If you are looking to carry plenty of camera equipment outdoors, then you should definitely think about getting yourself a camera backpack. For long hikes, a camera backpack is a must-have since it can make your journey much more convenient.
Today, our post is going to be aimed at helping you find the best camera backpack for hiking. We have 10 backpack suggestions coming your way along with an in-depth buyer’s guide.
Let’s kick off our guide without further ado!
We’ve picked backpacks with distinct features and from different price ranges to keep our top ranking diverse. All our picks are interesting in their own ways – below, we’ll help you understand what makes each backpack stand out.
We had a lot of fun writing these backpack reviews! And we hope that you do too – there are so many things and handy features to look forward to in camera backpacks!
The AmazonBasics SLR camera sling backpack is a solid option for short hiking trips. It’s rather inexpensive, and it also has all the basics to keep your gear secure.
The SLR bag is actually a sling bag rather than a true backpack. Thanks to its sling design, SLR allows you to quickly access your camera gear on the go. However, for long trips, the single shoulder strap of SLR might not be very convenient.
When it comes to internal compartments, the sling backpack can hold an SLR camera body, up to 2 lenses, and accessories like batteries or whatnot. The interior dividers are padded too and can be adjusted somewhat to tightly fit various gear.
The Altura Photo camera backpack is made with DSLR camera owners in mind. Although this backpack won’t be able to fit the largest DSLR models on the market, it will accommodate most of them.
Among the cameras that you could comfortably put in this thing are Canon M50 EOS R/RP, 90D, Nikon D5600, Sony A7iii, and many others. Check the product description for some other camera models as well.
In terms of capacity, the Altura Photo camera backpack should fit one camera with a lens attached, 4-5 extra lenses, a dedicated flash, and accessories. Camera stuff aside, this backpack also has dedicated pockets for a laptop (up to 14 inches), a few exterior pockets, and a mounting strap for a tripod.
To help you comfortably carry all that heavy gear, this camera backpack also has a chest strap for more even weight distribution.
This camera backpack from Beschoi is a little more compact than the Altura Photo backpack. However, it retains similar functionality and even adds new things!
But first up, camera gear capacity. All in all, you can pack the same things as with the Altura Photo backpack. There is again a side strap for tripod carrying too. However, the overall space is a little smaller, so the Beschoi backpack won’t take as large camera models.
The Beschoi backpack again has a dedicated interior pocket for an up to 13.3-inch laptop. Additionally, you are getting a small zippered pocket for small items on the side of the backpack.
This camera backpack offers pretty nice water resistance as well. Beschoi advertises it to be waterproof, but it actually isn’t such because the zippers don’t keep water out effectively.
If you want something at the price point of the AmazonBasics SLR sling backpack but with more space for gear, have a look at this backpack from G-raphy. It’s priced roughly the same but offers way better organizational capabilities!
Aside from the main compartment with adjustable dividers, this camera backpack has an interior mesh pocket for accessories like chargers or batteries. Additionally, this thing has a tripod holder strap on the side.
What we also like about this backpack is that its zippers are lockable. However, they are flimsy and won’t keep out everyone.
Being an inexpensive backpack, this model probably won’t withstand heavy hiking well. Its shell still has pretty decent water protection though, and G-raphy also kindly provides a rain cover to help you keep your gear dry and safe.
This backpack may seem familiar to you. Well, it’s pretty much exactly the large Beschoi backpack reviewed a bit earlier, just in a smaller size. So if you liked that camera backpack but wanted something more space-saving, this one might be just for you!
Sized noticeably smaller than its large brother, the small Beschoi camera backpack lacks a few compartments. It will take smaller DSLR cameras and 1-2 fewer lenses too. However, it still has solid organization features, and it retains the side tripod holder strap along with the small item pocket.
The build in this camera backpack is identical to that in the large backpack. It’s all in all pretty good and does a decent job at water protection, but it’s again not waterproof, unlike what the product description suggests.
The Beschoi XL camera backpack offers a remarkable amount of space for photo equipment. It can fit a DSLR camera with an 8-inch lens attached, a few extra lenses, and plenty of small items.
Remarkably, the items in this backpack are organized a little differently than in previous picks. The camera, for example, is placed in a side pocket that is easily accessible from the front. This might be a huge advantage for some people.
With that said, keep in mind that the XL backpack doesn’t offer the same customizability as its small counterparts, so it’s not as versatile in use.
The AmazonBasics DSLR camera backpack offers excellent value for the money. Though it’s not the roomiest or sturdiest backpack on this top, it arguably offers the best balance of organizability, comfort, and price.
In our opinion, the highlight of this backpack is its supportiveness. Thanks to its chest and hip straps, this camera backpack distributes weight rather evenly, which should allow for reduced fatigue during prolonged hikes.
The pockets and compartments in this backpack are nice as well. The adjustable camera gear compartment can take up to 2 SLR camera bodies, 3-4 lenses, a 17-inch laptop, and other small items. Additionally, the side strap makes tripod carrying easy.
The one thing that this backpack lacks is a water bottle pocket. Given how long you can travel with this thing, the lack of this pocket is rather underwhelming.
The Truckee BP 150 LX backpack from Lowepro is a great option if you want equal space for personal and camera gear. This backpack dedicates its lower portion to camera items, while the rest is for other things.
The camera compartment has adjustable dividers and can fit a compact DLSR/mirrorless camera with 1-2 extra lenses or batteries. So relative to its size, the Truckee backpack offers little space for photo gear.
The upper compartment offers a number of pockets for smaller items like tablets, clothes, or snacks. You are additionally getting a tripod/water bottle holder on the side, as well as a zippered front pocket for small items.
The main downside of this backpack is water protection. Though it takes splashes fine, it probably won’t keep your stuff dry under rain.
If you are looking to carry a lot of equipment on you for days, then the Tanuck 40 camera backpack from Mountainsmith is an excellent purchase. This thing is rather steeply priced, but if you truly need its features, it is worth it.
For us, the highlight of this backpack is modularity. It has D-rings and MOLLE-style accessory attachment points, and you can also remove the waist belt to replace it with a lumbar pack for quick access to your essentials.
Tanuck 40 provides excellent support too thanks to its padded shoulder & lumbar straps, as well as the chest strap. The back area is padded with a breathable mesh material as well.
To help you organize your items, Tanuck also boasts a huge number of main and accessory pockets – all padded and well-protected!
Finally, for exceptional outdoor durability, this backpack features a blend of nylon & Cordura fabrics. Mountainsmith additionally provides a rain cover for added protection, though the backpack is by itself highly water-resistant.
Lastly, we have this camera backpack from SoarOwl. It’s a not too expensive option with a good set of features.
The most notable feature of this camera backpack is the modularity. It has a number of removable pockets – both inside and outside – allowing you to customize your gear layout.
What’s also nice about this backpack is that it offers a good amount of support and comfort. The back panel is padded and is highly breathable, while the chest and hip straps will take some load off your back.
The SoarOwl backpack has a few interesting small details as well – the USB charging port, the headphone hole, and the integrated lock. The lock probably won’t be too secure, but it’s nice if you have nothing else.
Obviously enough, a camera backpack is a backpack specifically designed to safely store camera equipment. A camera backpack is just one among many types of camera bags, so we think it’s worth first talking about its uses and benefits.
Generally, camera backpacks are the best for traveling photographers. If you have a lot of camera gear to take with you outdoors, then a camera backpack is ideal primarily because it will offer the best comfort and weight distribution among all camera bag types.
When it comes to protection, camera backpacks are unparalleled as well. If you get yourself a high-end backpack, you can expect to get perks like shock resistance and waterproofing for camera protection.
Aside from that, camera backpacks usually have some spare room for clothes, snacks, and other non-camera-related items. Needless to say, the amount of space available for clothes is less than in regular travel backpacks, but it’s more than nothing.
When it comes to downsides in camera backpacks, they are as follows:
With that, you hopefully now know whether or not a camera backpack is the right type of camera bag for your needs!
Now that we’ve established the uses and benefits of camera backpacks, let’s try to understand how to choose one. In this section, we are going to cover the key features that you should be paying attention to in a camera backpack.
If you’ve ever shopped for a travel backpack, you’ll notice some similarities between the two backpack types. Well, whether or not designed for camera gear, a backpack always has the same base design, so their shopping considerations are largely identical.
Water protection is very important to consider when traveling outdoors. As we’ve said in our previous guides, this is not only because you want to protect your gear from water but also because water protection is difficult to understand for buyers.
Camera backpacks can have three “levels” of water protection – no protection, water-resistant, and waterproof. No protection is obvious, whereas the other two levels should be covered more in-depth:
As you can see, even though the two terms have similar meanings, they are dramatically different in practice.
Aside from these subtle differences, what also makes choosing a camera backpack different is that the level of water protection is often mis-advertised. Water-resistant backpacks are often advertised as waterproof, while backpacks that offer subpar water protection may be advertised as water-resistant.
With that in mind, you need to actually understand how to identify truly water-resistant/waterproof camera backpacks! Luckily, this is rather easy – you just have to look for a few features and specs:
Among the most popular backings are polyurethane (PU), TPE (thermoplastic elastomers), or PVC (polyvinyl chloride). As for coating, backpack makers use Teflon or other similar materials to force the water to bead on the surface of the outer shell and roll off.
So as you can see, there’s a lot to consider when we are talking about water protection. If you do want your backpack to protect your photo gear from water, then be careful with what you are getting.
With all that said, do you actually even need a camera backpack with water protection? This depends – for short trips, you may not need any. However, we think that no matter the budget, you should try to get at least a water-resistant backpack.
As for long trips, you should probably get yourself a waterproof backpack just in case.
Consider the outdoor terrain as well – if there’s a high risk of water splashes or accidental submersion, then get yourself a well-protected camera backpack.
You should pay careful attention to the fabric of the backpack’s outer shell. No matter what the outer shell is made of, it should ideally be tear-, abrasion-, and UV-resistant. These features would allow your backpack to stay intact despite the hardships of outdoor travel.
Ripstop nylon is perhaps the most popular tear- and puncture-resistant fabric in travel backpacks. It’s a rather good pick for camera backpacks because it retains its integrity for a long time.
Another similar material is Cordura. This is a family of synthetic fabrics developed in 1929 by DuPont. Cordura is valued in the military and other demanding fields thanks to its resistance to abrasion, tearing, and water. Cordura usually is self-extinguishing as well.
Check out the denier of the outer shell too. It’s denoted with the letter D. A high denier corresponds to a stronger fabric. But also remember that high-denier fabrics tend to have bad water protection.
Know that when comparing deniers, it’s pointless to compare the deniers of different fabrics. This is because a strong fabric with a low D rating can be stronger than a weak fabric with a higher D rating.
A good camera backpack will come with removable padded inserts. These inserts allow you to customize the interior compartments of the backpack to be able to snugly fit your specific pieces of equipment.
Some camera backpacks may have prebuilt, non-customizable compartments. Though such backpacks may work for many people, a customizable backpack would be preferable.
The camera gear compartments should provide adequate protection, including protection from water, dust, and impact. You may use your own means to protect your equipment from these elements, but it would be ideal if your backpack had protection by itself.
If you are looking to carry items other than photo gear, then look for a backpack that has some extra pockets.
One thing to keep in mind with camera backpacks is the zipper quality. Zippers rather often fail in camera backpacks, and when you are carrying thousands of dollars worth of equipment, you don’t want your zippers to go bad.
Photo gear can get pretty heavy, so you should also carefully consider comfort & support in a camera backpack. With that, here are the key things that you should be looking for:
It would also be nice if your camera backpack had lockable zippers. Though your backpack won’t be impenetrable no matter how protected it is, a locked zipper is an extra barrier that will stop most intruders.
Camera backpacks have a number of cool features that may come in handy in travel. So if you often have to carry camera gear with you, such a backpack is a worthy buy!
Our top 10 picks are a good place to start, but feel free to choose any other backpack of your liking. Just be sure to follow the tips we’ve given you throughout the guide!