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There’s a whole big world out there of beautiful things to photograph and film. And if you’ve invested in expensive gear, from DSLRs to drones, GoPros to tripods and more, you’ll want something that can keep it all safe inside while you seek the perfect shot.
The good news is, there are a ton of camera cases and camera backpacks out there for your gear and accessories. They all vary widely in size, and a quick way to determine what you need is by taking inventory of what you’ll be bringing with you. If your laptop and drone are coming along, that’s an entirely different case than just a camera and a few necessary accessories like a battery and lens.
Internally, the best camera bags are divided into different zones, which is key for quick access to your camera as well as for staying organized. For valuable accessories such as lenses, it’s vitally important that these are protected securely, which usually means it’s a little more effort to get to them. Having a handy pocket in an easily reachable place is a huge help too, especially when keeping small items like keys, glasses, even extra flash drives and SD cards organized and readily available, particularly when going through airport security.
Possibly the biggest and bulkiest of all your items might be the tripod. A full size one is unlikely to fit inside your pack (unless it collapses down seriously small), but modern bags generally take this into consideration during the design process. What may seem like a deep water bottle holder on the side can comfortably carry a folded up tripod. The best camera bags can also secure your tripod sideways under tightly-wrapped straps.
Finally, with all this gear, it’s going to get inevitably heavy. Things like thick foam mesh, breathable fabrics, and sternum and waist straps might seem like an afterthought or a nice extra, but it should be up there in importance – a painful pack can quickly ruin a trip, causing discomfort from your neck and shoulders all the way down. If you’ve got accompanying rolling luggage too, getting a case or bag that securely connects to its telescoping handle can make traveling a whole lot easer – on both you and your back.
1. Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II
Right from the start, Lowepro was built to take on the outdoor elements. Brothers Mike and Greg Lowe started the brand in the late Sixties, with a goal of creating bags that could carry their cameras up Colorado’s mountains to snap the best shots while they went scaling and skiing. Lowe pioneered the first close-fitting, internal-framed backpack, but has since switched to soft-sided, padded protection like this one. Nowadays, the company creates durable bags and carrying cases for any type of adventurous photography and filming – from nature to news reporting.
The pack’s tough 600D nylon surface is coated in case you’re caught in a downpour, and the zippers close tightly to keep water out. There’s even an included all-weather cover to add an extra layer of protection against whatever the weather throws at you.
Lowe’s cases not only offer seriously secure protection, they’ve also evolved to keep up with the times. What was originally designed to hold a traditional camera can now take on all your modern gear, from a DSLR and its accessories to tablets, laptops, and even drones.
2. Vanguard Alta Sky 51D Camera Backpack
One look at Vanguard’s Alta Sky pack gives you the impression that it’s ready for anything.
Durable, comfortable, and breathable, the bag is extremely versatile and tough, with enough cleverly-placed pockets and straps to hold a small studio’s worth of gear, and backed up with the heft and bulk to protect all of it.
A full, rear-opening compartment lets you slide in a larger laptop (up to 15 inches), while other sections up top and on the sides offer fast access to important smaller items. Inside, a neatly-divided layout gives your expensive gear its own enclosed space, while the fabric color adds a nicely-contrasted visual pop every time it’s opened, making it simpler to spot what you’re looking for.
This particular pack can hold up to about 30 pounds, including long tripods and even larger drones on the outside, but the company offers a few various sizes that are worth exploring to best meet your needs without going overboard on a too-big bag.
3. Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
The secure, four-runged MagLatch system here was designed and trademarked specifically for this bag, and provides a protective closure while still giving you easy access to your gear with one-handed opening.
The FlexFold dividers are soft, moveable, and lined with velcro, allowing you to customize and organize your own inner setup that works best for you.
This fits tablets effortlessly, as well as a laptop up to 13 inches in its own designated sleeve, while still leaving plenty of room for essentials like cables, chargers and spare batteries. The bag also slides right onto your rolling luggage’s handle, thanks to it’s handy pass-through pocket.
Externally, the 400D nylon canvas shell is weatherproof, while the 900D waterproof bottom is extra durable to take on scrapes and scuffs. The optional shoulder strap is convenient when you don’t want to carry it by the padded handle, and capture-clip mounting points let you put your camera on the outside right where you can reach it in a flash.
Peak Design makes their bags with 100% recycled materials too, and are certified to be as sustainable as possible.
4. Neewer Flexible Partition Camera Padded Bag
For the casual or hobby photographer, this Neewer bag is on the lighter, smaller end of options here, and is ideal for when a big backpack isn’t necessary.
The soft flannel lining inside keeps your gear from getting scratched up, and the velcro compartments are totally customizable to fit whatever camera and accessories you’re carrying.
Close it up with the two zippers, grab the conveniently placed top handle (a shoulder strap can also be attached, but isn’t included), and you’re ready to start taking photos.
This can also be useful for the more advanced photographers or filmmakers too, as it’s small enough to fit snugly into one of the other, larger packs for an extra barrier of protection.