The never ending search for the perfect camera backpack. What is the perfect camera backpack?
Does it even exist?
First we’ll compare the top backpacks for hiking then get into the buying guide. What do those features even mean?
Top Camera Backpacks Compared
|LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II||Atlas Athlete Camera Backpack||Shimoda Action X50 V2||WANDRD Fernweh||F-Stop Tilopa 50||Moment Strohl Mountain Light||Nomatic x Peter Mckinnon|
|Summary||Great City and travel pack that can hit the trail too||Comfortable with heavier loads with space for camping and camera gear||Easy to access and configurable bag for gnarly terrain||Larger bag with room for backpacking gear and a bucket divider||Highly water resistant and larger for carrying more gear||Waterproof, ultralight pack for backpacking gear too||Travel and City pack that can hit the trail|
|Size||25 litres||20-40 liters||50 liters (25, 30, 40 and 70 liter versions available)||50 liters||50 liters||45 liters||35 to 42 liters|
|4.95 pounds||6 pounds|
|Configurability||3 long dividers, 2 medium dividers and 5 short dividers||15 dividers included|
7 or 10 liters in camera area
|Small, medium, large DSLR and Mirrorless Core Units with velcro dividers||Mini, Essential, and Pro camera cubes fit inside with velcro dividers||Pro-Large, Pro-XL, Medium and Small camera inserts with velcro dividers||Your own or the Mountain Light Camera Insert||4 medium and 5 small dividers|
|Tripod storage||Straps on side||Straps on side||Removable pouch with straps on side||Stowable pockets on side with straps||Straps on side||Straps on side||Strap and pockets on side|
|Access Points||Top, back panel and both sides||Top and back panel||Roll top, sides, and side folding back panel||Back panel, front and sides||Back panel and top||Back panel and top||Back panel and sides|
|Laptop storage||Yes||Yes, up to 16″||Yes, 2 laptops/tablets up to 16″||Yes||Yes||No||Yes, up to 16″|
|Hip Belt||Yes, removeable||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Price||$399 USD||$485 USD||$429 USD||$369 USD||$499.99 USD||$249 USD||$399 USD|
|Protactic 450 Review||Atlas Athlete Camera Backpack Review|
|Website||LowePro website||Atlas website||Shimoda website||WANDRD website||F-Stop website||Moment website||Nomatic website|
Camera backpack features to look for
Many camera packs forget comfort in the search for endless configuration and dividers inside. Make sure you try on the pack before you buy with some weight in it.
Back, side and top access
The difference between regular backpacks and camera backpacks is the access. Whole back, side or top panels open giving easy access to your gear.
The hallmark camera backpack access is the large back panel. The whole back of the bag opens up when it’s sitting on the ground. From there you can access your camera bodies, lenses and drones.
Side access to the pack is a fast access while you’re wearing it. A small side panel opens straight into your main camera.
Some camera packs have a top access too. This might be into your camera gear or into another compartment for camping gear or clothes.
Configurable cubes and dividers
To hold your camera inside the pack, there’s usually a removable camera cube or built-in area that can be divided by soft, bendable velcro dividers.
Cubes are removable and can be put into other backpacks but the extra layers and lids can get bulky inside a pack. Some cubes like the Mountain Light in the Moment Strohl pack are very thin but still strong and protective.
Some packs like the Lowepro ProTactic has a built in area made from the soft velcro material that you can divide however you want.
Laptop and tablet storage
Most camera bags come with some sort of laptop storage but some don’t. Be careful it’s big enough if you have a 15″ or 16″ laptop. Some only fit 13″ laptops and tablets.
Removable hip belt
Most bigger camera bags will have a waist belt and some are removable. It’s nice to have the remove it if you are using it more like a small city or travel bag. When you’re going for long days or have a lot in your pack, the waist belt will take some of the weight off your shoulders.
A camera bag wouldn’t be much. of a camera bag if it didn’t have somewhere to store a tripod. Most of the time, they attach to the side with a strap and sometimes a pocket to hold the bottom of the legs. The pockets can double as water bottle holders as well.
External attachment points
No matter how much space inside there is, there’s often other stuff to hang from your bag. Anything external could fall off easier so be mindful of what you put out there. Other tripods or sleeping mats can attach to the outside with attachment points. Most bags have a few on the bottom sides and back for small clips or carabiners to attach to.
What’s your favourite camera pack?
Have you used the perfect camera pack? What’s great about it? What sucks?