Looking for the best camera bag or backpack? You’ve come to the right place – we’ve tested dozens of the best camera bags of all sizes to bring you this exhaustive guide to the best you can buy. If you’re hunting for student-friendly options, there are plenty of those in this list too.
How many great photo opportunities have you missed because you’d left your camera at home? There’s no longer any excuse, as our guide serves up a range of ideal carrying solutions, ranging from small holsters to accommodate a compact camera or system camera with an attached lens, to bags and backpacks that can swallow a full photographic kit with bodies, lenses, flashguns and more besides.
Naturally, when you’re out and about, it’s nice not to have to carry more than one bag. Many of the latest designs of shoulder bags, sling bags and backpacks enable you to split the space, so you can mix and match photo gear with daily essentials, particularly handy if you’re a student who needs to carry your lunch or laptop too.
Many of these bags have dedicated pockets for a tablet or laptop, as well as separate compartments for anything from a mobile phone and wallet, to a packed lunch. You’ll often find a little something on the side, to hold a water bottle, and maybe a tethering system to attach a tripod. Let’s have a closer look at the best camera bags on the market.
Best camera bags in 2020:
The Hadley line is what photographers first think about when they hear the name Billingham, and this latest Pro 2020 version of its classic design improves on the Pro version with a new luggage strap, a stronger and more comfortable handle and a weather-resistant zipper on the back. Everything feels very well constructed, with a chunky insert and thick dividers, and a pair of spacious pockets on the front, all of which is very secure once closed with the straps. You can even squeeze in a laptop between the bag and insert if you need to, although it’s a shame the strap pad is an added expense, as some may expect this thrown in for this kind of money.
Though it might seem pretty pricey, the Everyday Messenger is bristling with clever touches and is well worth the outlay. A spring-loaded flap-catch with four fastening points is both secure yet easy to use, letting the bag expand or contract to suit varying loads. The flap also has a zippered top passthrough for even easier access. There are slots for a 13-inch laptop and tablet, plus you can attach a tripod on top. Rather than using typical foam partitions, the main section contains innovative dividers that snap around and over individual items. Everything’s supported by a wide and supple shoulder strap, and we also like the stabilizing waist strap that prevents the bag bouncing as you stride. Beautiful build quality and attention to detail seals the deal.
Read our in-depth review Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 V2
There are no less than five messenger bags in Tenba’s ‘DNA’ range, plus a backpack. The ‘15’ is the largest messenger bag, with space for a DSLR plus attached lens, and up to four other lenses. The main front flap is secured by two magnetic slide catches which operate silently, and even the Velcro strips that add security have ‘whisper hooks’ for quiet separation. The main compartment is generously proportioned and has a removable camera insert, and there are separate sleeves at the rear for accommodating a 15-inch laptop and a tablet. There’s a further document compartment on the back of the bag, plus four smaller pockets at the front, in dual layers. It’s a rugged yet stylish and beautifully finished bag. A ‘Slim’ version of the DNA 15 Messenger is also available, if you want something a bit more compact.
While it’s fairly slim, this backpack can nevertheless hold one or two DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, both with attached lenses, plus up to three additional lenses. There are access points to the cameras at the top and on both sides, so it’s quick and easy to get at what you need. The whole camera compartment can also be opened via a rear zipper, after laying the bag down on its front and angling the shoulder straps out of the way. The backpack also features a 13-inch laptop compartment plus two internal zippered pockets for accessories. Two external pockets are fitted but they’re very small and thin. Build quality is up to Lowepro’s usual high standards, and a range of modular accessories is available too.
This is the mid-sized option in Tenba’s range of Axis Tactical backpacks, ideal for holding one or two cameras and six to eight lenses. In addition to the main compartment, there’s a separate, full-height front compartment with its own zipper. An internal sleeve is also fitted that can accommodate a 17-inch laptop. Full access to the main compartment is via the rear but, unusually for this type of design, there’s no need to fold the shoulder straps back out of the way before opening the zipper. There are also zippered access flaps on the top and on the lower left-hand side, enabling quick and easy access to two cameras with attached lenses. The harness and shoulder straps are particularly comfortable and breathable, with an excellent range of adjustments. The same is true of the sternum and waist strap, the latter being completely removable.
The Billingham Hadley Pro (see above) is a fabulous shoulder bag, but you can find yourself running out of space if you want to pack larger lenses or a laptop. The Hadley One is a little higher and deeper, and has an internal 13-inch laptop holder. It also comes with a half-length camera insert, ideal for a medium sized camera and attached lens plus accessories, while leaving space for daily essentials in the other half of the bag. Additional half-length and full-length camera inserts are available as optional extras. The bag also features a zippered rear pocket, two large dump pockets at the front, a grab handle on top and a rear trolley strap. A comfort pad for the removable shoulder strap is available as an optional extra.
It’s the numerous pockets and Lowepro’s Quick Shelf system that differentiates this bag from its peers. While there’s ample space on the inside for moderate DSLR kits, stretch pockets on the front, two side flaps and even in the each shoulder strap let you carry heaps more. The QuickShelf system is based around stiff dividers that keep everything firmly in place, while the huge D-rings on the zips makes opening them effortless. Our only reservation is the slight lack of padding towards the top of the laptop compartment, which makes the laptop feel a little exposed – but if your machine measures less than 15 inches, this won’t be an issue.
It’s tough to create a truly special camera backpack, as competition in this area is particularly fierce, but Gitzo has come up with a real winner in the Adventury 30L. Designed to accommodate a pro DSLR with a 70-200mm f/4 lens attached, plus a second body and up to four more lenses. Alternatively, you can pack a 400mm f/4, a camera body and a couple of lenses or small accessories. There’s also space for a 15-inch laptop as well. As you’d expect for a Gitzo product, the quality is excellent, with great internal padding, while the bag itself is made from weather-resistant materials, with coated zippers and bottom section. Should conditions get really bad there’s also a rain cover, while the color of the materials used is designed to help the bag blend in when you’re outdoors.
Typically slung over one shoulder, this is the larger of Mindshift’s two PhotoCross sling bags, able to hold a DSLR and ‘trinity’ wide-angle, standard and telephoto f/2.8 lenses. Construction quality is very good, with tough water-resistant external material and zippers, although the inner dividers are relatively thin. As with other sling bags, you can spin it around on your shoulder to gain access to your camera without the need to take the bag off and lay it on the ground. And if you need greater stability when you’re negotiating tricky terrain, there’s a pull-out waist strap to keep the bag firmly fixed in place.
This pocket-packed shoulder bag somehow manages to squeeze in both an 11-inch laptop and a tablet, as well as camera gear, while the padded kit compartment flat-packs when empty. Inside, three snap-shut pouches spring open to grip a compact mirrorless camera or DSLR (though it’s best for smaller entry-level models). It’s probably not rugged enough for landscape photographers, but it does well around the city – and it makes for a great carry-on bag for flights. It’s even got a pass-through for a telescopic handle, so it can piggy-back on rolling luggage at airports.
Easy on the eye and with masses of space on the inside, this rucksack/sling hybrid provides a home for a DSLR, 3-4 lenses, a 13.3-inch laptop and a tripod around the front, together with extra space for smaller essentials. You can access your kit from left or right sides, and bright yellow padding is generous throughout, with a special scratch and water-resistant base to keep everything safe from harm. The laptop compartment might be a bit small for some, and you can get a bit sweaty as the back isn’t as cleverly contoured as the Lowepro Photo Active (see above). Then again, this one is currently less than half the price, making it a real bargain.
Perhaps not the sexiest shoulder bag around, but if you’re happy to overlook that you’ll love what this bag offers. There’s enough space for a mid-range mirrorless camera and mounted lens, plus a further optic and a small tablet, while two clasps and plenty of Velcro keep everything secure. Expandable pockets on the outside provide home to batteries or even small bottle of sunblock, while a zipped pocket on the front of the lid is joined by a further zipped pocket on the back. Build quality is high and the pad on the shoulder strap is a bonus, plus it can be removed if not wanted. While small in size and super light, it feels very well put together and is comfortable on the shoulder. For holidays and traveling with just modest kit, this would be a fine option.
A problem many photo backpacks have is that you need to take them off and lay them down on the ground to access your camera gear. It can be a pain in dirty or wet conditions, as the side you lay on the ground is also the one you wear against your back. This bag solves the problem by having the main flap at the rear, which also boosts security. Also, by slipping the main straps off your shoulders, you can swivel the bag around on its waist strap, open the main flap and keep it raised by looping the fitted elastic cord around your neck. This makes it easy to retrieve your kit or change lenses on your camera while having the open backpack neatly secured at a comfortable working height. Additional front pockets are surprisingly capacious, able to stow lots of additional items.
This option from Manfrotto holds many charms, but if there’s one thing it does really well it’s padding. Everything feels very well protected here, with chunky internal divided, thick shoulder straps and a fat back panel. You can access your gear from the top, back or two side flaps, while a mesh divider keeps everything in the main compartment in place when you’re dealing with anything in the back panel. There’s only one strap connecting the shoulder straps, but your can shift this up and down to suit your body. It doesn’t sit quite as snugly as the Lowepro BP300 AW Photo Active and Vanguard VEO Discover 46 on the back, but what it lacks in comfort it makes up for with great design and protection.
Impeccably turned out in carbon fibre patterned fine-grain Italian leather and weather-resistant nylon, this backpack has the high-quality look and feel that you’d expect from Gitzo. The main compartment is split into upper and lower sections, the bottom of which has a removable camera insert than can accommodate a full-frame DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus another couple of lenses. You can access camera gear from either side of the backpack, while the separate section that forms the top half of the bag is ideal for stowing daily essentials. There’s also a generously proportioned compartment at the rear for a 15-inch laptop.
Ideal for professional photographers or anyone flying off on a landscape photography expedition, a safari or or even just storing your kit when it’s not in use, you won’t find a better solution than the Peli 1510 Protector Case. It’s not just the protection it provides that makes it a great buy – the ease with which you can organize and access your camera kit on location makes it incredibly useful. It’s a little heavy and bulky, but it’s worth it for the protection it provides.
Read our in-depth Peli 1510 Protector Case review
The largest of three TurnStyle bags from Think Tank, the ‘20’ has enough space for a full-frame DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, plus a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and a flashgun or other accessory. You can easily swivel the bag on your shoulder to gain access to the contents, but the main opening is fairly slim and a bit limiting. On the plus side, it’s a very comfortable bag to wear on one shoulder, as it’s relatively light in weight and the shoulder strap itself is wide and padded. An additional tuck-away stability strap is also featured. There’s an additional front compartment for accessories, and a pocket for holding a 10-inch tablet. The interior dividers feel a bit flimsy but the bag itself feels tough and robust. Available in charcoal or blue.
Looking more like traditional urban luggage than a camera bag, this bug-shaped backpack has a hard yet padded front lid that zips all around, and drops down for easy access. The dividers inside are easy to move and secure, and make it simple to configure for a DSLR and two to three lenses. If used in that configuration there’s just a small zipped area for other items, but an UltraFlex divider can be used to make the bag half for camera gear and half for other stuff, making the Tahoe BP 150 handy for anything from street photography to a serious hike. There’s also an organizer area in the lid with a tablet pouch, and a couple of mesh side pockets.
Billingham has been making top-quality camera bags in England for nearly 50 years, but this is the company’s first top-loading holster. It comes in a choice of colors and with options of either triple-layer waterproof canvas or synthetic FibreNyte as the main material, both with top-grain leather details and brass hardware. The main flap has a ‘ClogBall’ fastener which can be easily operated with one hand, revealing the main camera compartment and an additional front accessory pocket. The internal divider and shoulder strap are both removable, and the bag has a belt attachment loop around the back offering an alternative method of wearing it.
Lowepro’s Toploader Zoom series of camera holsters is available in no less than five different sizes. The smallest ‘45’ model can accommodate a mirrorless camera or small DSLR with a kit standard zoom, whereas the ‘50’ can hold a full-frame DSLR with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The largest Pro 70 and Pro 75 options are big enough to take a pro-grade DSLR with integral battery grip, plus an attached 24-70mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8 lens respectively, and a chest harness is available as an optional extra. The two smallest options are available in a choice of black or ‘galaxy blue’, and all of the bags in the range are of the ‘all-weather’ variety. There’s a removable shoulder strap, a grab handle on top, and a belt loop around the back. The bag also features an external pocket on the front, plus an additional internal pocket in the top flap.
Designed for compact mirrorless APS-C cameras like the Sony A6600 and Panasonic’s Lumix G85/G80, this holster-style case makes good use of space. A camera fitted with an 18-50mm lens can fit inside the main compartment, while there’s a zip-around section attached to the bottom for another lens. It’s compact, sturdy and offers a lot of protection, but it’s worth trying it out with your specific camera and lens to make sure it all fits neatly. As well as a shoulder strap and belt loops, the Holster XS Plus includes a few zipped pockets for SD cards and accessories.
If you’re going to be travelling a lot with you’re camera, then the Hexad Access Duffel is the answer. Featuring a clamshell, one half of the bag can be set aside for clothes and other travel essentials, while the other half for photo gear, with dual side-access pockets. These can accommodate Wandrd’s medium camera cubes (sold separately) which offer protection for your kit. If you just want to use one, you’ve get even more space for day to day stuff. There’s also a padded laptop sleeve, stowable backpack straps and a handy expandable laundry pocket. Then there’s the weather-sealed materials used, while the overall finish is excellent. Perfect if you’re going to be on a city break and want to travel light.
This backpack isn’t strictly a camera backpack, but is certainly worth consideration if you’re looking for a quality bag to stuff plenty into if you’re going to be out for the day. While there’s no padding for camera gear, you’ll easily be able to fit a padded camera pouch into the 22 liter main compartment. As well as this, there’s also a large 15-inch laptop compartment and elastic side pockets. Nice and comfy fully loaded, this is a great bag to wonder round the city with camera in hand.