Camera equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it’s important to find the right bag that’ll protect it well while also providing you with comfort and convenience when you’re on the move. But with so many options available from a wealth of different brands it’s difficult to know exactly what’s good and what’s best avoided.
Luckily for you, we’ve done the legwork, hand-picking and thoroughly testing of a range of great examples from messenger-style bags, to adventure backpacks and rolling cases.
As a messenger style bag, the Tenba DNA will already be carried in a position that provides quick camera access, but this bag takes it further with a hidden top zip that provides instant access to the main compartment. I’ve found this bag to be extremely convenient for street photography, where pulling the camera out quickly makes all the difference in getting the shot.
It’s made from robust-feeling materials, has space for a 13-inch laptop or iPad and it’s got enough room for a mirrorless camera and extra lens, as well as accessories like spare batteries and even some snacks. You won’t want to take it hiking into the hills but for city shooting, this bag is a great choice.
LowePro has been a staple of the photography bag world for years and with the ProTactic 450 it’s easy to see why. This rugged backpack opens fully from the back, although there are side and top quick-access points too. It provides a wealth of storage slots for a DSLR, multiple lenses, filters, batteries and other accessories — I even stuffed a small drone in amongst my gear.
If you can’t quite fit everything inside, you can get additional accessory pouches that attach to the outside of the case, where you can also attach your tripod. It’s comfortable to carry thanks to both chest and hip straps, it’s made of durable materials and it has a zipped compartment for laptops up to 15 inches.
Thanks in part to its stylish design that doesn’t look anything like your average photography bag, Peak Design’s first-generation Everyday backpack was a big hit, with models to be seen adorning the shoulders of urban photographers the world over. The second generation maintains the modern aesthetic and quick-access side zips of the original but makes subtle tweaks to the magnetic clasps (among other things) to make this backpack better than ever.
It’s my favourite everyday bag to use and my original has clocked up hundred of hours of use on some extremely rough-and-tumble photoshoots. The hard-wearing, water-resistant materials put up with serious abuse which will come as peace of mind to working pros and amateurs alike.
Sharing many design cues of the backpack version, the Totepack can be worn as either a backpack, with side-access zips to get at your camera, or carried as a more traditional tote bag using the handles on top. The materials are just as hard-wearing and water-resistant as the standard backpack, so don’t be afraid you’re sacrificing performance for this different form.
The Totepack’s design makes it very versatile, acting as a camera pack when you’re out on a shoot, but also able to function as a handy shopping carrier on those days when getting your groceries home safely is more important than getting beautiful photos.
ThinkTank’s Airport Advantage rolling case is, as its name suggests, aimed at the travelling photographer that hops between cities on planes and trains and needs a rolling case that won’t slow them down. It’s big enough to house a full-size DSLR with plenty of space for multiple lenses, batteries, chargers and other accessories, with movable dividers for you to spread things out just as you want.
It’s lightweight too, despite having wheels and a retractable handle and it’s designed to comply with all airlines’ size requirements for carry-on luggage, meaning you won’t have the horror of having to send your valuable (and delicate) photography equipment down the conveyor belt for the baggage handlers to throw around.
Whether you’re a fan of photographer Pete McKinnon’s YouTube channel or not, this Nomatic backpack that bears his name is excellent. It’s a large pack that zips open from the back, has quick side access points and uses chunky zips that feel satisfyingly rugged — and don’t seem to mind when it’s crammed full of gear. The pack has a rubberised outer material that feels just as robust and can be wiped clean when it inevitably gets caked in mud upon being placed on the ground.
The Nomatic pack has removable inserts to organise your gear, as well as optional modules for storing your camera batteries, filters and SD cards — which I had but found I didn’t use. There’s also a cube pack module which is itself a smaller backpack which compresses down to fit in the main pack. Nomatic says this is a great choice for travellers who want to take their camera gear with them, but may not want to carry all of it with them every day.
If you’re after a large-capacity, burly backpack for comfortably taking a lot of your gear into the mountains, this is a solid option to consider.
The Hadley Pro 2020 messenger bag eschews the urban, technical designs of many of today’s photography bags, instead leaning towards a more classic aesthetic that’ll go just as well with a shirt and tie as it will a mountaineering jacket. It’s made in England from real leather, brass and waterproof-treated canvas and feels robust enough to tackle a jungle expedition.
It holds my Canon 5D MkIV with 24-70mm lens, while comfortably leaving space for an additional lens with two generous pockets on the front for other accessories. The padded inserts that protect the camera can also be removed, allowing you to use the Hadley Pro as a regular shoulder bag.