add much weight either.

9/10

  • Looks

Available in a cool and unique desert-camo and dark-grey, the Wotancraft Nomad with its side ‘flaps’ is unlike any other camera backpack here in 2022. The more you look at it, the more you appreciate the level of detailed craftsmanship that’s gone in.

I absolutely love the look of the Nomad, but I can appreciate that its appearance may not suit a lot of photographers. However, you have to admire Wotancraft for sticking to its niche.

9/10

  • Capacity
backpack capacity wandrd prvke - best easy access laptop compartment

© Athol Hill

At 25L with the roll top down, and 30L with it fully expanded, the Nomad can actually fit a lot more in than you expect. Thanks to various nooks and crannies (see below), you can cram in a couple of camera bodies, 4-5 lenses, accessories, a 10-inch tablet, a 15-inch laptop and enough clothes for the weekend – this is, after all, marketed as a travel backpack.

9/10

  • Unique Features
nomad details - among best camera bags with padded laptop compartment

Magnetic flap closures; customizable padding, main storage+hidden space; tripod holder.

There are certainly a few surprises on this backpack, and it does take a little experimenting to get right. Hidden away behind the front of the bag is a half-pouch-like space, which can accommodate a jacket or a couple of packing cubes.

Behind this (inside the bag), there’s another small space for more clothes, in between the front and the padding for your camera gear.

Then you have the side ‘flaps’, which magnetize to the flanks of the Nomad, helping to hold in whatever you have in the aforementioned space and a minimal luggage pass-through on the back padding.

The tripod holder is also rather innovative – a rolled-up piece of padded fabric designed to roll around the tripod legs and secure to the side of the bag.

All in all, this is a really fun backpack to use and is actually my favourite of the year so far.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

I love the hidden front pouch thing (!), which allows you to slide your hand in to retrieve the item while the backpack is actually still on your back.

Side access panels are also great, and the zippers slide easily. The whole bag also stands upright nicely too, but this will depend on how you’ve packed it.

The side flap pockets are a bit hard to get into quickly, and although they can fit bulkier items, this may affect whether the magnets can ‘reach’ the side of the bag to close – you may end up looking like you’re wearing a wing on your back…

7/10

  • Value for Money

Priced at around $300, this is yet another premium product from Wotancraft… but I’m ok with that. The Nomad is truly unique and built to last a lifetime, and arguably looks better and better over time too. It also looks and feels like no other backpack on the market, and many will pay the price to have something of this level of craftsmanship.

8/10

  • X-Factor

It looks like no other bag you’ve ever seen. this is seriously one cool backpack for photographers.

10/10

Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip

edbz

Credit: Tommy Williams

Capacity: 15L | Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.5 x 7.9 in (42 x 23 x 16 cm) | Weight: 2.95 lbs (1.34 kgs) | Peak Design Everyday Backpack Zip Review

  • Build

You can count on Peak Design for top-quality construction and the Zip is no different – the 100% recycled 400D nylon canvas shell is DWR impregnated, weatherproof and features a double PU-coating made from Bluesign certified materials.

Zippers feel great and slide easily 270 degrees around the contours of the bag, with large grab handles that feel sturdy.

10/10

  • Weight

At around 2.95 lbs (1.34kgs) for the smaller 15L model (it’s also available in 20L), this is an average weight for camera backpacks and won’t feel too heavy when fully laden with gear.

8/10

  • Fit

The 15L or 20L versions of the Everyday Zip camera backpacks are perfect for average-height men or women – we love how the 15L version looks on a woman’s back in particular.

In terms of comfort, the Zip feel great on your back with nice padded straps and perfect balance, especially when you use the sternum strap.

9/10

  • Looks

Available in 4 attractive colours (Black, Ash, Midnight and our favourite, Bone), the Zip is a real head turner and will attract compliments wherever you go. We’ve chosen it as the best backpack for women based primarily on its stylish looks which conceal the fact that it’s actually a camera bag.

10/10

  • Capacity
peak design zip

20L model shown | Credit: Tommy Williams

Using the full capacity 15 or 20L of the Everyday Zip is actually easier than on other bags, thanks to the 270-degree zippered opening and wide access points. You can fit a couple of cameras, lenses, laptops and multiple accessories, with space on the bottom to strap a tripod.

9/10

  • Unique Features

The Everyday Zip makes use of Flex Dividers which provide lightweight protection and storage organisation for your gear. While most other camera backpacks opt for more padding (which takes up more room inside the bag), Peak Design prefers a minimal approach, which allows you to fit slightly more camera gear in the bag.

Inside, there’s a plethora of pockets and smart storage compartments, including magnetic pouches and zippered pockets to keep things secure. There’s also a hidden compartment on the back of the bag, perfect for keys, earphones or a smartphone.

The main zipper itself is unique to this backpack, allowing you to get right inside with ease – this is especially useful for finding any small item that may have slipped to the bottom, or to pull out larger items from the central compartment.

9/10

  • Ease of Use

Peak Design’s zips are really the best in the industry – sure, they’re durable and water-resistant, but they glide so smoothly you’ll find yourself playing with them all the time. 

Putting the Zip on your back is also a simple process, with the shoulder straps angled in such a way to make it easier than some of the other best camera backpacks in our guide.

The only small niggle is that with the bag fully loaded, it’s a little hard to pull out the laptop.

8/10

  • Value for Money

Priced at around $189 for the 15L model, this is a premium backpack, but still plenty cheaper than some of the other camera backpacks in our guide.

There’s a lifetime warranty on all Peak Design products, which includes manufacturing defects and any failures or breakages that render the product non-functional.

8/10

  • X-Factor

This is definitely a unique backpack for photographers who want some stylish and functional that doesn’t scream ‘camera bag’!

10/10

F-Stop Dalston

Capacity: 21L (+3) | Dimensions: 18.9 x 11.4 x 6.3 in (48 x 29 x 16 cm) | Weight: .8 lbs (.8 kg)

  • Build

YKK Aquaguard zippers, DWR, 420D Ripstop Nylon with TPU laminate and Hypalon detailing – there’s not actually much to the F-Stop Dalston, but what there is is well-made. I can’t imagine much going wrong with this bag.

8/10

  • Weight

This thing’s as light as a feather! If only all camera backpacks were this light. At only 0.8kg / 1.8lbs, you can really make the most of your carry-on allowance on those strict internal airline carriers. It’s also a perfect weight to be carried all day around a city, which is how it’s intended to be used. This is the lightest backpack for photographers we tested.

10/10

  • Fit

The F-Stop Dalston isn’t designed to be loaded with gear, so the carrying straps, sternum strap and back support are rather minimal. I wouldn’t want to carry it for a long time fully loaded.

However, it’s worth remembering that this backpack wasn’t intended to be used to cram in all your gear – I see it more like a day pack, making use of its feather-light weight to help you carry only what’s absolutely necessary for the day’s city adventure.

7/10

  • Looks

With its fashionable (hipster?!) roll-top design, textured/shiny exterior, and funky colour names (Aloe, Nasturtium and … err.. blue?), the F-Stop Dalston certainly stands out from the crowd. I particularly like the muted black square logo on the front, which doesn’t detract from the overall statement.

This is definitely not a bag that looks like your typical camera backpack and would be a great thief deterrent as such.

10/10

  • Capacity
dalston details - main compartment with removable dividers for photographers

Minimal branding; interior pockets; adjustable dividers; minimal straps.

At only 21 litres, the Dalston is probably most suited as a mirrorless camera backpack, or at least just for un-gripped DSLR bodies. Having said that, thanks to the thin outer material, it does have rather tardis-like properties – I was able to squeeze in a Nikon Z7, Nikon D750, a 70-200, 35mm, 13-inch laptop and various other small gizmos.

For a smaller bag, it’s surprisingly spacious.

It might not be the best DSLR backpack if you need to carry a lot of camera kit, but it’s definitely one of my favourites.

9/10

  • Unique Features

There’s not all that much to the F-Stop Dalston – it’s a simple camera bag that’s as fashionable as it is functional, but as for standout features, I don’t have anything to add here.

As a roll-top, it does offer expandable storage in the main section.

7/10

  • Ease of Use

It’s a little hard to get in and out of the lowest internal compartment since the size zip doesn’t run low enough. Also, I find roll-top bags a little fiddly and unnecessary with their additional steps to get gear in and out of.

Having said that, you can access all your gear (including stuff stored on top of the padded dividers) from the side access zippers.

7/10

  • Value for Money

Even though the Dalston may feel like it should cost less (due to its lightweight), at about $170you’re paying for the quality of F-Stop products.

F-Stop is best known for its high-quality outdoor camera backpacks that are built to withstand Everest, and some of the tech has trickled down to the Dalston. I think the price is justifiable for the quality. Warranty is 2 years – I’d like it to be a little longer.

8/10

  • X-Factor

I couldn’t stop playing with the Dalston for the whole 2 weeks I tested it! Virtually everyone commented on it, photographer or otherwise. I can imagine in the loud orange (‘nasturtium’) colourway, you’d get even more attention.

It’s nice to have something as unique as this on your back in a world full of rather boring-looking camera gear.

10/10

Mindshift Backlight | Best for Safari

Capacity: 26L | Dimensions: 11.4 x 20.3 x 7.9 in (29 x 51.5 x 20 cm) | Weight: 3.9 lb (1.8 kg) | Mindshift Backlight Review

  • Build

Incredibly well-built, with every feature feeling solid and durable, from the zipper pulls to the interior pockets. All the exterior fabric has a durable water-repellant coating, plus the underside of the fabric has a polyurethane coating.

It also has abrasion-resistant YKK® RC-Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon, 420D high-density nylon, 320G UltraStretch mesh, 350G air mesh, nylon webbing, and 3-ply bonded nylon thread. Pretty much bomb-proof for any safari or outdoor adventure.

10/10

  • Weight

Not particularly light, but then again, this is a hiking backpack built to carry and protect your camera gear, and that requires some decent padding and heavy-duty material.

8/10

  • Fit

Mindshift (part of ThinkTank Photo) knows its stuff when it comes to building comfortable bags, and the Mindshift Backlight is no exception. The padded back support and shoulder/waist/chest straps feel secure, distributing weight around your body very well.

We’ve chosen the 21L version, but there’s actually an 18, 36 and 45L version too (see them all here). The 21L is the sweet spot for an all-day hike, where you’re not tempted to take every gear accessory you own, and the backpack doesn’t get unnecessarily heavy.

9/10

  • Looks

It’s a hiking and safari camera backpack, but it’s not offensive to look at – that’s actually quite hard to achieve! Both the woodland green and the charcoal options look great, but the green zipper pulls of the charcoal version spoil it a little… but I can understand why they did it.

You definitely wouldn’t want to use this much in an urban environment, but that’s not its intention.

7/10

  • Capacity
best camera bag for hikers

© Teriyani Riggs

The 26L Mindshift Backlight fits 1 standard-size DSLR (or 2 mirrorless cameras), plus 4-6 zoom lenses, a 15-inch laptop and a flash or 2. Then there’s additional room in the 9L front compartments for a load of other stuff – this thing can hold a lot more than its 26 litres would have you believe.

9/10

  • Unique Features

Not particularly unique per se, but the rear-access panel serves well as the main access point. Also, the padding on the rear panel is excellent, with just enough cushioning where you need it (particularly in the lumbar area), and a nice wide gap for your upper back to take a break from the heat.

There’s also a pouch that comes out of a pocket on the bottom of the bag, so you can carry a tripod attached to the front, along with some straps that come out of a zippered pouch on top.

7/10

  • Ease of Use

Getting gear in and out of the Mindshift Backlight is simple and intuitive, although the tripod mounting pouch/straps are a bit fiddly. As long as your tripod is compact enough, I’d recommend trying it in the water bottle pouch instead, found on the side of the backpack.

8/10

  • Value for Money

At around $250, it’s not cheap, but it’s not over-priced either. The build quality gives you confidence that it’ll survive even the most hardcore of hikers.

8/10

  • X-Factor

Nothing to report, although the woodland green does look really nice when you’re out hiking.

7/10

Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw

Capacity: 25L | Dimensions: 11.54 x 8.19 x 19.17 in (29.3 x 20.8 x 48.7 cm) | Weight: 4.13 lbs (1.87 kg) | Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw Review

  • Build

The LowePro Freeline is built from super high-grade Nylon 66 with water and abrasion-resistant Carbonate coating, YKK weatherproof zippers, reinforced padded base and a rain cover (Aw = all-weather).

Feels like it’d last a good 10+ years of abuse on the outside, and the inside is equally well-constructed. I particularly like the hook-and-loop attachments for the dividers, which are designed not to rip at the fabric.

9/10

  • Weight

Not bad at all for the quality and features of this bag. Remember it’s a dedicated backpack with a camera compartment insert – not just any old bag with the insert as an afterthought.

8/10

  • Fit

The padded shoulder straps are comfortable. The back ‘plate’ is ribbed to allow good air circulation. Shoulder straps can be further tightened with a sternum strap. The optional hip strap is a little less substantial but stows tidily when not in use.

9/10

  • Looks

Available in heather grey and black, the Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw is smart enough to use in the city and doesn’t scream camera backpack. Lowepro branding is prevalent, but tasteful in raised silver lettering.

8/10

  • Capacity
best bags for cameras with laptop compartment

© Andy Day

Fits a full-frame DSLR, stored horizontally with mounted 70-200mm f/2.8 lens; a full-frame DSLR with grip plus a mirrorless body with grip, compact drones with controller, up to a 15-inch laptop, 10 inch tablet, travel tripod, cords, cables, water bottle and smaller items.

9/10

  • Unique Features

The ‘QuickShelf’ divider system is a great idea! Unfolds into a 3-tier shelf that snaps flat for easy removal, converting the Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw into a regular backpack in seconds. Expandable side pockets are a nice touch. Side and front clip straps are useful to secure misc items.

The expandable shoulder strap pocket is ingenious! Every backpack needs one of these. Perfect for storing batteries, pens, keys – anything you need quick access to, including your phone.

The grab handles at both sides of the rear are a great inclusion too. The tripod holder is at the front of the bag, which is pretty unique – most offer a tripod holder at the bottom, which makes the bag impossible to stand up and clunky to put down.

The Freeline also includes a handy tech pouch storage bag that’s the perfect size to stop smaller items such as laptop chargers, cables and memory card pouches from floating around inside the main backpack.

9/10

  • Ease of Use

Dual side access points provide fast entry. Zippers are buttery smooth. The internal shelf has a plastic back to enable fast, smooth removal. Padded shoulder straps can be tightened and unfastened quickly, allowing you to remove gear items from the side without removing the bag from your back.

It also stands upright, which is a useful, often overlooked feature of a camera backpack.

9/10

  • Value for Money

At around $260, the Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw isn’t cheap by any means, but it’s still priced reasonably for all its fine construction, features and years of backpack know-how of Lowepro.

8/10

  • X-Factor

It doesn’t look like any other backpack I’ve come across. From the cool, metallic-silver logo down to its understated appearance that wouldn’t look out of place in an office, the Lowepro Freeline BP 350 Aw is a good-looking DSLR backpack.

8/10

Tenba DNA 15

Capacity: 20L (+3) | Dimensions: 18 x 11 x 8.5 in (46 x 28 x 22 cm) | Weight: 3.7 lb (1.7 kg)

  • Build

Designed to give the year-round, all-weather, rugged performance of a bike messenger backpack, the DNA 15 feels sturdy and built to last, and it’s also surprisingly lightweight.

9/10

  • Weight

Lighter than most of the other backpacks I reviewed which are of a similar size.

8/10

  • Fit

Feels great on my back and on my wife’s. Tenba’s ‘Airflow’ padding raises the bag to allow good air circulation and is made from lightweight, spongey foam which provides great padding. Padded shoulder straps are adequate. Sternum straps minimal but does the job.

9/10

  • Looks

Unique graphite colour/texture makes the Tenba DNA 15 backpack stand out from the crowd, without it being too flashy. Branding is visible on the front strap, but not too prominent. Angled front zipper pocket is a nice design touch.

Doesn’t look like any other backpack I’ve come across.

9/10

  • Capacity

Fits a mirrorless or DSLR camera with 4-6 lenses, plus a 15-inch laptop. Nice organisation options in the front pocket for business cards, batteries and smaller items. The side pocket can carry a tripod, assisted by side straps. Roll-top can be re-velcroed at various points to expand the upper storage area.

9/10

  • Unique Features
fit dslr cameras personal items and camera equipment

Lightweight fabric/pockets; slide-out storage compartments; magnetic clips; large interior storage space.

Lenses or smaller camera bodies are accessible via a slide-out compartment which remains open at an angle to allow you to remove items quickly and easily – the first time I’ve seen something like this on a backpack.

Main front clip fastens via a slide/magnet mechanism which is another first – works really well and is fun to operate.

Staggered velcro fastenings on the front allow roll top to be fastened more securely at various stages, allowing more to be carried in the upper section.

9/10

  • Ease of Use

Aforementioned slide-out front pocket makes getting gear items out quick and simple. The roll-top entrance allows quick access to the cavernous interior.

9/10

  • Value for Money

At around $200, it’s a good quality backpack at a mid-range price which I feel is totally justifiable.

8/10

  • X-Factor

There’s definitely something that grows on you about this backpack. Initially, I didn’t think much of it, but after using it for a few days, I found myself reaching for it over the others tested.

8/10

F-Stop Ajna

Capacity: 20L (+3) | Dimensions: 23.5 x 13 x 10.5 in (59.7 x 33 x 26.7 cm) | Weight: 3.75 lbs (1.7 kg) | F-Stop Ajna Review

  • Build

The F-Stop Ajna is made of extremely durable materials. It honestly feels like you could set this down anywhere – on dirt, rocks, sand, or even mud – and not have to worry about the material getting damaged. The bag itself is waterproof and the waterproofing on the zippers is high quality.

9/10

  • Weight

For what the Ajna offers (and the fact that hikers tend to need less weight than more), this bag weighs just right. It’d be hard to imagine it offering the space it does and getting any lighter. If you need a backpack for long lenses, this is definitely the way to go.

9/10

  • Fit

While the straps and waist belt are a bit thin on the padding, the pack fits surprisingly comfortably. There’s more than enough comfort for long hikes.

9/10

  • Looks

The Ajna is available in Nasturtium (bright orange), Anthracite (black), and my personal favourite, Aloe (seen above). The Nasturtium is F-Stop’s signature colour, which would certainly turn heads, and is probably a good thing for safety (increased visibility) while hiking.

Obviously black and aloe are far more practical for everyday use. I like the F-Stop branding and this certainly doesn’t look like a regular hiking camera backpack.

9/10

  • Capacity
Ajna Backpack

Shoulder strap hooks; large internal storage; customizable dividers inside cube; strap details.

The camera-carrying portion of the F-Stop Ajna uses removable ICUs (Internal Camera Units) and can hold up to a Large Pro. Depending on how you configure it, the Pro can hold 1-2 camera bodies and 4-6 lenses (a couple of long lenses plus smaller ones), plus other goodies. Need more space for hiking essentials? Choose a smaller ICU like the Slope or the Shallow. (All sold separately.)

There’s a sleeve that accommodates a hydration bladder and as well as attachment points for the sipping valve on the shoulder straps. However, there’s no water bottle pocket so if you’re not into hydration bladders (or don’t want to risk it leaking all over your gear) you’re a bit out of luck here.

You can mount a tripod on either the front or the side of the pack. There are also loops for trekking poles or ice axes on the outside.

There’s plenty of room both at the top and in the front pouch for layers, snacks and other trail necessities and plenty of external straps to attach things to. The only downside here is that there aren’t a lot of places to stow smaller things like SD cards or lens cloths.

9/10

  • Unique Features

As previously mentioned, this bag is hydration-system-compatible. That’s pretty rare.

Another unique feature is F-stop’s ICU system – once you get used to it it actually works really well, and I like being able to pull the entire ICU out to store my gear. You can also velcro the ICU in for added security.

Also comes with gatekeeper mounting points and internal and external MOLLE webbing for even more attachment points.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Like many adventure-style bags, the camera access is from the rear. That’s fine if you’re planning on taking time to set up, but if you’re on the trail and see something interesting, you’ll have to take off the bag to access your camera.

I also found that the frame of the bag got in the way while trying to unzip the Large ICU.

Another thing that bothers me is that it’s hard for me to reach the side pockets. There aren’t any pockets on the hip belt either. The exception is your hydration tube and whatever you might have stowed in the little mesh pockets on the shoulder straps.

7/10

  • Value for Money

This bag is definitely on the expensive side. So while it truly is one of the best trekking camera backpacks out there, you do pay for it. That said, there is a 20-year warranty on any defects in material or workmanship.

7/10

  • X-Factor

I really like the look and feel of this bag. The design, F-Stop’s branding and colour make it stand out from any run-of-the-mill hiking backpack.

8/10

Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II

Dimensions: 10.63 x 9.45 x 22.05 in (27 x 24 x 56 cm) | Weight: 3.31 lbs (1.5 kg)

  • Build

As far as action backpacks go, the build on the Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II is fantastic. Like some of the higher-end backpacking bags, the outer material is high-tech and built to withstand hard use. There’s an adjustment strap just about everywhere it matters, allowing you to cinch down everything from the camera compartment to how the pack sits on you.

There are a number of different attachment points for skis, trekking poles, or tripods, and it comes with space for a hydration bladder, an all-weather rain cover, and an ActivZone harness to keep things from bouncing too much while running or jumping. The bag is fairly narrow and hugs the body well, making it easy to do things like climbing.

The camera compartment is side access, so you could keep the bag on and access your gear at the same time (though it’d be nice if there were at least one more access point).

9/10

  • Weight

You can really see the effects of the lightweight fabric here – just 3.31lbs for a fairly spacious, though not overly large, hiking backpack.

9/10

  • Fit

If you can figure out how to adjust the straps just right, you can get this pack to fit perfectly on most bodies. Everything’s adjustable and easy to cinch down. There is an issue, though, if you use a hydration system. I found that a full 2L bladder makes the back of the pack a bit uncomfortable, but you could always go smaller and not have this issue.

9/10

  • Looks

Empty, the Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II isn’t much to look at – especially the top compartment, as it loses its form. When full, it fills out and looks great. I was given the black model to review, but it also comes in blue.

8/10

  • Capacity

The Lowepro Photo Sport Camera Bag

The camera compartment is a bit small and doesn’t really hold much. If you’re a 3-lens user like I am then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. It also doesn’t hold larger cameras or larger lenses. For example, it won’t fit the Canon EOS 1D/1Ds/1Dx Mark II, Nikon D4/D4s/D5 and Sony Alpha A850/A900. But, for those who go mirrorless and/or don’t need more than 2 lenses, you’ll probably be fine.

Otherwise, there’s plenty of room in the top compartment for the things you need on a long hike, as well as a large zippered compartment on the lid, and a front slide-in pocket for things that are flat or soft.

7/10

  • Unique Features

Built like a standard mountaineering backpack, the Photo Sport 300 really does have the rugged design needed for hard-core activities. The cinch-ability of the straps on this bag is far more comprehensive than just about any other camera bag I’ve tried. The ActivZone harness is also nice. These together allow me to get this bag to fit me snugly and comfortable enough that I can go climbing.

While not exactly unique, the hydration-system compatibility is appreciated and fairly rare in camera bags.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

It takes a bit of trial and error to get the straps cinched just right, but that will be true on any mountaineering/action backpack. The side access makes the camera easy to get to. The flopping top compartment is a bit of a pain when empty, and the bag can’t stand up on its own.

One thing that’s missing is some internal mesh pockets that are good for holding small things like batteries and SD cards.

7/10

  • Value for Money

At less than $140 it’s a lot cheaper than many standard hiking backpacks of its type, yet has a camera compartment to boot. I’d say it’s well worth it if it fits your camera gear.

9/10

  • X-Factor

Though not particularly snazzy when empty, the Photo Sport 300 AW II looks good when full. And if you like the hiking/mountaineering style of backpack, this will definitely end up being your go-to.

8/10

LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II

Capacity: 20L (+3) | Dimensions: 13.70 x 10.63 x 19.21 in (34.8 x 27 x 48.79 cm) | Weight: 5.72 lbs (2.59 kg) | LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II Review

  • Build

The LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II feels very well built indeed. The top-access flap is a semi-hardshell and feels like it could take quite a beating. The camera rucksack itself is not waterproof but comes with a rain cover.

Inside are a few thick well-cushioned dividers for the main compartments and a number of thinner MaxiFit system pads for customization.

All in all, sturdy and very well-constructed – the strongest backpack we tested,

10/10

  • Weight

This bag is definitely heavier than other bags of the same capacity, but that might be due to the extra protection provided by the top flap.

7/10

  • Fit

The shoulder straps seem thin but were surprisingly comfortable, even when the pack was fully loaded. The detachable hip belt is beefy and does a good job of keeping the weight off the shoulders. Comes with an ActivZone harness that rides a bit higher up the back and provides a bit of extra ventilation. The only real drawback is that the bag feels a bit over-stiff when fully loaded or when I added my laptop.

8/10

  • Looks

The LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II’s sleek, black, PALS-covered exterior will be a definite draw to those into the “tactical” look. Otherwise, the pack is rather unassuming and would fit in just about anywhere.

9/10

  • Capacity

Side access; strap pouches; ActiZone back panel; padded internal dividers. On the inside, it fits 1-2 Pro DSLRs, one with up to 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, 6-8 lenses/speed lights, and a 15-inch laptop. It also comes with a number of PALS accessories for carrying a tripod, water bottle and other accessories on the outside.

9/10

  • Unique Features

PALS is amazingly customizable. You can attach the accessories that come with it, any MOLLE pouches you already have, or simply tie on your gear in any way imaginable.

The rear panel access is also quite handy, allowing you to lay the bag down front-first and access the entire contents. This is a serious plus if you do a lot of outside work and hate getting the back of your bag dirty (the part that goes up against your back).

If you travel a lot, the semi-hard shell top flap will give your gear another level of protection.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Great access, with two side flaps, top access, and a back panel that zips open. The straps adjust quickly, making it easy to flip the backpack sideways for panel access. The waist belt tends to get in the way a bit when unzipping the back panel right to the bottom, though.

I haven’t really used the PALS system much in the past, but if you’re into loading up gear on the outside I can’t imagine a better way.

8/10

  • Value for Money

The version I of this bag was extremely popular and priced more than $100 less than this version II. I wasn’t able to compare the two side by side, but I do always like investing in the latest version of anything.

At around $270, it’s certainly priced in the premium category, but the LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II feels worth the money for sure.

8/10

  • X-Factor

Super cool look if you’re into tactical packs, MOLLE accessories, or being a bit stealthy with your photography.

8/10

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II

Capacity: 20L (+3) | Dimensions: 12.60 x 9.96 x 19.29 in (32 x 25.3 x 49 cm) | Weight: 3.31 lbs (1.5 kg)

  • Build

The Flipside is a compact backpack made of sturdy polyester. It seems small but holds a lot. The zips feel durable, there’s a lot of padding on the backside and in the hip and shoulder straps, and everything works. The exterior isn’t waterproof but comes with a rain cover.

The retracting tripod cup is a bit weird, but so far seems to work (at least for a smaller tripod).

9/10

  • Weight

It’s not particularly light for its size, but neither is it heavy.

8/10

  • Fit

The Flipside fits well enough on my back and on my wife’s. The straps and hip belt are comfortable and it seems like I could wear it for quite a while without needing a break.

9/10

  • Looks

Ok looking. Nothing special. Just a neutral look.

8/10

  • Capacity

LowePro_FlipSide_details

Quite an amazing capacity for such a compact bag. The Lowepro Flipside fits a DSLR with up to a 300mm attached lens, 4-6 additional lenses, a compact drone, a flash, a 15-inch laptop, and a 10″ tablet. It has Lowepro’s trademark Sliplock webbing on the outside for attaching more gizmos to the exterior.

Definitely holds enough for the average travelling photographer who wants to stay active and nimble.

9/10

  • Unique Features

The tripod mounts stay hidden until needed, so no dangling straps or annoying cups in your way.

Built to flip over so that you can access the camera compartment without taking off your bag.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

The laptop sleeve is on the flap that accesses the camera compartment, which puts it squarely in your way if you’re attempting to get to your camera without taking the bag off. It also means your laptop will be moving each time the flap has to be undone to open the bag.

It takes some practice to flip it around and access the camera compartment without taking the bag off. Otherwise, everything is standard.

7/10

  • Value for Money

Not a bad value for around $150. It’s soundly built and carries enough despite its small size.

8/10

  • X-Factor

The Flipside has a bit of an understated look to it, which is helpful if you’re not wanting it to be unduly noticed. No real x-factor though.

7/10

Lowepro Photo Hatchback 150 AW II

Capacity: 16L | Dimensions: 10.83 x 7.28 x 18.50 in (27.5 x 18.5 x 47 cm) | Weight: 1.78 lbs (0.8 kg)

  • Build

I like the fact that the Photo Hatchback is both lightweight and compact. The exterior is made from water-resistant rip-stop nylon and lots of padding in the camera compartment. Comes with an all-weather (AW) rain cover that sits in its own compartment at the bottom of the pack.

The camera compartment comes with a customisable divider system and a storm-flap to keep out rain and dust, which adds to its all-weather (AW) rating. Everything seems well made and like it will hold together well.

8/10

  • Weight

At just 1.78 lbs (0.8 kg), the Photo Hatchback is one of the lightest full-fledged camera backpacks on the market. For what you’re getting and all it can hold, this is amazing.

10/10

  • Fit

Even though it’s a modest-sized backpack, I found that it fit surprisingly well and so did my wife. There’s plenty of padding in the shoulder straps and back and the sternum and waist straps work well, too.

9/10

  • Looks

The Photo Hatchback is a sporty little bag that doesn’t really stand out overly much. I think it would look better without the reflective strip on the back, though I understand why it’s there. Perhaps they could have used a darker colour.

8/10

  • Capacity

Lowepro Photo Hatchback 150 AW II

This bag wasn’t really designed to carry much. It’ll fit a mirrorless with an attached lens, one extra lens (under 100mm), and few accessories like a GoPro or a hard drive. It doesn’t officially have room for a laptop, but you can get around that by unzipping the divider between the compartments on one side and slipping it down through the top. It does, however, fit an 8″ tablet in a separate sleeve.

The top compartment is roomy enough for a jacket and some snacks and such. It also has a few other inside pockets that can hold batteries, cables, etc. There are two side pockets that can hold water bottles or a Gorillapod. It’s not the sort of pack you’d want if you need your 60-200mm lens or need to bring along anything larger than a compact DSLR.

7/10

  • Unique Features

The coolest feature is that the camera compartment on the Photo Hatchback is removable and allows for quick conversion to a simple day-pack. This really makes a huge difference if you’re on the road and don’t want your camera gear with you when you go out.

The tablet slot has a suspension system to keep your device from hitting the bottom of the bag. While this would be cooler if it held a laptop, tablet users will definitely appreciate it.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

I found this bag super easy to use for smaller day trips with my Sony A7III. I love the fact that despite the small size and lightweight, there’s still enough room for personal gear and that it also converts easily to a straight day-pack.

9/10

  • Value for Money

I found Photo Hatchback for under $60. That’s a tremendous deal for everything it offers.

10/10

  • X-Factor

Nothing significant in the looks department, but due to its feather lightweight, I did enjoy using it.

7/10

Tenba Axis 20

Capacity: 20L | Dimensions: 19.5 x 12 x 8.75 in (50 x 30 x 22 cm) | Weight: 4 lbs (2 kg)

  • Build

Modelled after a tactical, military backpack with horizontal MOLLE webbing running across the front, the Tenba Axis features a rubberised water-resistant coating on the sides and upper and a seam-sealed cover for use under heavy rain. Straps are sturdy and well-padded.

9/10

  • Weight

In the 20L iteration I tested, the weight is manageable, even when fully loaded, although not outstanding. It’s fine as a day-pack weight.

8/10

  • Fit

The shoulder straps are height adjustable via a plastic card, which basically loosens the hook and loop fastenings within the rear pocket to allow you to slide the straps up or down. This ensures a snug fit of both the upper straps and the lower hip strap, whatever your size. Great feature, although it does require a fair bit of fiddling initially.

9/10

  • Looks

Cool, understated military-inspired looks spoiled only by a white tripod logo on the rear-front – why, oh why Tenba?! Curiously enough, the tripod symbol isn’t visible on the bag shown online, so maybe I received an odd one.

8/10

  • Capacity

What the Tenba Axis 20 can hold

Can fit 1-2 mirrorless, DSLR or Cine cameras with 5-7 lenses up to a 300mm f/2.8, a laptop up to 15″, a compact drone and a tripod via a reinforced cup on the exterior.

8/10

  • Unique Features

The height-adjustable straps – all camera backpacks need this! We’re all different sizes, after all.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Getting gear in and out via the rear panel is simple enough. I wish the front zippered pocket zipped all the way down both sides instead of stopping halfway – makes reaching smaller items that have slipped down a little annoying.

8/10

  • Value for Money

Around $200 for a bag of this size seems slightly pricey to me, despite the fact that it’s well made and there’s clearly some thought gone into its design.

7/10

  • X-Factor

Makes you feel a bit like a soldier…if not for the branding. Men might compliment, but women probably won’t. :p

8/10

Thule Aspect

Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.7 x 20.5 in (27.9 x 22.09 x 52.07 cm) | Weight: 3.2 lb (1.45 kg)

  • Build

The Thule Aspect is well constructed and the materials feel like they’ll last a good long time. The zippers have glove-friendly pulls, the straps are well padded, and the bag holds its shape enough to stand up on its own. It’s not particularly weather-proof (especially the zippers) and doesn’t come with a rain cover. Size-wise it fits easily in the overhead compartment of most planes and even under the seat of some others.

8/10

  • Weight

One of the big pluses of this bag. At a mere 3.2 lbs, the Aspect comes in at one of the lightest camera bags of this size and calibre.

9/10

  • Fit

I found the Aspect comfortable enough. Not quite perfect, but few packs are for me. Still, the straps were easily adjustable and I could get it close enough. The air mesh back panel did add a bit of comfort and breathability.

8/10

  • Looks

The accent colour adds to an otherwise drab exterior. I’m not a huge fan of the prominent Thule branding, though I know this won’t bother most people. Looks great on my back and on my wife’s.

8/10

  • Capacity

The camera compartment on the Thule Aspect has three modifiable fairly deep slots that can hold a DSLR or mirrorless with an attached lens, a couple of spare lenses, a Speedlight, and a few other accessories. There’s plenty of raw space, but unfortunately, the dividers are poorly sized and particularly don’t work so well if you have smaller cameras. Also, the velcro of the dividers doesn’t stick particularly well.

The top compartment is fairly roomy and has multiple pockets inside. Great for personal items or a drone.

7/10

  • Unique Features

Can be easily converted into a simple day-pack by removing the camera compartment dividers. The hip belt comes with zippered pockets which is a huge plus in my book – every backpack needs one.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Easy to use in almost every aspect. The side-access camera compartment is easy to get to without taking the bag off. The zippers all move smoothly. The pockets in the upper compartment are right where you’d expect them to be. The only difficult part is getting the camera compartment dividers to fit right.

9/10

  • Value for Money

Very reasonably priced at around $130.

9/10

  • X-Factor

It definitely doesn’t look like a camera backpack. The turquoise accents do add to its appearance, and I like the uncluttered exterior. Just wish that the branding was a little subtler.

8/10

Thule Covert

Dimensions: 17.7 x 7.9 x 21.3 in (44.96 x 20 x 54.1 cm) | Weight: 4.97 lbs (2.25 kg)

  • Build

Feels solid and good quality. Nylon outer is water-resistant and feels tough to the touch. Built to last.

8/10

  • Weight

Could be lighter, but ample padding and numerous pockets are bound to add to the overall weight.

7/10

  • Fit

Comfortable straps despite minimal padding compared to some other photography backpacks. The back panel provides adequate airflow. The height-adjustable sternum straps are minimal but do the job. Overall, feels good on both male and female backs.

8/10

  • Looks

Quite ‘busy’ in the looks department – buckles, pockets, zippers…but it’s all functional so can be forgiven. Prominent branding is a little annoying, but ‘Thule’ does have a bit of a cool appeal as a Swedish brand. Doesn’t look like a camera bag.

Some might find the squareness and width of the roll-top upper a little odd.

7/10

  • Capacity

Thule Covert backpack

Customisable storage fits up to a prosumer DSLR body with a small zoom lens attached, plus a DJI Mavic Pro (or drones up to 260mm x 200mm x 100mm), 2 other prime lenses, a flash and smaller accessories. A zip-out divider separates the top and bottom compartments. Lots of pockets for further organisation.

8/10

  • Unique Features

There are lots of organisation options inside the pockets on the Thule Covert. The rolltop compartment can be size-customised depending on the length of the straps.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

Fast and easy to get gear in and out of the Thule Covert, but the plastic buckles are a bit on the stiff side. The loud ‘click’ of buckles may not be suitable for all uses.

7/10

  • Value for Money

Around the $200 mark seems to be the sweet spot for camera backpacks of this calibre.

8/10

  • X-Factor

No other bag I’ve tested looks like the Covert, so thumbs up in that respect. My only gripe from an aesthetics point of view is the prominent branding, but this is just personal preference. Many people love both the look and the functionality of roll tops, and this is one of the better ones. Plenty of 5-star reviews on Amazon.

8/10

Tamrac Anvil 27

Capacity: 27L | Dimensions: 21 x 12 x 10 in (53 x 31 x 25 cm) | Weight: 4.8 lbs (2.2 kg)

  • Build

I’ve come to expect first-rate construction on bags from Tamrac and the Anvil 27 is no exception. It’s built like a tank and is likely to withstand anything a back-country trip can throw at it. The materials are top-of-the-line, even down to the zippers and buckles.

The foam dividers work really well too. (Tamrac claims that it used over 10 foam types in the construction of this bag!)

10/10

  • Weight

One of the heavier bags on this list due to the heavy-duty materials used in its construction.

7/10

  • Fit

The harness and suspension system is what you’d expect on a hiking/mountaineering backpack – it holds the weight well, and can be adjusted for a smooth, snug fit. The waist belt is thick and takes the weight well. I’ve done hikes up to 4 miles with it fairly well loaded and it still felt comfy.

9/10

  • Looks

Sorry Tamrac, but this is one ugly camera backpack!

6/10

  • Capacity

The Tamrac Anvil 27 camera bag for backcountry exploring

The Anvil 27 has room for everything you need on a wilderness trek, at least as far as photography is concerned. The camera compartment has space for larger DSLRs with battery grips and/or with zoom lenses up to 18″ (35.56 cm) long attached to them. There’s plenty of space for extra lenses, flashes, chargers, etc. as well.

Not much room for the non-photography things you’d need on a hike into the back-country – layers, snacks, lots of water, etc., which is surprising since that’s what this pack seems to have been made for. Holds a 15-inch laptop and a tablet as well.

9/10

  • Unique Features

If you like attaching things onto the outside of your bag, the Anvil 27 s arc attachment points hold MAS and SAS components and a variety of other accessories including MOLLE.

Also, the quick-release tripod straps work really well.

8/10

  • Ease of Use

There’s only one access point for the camera and that’s a bit of a downer for me, especially when shooting wildlife or when you need quick access to your camera. Other than that, everything works well on this bag. The dividers in the main compartment are particularly easy to customize.

8/10

  • Value for Money

At over $260, the Tamrac Anvil 27 is rather pricey. However, it’s really well made and can hold a lot of gear very safely. You’re definitely investing in quality that will last a long time.

7/10

  • X-Factor

Nothing that makes me want to keep touching this backpack, and you certainly won’t get compliments on your taste. However, looks aren’t everything of course!

6/10

Langly Alpha Globetrotter

Dimensions: 18 x 8 x 14 in (45.72 x 20.32 x 35.56 cm) | Weight: 4.2 lbs (1.92 kg) | Langly Alpha Globetrotter Review

  • Build

Langly’s been making great bags for a long time and the Alpha Globetrotter is no exception. The straps, pulls, tough rubber bottom, and bag material is all of the finest workmanship and will clearly last a long time. The outer material and zippers are entirely weatherproof, and this latest version has reinforced camera inserts that securely cradle your gear.

9/10

  • Weight

This backpack looks like it should feel heavier, to be honest – I was expecting it to weigh a ton. It’s not lightweight by any means, but for its size and robustness, it’s not actually too bad.

8/10

  • Fit

Featuring ventilated shoulder straps, a custom-moulded air-flow back panel, and waist and chest straps, the Globetrotter attaches securely to your body and feels great on the back. My wife agreed too. The shoulder straps feel a little thin, but the padding is adequate and the materials wicks sweat away well.

8/10

  • Looks

The Langly Alpha Globetrotter is Instagram-fodder, pure and simple. Great for any photographer who cares about style – don’t we all, secretly?!

9/10

  • Capacity

Plenty of capacity for the average photographer. For the pro, there’s enough room if you pack light. It holds a DSLR and up to 5 lenses or a combination of lenses and speedlights. The top compartment is quite roomy and can be used for anything from books to Pocket Wizards or anything else. The zippable laptop sleeve is designed for a 15-inch laptop.

The outer pockets are a little small for some flash units but can fit smaller primes, hard drives, chargers, etc. You can use the secret compartment on the rear of the bag to hide a phone, passport or money. Also has a water bottle pocket and straps for attaching a tripod on the bottom.

8/10

  • Unique Features

The secret pocket on the inside back is a nice touch for hiding valuables, and thanks to the raised-contouring of the back panel, you can actually put items like keys that aren’t completely flat, and not ‘feel’ them on your back.

The ventilated straps aren’t particularly unique, but the styling is – it’s all blended in nicely with the rest of the backpack.

7/10

  • Ease of Use

An update from the Alpha Pro, Langly updated the Globetrotter to have a front-loading panel, making it much easier to access the camera compartment than in previous versions. The laptop is also easy to access. Still, there’s only one access point for the camera and you still have to (mostly) take the bag off to get to it.

My only gripe is that the upper zippers don’t go around the corners easily, making it tempting to leave it partially unzipped when in a hurry. Also, my tripod’s a bit too big to attach easily at the bottom without sticking out at the sides.

Also, the button fastening on all the straps is rather unusual and takes a little getting used to, especially with cold hands – opening it is easy as tugging, but fastening is a little fiddly. Thankfully the zippers have larger pull grips with stylish leather accents.

7/10

  • Value for Money

This is a bag that’s going to last for a long time, so while it’s definitely a bit pricey, it certainly looks and feels like it will be with you for decades or more. The warranty is only 1 year though, which is a little disappointing.

8/10

  • X-Factor

It’s easy to be drawn to this bag. The vintage hiking backpack form is often imitated but rarely equalled, especially at this quality level. The look, the feel, the high-quality materials… everything about the Langly Globetrotter makes it one of a kind.

9/10

How We Test & Review Camera Backpacks

bag-scoring-criteria

Each backpack was reviewed individually for its merits and shortcomings

Each camera backpack is marked on the following criteria and given a score out of 10. A perfect 10/10 score is only given when a backpack excels.

Then the scores are tallied up, giving the backpack a final score out of 90.

Here are the criteria against which each bag was scored:

  1. Build – is the backpack built to last? Does it survive the ‘pull the straps as hard as I can’ test?
  2. Weight – is it too heavy to count as carry-on luggage on strict airlines?
  3. Fit – how does it feel on my back/my wife’s back?
  4. Looks – does the backpack look cool?
  5. Capacity – whether it’s 10L or 40L, is it designed in a way to take full advantage of its size?
  6. Unique Features – usually only features I hadn’t seen before/often.
  7. Ease of Use – can you get your camera gear in/out easily?
  8. Value for Money – could it be priced much higher?
  9. X-Factor – do I want to keep using the backpack? Do I get compliments on it?

Obviously, some of the criteria are highly subjective. Whether a camera ‘looks cool’ or not was left to me and my wife to decide, and you may not agree with our taste!

As for ‘Fit’, since I’m a 6ft 4” (194cm) male, my guidance as to how well each backpack feels on my body may not be relevant to you.

To gain a better perspective on ‘Looks’, (as well as ‘Fit’, and ‘X-Factor’), I asked my wife (5ft 7” / 175cm) to weigh in with her opinion too.

In this roundup, you’ll find a mixture of the latest camera backpacks and others that have been on the market for several years – after all, a product doesn’t need to be brand new to be considered great.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a camera bag?

The most important thing when choosing a camera bag is to carefully consider your individual needs. Think about what you need to carry and what situations you’ll be using the bag for. Maybe you need something waterproof and rugged, something smart and professional, or something small and inconspicuous. These factors are important considerations along with the aesthetics and price of the bag you choose.

What is the top camera backpack?

Our top pick is the Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2. It’s lightweight and durable, expandable and capable of fitting plenty of gear, and has a cool, understated design.

How do you pack a camera for air travel?

If you’re using your camera backpack for air travel, be sure to utilise any padded inserts correctly to prevent your gear from getting damaged. Make sure any breakable items like camera bodies and lenses are carefully stored each in their own padded compartment. In the event of any turbulence or your bag getting jolted around, you’ll want your gear to be snug but not over-cramped.

What should I keep in my camera bag?

That all comes down to what you’re shooting and which size bag you choose; but at a minimum, you’ll probably want to keep your camera body (or bodies), several lenses to cover most situations, and extras like memory cards or film, spare batteries, any flash or lighting equipment, and – if you have enough space – a laptop or tablet to do your editing.

Camera Backpack Reviews | Final Words

camera-backpacks-on-kids

Our kids have quite a selection of bags to choose from for school now…

If you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’ll sympathise with me when I say I’m pretty much sick to death of reviewing bags! (…and so are my wife and kids…)

One thing’s for sure – there’s no shortage of amazing camera backpacks in 2022, and it’s nice to see every brand putting out so many high-quality products which are sure to please even the most critical photographer.

I hope this review will help you choose the right way to carry your precious camera gear this year.

Be sure to leave a comment with your own recommendations, and please share this post with a photographer friend – it’ll make me feel a little bit better about devoting so much time to putting it together!

Cheers and happy snapping :-)

Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

Award-winning camera backpack with unrivalled features, robust build and all-round good looks.

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Mark Condon

Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.

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ABOUT YOUR EXPERT

Mark Condon has been a professional photographer for 10+ years and has reviewed hundreds of camera bags. At any one time, he's testing 5-10 new backpacks and has run out of space in his garage!


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