Hiking Camera Backpack for Travel: Top 5 + How to Choose

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Choosing the hiking camera backpack is not an easy task. There are so many factors that go into finding that perfect bag for you and your needs.

It may be difficult to foresee yourself lugging heavy, expensive camera equipment through the back-country.

Fumbling along with large lenses, separate gear bags and straps galore is enough to make anyone want to stick with simple cellphone pictures.

Luckily, backpack outfitters saw that photographers and hikers did not need to be mutually exclusive.

Now manufacturers have produced some exquisite hiking camera backpacks that perfectly marry the needs of the adventure lover with those that are always looking for the perfect shot.

Durable versatile backpacks made to protect precious equipment now pepper the market and give a chance to any aspiring outdoor photographer.

Of course, assessing which hiking camera backpack is right for you comes with a lot of research.  

You want something big enough to fit all your needs, adjustable enough to suit your ever-changing kit, durable enough to protect your precious cargo and accessible enough for those quick shot moments.

Let’s take a look at what makes the best hiking camera backpacks.

Best Hiking Camera Backpack: Top 5

Best camera hiking backpackLowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AW
-Great compartmentalization
-Well padded straps and belt
-Back panel and top access
-Built in raincover
-Light (3.08lbs)
-Storage pocket on waist belt
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Best Camera Hiking backpackBurton F-stop Pack
-Stylish Design
-Great compartmentalization
-Ample number of pockets
-Internal dividers
-28L capacity
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Best camera hiking backpackMountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack
-40l of storage
-Good compartmentalization
-Water resistant CORDURA materials
-Top lid can be detached and turned into a chest mount mini-pack
-MOLLE style webbing on the exterior
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Best camera hiking backpackOsprey UltraLight Camera Case
-Well padded
-Can be attached to backpack
-Comfortable strap
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Best camera hiking backpackVanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack
-Plenty of storage options
-Big enough for camera kit and hiking gear
-Rear storage flap can carry a drone or tripod
-Integrated rain cover
-Very comfortable
-Rear, top and side access
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Quick Answer: Best Hiking Camera Backpacks

How to Choose the Best Hiking Camera Backpack

Using a Vanguard Camera bag in the Amazon - hiking camera backpack
Hiking in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru with a Vanguard Camera backpack

How to Judge Load Capacity

Knowing what size backpack to get should be your first concern when assessing which backpack is right for you.

Naturally, even the nicest backpack is rendered useless if you can’t bring along the photography equipment you purchased the backpack for.  

The best way to do this is to first take out all of the gear that you are intending to use most often, making sure to include any long-focus lenses you may want to utilize.

Splay the equipment on the ground in a pack-able way and measure the dimensions. This should give you a general idea of the dimensions/liter size you are looking for. Liter sizes generally range from 14-60.

But don’t leave that gear sit! Bring everything with you to the store so you can make sure it all fits with room left for hiking gear, water and snacks.

When you try on the backpack (with your gear inside) it should feel snug with the pressure evenly distributed over your waist, while still giving you full range of motion.

Hiking rice terraces in China
Hiking through rice terraces in China with a Tenba camera backpack

Finding a Comfortable Harnessing System

Camera equipment can be extremely heavy weighing upwards of 50 lbs.  That is why finding a backpack that gives you the maximum amount of support and comfort is so key.

To achieve this the best hiking camera backpacks, incorporate both chest and waist belt straps with strong buckles and heavy padding.

These straps prevent the pack from pulling on your shoulders and evenly distributes the weight over your waist. Thicker padding will keep you comfortable on long treks with heavier loads, preventing blisters and overall fatigue.

Some brands even feature pockets on the waist belt that allow you quick access to things like snacks, gloves or extra batteries.

Bird Watching in the Peruvian Amazon
Bird watching in the Peruvian Amazon

Camera Protection

When you spend thousands of dollars on camera gear the last thing you want is to bust it on the first tree you accidentally bang into or rainstorm you get caught in.

That is why choosing a durable, heavy-duty well-padded camera backpack is crucial.

You want to make sure that the pack you choose touts a weatherproof (not just waterproof) label.  

Weatherproof packs have been tested to stand up against rains, winds, heat, dust and general grit. It should be ready for anything that mother nature wants to throw at you.

Thick external padding is another feature of the best camera backpacks. The layers of padding act as shock absorption in case you take a tumble on the rocks or smack it against a boulder.

You will also want to make sure that the pack has well-sealed seams and tough as nails YKK zippers. These things will keep the elements from penetrating in during your worst scenarios.

Many good quality packs will come with a built-in rain cover, in case things get really messy. However, water-resistant materials and/or treatments are always a bonus.  

Hiking in the Galapagos Islands
Hiking in the Galapagos Islands with a Tenba camera backpack

Ability to Customize

Every photography knows, from novice to expert, that your photography gear is ever-evolving. You build a small arsenal of lenses, straps, tripods, batteries, flashes, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes you need the big guns and sometimes just a few key pieces. That is why the best camera backpacks need the ability to evolve with you.

Almost all camera specific backpacks come with padded inserts and the best have Velcro features allowing you to move them freely throughout the main compartment to best organize your gear.

Velcro also means you will be able to switch out the compartments from multiple backpacks if you had the desire. Or if you want to go completely rogue you can remove all of the inserts and turn your bag into a regular hiking backpack for the day.

Also, similar to your waist belt, you will want the inserts with the most padding. This will prevent your equipment from banging together as you hike.

Although, if the equipment is tightly packed and you want the benefit of added storage space, thinner pads may be the way to go.

Lina Stock walking on a beach in Costa Rica
Photographing birds in Costa Rica with my Vanguard camera backpack

Added Features

Everyone loves extras! Some backpacks are more intricate than others giving you access to things you not have realized you needed or wanted.

Here are some features to think about that just might round off your perfect camera backpack.

  • Tripod carrier: It always pays off to have a tripod to get that perfect well focused shot.  Look for a tripod carrying option. These are usually straps on the sides, back or top.
  • Hydration pack compartment: This is an awesome feature for long hikes because it frees up space and you don’t have to carry multiple water bottles.  Although, make sure that if you want to utilize this compartment that it is sealed or lined in some way to prevent leaks from reaching your equipment. You may even consider lining the hydration pack with a dry bag for extra security.
  • Laptop sleeve: This is a padded sleeve on the front or rear of the bag and helps those that want to upload and/or edit on the fly. Generally, it is better if it is located on the back to prevent damage if you bang against things. Also, it should be noted that carrying your laptop on long distances may make your pack stiffer and more uncomfortable.
  • External storage: Pockets on the hip belt sides or front of the backpack allow for easy access to gear, SD cards, gloves or a hat without having to rifle through the bag to get to things you regularly need.
  • Air-mesh Backing: This allows for maximum breath-ability when hiking in warmer climates and keeps the sweat from soaking into the backpack.
  • Multiple Access Points: With multiple access points you should be able to get to any necessary piece of gear without the struggle of unstrapping and putting your bag on the ground. Camera backpacks with only top access are burdensome or just not very big.

Best Hiking Camera Backpack Recommendations

Choosing the best hiking camera backpack

Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AW

This Lowepro camera backpack is extremely versatile and can easily glide from travel to hiking and even daily use. It has well-padded shoulder and waist straps and can fit a standard DSLR with attached lenses as well as 2 extra lenses, a tripod, tablet, hiking gear and water bottles.

It has a patented ActivZone suspension that maximizes all day comfort and a built-in rain cover making sure your equipment never sees a touch of rain.


  • Back panel quick access
  • Multiple internal and external compartments
  • Weighs 3.08 lbs
  • Well-padded straps and belt
  • Back panel and top access
  • Built-in rain cover
  • ActivZone suspension

Check Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AW price at Amazon

Choosing the best hiking camera backpack

Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack

The Mountainsmith Tanuck is an extraordinarily well-designed behemoth that gives you everything you could ever want out of a camera backpack. While listed as a 40L bag it packs in up to 60L of gear, or the equivalent of 50 lbs.

The top lid can be detached and turned into a chest mount mini-pack and gives you an ample amount of external storage pockets. It is made with tough water-resistant materials and includes a hydration/laptop sleeve.

Given all of this and its capacity to be used on multi-day treks in the wilderness why this pack is the love of many experienced outdoor photographers.  


  • Weighs 5lbs
  • MOLLE-style webbing for external attachments
  • Constructed with Cordura nylon
  • YKK zippers
  • Back panel access
  • Removable rain cover
  • Airmesh backing
  • 40l of storage

Check Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack price at Amazon

Choosing the best hiking camera backpack

Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack

The Vanguard is a great standard option that does exactly what it is supposed to. It is made from high-quality durable material with heavily padded shoulder straps and waist belt.

This backpack also includes a fun rear storage flap that can fit a small drone or a tripod depending on your preference. It has a large amount of compartmentalized storage both internally and externally and is just overall a nice bag for any skill level or adventure spirit.


  • Built-in rain cover
  • Rear, sides and top access points
  • 13” laptop sleeve
  • Double security buckles
  • Ergonomic Air System back, harness & waist belt
  • Multiple tripod connections
  • Stowable connector straps
  • Weighs 4.9lbs

Check Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack price at Amazon

Choosing the best hiking camera backpack

Burton F-Stop Pack

For best results when shooting snowboarding photos, head into mountains with the Burton F-Stop 28L Camera Backpack and a well-defined plan.

This bag has been field-tested by the best in the business. It has features like padded, move-able internal pockets, attachment points for all your camera equipment, and a cushioned shoulder harness.


  • Stylish Design
  • Great compartmentalization
  • Ample number of pockets
  • Internal dividers
  • 28L capacity
  • Weight- 5.1 lbs

Check Burton F-stop Pack price at Amazon

Choosing the best hiking camera backpack

Osprey Ultralight Camera Case

For those who just want a simple, no-frills camera case to sling over their shoulder, the Osprey Ultralight is pretty much the ideal carry solution.

It’s light, well-padded, big enough to carry a spare lens and has a comfy shoulder strap. The ideal minimalist carry-solution for clipping onto your backpack!


  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Well padded
  • Can be attached to a backpack
  • Neck & Shoulder strap carrying options
  • Comfortable strap
  • Weight- 4.2 oz.

Check Osprey UltraLight Camera Case price at Amazon

Divergent Traveler in Iceland
Hiking behind a waterfall in Iceland

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.
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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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