Best Camera Bags
For photographers around the world, the search for the best camera bag seems like a never-ending conquest.
If there’s one thing for sure when building up your photography gear, it’s that you’ll never settle on just one bag, especially here in 2020 where there’s just so much variety.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Camera Bags
I’ve reviewed so many camera bags over my years as a pro photographer, and am still testing new products every week to find the top options to recommend.
We’re so lucky to have access to so many ways to carry our camera gear – messengers, slings, backpacks, rollers… the problem is deciding which one suits your tastes and your equipment.
Take a look at my recommendations in the table below, then take a deeper dive in the camera bag reviews which follow.
|Peak Design Everyday Backpack||View Price →|
|Peak Design Everyday Sling||View Price →|
|WANDRD Prvke Backpack||View Price →|
|Tenba Messenger DNA||View Price →|
|Think Tank Retrospective||View Price →|
|MindShift BackLight||View Price →|
|LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II||View Price →|
|Wotancraft Trooper||View Price →|
Best Camera Bags in 2020
Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 7.75 in. (51 x 33 x 20 cm)
Weight: 2.9 – 3.4 lb (1.35 – 1.5 kg)
The enormously popular Peak Design Everyday Backpack took the Internet by storm in a Kickstarter campaign some years ago, and has gone on to win numerous awards as one of the most innovative carry products ever produced.
Recently, we’ve seen the launch of the second generation of Peak Design Everyday range, and along with it, a refresh to all the most popular models, including the launch of the Everyday Backpack V2. Here’s what new in this latest model:
- Aesthetic improvements via cleaner seams and more rounded profile
- More internal pockets in top and sides of bag for increased organization
- Increased laptop, tablet, and document capacity – 20L now fits up to 15” laptops
- Adjustable height laptop sleeve
- New UltraZip external zippers, vastly more durable than conventional zips
- New external carry straps with improved Cord Hook connectors and more tie-down points
- New outer fabric is 100% recycled and Bluesign certified (all colors except Black)
- Updated MagLatch hardware – more ergonomic and sleek
- Widened top and side access points
- More volume in external side pockets for water bottles, tripods, etc.
- Revamped shoulder straps for increased comfort + magnetic strap holds
Peak Design have been wise in their choice of naming convention for their products – nowhere in any of the titles do they mention the words ‘camera bag’… and herein lies their strength – Peak Design bags are flexible enough to be used for everyday use, whether you plan to carry camera equipment or not.
As with all the products in the line, the Everyday Backpack, features FlexFold dividers which allow easy customisation of the interior space to suit your needs. Where other brands use a mixture of bulky, padded velcro dividers, Peak Design’s solution is more compact, elegant and versatile.
The dividers are just the start of a long list of innovative features on this backpack – it really shows what’s capable when a talented design team puts their brains together on a project.
In terms of carry capacity, the 30L version of the Peak Design Everyday Backpack can fit a helluva lot of gear – pro-size camera body with lens attached, multiple lenses, flashes and more.
The 20L version is good too for those with smaller frames, but I’d recommend the 30L just for the extra space.
Fans of organising gear so that everything has its place (i.e. me!) will love the multiple pockets and sleeves which ensures everything can have its place – you can see how one photographer organises his bag in this in-depth Peak Design Everyday backpack review.
If you want a stylish backpack which is comfortable to carry and offers multiple organisation options, the Everyday Backpack is second to none. It’s innovative, stylish, functional, durable and customisable, with everything backed up by Peak Design’s lifetime warranty.
The only tough decision is choosing a colour – tan, ash and charcoal all look great, and there’s a new black version which is my personal favourite.
Dimensions: 16 x 9 x 5.5 in. (40 x 23 x 14 cm)
Weight: 1.5 lb (0.7 kg)
I came across the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L last year, and since then it’s become my regular dSLR bag for small, everyday items and for engagement photography shoots when I require less gear than normal.
Along with the other Peak Design Everyday products, the Sling got a refresh in late 2019 with the launch of the Everyday Sling V2. Here’s what’s new, if you’re coming from the V1:
- Improved strap design with anti-slip strap adjustment hardware for more comfortable carry
- Wider main opening with dual zip pulls for better access
- New dynamic shape for more ergonomic carry and easier stowage
- New outer fabric is 100% recycled and Bluesign certified (all colors except Black)
- New Cord Hook external carry strap system
The great thing about camera sling bags is that they cover two bases – they allow you to keep both hands free like a backpack, but also let you have fast access, like a messenger bag.
Thanks to its compact size, robustness, light weight and unique organisational abilities (the pliable ‘FlexFold’ dividers are ingenious), the Everyday Sling 10L is perfect for all manner of equipment, and is also the perfect size to fit the DJI Mavic Pro, with controller and accessories.
The Everyday Sling is the ultimate low-profile, quick-access day bag for light carry and gear minimalists. It’s a great mirrorless camera bag too, or for when you need to carry a little less gear.
Built from weatherproof 500D Kordra, the 10L version of the Everyday Sling can easily carry something like a gripped Fujifilm X-T4, plus 2-3 of the best Fujifilm lenses, a 12” Macbook Retina or tablet, memory cards, cables, keys and even a tripod suspended from the bottom.
Peak Design are still paving the way with some of the top products of the year. Their functional designs with truly innovative features have made them a firm favourite with photographers worldwide.
My advice would be to not overload any sling bag, since when carried on one shoulder, it can quickly become tiring. Choose the 6L version if you’re usually tempted to bring too much!
We spent a few months testing each of the first generation products (See the Everyday Sling 5L review and Everyday Sling 10L review), and came to the conclusion that both sizes are equally useful – since then I’ve added the 5L to my camera bag rotation, and use it just as often as its bigger brother.
With the second generation releases, the 5L has been retired and replaced by 6L and 3L variants, but for maximum carry capacity and flexibility, our choice is still the 10L.
If you’ve never tried a sling bag before, make sure the Everyday Sling is top of your list – there’s really no need to try anything else – it’s that good!
It’s affordably priced, available in several attractive colour ways and in-stock all year round right here on the official website. If you can’t decide on the size, pick up a couple like I did!
Dimensions: 19 x 12.5 x 7.5 in. (48 x 31 x 19 cm)
Weight: 3.4 lb (1.5 kg)
WANDRD is another Kickstarter success story, having validated their products way before production with hundreds of thousands of dollars in backing funds.
I have to admit to being rather skeptical after watching the various hipster influencers heaping their praise on this hugely Instagrammable photographer accessory, but ironically, it was our very own WANDRD PRVKE review that made me really take notice.
WANDRD has since built a name for themselves in the industry, for offering well made, stylish carrying goods that are competitively priced, expecially when you compare to their biggest rival (see above!)
With the PRVKE, they’ve flipped the regular backpack template on its head, with something that resembles a giant tarpaulin tote bag… that just happens to sit on your back!
Available in 2 sizes (21L and 31L), and three great-looking colours (black, green and blue), it’s a hard decision choosing the right one for you – I opted for the 31L in blue, and frequently get compliments, even from non-photographers.
The biggest benefit of this backpack is arguably that it doesn’t resemble a camera bag at all. The branding is subtle, the colours are muted, and the design is innovative whilst being understated and minimal.
A removable camera cube sites at the heart of the PRVKE, allowing you to carry a selection of cameras and lenses. In addition, you can slip in up to a 16″ laptop with charger, plus numerous clothing items and other camera accessories – the 31L version really is tardis-like.
Build-quality is top notch, with the heavy-duty tarp outer and water-proof zippers ensuring that this is one carry option you’ll be able to carry in any weather – if you have the roll-top done up tightly, I’m pretty confident that your gear would remain dry even if you submerged the bag… but don’t quote me on that!
The only down side to all this robustness is the weight – at 3.4 lb (1.5 kg), you’ll have to think carefully about your other gear choices, especially if you intend to fly carry-on only.
The grab handle at the top of the WANDRD PRVKE is magnetised to click together when you need to hold it – it’s a small touch, but something that works really well, and is enormously useful when you’re in a hurry. I actually wish all backpacks had this feature.
There’s a ton of other features on the PRVKE which make it such a popular bag for both photographers and non-photographers, who seem to love it as a regular everyday bag – if you intend to use it as a daypack and have a minimal set up, the 21L version is your number one bet.
Dimensions: 16 x 11.5 x 9 in. (41 x 29 x 23 cm)
Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 kg)
With hundreds of positive customer reviews for the Tenba Messenger DNA 15, it was hard to ignore this hugely popular bag in this roundup.
Not only is the Tenba Messenger DNA 15 great looking, it’s also durable and highly functional which is sleek enough to use for business or pleasure. After all, the majority of these products can also function quite easily as regular carrying options for non-photographers.
The Tenba Messenger DNA 15 was actually designed to provide the kind of year-round, all-weather, rugged performance demanded by New York City bike messengers, but with an interior that’s tuned to protect delicate cameras, lenses and computer gear.
The front flap of the Tenba Messenger DNA 15 extends over the top of the bag and has a sewn hinge to ensure easy closure and excellent weatherproofing at the corners.
For additional wet weather protection, the Tenba Messenger DNA 15 includes a removable and reversible cover that’s silver on one side to reflect the heat, and black on the other side for stealth and subtlety.
To prevent the bag from sliding forward while riding a bike or running for the bus (like when you get the start time of your photo shoot wrong…!), an adjustable security strap connects to D-rings on the back of bag which anchor it in position behind you.
Special magnetic clips allow blind, drop-on attachment and a unique slide release which Tenba claims is the quickest clip in the world!
The Tenba Messenger DNA 15 is built to house a professional dSLR with 2-3 lenses. The rear padded sleeve will hold a laptop up to 15″, and a second sleeve will protect an iPad or similar sized tablet.
It’s unusual to find such a great looking camera messenger bag that’s also well-thought out and comfortable to use, and for that reason, the Tenba Messenger DNA 15 deserves its spot in this guide.
Dimensions: 16 x 10.5 x 7.5 in. (40.6 x 26.7 x 19 cm)
Weight: 3.8 lb (1.7 kg)
My full review of the Think Tank Retrospective 30 was actually the first review I wrote for Shotkit, since this was the first bag I ever owned for my camera.
The Think Tank Retrospective is also the most popular shoulder bag among all the photographers featured on Shotkit. It’s also been updated to a second generation, although thankfully, it’s relatively unchanged from the hugely popular original.
Durable and rugged, but soft enough to be stuffed into tight spaces when necessary (I store mine under my scooter saddle!), the Retrospective 30 allows me to carry 2 pro dSLR bodies with lenses attached, 4 lenses, 2 flashes and numerous other small accessories.
(If you’re looking for a smaller style mirrorless carry options, the Retrospective 7 is a popular option.)
The silencing tabs are a welcome addition (particularly for wedding photography during the ceremony), allowing the bag to be opened without noise.
The strap is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever come across. It’s also strong and very grippy on the shoulder – essential when carrying the bag for long periods.
The Retrospective is available in several sizes and colours, and recently a leather version has also been released (see image above).
Whichever style you choose, every product in the Retrospective series features minimal branding for an understated appearance that won’t attract thieves.
Whilst many other products focus on innovative features and quirky aesthetics, the Think Tank Retrospective 30 is a classic, no-nonsense design that just works.
As with all Think Tank products, the Retrospective 30 is built to last a lifetime – I’ve had mine for over 7 years now, and it still looks as good as new.
Dimensions: 13.8 x 22.4 x 10.2 in. (35 x 57 x 26 cm)
Weight: 4.9 lbs (2.2 kg)
Mindshift is the sibling company to Think Tank, so you can expect top quality and innovative features from their range.
The MindShift BackLight is rugged but elegantly designed, looking more like a regular backpack that may be concealing thousands of dollars of camera gear.
Whether you opt for the 27 litre or 36 litre version of the BackLight, the bag is designed to have ample room for your regular daypack gear too – extra layers, food, books etc., whilst still being to fit in a surprising amount of cameras/lenses and other photography equipment.
You’ll be able to squeeze in 6 lenses, two camera bodies, flashes, spare batteries, filters and even a 15″ laptop inside this spacious hiking camera backpack.
Back-panel access on the BackLight means that you can get to all your stuff without taking the bag off, allowing you to work out of the bag without getting the bag dirty.
You can change lenses or just snap a quick photo simply by spinning the bag around to the front of your body while the waist belt is still secured.
Rear-panel access on the MindShift BackLight also adds security when traveling since your gear is protected behind your back.
Outer attachments include large zipper pulls, ice axe loops, daisy chains, water bottle holder, a tripod holder and various other additional lash points, meaning you can easily expand the carry capacity.
Another nice touch is the built in seam-sealed rain cover for when the outdoor elements are against you. The MindShift BackLight is backed by a lifetime limited warranty giving you additional peace of mind. Available in green or black.
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)
If it weren’t for the LowePro branding on the LowePro PROTactic 450 AW II, you’d be forgiven for thinking this good looking bag was made for the military.
Both on the inside and out, the Pro Tactic 450 AW II features unique functionality which makes this high-performance professional backpack one of LowePro’s most popular ever.
Thanks to a recent update, this version II model features several updates, including:
- a more adaptive interior, multiple access points
- modular exterior attachment capabilities
- convertible utility belt
- utility pouch, water bottle holder, tripod cup and two Quick Straps.
If you work frequently in warmer climates, you’ll appreciate the ActivZone back panel and harness, which provides ventilation and comfort for support on the move.
Then there’s the waist belt which is removable to reduce the profile of the ProTactic 450 AW II for packing or travel.
In addition, two zippered hip pockets are handily placed, offering space for quick-grab items.
Get versatile with your carry options with 5 modular packing accessories: water bottle pouch, accessory case, tripod cup and 2 cinch straps, which are all included with this backpack.
What’s really unique about the LoweProPro Tactic 450 AW II is the 4 way access – you can grab your gear from the right, the left, the top and the back, basically allowing every access point to be opened quickly and easily.
Our favourite is the 450 AW model which can fit 1-2 Pro DSLRs, one with up to a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens attached plus spare flash and a couple of small lenses.
Dimensions: 19.7 x 8.3 x 11.8 in. (50 x 21 x 30 cm)
Weight: 3.7lb (1.7 kg)
Here’s another rugged, handsome product from Wotancraft which is built to last and lifetime and wear beautifully over consistent use. It’s the kind of bag that can withstand any conditions, completely water and abrasion resistant, thanks to its close-weave cordura/canvas body.
What really makes the Wotancraft Trooper stand out is the option to fully customise the interior via the use of modular components, allowing to organise all the smaller items we tend to carry with us day to day.
In addition to innovative organisational options, the Trooper also features two concealed side pockets, 2 front pockets, a rear pocket with rolling luggage handle slot, and straps that allow you to carry a jacket or tripod on top of the bag.
Particularly impressive is the workmanship that’s gone into making a unique ‘clamshell’ flap-to-interior closure system which gives all the protective benefits of a roll-top bag, but with speedier access and without the extra bulk.
I’ll keep this short since you can read more in my full review of the Wotancraft Trooper or get one for yourself by clicking the button below.
Messenger / Shoulder Camera Bags
Messenger camera bags are still a popular way to carry cameras in 2020.
Despite the entire load supported on just one shoulder, the best messenger bags allow for quick access to equipment without the need to remove the bag from your shoulder.
Most styles allow you to carry the bag in an ‘open’ state, i.e. with the main flap folded behind the bag, which facilitates fast and easy insertion and removal of gear.
Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 7 in. (43 x 30 x 18 cm)
Weight: 2.5 lb (1.2 kg)
The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is the biggest Kickstarter success story for a bag made to carry cameras in history. Designed by photographers for photographers, this smart camera messenger bag has been brilliantly thought out and executed, deserving its spot in at the top of this list.
Partnering with travel photographer Trey Ratcliff, Peak Design have managed to create what they describe as the ultimate messenger bag for photographers.
The Everyday Messenger features innovations such as the MagLatch closure, the origami-inspired FlexFold divider, a weatherproof expandable protective shell, Anchor-link fastenings to attach to their quick release camera strap system and a hyper-adjusting internally padded seat-belt strap.
Available in 15” and 13” variants to suit the most popular laptop widths (my pick is the 15” version in ‘Ash’), this versatile bag can squeeze in a surprising amount of gear, including a camera, 3 lenses, tripod, laptop and a myriad of other accessories.
Dedicated clip attachment points and front access panel on the Peak Design Everyday Messenger are designed specifically around the photography workflow, although it has to be said that this product is actually very popular with non-photographers too.
Perhaps this is the reason why Peak Design chose not to include the word ‘camera’ in the title – the Everyday Messenger is actually perfect for anyone who needs a functional messenger bag – check out our full Peak Design Everyday Messenger review for more uses.
Available in stylish ash, heritage tan and charcoal, this bag is for photographers, travelers, commuters and everyone in-between.
Dimensions: 17 x 6.75 x 9 in. (43.18 x 17.145 x 22.86 cm)
Weight: 3lbs (1.4 kg)
Made to carry 2 DSLRs with 6-10 lenses plus accessories, the Domke F2 is part of a hugely popular series of shoulder camera bags by a brand that somehow manages to fly under the radar of most photographers (Domke is part of the Tiffen group).
The Domke F2 is widely regarded as the perfect size – not too big to be unwieldy, but still big enough to fit a wide range of equipment.
Featuring no less than 12 compartments and pockets, the Domke F2 is constructed of tough, breathable, compressible, waterproofed canvas made to hug your hip closely rather than ‘stand out’, bouncing around like some of the other messengers mentioned in this roundup.
The wide, robust strap is fully adjustable and goes all the way under the bag for extra strength. There are two large end pockets which are easily adjustable, and big enough to carry accessories such as spare lenses, that you may need close at hand.
Adjustable closures are a handy feature, allowing you to close the bag even when you completely stuff it!
The only polarising feature are the ‘clip-style’ main closures, that take a little more effort to close than velcro would, for example. However, they are also much more robust than velcro.
The Domke F2 blends in perfectly as a travel bag in several attractive colours, that manages to slip under the radar.
Dimensions: 13¾ x 4¾ x 11 in. ( 35 x 12 x 28 cm)
Weight: 2.4 lb (1.1 kg)
Often imitated but never equaled, classic British brand Billingham make some of the most iconic and classic carrying products available today.
With so many different sizes available in their lineup, it’s rather confusing to choose the right Billingham for your needs… but take it from me, the awesome Billingham Hadley Pro is the safest place to start your collection!
As seen on the shoulders of photojournalists around the world, the Hadley Pro is the number one selling Billingham bag and it’s easy to see why – the size is perfect for most photographers, both professional and amateur.
Beautifully crafted with clean, elegant lines, hand finished leather and brass detail, the Hadley Pro features a carry handle on top (as well as a shoulder strap) which is reinforced with fibreglass to minimise stress on the bag as you lift it – a small example of the careful thought and engineering put into its design.
The Hadley Pro comes with a removable padded insert (including a lid) made with fabric covered foam that protects your gear from all sides.
You can remove the insert completely to turn the Hadley Pro into a stylish messenger bag for everyday use – this is actually what I do when I want to cram a little more into it, as you can see in the short video below.
The main flap is sculpted around the sides of the opening to prevent rain, snow or unwanted fingers getting into the bag – perfect for street photography.
Like all Billingham products, the Hadley Pro is made from a three layer fabric with a core of butyl rubber that is impermeable to water. This ‘FibreNyte’ fabric also serves to make the Hadley Pro strong but also lightweight.
The weight of a camera messenger bag is extremely important, due to their being carried on one shoulder. Weighing in at only 2.2 lb (1kg), the Hadley Pro is perfect in this regard.
As for its volume, the Hadley Pro features 2 expansive pockets on the front, large enough for spare flashes, lenses, or even a compact camera. The main compartment is large enough to carry a DSLR with an attached lens, a flash and several other accessories. If you use smaller prime lenses, you can even carry 2 DSLRs with lenses attached.
Built to last a lifetime in one of the most classic, timeless designs, imitated the world over. This is the kind of stylish product you can use for 40 years, then hand down to your children… which is what I intend to do :-)
12. ONA Brixton
Dimensions: 13.5 X 10.5 X 5 in. (34.29 x 26.67 x 12.7 cm)
Weight: 3.1 – 4.1 lbs (1.4 – 1.8 kg)
If you’re looking for a stylish camera bag and your preference is to carry on one shoulder, look no further than the fashionable ONA Brixton.
Founded in 2010 in NYC, ONA carrying products are designed for and inspired by creative professionals, featuring timeless designs that protect your essentials while complementing your style.
The ONA Brixton is available in attractive full-grain Italian leather, or a more practical waxed canvas. I appreciate the aesthetics of the leather version which will age beautifully over time, but my preference is the canvas model due to its weight savings (4.1 lb vs 3.1 lb), and obviously the significant price difference.
Designed to protect a camera, up to three lenses and a 13-inch laptop, four removable dividers make it easy to customise the ONA Brixton to suit your needs, while two front pockets provide room for your lens caps, batteries and small personal items.
There’s also a handy magazine pocket along the back of the bag offers just enough room for a tablet.
In this roundup, you’ll notice that I often recommend products that don’t look like camera bags. The ONA Brixton is a perfect example – a messenger bag so easy on the eye that you’ll want to use it everyday.
As with most fashionable products, the only problem you’ll have is choosing the colour – as of 2020, the ONA Brixton is available in 8 varieties, including an all-black Nylon version.
Dimensions: 16.0 x 10.5 x 8.5 in. (40.6 x 26.7 x 21.6 cm)
Weight: 4 lb (1.8 kg)
Filson is an all-American purveyor of finely crafted, hard-wearing outdoor goods for the most manly of men!
Their focus is more on clothing, and they have an annoying habit of making great products… then discontinuing them! The Filson Original Sportsman is currently still available on Amazon, but no longer on their site – so hurry up and snag one of the final few!
Built out of 22 oz. rugged twill and 12.5 oz. 100% cotton tin cloth, the Original Sportsman looks and feels as if it can survive anything the great outdoors throws at it.
An especially nice touch are the bridle-leather handles with wrap-around snap grip, much like you find more commonly on high-end holdalls.
Being this rugged and hard-wearing doesn’t really sacrifice weight – the Sportsman isn’t a lightweight by any means, but 4 lb (1.8 kg) for a bag of this size is perfectly respectable.
Size-wise, the Original Sportsman accommodates a DSLR, four lenses, and two flashes between padded, removable dividers inside the main camera compartment. It also features a zippered top flap, and plenty of internal pockets for accessories.
A front buttoned pouch and dual side snap-flap pouches with concealed slip pockets offer easy-to-access external options. An interior zip pocket and dual slip pockets are situated at the back of the bag too.
Available in tan and my preference, otter green/tan, this is one bag that’s sure to turn some heads. Equally useful packed full of camera gear or clothes for a weekend getaway, I highly recommend grabbing one of these before they’re discontinued altogether.
Dimensions: 12 x 10 x 7.3 in. (29.2 x 25.4 x 18.5 cm)
Weight: 2.3 lbs (1.0 kg)
The Think Tank SubUrban Disguise is a series of shoulder bags that are meant to slip under the radar, looking more like they’re meant for business travel.
Featuring full-grain leather accents and Think Tank’s trademark subtle branding, the Urban Disguise 30 is my pick of the bunch for its near-perfect size.
Large enough to house a standard DSLR, 2–4 zoom lenses and up to a 10” tablet, the zippered lid is a unique design element that folds away from your body to provide rapid access to gear.
At less than $100, the the Urban Disguise 30 is one of the more affordable camera bags on this list, but don’t let this fool you – like all Think Tank products, it’s built to last and features premium materials, metal hardware and YKK zippers.
I love the thought that goes into organisation of smaller accessories in the the Urban Disguise 30. Beneath the front zippered pocket are numerous slots to house a mobile phone, cables, batteries, pens, notebooks and other easy-to-grab everyday items.
Inside the main flap there’s also a handy see-through pouch to house filters, memory cards or other important gadgets that require a little more protection.
Dimensions: 16.5 x 11 x 5 in. (42 x 28 x 13 cm)
Weight: 3.7 – 4.4 lbs (1.7 – 2 kg)
Available in water-resistant, highly durable waxed canvas or sumptuous leather, the Union Street is one of the most stylish camera messenger bags available in 2020.
Looks aren’t all the Union Street possesses. Designed to hold a camera, a 15″ laptop, up to 4 lenses and your personal items, it’s the perfect size for a day’s photography.
Camera bags with laptop compartments seems to be the norm these days, but few do it with as much style as this one. In ONA’s own words,
“The Union Street’s modern styling offers a timeless alternative to the ubiquitous, boxy products made to carry cameras that we all know too well.“
Similar to the other products in the ONA lineup, the Union Street is available in waxed canvas of sumptuous leather.
I’m not a big fan of leather camera bags due to their inherent weight, but it’s nice to see ONA providing for photographers who really want to make a statement with something truly unique.
I particularly like the front zippered pocket on the Union Street, with sewn pockets to hold memory cards, batteries, cables and more.
Dimensions: 13.5 x 4.6 x 9.7 in. (34.29 x 11.68 x 24.64 cm)
Weight: 1 lbs (0.45 kg)
This smallest of the Domke Satchel camera bags has gained a large following among photographers who don’t want to call attention to their expensive equipment.
Many describe the F-803 as a bag that manages to slip under the radar with an original design and minimal branding.
Made of hard wearing, waterproof cotton canvas, the Domke F-803 features 2 interior compartments, 2 large expandable cargo pockets with individual weather flaps and a rear zippered pocket.
As with some of the other Domke camera messengers, the F-803 features a strong cotton camera strap which runs along the underside of the bag to provide additional strength and stability whilst carrying.
The Domke F-803 is a rugged and functional bag that looks more like a school satchel than your average bag, making it perfect for traveling unnoticed.
Dimensions: 12 x 7 x 9 in. (30 x 18 x 23 cm)
Weight: 1.6 lb (0.73 kg )
Here’s an Amazon own-brand camera carrying option that made my jaw drop when I saw the price and thousands of 5 star reviews, with many reviewers naming this as the best DSLR camera bag they’d ever owned!
We’re so accustomed to paying top dollar for all the big name brands that’s it’s easy to forget that good quality products are available for much cheaper.
The AmazonBasics dSLR gadget Bag is labeled as ‘Large’, but in my mind it’s more of an everyday type bag rather than something to use professionally with multiple camera bodies and lenses.
Having said this, it does the job of every day walk-around very well.
No matter what equipment you use, the removable interior of the AmazonBasics dSLR gadget Bag can be adjusted to fit a dSLR camera body, up to three lenses and other accessories.
There’s a padded slot on the inside that fits an iPad Mini or Kindle too. The bag also features adjustable straps on the exterior to attach a tripod.
As with the other options in the AmazonBasics range, the adjustable, heavily padded shoulder strap makes the AmazonBasics dSLR gadget Bag comfortable to wear even when loaded with all your gear.
It’s hard to argue about bag with so many positive reviews, that’s available for around 25 bucks. Get one while they’re still in stock!
Dimensions: 15.5 x 6 x 11 in. (39 x 15 x 28 cm)
Weight: 3.2 lbs (1.5 kg)
The Kelly Moore 2 Sues is perfect for the fashionable female photographer who’d rather not let velcro and canvas ruin her outfit!
Sporting a sharp redesign and styled like an oversized handbag, the designer clearly thought just as much about how this bag would look as how it would handle carrying your gear.
The 2 Sues bag can be used to carry a pro DSLR body and a couple of lenses at a squeeze, but where this bag excels is its ability to merge the everyday with the functional.
There’s an ingenious flap for example that houses both memory cards in one section and credit cards in the other.
The internal ‘basket’ compartment is completely removable, converting the Kelly Moore 2 Sues into a regular and stylish everyday handbag with ease.
There aren’t a whole host of stylish camera bags for women to choose from here in 2020, but it’s nice to see a few dedicated brands releasing well-designed, good-looking products such as this one.
Backpacks are another popular way to carry gear. Due to their nature, they need to be removed from your back before accessing contents, but this also means that the bag is ‘out of the way’ when you walk, and you have both your hands free – a preference for many photographers.
Be sure to read the in-depth guide to the best camera backpack for a more detailed look at some of our personal favourites, but for now, read below to see the most popular models in use by professional photographers here on Shotkit.
19. ONA Camps Bay
Dimensions: 17 x 13 x 6.5 in. (43.18 x 33 x 16.51 cm)
Weight: 3.9 – 4.4 lbs (1.8 – 2 kg)
Another trendy creation from ONA, the Camps Bay is crafted from durable and attractive waxed canvas and detailed with brown leather.
The ONA Camps Bay is designed to hold a camera with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached as well as up to 7 additional lenses, a 17″ laptop and small personal items in the front zippered compartment.
It’s definitely a bag that doesn’t look like it’s meant to house cameras, which many photographers conscious about their appearance will no doubt appreciate.
The interior compartments of the ONA Camps Bay are fully customisable to accommodate your gear as you like, and removable in case you want to use it as a regular backpack.
With thick padded shoulder straps and a layer of mesh on the back, the Camps Bay can be worn comfortably for long periods.
The only slight downside in my opinion is that it weighs a fair bit, even before you start to load it with your gear – something worth bearing in mine if you intend to carry a lot inside it.
Dimensions: 15.59 x 10.94 x 7.24 in (39.6 x 28 x 18.3 cm)
Weight: 2.69 lb (1.2 kg)
I must say I was in two minds as to whether to include the AmazonBasics Backpack in this list. It must be the snob in me to immediately turn my nose up at own brand items, especially cheap camera bags!
However, I decided to give the AmazonBasics Backpack a closer look after a recommendation from a photographer, and am so glad I did. The 4,500+ positive reviews on Amazon blew me away for a bag that’s under $30!
The AmazonBasics Backpack may not win any design awards, but it’s well proportioned, inconspicuous, durable and judging by what the reviewers rave about, very functional too.
It holds and protects 2 smaller dSLR camera bodies, 3-4 lenses and numerous additional accessories. The front panel zips open to reveal plenty of space on the inside to secure all your camera equipment.
The outside of the AmazonBasics Backpack has two side pockets with flaps (great for keys, iPhone and hard drive) and two large zippered pockets (great for manuals, notebooks, or even a light jacket or rain poncho).
The side straps and flexible cord on the front can hold a travel tripod or umbrella.
The AmazonBasics Backpack‘s adjustable, heavily padded, shoulder straps and wide, adjustable waist and chest straps make the backpack comfortable to wear even when loaded with all your gear.
It may not be one of the most stylish options out there, but for under $30, this is definitely a bargain!
I have to say, it’s probably the product that you should buy first to use for a year or 2 to see what else you actually require in a bag to transport your precious gear. Maybe it’ll be all you need!
21. Chrome Niko Pack
Dimensions: 8 x 11 x 17.75 in. (20.3 x 27.9 x 45 cm )
Weight: 3.3 lb (1.5 kg)
This rugged, tough, weather-proof backpack with customisable interior and padded laptop compartment is popular for both amateur and professional photographers.
It’s a well-proportioned, good-looking backpack that oozes high-quality, and has a rather unique method of access – see image below:
The quick-access, top-loading compartment makes it easy and fast to get at your gear. The outside of the bag features industrial-strength hook and loop fastener straps to secure a tripod or other small item like a skateboard.
The Chrome Niko Pack holds a considerable amount of gear (e.g. Canon 5D Mark 3, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, Canon 24-105mm f/4, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8, Canon 50mm f/1.2, Macbook Pro plus memory cards and cables.
Dimensions: 15 x 12.5 x 7 in (38 x 32 x 18 cm)
Weight: 3.3 lb (1.5 kg)
Evecase is probably a manufacturer that you’ve never heard of, but it’s one that should be on your radar in 2020.
Anyone who wants the looks of the more established but somewhat expensive brands out there (I’m looking at you Langly!), but can’t justify the price tag, the Evecase Classic Canvas Laptop Backpack is an adequate substitute.
In fact, ‘adequate’ is a bit of an understatement, judging by over 150 positive customer reviews on Amazon!
The Evecase Classic offers much more than just good looks – featuring an adjustable interior which can hold a camera body, 2-5 lenses, up to a 14” laptop, tripod, and plenty of other photography accessories, this fashionable canvas dSLR backpack has a discreet appearance that won’t stand out whilst you travel.
The main benefit of the Evecase Classic Canvas Laptop Backpack is the ease of access it provides. The front of the bag has a discreet zipper which opens to the spacious and compartmentalised camera storage unit. Adjustable dividers allow you to carry one pro sized camera body as well as 2-5 lenses.
Camera carry options with laptop sleeves sometimes neglect adequate padding, but thankfully this isn’t the case with this Evecase model – the closed-cell, dense foam padding is shock-proof and secure.
Above the camera storage area, the top section of the Evecase Classic allows you to carry a jacket, books, some snacks and whatever else you need to access quickly via the main flap.
I particularly like the multiple accessory pockets, allowing you to neatly organise your smartphone, charger, battery packs, memory cards, business cards and more. There’s 1 large top front pocket and 4 bottom pockets, allowing you to be as OCD with your organisation as you wish!
Additional useful carry options include bottom tripod holder straps and a stowaway side pocket, allowing you to carry a water bottle or small umbrella. There’s even a waterproof rain cover to protect your previous haul from the elements.
For a bag that’s currently on sale for well under $100, it’s impressive how comfortable the Evecase Classic Canvas Laptop Backpack is to carry. Thick, shoulder padded straps and a sternum strap distribute weight evenly, allowing the backpack to be carried for long periods without soreness.
If you’re looking for a great looking backpack that won’t break the bank, this should be at the top of your list.
23. F-Stop Dalston
Dimensions: 18.9 x 11.4 x 6.3 in. (48 x 29 x 16 cm.)
Weight: 1.8 lbs (.8 kg)
A super-light, good looking bag with a simple, functional design, the F-Stop Dalston is the perfect around-town carry option. At just 0.8kg / 1.8lbs, it’s truly feather-light.
At only 21 litres, the Dalston is probably most suited as a mirrorless daypack with just enough room to help you carry only what’s absolutely necessary for the day’s city adventure.
(If you need something even more compact, see our full F-Stop Fitzroy review for an alternative in the same vein.)
But lightness isn’t its only feature – it also looks cool. It’s unusual enough to turn heads, but doesn’t reveal the fact that it’s carrying expensive photography accessories. It’s frankly just good looking and well-designed.
Capacity-wise it’s remarkably spacious for a smaller bag – I was able to squeeze in a Nikon Z7, Nikon D750, a 70-200, 35mm, 13″ Macbook Pro and various other small gizmos. The roll top offers expandable storage in the main section and the light fabric is also a bit expandable.
The F-Stop Dalston isn’t designed to be loaded with gear, though. It’s really meant as an ultra-light city bag. It wouldn’t be particularly comfortable carried around fully loaded for extended periods of time.
Still, out of all the backpacks I tested, the F-Stop Dalston is the one I’ve chosen to use as my everyday backpack – its lightness, simple design and good looks really set it apart.
24. LowePro Vertex
Dimensions: 12.6 x 10.2 x 18.5 in. (32 x 26 x 47 cm)
Weight: 7.3 lb (3.3 kg)
The solidly made, rather unusual looking Vertex 200 AW can hold up to 2 pro dSLR bodies, 6 lenses, a 15″ laptop, tripod and a whole host of other smaller accessories.
Thanks to the its depth, the Vertex 200 AW can hold a dSLR with a large zoom lens still attached – often a convenient choice for photographers who want to save time attaching lenses.
The interior compartment features plenty of configurable padded dividers, as is the norm for most camera carrying products these days.
One extra that’s specific to the Vertex is the ‘Glide-Lock’ system, which allows you to add accessory pouches at various heights along the sides and front of the bag.
The harness system is comfortable to use, with 8 adjustment points, a well-padded waist belt and stretchable chest strap that can expand with your chest as you breathe. This is actually a really nice touch, especially when the bag is full of gear and the chest strap needs to be tight.
Dimensions: 11.9 x 10 x 18.1 in. (30.23 x 25.4 x 45.97 cm)
Weight: 2.76 lbs (1.25kg)
Made for outdoors enthusiasts who want to carry a couple of camera bodies plus lenses and accessories, the Flipside is a practical solution that is secure and comfortable to wear.
A nice feature are the silent zipper pulls, useful for wedding photography or wildlife photography, where being discrete is essential.
Our favourite feature of the LowePro Flipside is its back-entry compartment, which features a double zip that accesses the main storage area, which can’t be opened while the pack is being worn. This is great for theft prevention.
When you need your gear, you simply unclip the chest strap, slide off the shoulder straps and swing the bag around to the front of the body. It will hang there thanks to the waist strap, providing you with a ‘table’ on the reverse of the bag, and direct access via that rear zip to your gear.
Also included with the LowePro Flipside is an all weather cover which pulls out from a slot as the base of the pack.
Available in two sizes (300 & 400), this is a popular backpack with a unique access feature which definitely sets it apart from all the others in the market.
Dimensions: 12.4 x 5.51 x 18.11 in (31.5 x 14 x 46 cm)
Weight: 5.35 lbs (2.43 kg)
This is one of the most popular dSLR camera backpacks on Amazon. Available in 4 sizes, my pick is the newly released Pro Runner x450 AW II, which gives the most bang for the buck, allowing you to carry the most amount of gear.
The Pro Runner x450 AW II allows you to hold up to 2 Pro dSLRs with attached lens (even big zoom lenses such as the 70-200mm f/2.8 or 300mm), 5-6 extra lenses and speedlights/accessories.
All sizes include a discreet, travel-friendly profile, free of dangling parts, which makes them easy to wear and to stow in overhead lockers.
The interior features a fully padded and adjustable camera compartment which, depending on the size you go for can hold a pro dSLR camera with lens attached and several other lenses, flashes and accessories.
As with all LowePro products, the straps on the Pro Runner provide excellent comfort, distributing the weight well. An all weather cover is also included.
Dimensions: 12 x 15.75 x 8.5 in. (30 x 40 x 22 cm)
Weight: 3.2 lb (1.5 kg)
In creating each product in the Tenba Shootout range, Tenba’s goal was to design the most comfortable backpack on the planet – something that can be used for hardcore hiking but still look professional enough for client work.
The unique Pivot Fit™ straps on adjusts automatically to different shoulder shapes, and each strap is covered in a moisture-wicking smooth lycra that moves easily and doesn’t create friction on clothing.
Tenba Shootouts are made of water-repellant, durable and tear-resistant nylon and feature numerous velcro inserts allowing you to customise the inside as you wish. They’re available in a variety of sizes from 18L up to 21L, with the 18L version being the most popular.
Dimensions: 11.81 x 5.12 x 16.93 in. (30 x 13 x 43 cm)
Weight: 2.2 lb (1 kg)
I must admit I’d never heard of Kattee until recently but I thought I’d better include this one on this list due to the great reviews it’s been getting on Amazon.
Available in yellow, black or blue canvas in the main body and PU leather on the bottom, the Kattee Professional Canvas backpack may look like a simple school bag, but it’s actually a very well thought out small camera bag.
Aside from the main compartment, there’s also a zipper wall pocket, an open wall pocket and two pen loops in the upper backpack.
The shoulder straps are air cushioned and its back is ventilated – perfect for those who travel a lot in warmer climates.
At the bottom of the Kattee backpack sits the padded camera case, large enough to fit any dSLR camera body plus a couple of lenses. There’s also a handy built in rain cover and room for a 13″ laptop.
For under $50, this DSLR backpack is one cute option that doesn’t label you as a photographer, by remaining stylish and unassuming.
Rolling Camera Bags
For professional photographers who need to carry a lot of gear, a ‘roller’ is usually the number one option. Being able to roll heavy loads is preferable to having to carry it, after all.
After 2 years of breaking my back with a few of the other shoulder/back-carry products mentioned in this list, I switched to a roller and have never looked back. I realised that my tiredness after a day of shooting was mostly related to carrying my bag!
I’ve gone way more in depth with my guide to rolling camera bags, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested.
Dimensions: 14 x 21 x 8 in. (35.6 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm)
Weight: 11.5 lb (5.2 kg)
The third generation of Think Tank’s award winning rolling products is the gold standard for gear transporters.
The version 2 of the Airport International was a hugely popular case, used by numerous photographers featured on Shotkit.
With the V3, Think Tank has listened to its customers and added small enhancements such as user-replaceable parts (wheels, handle, wheel housings, feet and kick plate), a newly reinforced telescoping handle, greater durability and a padded, lockable pocket for a 15” laptop.
The Think Tank Airport International V3 is designed to take full advantage of the carry on space for US International flights. It can hold two gripped DSLRs with lenses attached, plus two to four additional lenses (up to a 500mm f/4 or 400mm f/2.8), a 15” laptop, and a 10” tablet.
Other unique features include a serial number for Lost & Found registration; extra tall wheel housings protect your bag from scrapes and scratches; stretchable front pocket; tripod mount pocket on side; interior zippered pockets for batteries, memory cards, filters and accessories, and so much more.
Dimensions: 14 x 22 x 9 in. (35.6 x 55.9 x 22.9 cm)
Weight: 10.5-11 lb (4.8 – 5 kg)
An apt name for a bag that can navigate itself so easily on its 4 dual wheel sets (8 wheels!), the ThinkTank Roller Derby is a joy to use.
You’ll be able to ‘skate’ in between obstacles when you’re in a hurry, typically in the airport. Roll it upright at your side like a modern suitcase or tilt it to use the back wheels. You can even use the side wheels to roll through narrow airplane aisles – a really useful feature.
Ideal for US domestic and international travel, as well as and on-location assignments, the ThinkTank Airport Roller Derby‘s high-capacity provides easy access to 2 DSLRs, a tripod, 15″ laptop, multiple lenses, flashes and more.
Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 22 in. (35.5 x 22.9 x 55.9 cm )
Weight: 12.7 lb (5.8 kg)
It’s rare for camera bag reviews to not mention the highly reputed brand LowePro. As one of the market leaders in the industry, LowePro are world-famous for their high quality, durable and functional carrying goods which are hugely popular amongst amateurs and professionals alike.
Strong and resilient camera ‘rollers’ are worth their weight in gold. To be able to carry so much gear with ease and take every bump and knock in their stride, it’s worth investing in a really good one.
The LowePro Pro Roller X200 AW ticks all the right boxes, and has been a favourite for travelling photographers since its release.
The most unique feature of this roller is the removable ‘Reserve Pack’, which unzips from the hard-shell exterior to become a backpack, creating two separate cases. This means the carry capacity of the Pro Roller X200 is effectively doubled.
Storage wise, the Pro Roller X200 allows you to carry 2 pro bodies with lenses attached and about 8 lenses, or flashes, or whatever else you want to squeeze in.
A small but incredibly useful feature which should be implemented on all camera carrying products is the card holder, which allows you to mark each compartment as ‘full’ or ’empty’, as you fill up your memory cards.
A ‘MaxFit System’ delivers great protection, whilst the hard-wearing, ballistic nylon hardshell exterior offers high-impact protection. There’s also a built-in rain cover that can be deployed from back pocket to protect valuable equipment from the elements.
The handles are chunky and comfortable, as are the backpack straps of the internal case.
Most importantly, the wheels roll smoothly and can be replaced easily if you manage to wear them out. Clearly the Pro Roller X200 is in it for the long haul, and its popularity on Shotkit speaks for itself – it’s quite simply the number one option for those who need the flexibility of a bag that can literally double its capacity in an instant.
Dimensions: 22 x 13.8 x 9 in. (55.9 x 35.1 x 22.9 cm)
Weight: 13.6 lb (6.2 kg)
It’s somewhat surprising that a somewhat niche rolling camera case has garnered over 1,300 positive reviews on Amazon. (See my full review of the Pelican 1510SC where I named it the number one waterproof camera bag of the year.)
The Pelican 1510 is a heavy duty rolling camera case that can carry all your gear in complete protection, and looks badass while at it! I’m pretty sure that most photographers buy this camera hardcase due to its looks, and have rarely used it to its full potential…
Weighing in at 6.7kgs the 1510 certainly isn’t light, but still seems somewhat compact, and can meet the carry-on requirements of most airlines.
Maneouvering it is easy with the front and side handles as well as an easy to release extension handle when you want to make use of the wheels.
Many find the size of the Pelican 1510 perfect for small shoots, and the appearance is certainly very professional.
As with all Pelican cases, the 1510 is virtually indestructible – watertight, dustproof and guaranteed for life. Another hugely popular bag on Shotkit.
Dimensions: 14 x 21 x 8 in. (35.5 x 53.3 x 20.3 cm)
Weight: 7 – 8.7 lb (3.2 – 3.9 kg)
If you’re in the market for a versatile roller this Version 2 of an incredible popular one from Think Tank should definitely be on your short list.
The Airport Take Off V2 has the useful ability to convert into a backpack, thanks to some ingeniously concealed, padded backpack straps. As a backpack, it’s comfortable to wear even for extended periods of time.
It meets international and most domestic carry-on requirements, but you’ll obviously have to check any weight restrictions on your airline first.
The Airport Take Off V2 can hold up to 2 pro dSLR bodies with or without lenses attached, a 15-17″ laptop in the front pocket and numerous lenses and other accessories inside. It also features a front lock and cable to secure laptops, with lockable sliders on the main zipper.
The Airport Take Off V2 is the same size externally as the Airport International V2.0, but the carrying capacity is slightly less due to the backpack strap system. You can zip up the backpack straps when they’re not in use.
The Take Off is first and foremost a product for DSLR shooters who need the flexibility of rolling and backpacking their gear. I love the option to carry the roller on my back if necessary, with grassy or rocky terrain obviously not always suited luggage with wheels.
Camera Sling Bags
If you’re carrying a small amount of equipment, (or are invested into the mirrorless system), a sling bag is a great option.
With all the hand-freeing benefits of a backpack, combined with the fast-access convenience of a messenger bag, slings are rapidly growing in popularity in 2020… probably due to the growth in popularity of mirrorless cameras.
I own no less than 3 of the best camera sling bags mentioned below, rotating between them as travel camera bags and for engagement sessions of smaller photography jobs.
Dimensions: 18.9 x 11 x 6.7 in. (48 x 28 x 17cm)
Package Weight: 2.6 lb (1.18 kg)
This is a stylish, functional, limited edition leather version of the classic Incase dSLR Sling that’s very hard to find in stock.
Camera slings are getting increasingly popular due to the ability to quickly slide the bag from your back to your front in one easy movement, and this limited edition version definitely stands out from the crowd.
Once on your front, the Incase Ari Marcopoulos is positioned as a handy ‘shelf’ for you to rest gear you have in your hand before swapping it for whatever is inside the bag.
The Ari Marcopoulos Bag can hold a dSLR with attached lens, a second lens, 2 smaller digital cameras or accessories and an iPad.
Made from beautifully soft genuine leather, the bag features a zippered main compartment with padded dividers, and a faux-fur lined slip-in iPad pocket. You can carry it with the padded hand strap or wear it with the adjustable, reversible, ergonomic, padded shoulder strap.
This unique bag is designed by its namesake – a professional photographer, and includes custom branding elements bringing this good-looking bag a step above the rest.
Is it worth more than one hundred bucks more than the basic Incase DSLR Sling? Hmm, tough call, but one thing’s for sure – if you’ve got an eye for detail and keen design, it’s money well spent!
Dimensions: 9.3 x 17.3 x 5.4 in. ( 23.5 x 44 x 13.7 cm)
Weight: 1.2 lb (0.5 kg)
I’ve had a love hate relationship with camera slings. Done well and they are a super functional, comfortable way to carry gear. Done badly and you’ll spend more time pushing it around to your back than taking photos!
Luckily, the Think Tank Turnstyle series is great, with the larger version of the two being my go to bag for small shoots last year.
I know many wedding photographers who use just one body/lens, and use the Turnstyle to carry a couple of other lenses and a spare body.
The newly updated V2 model brings with it slight changes to the look and feel, making it more elegant, durable and comfortable to carry.
There’s no real need to update if you own the first version (see my Think Tank Turnstyle review), but if you’re buying a sling bag for the first time, I’d definitely recommend the V2.
There are 3 sizes of the Think Tank Turnstyle– the 10, 20 and 30. The 20 is plenty big enough, able to fit a Canon 5D Mark III, Sigma 35mm f/1.4, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and a Canon 135mm f/2, for example.
As with all Think Tank products, build quality and carry comfort are excellent, and the price really makes this one a no-brainer.
Camera Bag Inserts
Any bag can be converted into something to carry camera equipment via the use of an ‘insert’ or ‘wrap’.
When I’m only carrying one camera, my preference is to use a regular bag with a wrap. If I’m traveling overseas, I often use a regular suitcase with an insert.
Inserts allows you to organise, protect and carry your equipment as if you were using a dedicated camera bag… but at a fraction of the cost. If you don’t know where to start with all the products on this list, I’d highly recommend you consider a wrap or insert.
Dimensions: 5 x 11.5 x 11 in. (12.7 x 29.2 x 27.9 cm)
Weight: 0.95 lb (0.43 kg)
F-Stop Gear is well known for its unbeatable hiking camera backpacks, made for the extreme outdoorist – check out this F-Stop Tilopa review for example.
The core of the F-Stop gear hiking backpack system is something known as an Internal Camera Unit (ICU) – basically a padded camera insert, allowing you to store, protect and organise your gear inside an F-Stop Gear backpack, or indeed, inside any other bag you own.
The F-Stop Gear ICU’s are extremely lightweight, featuring minimal (but adequate) padding and velcro fastenings to stop your precious equipment moving around too much.
When I travel overseas to shoot destination weddings and wish to only carry one carry-on bag, I use an F-Stop Pro XL ICU in conjunction with my regular Samsonite Omni PC rolling travel bag, as you can see in the video below.
The above set up allows me to safely transport my gear plus all my clothes and other items all in the same bag. Typically I’ll also have another smaller bag (such as the Billingham Hadley Pro) which I use for small carry on items, then switch out to use as my main bag on shoot day.
If you’re like me and can’t decide on just one bag, using a camera insert such as the ICU’s allows you to use any regular bag to transport your gear safely.
Dimensions: 10.6 x 6.3 x 4.7 in. (27 x 16 x 12 cm)
Weight: 0.35 lb (0.16 kg)
At the more budget-friendly end of the camera bag insert scale lies this functional number from a relatively unknown camera bag brand called Koolertron.
With a velvet liner and anti-static exterior, the Koolertron Shockproof is available in 4 funky colours (including plain old for you traditionalists!), and can fit a small DSLR with lens attached, flash and spare lens, or similar.
The insert is sealed by way of a draw cord, allowing larger lenses and other items to protrude slightly from the top of their compartments.
38. ONA The Roma
Dimensions: 10.5 x 7 x 4 in. (26.7 x 17.8 x 10.2 cm)
Weight: 1.2 lb ( 0.5 kg)
As purveyor of some of the most stylish camera carrying products around, it’s no surprise that this camera bag insert from ONA looks the part.
Handcrafted from premium waxed canvas with leather accents, it’s almost a shame to hide the ONA Roma away inside another bag!
Made to be used in most small to medium sized non-camera bags, the ONA Roma features leather side handles for easy removal, and no less than five exterior pockets that will help keep your photography gadgets organised.
You’ll be able to fit one pro-sized body with lens attached, or one body and two small lenses, plus wallet, keys, passport etc.
Closure is via two magnetic clasps. All in all, this is one bag insert that’s very well-priced for how durable and good-looking it is – many people actually use theirs as a grab-bag for everyday carry essentials.
39. Cable Stable DLX
Dimensions: 10.75 x 8.25 x 2.25 in. (27.3 x 20.9 x 5.7 cm)
Weight: 0.8 lb (0.36 kg)
It’s not technically an insert, but nevertheless, the Skooba Cable Stable is a great addition to any of the carrying options on this list.
As photographers, we seem to have a plug, cable and adapter for every gadget, each one a different size or length. Stuffing all these items in your bag is one way to go about it, but for better organisation, check out the clever Skooba Cable Stable.
This compact organiser has 15 elasticated slots for earbuds, usb/charging cables, plugs, drives, batteries, compact cameras and whatever else you need to keep packed up and out the way.
The floating elastic hold-down grid provides fast, simple and versatile stowage without the constraints of fixed-size pockets and pouches.
The fluorescent green interior may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it does serve a purpose, making it much easier to see darker coloured accessories than a black interior might.
A zippered pocket on the outside front cover of the Skooba Cable Stable is a perfect place for notes, tickets, hotel key cards, or other flat items.
Mirrorless Camera Bags
The popularity of mirrorless cameras is growing everyday and doesn’t look to be stopping. I switched from DSLR to mirrorless back in 2018, and haven’t looked back.
Whilst it’s unusual for a bag to be marketed specifically as a ‘mirrorless camera bag’, the carrying options I’ve recommended below definitely lend themselves better to the small format.
I’ve picked out the top options which represent great design, value for money, robustness and above all, functionality.
Dimensions: 12.2 x 7.48 x 4.33 in (31 x 19 x 11 cm)
Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.5kg)
Thanks to a recent update, the Peak Design Everyday Sling now has 2 new size options – the 3L and the 6L. As a compact bag, our favourite is now the 6L (previously it was the 5L – check out our Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L review if you missed it!)
In the brand new stealth all-black colourway, this 5 litre camera sling bag includes 2 of Peak Design’s trademark FlexFold dividers which offers instantly customisable organisation for all your mirrorless gear.
As the smallest, lightest bag in the Peak Design Everyday Line, the Everyday Sling 6L is ideal for organisation, transport, and quick-access of essentials, whether you’re carrying your camera, drone, or everyday gear. (I use mine to carry my Fuji X100F and Mavic Pro Platinum.)
Wearable as a cross-body sling or a waist bag, the Sling’s convertible strap features a quick-adjuster that you can loosen when accessing gear and tighten when actively hiking or biking.
A weatherproof zip provides quick inner access without removing the bag from your body –
As such a compact product, the Everyday Sling 6L can fit one mirrorless body with lens attached, one spare lens, numerous batteries and memory cards and any tablet up to 11”.
41. ONA Bowery
Dimensions: 10.5 x 7.0 x 4.0 in (26.7 x 17.8 x 10.2 cm )
Weight: 1.7 – 2 lbs (0.77 – 0.9 kg )
Maker of cool carry products for the image conscious photographer, ONA is becoming more and more popular thanks to stylish and versatile mirrorless camera bags such as the Bowery.
Thanks to its compact size, the Bowery can be used as a shoulder bag to carry your gear one minute, then with the strap removed, as an insert and bag organiser inside a larger bag.
It’s kind of like a cross between a camera bag and an insert.
You’ll be able to fit a smaller DSLR, rangefinder or mirrorless camera and one lens – perfect for street photography.
To protect your equipment, the Bowery is padded with closed cell foam, designed with top-quality water-resistant waxed canvas and detailed with full-grain leather, antique brass hardware and a secure front closure.
In its canvas form, the ONA Bowery is available in several colours, or for the more discerning, their leather option comes in gorgeous antique cognac leather – it’s slightly more expensive, but it’s also the best leather camera bag for mirrorless gear that I’ve come across.
Dimensions: 14.5 x 9 x 8 in. (36.8 x 22.9 x 20.3 cm )
Weight: 5.5 lb (2.5 kg)
Whilst we’re still on the topic of stylish camera bags, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something from Holdfast Gear, purveyors of some of the finest handmade leather camera bags you’re ever likely to come across.
I wrote a review of the Holdfast Roamographer when it was released a few years ago in its large format. I found it to be a beautifully crafted bag that would suit the image-conscious photographer looking for something entirely unique.
However, I also found the original Roamographer slightly heavy for my own uses, which is why I was so happy to see the release of this scaled-down version – the Roamographer Small.
Whilst still retaining enough rugged manliness as a leather bag to prevent from looking like a handbag, the Roamographer small manages to fit inside a decent selection of mirrorless gear, keeping it protected in luxurious style.
At this price point it’s definitely not a bag for the masses, but rather, a unique, beautifully hand-crafted product for the discerning photographer who wants a beautiful and unique way to carry their prized possessions.
Dimensions: 10 x 9 x 5 in. (25.4 x 22.9 x 12.7 cm)
Package Weight: 2.7 lb (1.2 kg)
The Explorer Lens Pouch from Holdfast is an all weather bag made from waxed canvas with a leather trim, insulated with plush sheep wool. It is specifically designed to be carried on the MoneyMaker dual camera strap, but with the attached D-rings, it can be attached easily to a variety of other camera straps too.
The four outer pockets on the Explorer Lens Pouch include a snap-shut pocket for wallet and other small items; a large front pocket for camera accessories; a side pocket for a flash or water bottle, and a zipper pocket on top for memory cards and other flat items.
As with all Holdfast goods, the Lens Pouch is strong, rugged, great looking and practical.
Just because this bag has the word ‘lens’ in the name doesn’t mean it can’t be used to carry a camera body – the fluffy, dense sheep wool lining provides the ultimate protection for your equipment, even allowing you to carry them with no lens cap or base cap whatsoever.
Available in three stylish colours, the Holdfast Lens Pouch competes with dedicated mirrorless camera bags as one of the most unique, robust and functional ones of the lot.
Dimensions: 12.5 x 10.5 x 8.5 in. (31.8 x 26.7 x 21.6 cm)
Weight: 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
It’s a no-nonsense design, compact enough to make it an excellent option for your compact/mirrorless gear, or a way to carry a standard DSLR with up to a 70-200mm lens.
One of the most unique features of the Speed Freak V2 is the integrated waist belt, which is conveniently concealed in two zippered pockets on either side of the bag.
This allows it to be carried on the shoulder, or with weight distributed evenly around your hips, which may be a preference for all-day usage.
Using the flexible belt around the waist also provides better stability while walking, especially when used as well the shoulder strap.
The exterior is coated with a durable water-repellent, providing the strength and durability associated with all Think Tank Photo products.
Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 8.5 in. (22.0 x 14.0 x 21.5 cm)
Weight: 0.88 lb (0.40 kg)
This simple and impressively cheap camera bag features 2 main sections: a front zipper pocket and a covered main compartment.
The front zipper is designed for small items and easy access, whilst the main section offers a large compartment with padded dividers for your mirrorless equipment.
As with the Think Tank Retrospective line, the LowePro Event Messenger 100 has a neat way of silencing the velcro fastenings for use during church weddings or other environments where silent operation is necessary.
The velcro features tabs which can be folded over, preventing the ripping sound of the hook and loop fastening.
Size wise, the Event Messenger 100 can carry up to a pro-sized camera, 2-3 lenses and a flash. There’s also a dedicated space for a tablet.
It’s great to be able to take advantage of the compact form factor of the mirrorless system in such an affordable camera bag. Click the button below to read more reviews on this impressive little offering from LowePro.
How to Choose a Camera Bag
With all the choice available on the market for photographers, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start when selecting a bag.
Here are a few of the factors that I always consider when evaluating whether a bag is right to add to my collection:
This isn’t so much a question of how much gear you own, but rather, what gear you need to carry with you on a certain outing or assignment. The reason I own several camera carrying products, is that I like to select the bag depending on what I’m shooting, and how much gear I require.
There’s a time and a place for each of the different types of bag. If I’m popping out with the kids to the park, I grab a sling bag that fits my camera and one extra lens. If I’m traveling, I might opt for a backpack, to leave my hands free to carry other luggage. If I’m shooting a wedding, I’d use a rolling option to squeeze more gear in, and save my aching back… you get the idea.
3. Design (Usability)
This one’s key. If a bag doesn’t let you get your gear in and out easily, it’s not worth your time. I omitted some of the most stylish camera bags from this list, simply because I found them a pain in the a** to use! Function over form… in most cases!
4. Design (Style)
This is obviously very subjective, but I recommend you buy a bag that makes you happy to look at and touch each day. Invest a little more on something above the ‘budget’ recommendations, and you’ll get something that a design team has given some thought on, with regards to the looks as well as the usability.
You usually get what you pay for – spend more on a well-known brand name, and you should get more years out of it. Some even offer warranties, which guarantee breakages for several years.
Another subjective one, but I’d say that you should experiment a little here. If you’ve invested in a pricey brand-name backpack for example, try opting for a more affordable sling bag (like this one) – when you’re still not sure what type of bag is right for you, spend your money wisely until you’re ready to drop the big bucks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best camera bag to buy?
Every photographer has their own unique requirements, so the perfect bag for you will depend on things like the amount of gear you need to carry, the conditions you’ll be shooting in, even just personal preference on style and design. That said, if we had to pick one favorite all-rounder we’d recommend checking out the Peak Design Everyday Backpack – it’s sleek, water-resistant, well-organized and unisex.
What should I keep in my camera bag?
That depends a lot on you and what/where you’re shooting. Some things to consider are your camera, lenses, spare batteries, flash, memory cards, tripod or monopod, microfiber cleaning cloth, rain cover, external hard-drive and laptop/tablet.
What are camera bags made of?
The most useful are those that are weather-resistant as these will keep your gear well protected even in difficult weather conditions. Weatherproofed cotton canvas, nylon canvas and leather are all popular options.
Can a camera bag be a carry on?
Many are designed to fit within airline carry-on luggage size standards (just be sure to double-check the dimensions). As for whether you can take your camera in addition to other hand luggage, that will depend on the airline and class you’re flying, so you’ll need to check each airline’s individual requirements.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.