8 Best Hiking Camera Backpacks Buyer’s Guide

Hiking Camera Backpacks

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You’ve invested in a camera to take into the great outdoors, so be sure you protect it with the right bag. There are all sorts of camera bags out there, but backpack bags are ideal for taking your camera on hikes — they’re generally rugged enough to protect your gear from the dangers of the trail, while also being spacious and customizable enough to handle all your stuff. The best hiking camera backpacks usually allow you to reconfigure the interior to suit whatever collection of camera bodies, lenses, laptops, and other accessories you happen to have brought along.

That’s a really important consideration. You’ll generally want to find a bag that you can rearrange to accommodate not just the gear you have today, but also whatever upgrades you make next year. Don’t forget pockets and cubbies for spare batteries, memory cards and other items. And do you carry a tripod? There should be a mounting point for one of those, and perhaps even a rain cover to keep everything dry in a storm. And when everything is loaded up, it should still wear comfortably on your back.

You can find some very inexpensive backpacks, but beware — they might lack support, padding, and protection for your camera, or are torture to wear on your back for more than short stints. Here are a collection of truly superb camera backpacks that you won’t regret taking on the hiking trail.

What Are the Best Hiking Camera Backpacks in 2021?

Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag Backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lightweight bag
  • Easy side access to camera
  • Well-padded should straps
Price: $149.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Manfrotto Bumblebee-230 PL Camera Bag Backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Rugged but breathable
  • Lens pouch on waist belt
  • Can carry 17-inch laptop
Price: $204.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Lowepro LP37176 ProTactic Backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • SlipLock attachment system for hanging accessories
  • Waist belt becomes utility belt
  • Holds 13-inch laptop
Price: $189.88 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Compact for easy travel
  • Surprisingly spacious for bodies and lenses
  • Well-padded
Price: $199.75 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
NOMATIC McKinnon Camera Pack camera backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Incredibly well-designed for all-in-one travel
  • Internal support for carrying comfort
  • Expandable but fits in carry-on
Price: $399.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Lowepro Photo Sport Backpack, camera backpack hiking camera backpack camera backpack reviews Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent suspension system
  • Extremely durable
  • Fits 13 inch Macbook Pro
Price: $129.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Gitzo Adventury 30L Camera Backpack Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Ideal for wildlife photographers
  • Can hold multiple telephotos
  • Straps tro secure large tripod
Price: $199.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
G-raphy Camera Hiking Backpack, camera backpack hiking camera backpack camera backpack reviews Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Light weight with adjustable padded dividers
  • Dedicated pockets for 13 inch laptop and 10 inch tablet
  • Includes outer cover for bad weather
Price: $43.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Thule Aspect DSLR Camera Bag Backpack

    Pros:
    • Lightweight bag
    • Easy side access to camera
    • Well-padded should straps
    Cons:
    • No full-rear access to entire bag
    • Can only fit one camera body
    • Arranging gear is challenging

    Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.7 x 20.5 inches | Weight: 3.2 pounds

    Thule’s Aspect DSLR Camera Bag Backpack is an excellent bag that works great for DSLR users with multiple lenses. In addition to the body, lenses and accessories, it fits a laptop or tablet up to about 15.5-inches and there’s a mount for a tripod on the outside. That said, you’ll either love or hate the design of this bag; the back doesn’t unzipper, so there’s no top-down access to the entire bag. Instead, there’s a side access through which you need to insert everything, which can feel a little like you’re solving a jigsaw puzzle to make everything fit. 

    The bag is made of nylon and weighs about 3 pounds empty, and comes with a generous amount of padding for the shoulder straps and hip belt.

  2. 2. Manfrotto Bumblebee-230 PL Camera Bag Backpack

    Pros:
    • Rugged but breathable
    • Lens pouch on waist belt
    • Can carry 17-inch laptop
    Cons:
    • No side-access door for camera access
    • A bit heavy
    • Can be bukly and a lot to carry

    Dimensions: 12.6 x 10.24 x 20.87 inches | Weight: 5.8 pounds

    If you need a larger bag with plenty of storage, look at the Manfrotto Bumblebee-230 PL Camera Bag Backpack, which measures a generous 11.8 x 8.7 x 20.5 inches. The back unzips to reveal room for countless lenses and accessories — you can probably fit two telephotos, another eight or nine standard and wide-angle lenses, and still have room for accessories. In fact, there’s no better signal that this is a large bag than the fact that you can pack a 17-inch laptop in here. Despite the size, it should qualify for carry-on on most airplanes.

    The bag’s many sections are highly customizable. It has a tripod mount, tons of padding, and a secret weapon: A small lens pouch in the waist belt, letting you swap lenses without dismounting and rooting through the bag.

  3. 3. Lowepro ProTactic Backpack 350 AW II

    Pros:
    • SlipLock attachment system for hanging accessories
    • Waist belt becomes utility belt
    • Holds 13-inch laptop
    Cons:
    • Bag is a little bulky
    • Can't accomodate a large laptop
    • Packing a lot of lenses is difficult

    Dimensions: 11.81 x 7.09 x 18.5 inches | Weight: 4.7 pounds

    Lowepro is one of the most well-respected names in camera bags, and the Lowepro ProTactic Backpack is a good example of why. This modular bag is chock full of exterior attachment points to add quick attach, quick adjustable straps to hang anything you need on the bag. Inside, there’s a ton of room and reconfigurable partitions to store multiple lenses, bodies, and even a drone. It’ll hold a 13-inch laptop as well. And you can quickly pull out your camera thanks to the side access door.

    The waist strap converts into a handy utility belt with water bottle holder, tripod cup, and quick straps for holding lenses and other accessories. And it includes a rain pouch to keep the water-resistant bag dry in the elements.

  4. 4. Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack

    Pros:
    • Compact for easy travel
    • Surprisingly spacious for bodies and lenses
    • Well-padded
    Cons:
    • No side door access for camera
    • No waist belt
    • Can't hold a laptop

    Dimensions: 9.8 x 18.5 x 8.3 inches | Weight: 3.5 pounds

    The Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack features a tall and narrow design that can handle almost anything you need to pack, including one or two bodies and as many as a half-dozen lenses. The slimmer profile means it can’t handle large laptops, though; this is really best suited for a 10-inch tablet. You can strap a tripod to the front of the bag, and padded shoulder straps hold it all comfortably on your back.

    Photographers with two bodies will love the side-by-side layout here, but there are some compromises. One big zippered door opens up the whole inside to view;  there’s no smaller accessory or personal item compartment on top. And there’s no waist strap, either, which might bother hikers who prefer not to carry the whole load on their shoulders.

  5. 5. Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack

    Pros:
    • Incredibly well-designed for all-in-one travel
    • Internal support for carrying comfort
    • Expandable but fits in carry-on
    Cons:
    • Base price is high
    • Important accessories cost extra
    • Among the heaviest bags you can buy

    Dimensions: 9.1 x 22.4 x 13 inches | Weight: 5.8 pounds

    You know Peter McKinnon, right? YouTuber, photographer, filmmaker. He collaborated with Nomatic to create the Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack Travel Camera Bag, and the result is a formidably priced backpack that is definitely worth every penny. It’s not just a camera bag, it’s a complete travel “system” that can replace your ordinary luggage when you travel — it has dedicated clothing compartments, is endlessly configurable for camera gear or personal items, and even expands with a zip to add extra depth if needed.

    On the trail, it has a slew of handy quick-access side pockets, including a side door to your camera without opening the whole bag. It fits a 16-inch laptop and comes with small cases to hold memory cards and batteries. There’s even a full internal suspension system to help make the admittedly heavy bad ride easier on your back.

  6. 6. Lowepro Photo Sport Backpack

    Pros:
    • Excellent suspension system
    • Fits 13 inch Macbook Pro
    • Protects gear using included weatherproof cover
    Cons:
    • Internal storage space is limited
    • No external tripod mount
    • Access to camera area limited to side door

    Dimensions: 24.5 x 19.5 x 52 | Weight: 2.6 pounds

    Lowepro is known for its attractive, versatile, and durable camera gear, and the Lowepro Photo Sport Backpack is among the most lightweight bags you can buy, clocking in at about 2.6 pounds. There are actually two variations of this bag; the 200 is a bit smaller and designed for mirrorless cameras, which tend to be more compact, and the 300, which is better suited to DSLRs. Regardless of which one you choose, this camera backpack is relatively inexpensive (just a few ticks over $100), light, easy to carry and highly configurable. 

    The bag’s signature feature is a fully integrated suspension system that mounts padded should straps and waist belt to an integrated back structure with pads. The waist belt has quick-access pockets and there’s something you rarely see in camera backpacks — a dedicated water bladder pouch to help you stay hydrated. And this bag will surprise you with the sheer number of compartments and thoughtful design touches. The exterior is chock full of pockets and pouches, and there’s a side door access to your camera, along with top-mount access for personal items like a jacket. 

  7. 7. Gitzo Adventury 30L Camera Backpack

    Pros:
    • Ideal for wildlife photographers
    • Can hold multiple telephotos
    • Straps tro secure large tripod
    Cons:
    • Large and heavy
    • Inner compartment a tight fit
    • Laptop size limited

    Dimensions: 12.2 x 7.48 x 18.9 inches | Weight: 4.2 pounds

    Gitzo targets the Adventury 30L Camera Backpack directly at bird, wildlife, nature and landscape photographers. With a voluminous interior, it can accommodate multiple telephoto lenses and a camera body fitted with a 200mm lens. The inside is configurable with velcro dividers and can handle multiple bodies or a drone as well. The exterior shell is water repellant, and there are multiple straps to secure even very large tripods.

  8. 8. G-raphy Camera Hiking Backpack

    Pros:
    • Lightweight with adjustable padded dividers
    • Dedicated pockets for 13 inch laptop and 10 inch tablet
    • Good quality bag allows for large storage
    • Includes outer cover for bad weather
    Cons:
    • Bag is on the small side
    • Internal padding is thin
    • No side-door access for camera

    Dimensions: 16 x 11 x 6 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds

    Looking for a budget-priced bag that clocks in well under $100? The G-raphy Camera Hiking Backpack is an inexpensive, lightweight bag to carry around your gear. It boasts many internal dividers allowing for easy dividing of your stuff, and it’s built to accommodate small laptops (up to 13 inches) and tablets. Of course, priced under $50, it’s not going to compete with high-end bags that cost $200 or more — but if you don’t need a super-resilient and rugged bag for long treks into the wild, the G-raphy might be for you, perfectly adequate for light day hikes and shooting around town.

    This bag isn’t especially large — it’s 16x11x6 inches overall — but it can accommodate a smaller DSLR and a couple of lenses, or mirrorless camera and accessories. You get the usual Velcro partitions you can use to rearrange the interior as needed, and you can fit laptops up to about 15 inches as well. 

  • How to Shop for a Hiking Camera Backpack

    It pays to invest in a good backpack for your camera. Not only is it handy for hiking, camping and backpacking, but the right backpack is also great for vacations and day trips, always keeping your camera, lenses and gear within arm's reach. The good news is you have a lot of excellent choices; in addition to well-known photo brands like Think Tank and Lowepro, there are smaller and more niche brands that offer excellent backpacks as well. That said, general-purpose backpacks are not suitable for camera gear. You need a backpack that's designed expressly for photographers. Here's what to look for:

    Configurability. Inside most camera backpacks you'll find Velcro dividers. Because all camera gear is different and the bag designer doesn't know what your lens collection looks like, you can move the dividers around to make the perfect enclosure for your gear. This feature is pretty much table stakes in any backpack; don't even consider a bag you can't rearrange to suit your equipment. That said, there's another side to this story: Some photographers remove the dividers to get more usable space from their camera bag. 

    Size. How much gear do you have? That'll determine the size of your backpack. You can get a smaller bag if you have a compact mirrorless camera and just a lens or two; invest in a big bag if you have a DSLR, multiple lenses, and possibly even two different bodies. The best camera backpack, if you have a lot of gear, will let you store two bodies with lenses already mounted, so you can quickly grab the camera you need.

    Compartments. In addition to the main compartment, you might want your camera bag to have a top-load compartment to put personal items like sunglasses, car keys and more. Some bags even have room to pack a jacket up there. Many backpacks have thoughtful touches like quick-access pockets to store memory cards, spare batteries and other small items you need to reach quickly, without opening the entire bag.

    Comfort. A lot of first-time backpack buyers focus too much on how much gear a bag can fit and neglect comfort entirely -- until they find themselves struggling with the bag on a long hike. The best backpacks have an internal suspension system that helps distribute the weight, as well as padded shoulder straps and a waist strap. The waist strap moves much of the load off your shoulders, and is important for heavier bags.

    Protection. How well will the bag protect your gear? That's the whole point of the backpack, after all. Your bag should have a generous amount of foam padding in the outer structure -- if it feels like a flimsy nylon shell, it won't protect anything if you drop the bag -- and the dividers that separate your gear should feel like they offer some padding as well.

    Weatherproof. If you take your camera gear outdoors, you need to worry about the weather. Pay attention to the material your backpack is made from; be sure it's water-resistant, and bonus points if it comes with a waterproof rain cover. And while you're thinking about the construction of the bag, assess if it's durable and likely to survive bumps, scrapes, and the kind of wear and tear a backpack suffers on the road, being loaded into overhead storage, and on the trail outdoors.

  • See Also:

    8 Best Drone Cases For Travel & Storage

  • 9 Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners
  • 11 Best Point and Shoot Cameras

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