Best camera backpack 2019: ultimate backpacks to protect your photography gear

From DSLRs to drones, how to find the perfect protection for your photography equipment

Best camera backpacks 2019

If you’re serious about photography, you’ve almost certainly taken – or wanted to take – your DSLR or mirrorless camera and lenses, and perhaps a tripod (and possibly a drone) on a trip away. So you’re a travel photographer. Or a wildlife photographer. Maybe a landscape photographer. All photographers will be one or all of these things at some point, but what you can get away with transporting around with you depends on one thing; the quality of your camera backpack.

Of course, there are other options. You could go for a stylish shoulder bag to carry your photography gear, and if you intend to stick to urban areas, that works. However, if you plan to get out and about, a proper, built-for-purpose camera backpack is what to go for.

How to choose a camera backpack

Start with the basics; your camera and lenses. Two DSLR bodies and a 600mm telephoto lens is going to demand a very different camera backpack than a mirrorless camera and a couple of lenses. Most camera backpacks come with two compartments, one or both with Velcro dividers that can be moulded and moved to fit around, and snugly protect, your specific gear.

Think about size; you won’t ever want to check-in a camera backpack at the airport, so make sure it fits within carry-on size requirements. For photographers who tend to dust-off their cameras only when they jet-off to foreign climes, this is an important consideration.

If you intend to take a camera backpack hiking, think about waterproofing. Most are fashioned from waterproof fabrics and ballistic nylon, but a pop-out, pullout waterproof cover adds peace of mind if you get caught in a rain shower. However, just as important for outdoor photographers is comfort. Choose a backpack with high quality shoulder straps, and if you plan to hike, a hip-belt and a back support system with some kind of airflow.

There are other considerations that will rule-in some backpacks, and rule-out others. For example, do always travel with a laptop or tablet? Or always need a tripod? Being able to securely stow a tripod could be vital, but you’ll also want to be able to unclip it quickly. Ditto accessibility. Some camera backpacks allow you to get your camera out quickly from the side by swinging the backpack round without taking it off. However, if you tend to change lenses a lot, a backpack that opens at the rear, usually U-shaped like a suitcase, makes things easier, but only if you’re happy that the front of the bag is OK to be placed on wet or dusty ground.

Whatever your particular requirements you’re bound to find something here that will appeal to you.

Best camera backpack: Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW II

1. Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW II

Modular and slimline, a bag for all seasons

Reasons to buy
+Modular design+Comfort
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive accessories

Have you ever wished your backpack was expandable for a big trip, or that you could detach the side-pockets and use it for a short hike? Loewpro has here come up with a regular camera backpack that’s endlessly adaptable and customisable. Firstly, by itself; there are two areas for cameras and lenses that not only have many (many) Velcro-powered dividers, but can be accessed on either side, from the top, and even from the back (the lid also contains a laptop sleeve and some pockets). Even the hip-belt can be removed. Secondly, there are accessories a-plenty; an exterior covered entirely by loops can host everything from a clip-on drinks bottle holder, a phone case and/or a tripod harness. What’s more, it’s got a compartment to safely store a small drone and a pair of sunglasses.

Best camera backpack: Chrome Niko F-Stop camera backpack

2. Chrome Niko F-Stop camera backpack

Tough and tech-friendly

Reasons to buy
+Disguises camera gear+15-inch laptop sleeve+Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks a hip-belt

Tough ballistic nylon is what you get with this expensive, but well designed camera backpack. A rear-opening gives complete access to the 23-litre bag’s full contents, which can include up to two cameras and three lenses, though exactly how you arrange the Velcro dividers is up to you. A few pockets are provided for SD cards while rather unusually its the front that has a slip pocket for a 15-inch laptop. It’s also got two large reflective Velcro straps across the front that can be used to secure almost anything you front, from a tripod to a jacket.

Best camera backpack: Manfrotto Advanced Advanced Camera and Laptop Backpack

3. Manfrotto Advanced Advanced Camera and Laptop Backpack

Cameras, drones, anything

Reasons to buy
+Slimline size+Can hold a drone
Reasons to avoid
-Takes a small tripod only

Designed to carry a DSLR and three lenses in a separate zipped area, this unusual camera backpack also has a dedicated area for a drone. A top section is sized for a drone (DJI Mavic Pro, DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, Breeze Yuneec or DJI Spark), while a side pocket is big enough to take a DJI OSMO or a OSMO mobile gimbal. The entire section for the camera can be yanked out to use the bag for non-photography trips, though when you’re on an outdoors shoot, its pop-out rain cover and tripod pocket will come in handy.

Best camera backpack: Thule Legend TLGB101 GoPro backpack

4. Thule Legend TLGB101 GoPro backpack

Great for a GoPro

Reasons to buy
+Die-cut foam support for GoPros+Integrated mounts for two GoPro cameras
Reasons to avoid
-Small

While its wide-angle lens is limiting, travelling light is super-easy if you always rely on a GoPro for photography. Or, at least, it should be. The reality is that you need to transport cables, a charger, a tripod, a harness and other accessories. This made-for-GoPro hosts all of that, supporting a GoPro within a die-cut foam pad, though it can be easily removed if you want to use the Legend as a more basic backpack. Also here are pockets for SD cards, cables, extra batteries and a remote control, a water bottle holder and even a waist belt for extra bits. However, where the Legend excels is with GoPro gear, something underlined by the appearance on its exterior of integrated mounts for two GoPro cameras. Who needs a body harness when your backpack does it for you?

Best camera backpack: Gitzo Adventury 30L

5. Gitzo Adventury 30L

For outdoor photographers on a mission

Reasons to buy
+Takes telephoto lenses+Stores large tripods
Reasons to avoid
-Roll-top design is a bit specialised

Few bags are made for outdoor survival, but for committed wildlife photographers prepared to get up before dawn and stay in remote places just to get the shot, that’s exactly what’s required. Cue the Manfrotto Gitzo Adventury 30L, which takes a DJI Phantom drone, four lenses, and a couple of oversized Pro DSLRs, one with a 70-200mm f/4 lens attached (or one Pro DSLR and a 400mm f/4 telephoto lens). Complete with pouch for a 13-inch laptop, a tablet and a rain cover, this one is for dedicated wildlife, nature and landscape photographers.

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