Guide to choose the bag or backpack you need for your camera

If you thought that choosing a camera was complicated, you cannot imagine how complicated it can be to find the ideal backpack. Surely because an ideal backpack does not exist.

Types of backpacks and bags

Shoulder bag, bag and cover

They are bags that are hung on the shoulder by a strap (crossed or not) and are normally carried next to the body, at the height of the hips.

Smaller, they only have room for the camera and little else, are called cases ( holsters ).

The typical shoulder bags of photographers ( shoulder bags ) are usually larger and wider. There are other narrower models designed to carry across the shoulder strap (sling bags).

In general, these types of bags allow very quick access to the camera .

Some bags allow you to carry a lot of equipment but keep in mind that it can become very uncomfortable and even painful if we overdo it.

Both the bags and the covers are loose and can become quite annoying if we have to make a lot of movements or changes in posture.

Bum bag

They are basically covers, but they are  attached to the waist so we can make movements with some freedom .  You have very quick access to the camera .

They are used to carry very little equipment, basically the camera with a small lens and small items like cards and spare batteries.

There are some that include more compartments for lenses, etc. but if we carry a lot of weight it would become very annoying.

They can be a good combination together with a backpack. Using the backpack to carry the equipment that we do not use at the time and the fanny pack to carry the protected camera and the minimum necessary equipment while we are photographing.

Shoulder backpack

They have the format of a backpack and are placed on the back, but are fastened with a single cross strap. The weight falls on a single shoulder.

They have the advantage that they can easily be passed from the back to the front, without removing the strap, to access the camera .

They are only practical if we carry little weight and / or carry them with us for a short time. As with shoulder bags, when the weight falls on a single shoulder, it can become annoying and painful if we carry a lot of weight.

Small shoulder bags are ideal for example for EVIL / mirrorless  cameras ( mirrorless cameras, smaller and lighter than SLRs) and your equipment.

Recommended shoulder bags


They are the ones that have more capacity, allow you to carry more weight, and are generally more comfortable because the weight is distributed between the hips and shoulders.

The backpack fits well and allows different movements and postures without moving. It also leaves your hands totally free.

The main drawback is that accessing the camera is not that easy .

There are models that prioritize ease of access and allow a side opening directly where the camera is located inside. Other models give priority to safety and only allow access to the camera from the area that is in contact with the back.

Recommended backpacks for SLR cameras

  • Medium backpacks to start
  • Double compartment backpacks
  • Quality backpacks (protection, quality of materials and construction)
  • Light bags and backpacks for the photo shoot

Medium backpacks for camera and photographic equipment

A very good value for money and a very good user rating is this Duragadget model. It is smaller than the previous one (30 x 24 x 11 cm). The interior can be configured using the dividers and includes a waterproof cover. It is ideal for example for mirrorless cameras. For SLR, depending on the equipment we want to carry, it can be a bit tight. It fits the body with one goal in place, plus 1-2 additional goals.

A backpack that is working very well for walking around if we don’t have to carry a lot of equipment is the Inateck CB2001. It has two compartments, access to the equipment is from the inside (the one that is attached to the back) and the camera can be accessed from a side pocket. Very practical and light. It includes a waterproof cover for the rain and due to its design it goes quite unnoticed.

Also in this range you can find a pair of Beschoi backpacks. They are light backpacks, with a beautiful but discreet design, they don’t look like photographer’s backpacks.

The small version measures 41 x 27 x 14 cm. It is built with rain-resistant material, it does not include a waterproof cover. It is a backpack with a very good value for money. It has a rear opening (the rear cover opens and gives access to all the equipment)

The other version is slightly larger (41 x 21 x 24 cm) and has a different format. Access to the camera is through one side, and it also has two compartments: one at the bottom for lenses or accessories, and another at the top for extras.

K&F Concept also has interesting backpacks in this mid-range.If we go up a notch in quality of materials and construction, a very good option is the Lowepro Flipside backpacks . Great load capacity for photographic equipment, very comfortable, resistant and very well built.

Double compartment backpacks

These backpacks have two or more spaces, one for photographic equipment (padding to offer protection to the team) and another additional space to carry clothes, food, etc.

They are very versatile backpacks. They sacrifice a bit the capacity of the compartment for the equipment, but on the other hand they include that extra space that comes in handy.

Quality backpacks / Mid-range – high

If you are going to give your backpack intensive use, it is worth buying a quality backpack. The difference between a cheap backpack and a mid / high-end backpack is mainly in the materials and the build quality.

Protection is usually better, both due to the interior padding and the resistance of the entire structure, including the straps, which are usually one of the weak points (the seams that join the straps with the body of the backpack and support all the tension ) and zippers.

Also the design and functionality of the backpacks in these ranges is usually more studied, based on the needs of many photographers. Therefore, in addition to durability, they provide extra comfort when using them.

Some brands that offer exceptional quality backpacks:

  • Vanguard
  • Lowepro
  • Manfrotto
  • Benro
  • Think tank

Light bags and backpacks for the work session

In this section we will see bags and backpacks designed to be used during the photo shoot: lightweight and with easy access to equipment.

The most classic example would be the wide shoulder bag  , widely used by professional photographers. The bag allows you to carry a lot of equipment and the top opening reveals all the equipment for super quick access.

Another option is shoulder bags, very similar to shoulder bags but narrower (they would be similar to laptop or messenger bags). We would have quick access to the camera and some additional item, but the rest of the team would go a bit lower. The advantage is that they are more comfortable than the wide shoulder bag and would be a compromise between comfort, capacity and quick access.

Recommended backpacks for mirrorless cameras

Mirrorless cameras (also known as EVIL, CSC, or mirrorless) are generally smaller than equivalent SLR models.

In some cases we can go with very compact equipment in terms of volume and weight, for example if we use small cameras of the Micro 4/3 system with light lenses we will be able to carry a lot of equipment in a very small space.

Some recommendations for small backpacks and shoulder bags for mirrorless equipment or situations in which we want to get the right thing:

What features should a camera backpack have?

  • It has to offer protection: inner padding to protect against drops, bumps and protection against rain
  • It should have enough capacity for the camera with the lens on and for the equipment we carry: other lenses, external flash, shutter, extra batteries, filters …
  • Make it comfortable . That it does not stick on the shoulder, that it does not slip, that it does not disturb while we take photos
  • That allows you quick and easy access to the camera with the lens on
  • That does not allow easy access to friends of others. That is, they cannot open the backpack without you realizing it to steal your camera.
  • That it does not cost more than the camera itself would also be a detail in its favor

As you can see, some of the characteristics are quite incompatible with each other, so as for almost everything in this life we ​​will have to reach a compromise.

Camera backpacks: transporting vs photographing

There are backpacks that are very good for the transport phase: all the equipment fits, it is protected and they allow us to carry weight in a comfortable way.

But once we arrive at the destination, where we are going to photograph, we need other things: super fast access to the camera and perhaps also to the lenses, freedom of movement and comfort to enjoy photography.

So, do I buy a large backpack or a small one?

The transport bag ‘re going to need sooner or later, even to save your computer if you ‘re traveling or to have it picked up at home. One of the fairly frequent comments on photography forums is that the backpack (or bag) has become too small, but perhaps it is not so much a problem with the backpack itself, but with the amount of equipment that we try to carry ‘just in case’ and that in the end we don’t end up using.

Therefore the general recommendation would be to look for a medium backpack first .

What can we usually carry in the backpack?

  • The camera with the lens on
  • Tripod (usually hung on the outside of the backpack)
  • One or more spare memory cards
  • One or more backup batteries
  • Additional objectives, depending on the type of outing or the type of photography we are going to take
  • An external trigger
  • The camera charger
  • External flash if we have
  • A tablet is very useful for reviewing photos on the spot

And depending on the type of photography we usually do, we will have to see if that is enough or even if it is preferable to look for something more specific, for example a combination of transport backpack + small bag to carry the camera once we are photographing in the destination place.