The 7 Best Outdoor Camera Bags for Photographers

Hiking and traveling with your camera made easy

September 14, 2022 11:56 am
a collage of camera bags on a two-toned camo background
The best camera bags can and should be able to take a serious beating.
Getty Images

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Outdoor photographers demand a lot from their equipment, including the camera bag that holds all those precious camera bodies, lenses, and other gear. Whether it comes in the form of a backpack or sling an outdoor camera bag must be durable, water-resistant (sometimes even waterproof), comfortable, and easy to operate in a variety of environments.

Luckily, outdoor camera bags have come a long way in the past decade. From leading brands such as LowePro and F-Stop who specialize in outdoor photography carrying systems to smaller, more niche companies like Peak Design and ThinkTank Photo, photographers hitting the trail, water, or dirt roads have more options than ever before. Here’s what you should look out for and our favorite outdoor camera bags to get you started.

What to look for

Carrying System: While most hikers prefer a traditional backpack for comfort on long treks, other alternatives such as easy-access sling-style packs and durable, protective hard cases are becoming more popular. 

Amount of Gear: If you’ve got one camera body and two lenses, you can get away with a much smaller bag than someone with three bodies and six lenses. Think about what you’re carrying beyond camera gear as well: do you need to carry a tent and sleeping bag, cooking supplies and food, or maybe a few liters of water? Plan accordingly.

Water resistance: If you’re often shooting from boats or on the water, consider a bag that manages well in wet, unpredictable conditions, you may also find some waterproof bags on the market.

For Serious Mountaineers

The F-Stop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond in green on a gray background
F-Stop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond
B&H Photo

F-Stop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond

The Tilopa from F-Stop has quickly become synonymous with expedition-ready, high-quality camera bags for outdoorsmen who are pushing their limits in the field. The Tilopa is one of their signature bags, and for good reason. The shoulder straps and hip belt are well-padded with BLOOM algae-based foam. The aluminum frame shifts the pack’s weight to the hips for comfort, and the brand’s DuraDiamond fabric is strong, lightweight, and weather-resistant. Pair with one of the brand’s camera bag inserts to keep gear safe and organized.

For Mirrorless Shooters

The LowePro PhotoSport Backpack on a gray background
LowePro PhotoSport Backpack

LowePro PhotoSport Backpack

This all-around photo outdoors camera backpack is ideal for day hikers and those who want to fit a mirrorless camera and a few extra lenses in their kit. It’s lightweight and made of 75% recycled fabric. The PhotoSport has side access to a removable camera insert, a strap system that allows multiple carrying configurations, and a 2-liter dedicated hydration pocket. LowePro has been making outdoor camera bags since 1967, and that 55 years of expertise shows in their simple yet functional bags.

For the Traditionalist

The National Geographic Camera Rucksack on a gray background
National Geographic Camera Rucksack

National Geographic Camera Rucksack

At first glance this may look like a safari-style bag. But Manfrotto’s National Geographic Camera Rucksack is more than comfortable on the trail. It doesn’t draw attention while traveling, and includes space to store up to a 15” laptop. The hidden pocket even divides the bag into two compartments. The first of which includes padded dividers to keep camera gear protected and organized. Canvas, leather, and cotton also offer a stylish touch, easily transitioning the bag from trail to urban environments.

For the Gear Head

The ThinkTank Rotation 34L Backpack on a gray background
ThinkTank Rotation 34L Backpack

ThinkTank Rotation 34L Backpack

Think Tank brought something new to market with their Rotation series. The Rotation180 technology allows photographers to quickly access their bag without removing it. You simply rotate the belt pack to the front of the body. A one-handed magnetic opening keeps access quick, while an optional zipper offers security. Photographers can separate the belt pack from the backpack itself for a light, on-the-go pack in the field or a more traditional backpack. The pack comes in three additional sizes— 22L, 34L, and 50L depending on what you need.

For the Tech Photographer

A Peak Designs Everyday Backpack on a gray background
Peak Designs Everyday Backpack
B&H Photo

Peak Designs Everyday Backpack

The Peak Design tagline is “radical gear for the detail-obsessed,” and it’s that attention to detail that means the Everyday Backpack can go from subway to trailhead with ease. The clean lines of the backpack disguise three configurable FlexFold dividers for a camera body and several lenses. You can easily access the bags contents thanks to unique MagLatch hardware and fast, dual-side weatherproof zipper access. The 100% recycled weatherproofing protects your gear from the rain while the expandable side pockets hold water and snacks.

For the Best Back Support

The Wandrd PRVKE 31L in a green color way on a gray background
Wandrd PRVKE 31L

Wandrd PRVKE 31L With Photography Bundle

Wandrd’s PRVKE line features a shaped, padded back panel and straps that remain comfortable and breathable throughout a long hike. The pack can be bought as a stand-alone, but with the optional Photography Bundle the pack becomes a photography workhorse. The bundle includes a camera organizational cube, waist strap, and accessory straps. The hidden passport pocket, tote handles and key hook are some of the many thoughtful features that make this bag perfect for heading down the trail.

For Waterproof Air Travel

The Pelican 1535 Air Carry-On Case in yellow on a gray background
Pelican 1535 Air Carry-On Case

Pelican 1535 Air Carry-On Case

Any outdoor adventurer has seen the classic Pelican cases on the job. Utilized by the military and outdoor professionals around the world Pelican’s polymer cases are synonymous with heavy-duty field protection. The brand’s Air series is 40% lighter than their traditional Protector line of cases while still maintaining waterproof, crushproof, and dustproof qualities. The 1535 has the maximum carry-on dimensions for most airlines, and the wheels mean that even when it’s fully loaded, it’s manageable to haul through long concourses. Ideal for airport camera transportation or storage in boats or vehicles. Various inserts are available, from the traditional, customizable foam to the brand’s TrekPak slim-yet-sturdy divider system.

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