How to choose the right
camera backpack.

Guide to Camera Backpacks

Camera backpacks allow you to protect and comfortably carry lots of gear over extended periods of time – all while giving you fast access to everything you need. Whether you are a professional photographer going on a backcountry excursion or an eager beginner who wants to carry your camera and a laptop, Lowepro has a camera backpack that will protect your gear from anything life throws its way.

What are you planning to shoot?  

Knowing what subject(s) you will shoot is the first step in understanding which camera backpack is best for you. Different subjects bring a unique set of challenges and requirements for photographers. From exotic wildlife to children in the local park, your subject is going to be driving what lenses and gear you bring along with you on your shoot.

Urban & Street Photography

Bring your camera into the city with a camera backpack that travels easily.


Capture the Moment with Fast Access

Street shooting demands mobility and fast access to your gear when the inspiration strikes. A photo pack with side access to your camera is usually the quickest backpack solution as you can reach your camera without fully removing or setting down your bag. The ProTactic 350 AW camera backpack provides access on BOTH sides of the bag as well as via the top turret and body-side access.

Keeping connected while you travel is also important. In Urban evnvironments WiFi connectivity has never been better. Backpacks that contain a dedicated compartment for a tablet or laptop, ensure these devices are also protected and available during travel. The Pro Runner BP 350 AW has designed space for up to 3 screen devices so you can bring your entire workflow with you.

Security in the City

Crowds and tight spaces such as subways and trains require you to keep your valuable gear only accessible by you. Consider a camera backpack design that looks discreet like the Transit Backpack 350 AW. The Transit Series provides quick access to your camera (without removing it) and doesn't broadcast to thieves.

For more options, check out all of our street camera backpacks.

Nature & Wildlife Photography

When you are out shooting nature and wildlife photography, you are often a long distance away from your subjects.


Get Close with Big Glass

In the wild your subjects may be a shy and hard to reach. Getting close may not be physically possible, or could be dangerous to the photographer. In these situations, you might use long lenses, such as a 400mm or 500mm, which give you the reach to photograph subjects at a distance. These super-telephoto lenses are extremely large, heavy and require extra support for long treks into the wild.

In this scenario, you should look for DSLR camera backpacks built for hiking and that can comfortably carry these large lenses. You also want camera backpacks that let you customize how you want your body to carry that weight. Look for a camera backpack such as the Pro Trekker AW series. It includes a robust and adjustable harnesses and waistbelt, as well as outdoor-friendly features like a hydration reservoir to keep you hydrated on the go.

If you need to carry a super telephoto lens such as 600mm or 800mm lens, then the Lens Trekker 600 AW II is for you. These super-telephoto lenses are extremely large, heavy and require extra support for long treks into the wild.

Outdoor Adventure Photography

Challenging conditions and remote locations require a photographer to bring along outdoor gear in addition to camera essentials.

When you are shooting adventure sports such as climbing, skiing and mountain biking you need to arrive at hard-to-reach locations with all the tools to support your shoot. Consider the need for equipment such as ice axes, skis & climbing ropes and how you will pack this gear in addition to your photo kit

Extreme environments call for a pack that was purpose-built for the weather and situations you are likely to encounter. Choose a camera backpack like the Whistler BP 350 AW that is built from abrasion resistant and waterproof materials. Look for features like a premium suspension system, room for back-country equipment and attachment points for anything from a tripod to a snowboard.

Vacation & Travel Photography

When traveling on vacation, your subjects and location vary, look for a versatile bag that performs in multiple scenarios and holds more than just photo gear.

When touring or on vacation, you will need non-photo related gear in addition to your camera. Look for a camera bag like the Fastpack II which has a dedicated space to carry and protect your laptop, tablet and personal items in addition to a camera compartment. The flexibility of having dedicated space to protect your camera as well as your personal items allows you to adapt to how your day unfolds and prepare for the unexpected.

Sometimes you won't be carrying around your camera, so in these scenarios, look for a camera backpack that has a removable camera compartment such as the Photo Hatchback 22L AW. When you need more space, you can turn your camera backpack into an everyday bag. Check out all of our camera backpacks that have a removable camera compartment.

Where are you going and for how long? 

The location and time frame for your shoot are additional criteria to consider when choosing the ideal camera backpack. If you are headed out for a multi-day backcountry excursion, you will need a larger camera backpack with options for carrying sleeping gear and food. For daytrips, a versatile bag that can easily carry a device like a tablet as well as enough personal space for a windbreaker, water bottle and a snack is preferable.

Everyday Adventures & Day Trips

A light hike, a stroll around town or a day at the beach, the right backpack for the everyday enthusiast can be found here.

Camera backpack for day trips

For day trips, look for a camera backpack with the flexibility to fit your camera gear, laptop or tablet, plus personal items. If you are looking for a flexible entry-level camera daypack, the Tahoe BP 150 is a great choice with. Inclement weather can bring potential danger to your gear. A camera backpack such as the Photo Hatchback 16L AW that includes a built-in weather barrier such as an All Weather AW Cover will protect your equipment from the elements. These camera backpacks both includes room for camera gear and personal items.

Explore lakes, oceans, rivers and waterfalls! If your daytrip takes you in or around a lot of water, look for a fully waterproof bag such as the DryZone BP 40L or DryZone 200. Waterproof backpacks are great for kayaking, canoeing, boating and any other trip where you need more extreme protection from mud, dust and water. For more basic protection from everyday weather and rain showers, check out all of our camera backpacks with a built-in rain cover.

Backcountry & Expedition

Backcountry excursions require extras for spending extended time outdoors.

Having the ability to carry sleeping pads, trekking poles and hydration reservoirs are all important things to look for in a backcountry camera backpack. Carrying all of this gear over long distances requires an advanced suspension system and the room to pack more than just your camera kit.

Camera backpacks such as the Whistler 450 have technical suspension systems to ease the carrying load and help evenly distribute weight. This pack also features room for all the extras you need to carry into the backcountry, plus multiple attachment points to customize what you carry out.

Another important feature for expedition backpacks is ability to separate your camera kit from the rest of your gear. Packs in the Whistler Series have a dedicated storage area with a waterproof barrier between wet gear and the camera box.

For more options, check out all of our outdoor camera backpacks.

How will you get there?

Airplane travel and the need for a carry-on backpack

airplane carry-on travel camera backpacks

Traveling with all your camera gear on an airplane can be stressful. You don't want to check in your gear, so finding a camera backpack that will fit in the carry-on compartment is a must. If you are traveling with a ton of gear, the trick is to find the size bag that will let you carry what you need, but still be small enough to carry on. Look for camera backpacks such as the ProTactic 350 AW that will fit in the overhead compartment, but also perform in the field.

Many of our backpack series have sizes that will fit on a plane. Universally accepted carry-on size for domestic flights is 22" x 14" x 9" or 55.88 x 35.56 x 22.86 cm with a carry-on weight limit of 40 pounds or 18.14 kilograms. Here are some photographer favorites that are travel friendly: Pro Runner BP 450 AW and the Pro Runner RL x450 AW which is both a backpack and a rolling case. As a precaution, it's always recommended to check with your specific airline for the most up-to-date weight and size restrictions before you travel.

See our full list of carry-on camera backpacks.

What activities are planned? 

Active & sporting adventure or a quiet contemplation

camera backpacks for active lifestyle

Do photography and outdoor sports go hand in hand for you? Will you be active on the trail, but don't want to leave your camera behind? Is a super-light carry a requirement for your sport? Take the camera backpack that is built for the activity as well as built to protect your gear. If you are looking at activities such as hiking, biking, or mountain climbing, check out the Photo Sport AW II series.
OR
Are you heading out for the day to tour and find the perfect spots to shoot. Will you carry your camera in your pack but need fast access for when the perfect moment presents itself? Will you capture the image using a tripod while waiting for the perfect moment? Look for camera bags which offer carrying comfort, ability to carry a tripod and capacity to carry all the gear you may need. We recommend the Fastpack AW II series.

Check out all of our camera backpacks that fit tripods.

Next Step: Select Your Camera Backpack

If a camera backpack is right for you, but you need help finding the right one, our Bagfinder tool will help you find the size to fit for your equipment.

Additional Guides

If you think another carrying style may suit your needs better than a shoulder bag, You may want to check out our other guides.

Camera Messenger Bag Guide
Camera Sling Bag Guide
Rolling Camera Bag Guide