How to Choose the Best Camera Backpack for Travel & Hiking

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If you’re traveling the world and taking your camera gear with you, then you are going to want to make sure that you invest in a quality backpack to come with you.

If you have a lot of expensive gear, or if you are carrying multiple lenses, drones and a whole array of other electronics and accessories for either your hobby or your profession, then picking the best camera backpack for travel is an important undertaking.

You need to make sure that your chosen backpack is large enough for all your camera gear, that it’s comfortable if you’re out exploring the streets of a new city all day, and that it’s rainproof if you head out into the mountains when a storm is brewing. 

There’s a lot to consider, from size and style to design and safety, but to help you to make your choice, here’s our guide on picking the best camera backpack for travel. 

Top 5 Best Camera Backpacks for Travel

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION 
Best Camera BackpackCase Logic SLR Camera and Laptop Backpack
-Freestanding
-Compact
-Space Efficient Design
-Fits 6 lenses
-Weight: 3.9 lbs
-Tripod Storage: Yes
Check Price
Best Camera BackpackManfrotto MB PL-3N1-36 Pro Light Camera Backpack
-3 Different Carry Options
-Quick Side Openings
-Rain Protector
-Fits 7 lenses
-Weight: 4.4 lbs
-Tripod Storage: Yes
Check Price
Best Camera BackpackPeak Design Everyday Backpack 20L
-Easy Access Side Flaps
-Internal Divider
-Waist Belt
-Fits 4 lenses
-Weight: 3.08 lbs
-Tripod Storage: Yes
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Best Camera BackpackThule Aspect DSLR Backpack
-Hip Belt
-Room for Drone
-Laptop Compartment
-Fits 2 lenses
-Weight: 3.08 lbs
-Tripod Storage: Yes
Check Price
Best Camera BackpackVanguard Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack
-Great Build Quality
-Top, Front & Side Access
-Great Internal Padding
-Fits 5 lenses
-Weight: 6.4 lbs
-Tripod Storage: Yes
Check Price

Quick Answer: Best Camera Backpacks


How to Choose the Best Camera Backpack for Travel

Lina Stock in the Amazon rainforest - Best camera backpack for travel

Size Considerations

The most important aspect to consider when choosing the best camera backpack for travel is the size.

Of course, it’s already been said that your chosen bag needs to be large enough to fit in all your camera equipment, otherwise, it’s a fairly useless purchase.

On a simple level, that means that the more equipment you have, the larger your bag needs to be, but it’s not necessarily that simple. 

The largest camera bags on the market might be too bulky to take as hand luggage on a plane, and you certainly don’t want your expensive gear being thrown into the hold of the plane.

If you’re traveling lots, you also need to make sure the bag is of an appropriate size to take on buses or to carry around comfortably when you’re exploring.

Check the dimensions and check it works for your needs. Also, take into consideration the fact that you might only have a small number of lenses right now, but in the future, you might be investing in larger zoom lenses, or adding a drone to your gear. 

Consider purchasing a backpack with the added room, to allow you to expand your equipment, and your hobby or even career.

For travelers, you will also want to have extra room for other travel necessities, such as a spare jumper, a water bottle, or the day’s lunch, to name just a few things. 

Hiking in the Galapagos Islands with camera gear

Different Styles

The second most important aspect to consider when you are purchasing the best camera backpack for travel is the style of the bag in question.

In many cases, the quantity of equipment that you need to carry can determine this for you, as the largest bags on the market, will inevitably be traditional rucksack style packs. 

If you don’t need the largest size though, then many photographers find that having a messenger bag, or a sling bag, is preferable to a rucksack.

Messenger bags are worn over the shoulder, and that means that you can easily swing it around in front of you, which can help in crowded places if you’re worried about security, but that more importantly allows you to have quick access to your equipment.

If you need a quick change of lens, then you can quickly swing the bag around your front, and grab the zoom or the wide-angle you need to take that perfect picture.

Single-strap Sling Bags are also popular amongst photographers because they allow you more space, and they also allow you to sling the bag around quickly to grab different lenses or equipment. 

Traditional backpacks, while bulkier and less accessible than Messenger Bags or Sling Bags, are great if you not only have lots of gear but if you are planning on doing lots of hiking.

For hikers, a messenger bag can quickly put one shoulder out of action, whereas a backpack distributes the weight and is easier to carry over long distances. 

If you have a huge amount of gear, you can even consider purchasing a roller bag, although this comes with many more limitations than a rucksack, and can’t really be considered the best camera backpack for travel, for this and many more reasons. 

Hiking in the Amazon with Vanguard camera bag

Materials

The best camera backpack for travel will also be made from the best and most suitable materials. Purchasing cheap, synthetic bags can be a disaster waiting to happen, as you don’t want your bag splitting while you’re on the road.

You will want a material that offers at least some level of weatherproofing if it’s not fully waterproof. A completely waterproof bag is difficult to find, as the materials are more expensive and produce a bulkier product.

While a high-end bag will keep the light rain showers off and keep your equipment dry if there’s a monsoon you are going to want to make certain that you have a rain cover that you can attach, or you might be losing your gear.

Some bags though are made specifically for the water, and if you are going to be spending a lot of time on boats, island hopping in the Philippines, or kayaking along rivers, then you can invest in a camera bag that can be sealed completely airtight, and that works in a similar way to a dry bag. 

You will also be able to choose between hard-shell and soft-shell bags, but in this respect, the best camera backpack for travel can be more of a personal choice.

Hard-shell bags offer more protection and security of course, but they are bulkier and generally heavier, and won’t fit into that overhead compartment quite as easily. Soft-shell bags are lighter and easier to maneuver, but of course, they don’t offer the same level of protection as a hard shell. 

David Stock in Sri Lanka

You Need to Think About Straps 

The ultimate best camera backpack for travel will have a large number of straps to make your life easier as a photographer and as a traveler.

If you are planning on lots of hiking, or simply lots of photography, then a bag with a waist strap and potentially a chest strap will help to take the weight off your shoulders.

Many camera backpacks also come with straps on the outside, either on the side or on the back, that can be utilized to store equipment.

You can strap a tripod to the outside, for easy reach, or have a strap to hang your jumper or coat from if you don’t want to stash it away inside or have run out of space.

The best camera backpack for travel might also have a specialized camera clip on the outside, already built into the design, although you can also purchase these separately and attach them.

Camera clips allow you to securely fasten your camera to either the shoulder or waist strap, giving you easy access when you need to shoot, but allowing you to keep your hands free when you aren’t taking photographs.

Hiking on the beach in Costa Rica with camera gear

Padding and Interior Layout

The best camera backpack for travel will give you the option to customize the interior of the bag itself, as modern, specialized camera backpacks are generally designed using a dividing, padding system, that allows you to separate your equipment. 

You will want enough padding on the inside to keep your gear safe and to make sure that if you drop your bag or it takes a hit, that your lenses and camera are super safe inside.

The interior padding systems of camera backpacks also allow you to keep your individual lenses, drones or cameras in various locations within the bag.

This means you can organize your equipment better, protect it better, and arrange it in such a way that gives you quick access to it.

Many lenses and cameras come with their own cases or pouches when you initially purchase them. While high-end camera backpacks, with interior padded layouts, are designed to allow you to travel without carrying additional cases or pouches.

You’ll want to be absolutely certain that your chosen bag does give you the level of protection you need. 

Lina Stock photographing the Lofoten Islands in Norway

You Will Need Pockets

The number of pockets that a bag has can make or break it for photographers too, and this can be one of the most important factors to consider when deciding which bag is best for your needs.

You will want to look at whether your chosen bag has not only outside pockets but inside pockets too. For travel purposes, you might want separate pockets to keep important documents secure.

This will provide a safe place to keep your passport dry and away from prying hands, or perhaps even a secret pocket to keep spare cash stashed away.

For photographers, it’s important to have separate pockets where you can keep your chargers, your spare batteries, and your spare SD cards.

If you have lots of equipment, this is a big factor, because you need to be able to keep your fully charged batteries separate from your empty ones.

You will also want to see if you have an outside pocket that holds a water bottle, especially if you’re hiking, but also to keep any fluids away from your gear in the interior, and you may also want a specific pocket to hold a tripod, as many camera bags have these on the outside for easy reach. 


Best Camera Backpack for Travel Recommendations

Best camera backpack for travel

Case Logic SLR Camera and Laptop Backpack

A tough and ready photo bag designed to keep pace with your approach to photography with rugged styling, professional grade interior and organization for a DSLR camera, drone, and accessories. The backpack fits SLR camera body with attached lens and a variety of accessories

Water-resistant EVA base withstands the elements and allows the backpack to stand up on its own. Memory foam on the interior of the backpack lid helps protect your delicate LCD screen. Adjustable dividers create a fully customizable interior.

Four accessory pockets allow fast access to memory cards and other small items. Industrial strength hook and loop straps on side of the bag hold your tripod. Air mesh on the back panel provides breathability and comfort

SPECS:

  • Freestanding
  • Compact
  • Space Efficient Design
  • Fits 6 lenses
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Tripod Storage: Yes

Check Case Logic SLR Camera and Laptop Backpack price at Amazon


Best camera backpack for travel

Manfrotto MB PL-3N1-36 Pro Light Camera Backpack

A multiple purpose professional camera backpack that allows 3 ways to wear and carry 3 different types of gears. Manfrotto Pro Light 3N1-36 camera backpack is a versatile pack that designed to hold a load of professional photo and video camera gears.

The back can be dedicated 100% to camera gear or reserve the top compartment for personal belonging even though it is now padded too.

By smartly rearranging the dividers inside, you can choose to store photo gear, video gear or even a drone in it: Photo mode: hold maximum 3 bodies plus 5 lenses. Video mode: hold a Canon C100 with handles and lens attached, microphone, 3 additional lenses, and a backup body. 

The front panel together with tuck away secure strap holds your tripod firmly on the bag. The punch through design will allow long tripods to sit on it firmly. Monopod or selfie pole can be attached to the side by the bungee cord. 

SPECS:

  • 3 Different Carry Options
  • Quick Side Openings
  • Rain Protector
  • Fits 7 lenses
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • Tripod Storage: Yes

Check Manfrotto MB PL-3N1-36 Pro Light Camera Backpack price at Amazon


Best camera backpack for travel

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

A pack that adapts to your ever-changing gear, lifestyle and environment, the Everyday Backpack gives you unrivaled accessibility, expandability, and organization. 

The patented MagLatch provides lightning fast top access, with dual side-loading via two weatherproof side zips. Huge external carry capacity made possible by a versatile tuck-away strap system and 2 expandable external side pockets.

Integrated luggage carry makes this bag equally suited for daily commutes and extended travel. Endlessly configurable FlexFold dividers keep photo, drone, or everyday gear organized, protected, and not bunched at the bottom of your bag. 

SPECS:

  • Easy Access Side Flaps
  • Internal Divider
  • Waist Belt
  • Fits 4 lenses
  • Weight: 3.08 lbs
  • Tripod Storage: Yes

Check Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L price at Amazon


Best camera backpack for travel

Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack

A versatile backpack with fully customizable storage and quick access to gear. Padded storage protects a DSLR camera plus a drone and a variety of equipment and accessories. Protects up to a 15.6″ laptop plus an iPad in the back compartment.

Store your personal gear in a spacious compartment with multiple pockets. Store snacks and go-to items in the front zippered pocket. Easily carry a tripod with convenient side panel storage.

Quickly retrieve small accessories through zippered hip belt pockets. A padded, removable hip belt, padded shoulder straps and air mesh back panel combine for ultimate comfort.

SPECS:

  • Hip Belt
  • Room for Drone
  • Laptop Compartment
  • Fits 2 lenses
  • Weight: 3.08 lbs
  • Tripod Storage: Yes

Check Thule Aspect DSLR Backpack price at Amazon


Best camera backpack for travel

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack

The Alta Sky 51D is a dynamic backpack that sets a new standard for adaptable carrying and working solutions.

Featuring innovative 1/3-2/3 division the larger compartment can be fully accessed from the rear, quickly reached from the side, or separately opened from the top, while the smaller compartment enjoys quick individual opening from the bottom front.

The multitude of dividers and access points leave you the choice of just how much professional gear and how much personal gear to carry.  If carrying less gear one can easily turn this backpack into a day pack or hiking backpack.

You can decide which separate access point is for photo gear and which is for personal or hiking gear.

The secure rear compartment protects up to a 15” laptop and can also fit a tablet in the additional padded sleeve (note that double usage is only possible for some laptop + tablet combinations).

SPECS:

  • Great Build Quality
  • Top, Front & Side Access
  • Great Internal Padding
  • Fits 5 lenses
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs
  • Tripod Storage: Yes

Check Vanguard Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack price at Amazon


Lina Stock hiking in China - Best camera backpack for travel

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia: The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts and travel pants.
  • Shop REI: They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw: Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

More on Travel Photography:

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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