The Best Camera Bags for Travel
The Best Camera Bags for Travel
If you invested hours of research before buying your latest camera then you owe it to yourself to find the best camera bag to protect your photography gear, too. While your lenses may be okay for a trip or two without dedicated protection, all it takes is one drop, bump, or bit of airplane turbulence to rattle your expensive lenses—and it doesn’t take much for lenses to get damaged.
Adventurers, travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and photographers carry lots of gear when they travel—everything from cameras and lenses to chargers, memory cards, tripods, extra batteries, hard drives, cords, and more. That’s where camera backpacks can be useful. Heavily padded and designed to carry large loads, these bags protect cameras much better than an everyday backpack. Camera bags allow you to carry all of your gear while still leaving your hands free to shoot and often include useful features like side panels for one-handed camera access, small pockets for SD cards, and weight-distribution features like padded hip belts and adjustable chest straps to spare your shoulders, even if you’re carrying 20 or 30 pounds of gear.
Best Camera Bags
The Expert: I'm a freelance adventure writer and editor, which means I often travel to remote and rustic locales with my cameras and accessories. I've photographed backpacking trips through Patagonia and tiger safaris in India, and I’ve used everything from 500 mm lenses weighing six pounds to underwater camera housings to photograph sharks at 90 feet below the surface. Currently, I have two cameras with interchangeable lenses (one mirrorless, one traditional DSLR) and a bevy of lenses and accessories ranging from tripods to UV filters, all of which I've traveled with extensively.
I’ve tested plenty of camera backpacks and have learned what features are most helpful, which brands can be trusted, and which backpacks work best for various uses. If you’re looking for the best camera bag to protect your bodies, lenses, sports cams, and more, here’s the scoop on how to select the best one, plus recommendations on the best ones you can buy online now.
What to Look for in a Camera Bag
First, make sure the backpack is large enough to hold all your equipment, including camera body, lenses, and other items you want handy while traveling. Those might include a laptop, extra clothing, travel accessories and chargers, and action cameras and accessories. The best camera bags will have not just enough space for your primary items, but enough organization and pockets for supporting items like memory cards, backup batteries, gimbals and tripods, cords, and hard drives.
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Next, consider only well-padded backpacks as this is potentially the primary selling point of a camera bag. Since cameras can easily cost up to several thousand dollars for the body alone—and lenses are still shockingly fragile—you don't want to cut corners on padding. Remember that you'll want padding on all sides of your items, including the front and back. Many of the best camera backpacks come with padded inserts or padded and removable dividers (usually with hook and loop attachments) to ensure your expensive camera gear stays secure even when tossed into an overhead bin. Externally, make sure the shoulder and/or hip straps have enough padding to be comfortable, even with a full bag. Hip straps aren't essential, but they can be helpful if you're regularly carrying 20 pounds or more.
Aside from personal preferences of style and color, look for any particular features that may support your shooting style. For example, wildlife photographers may want a camera backpack with silent clasps and zippers, while action and sports photographers may want a camera backpack with waterproof materials or external straps for carrying sports gear.
How We Selected These Camera Bag
I used my experience with various styles, sizes, and brands of camera backpacks to compile the recommendations here, and then considered other factors to ensure the products represent a wide variety. Before selecting any bag that I hadn't personally used, I checked to be sure it had features similar to those I'd tested, had generally positive reviews (especially regarding durability and quality), and included only those backpacks from sellers with reputable warranties and return policies.
Our expert recommends the best camera bags for traveling, adventuring, or just transporting your gear safely from one spot to the next.