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.

Travel & Street Photography

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

Crowds and tight spaces such as subways and trains require you to keep your valuable gear only accessible by you. Look for a camera backpack design that doesn't broadcast to thieves that you are carrying valuable gear. Keeping connected while you travel is also important. Camera backpacks with a dedicated compartment for devices such as a tablet or laptop ensures these devices are also protected from potential damage.

Make sure that your camera backpack design looks discreet like the Transit Backpack 350 AW while also providing quick access to your camera (without removing it). 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.

Getting close to your subject in these scenarios could either scare it away, may not be physically possible, or could be dangerous to the photographer. In these situations, you might choose to use long lenses, such as a 400mm or 500mm, which gives 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 an adjustable harnesses and waistbelt, as well as outdoor-friendly features like a hydration reservoir to keep you hydrated on the go. If you're carrying smaller lenses, and still need the extra carrying comfort for a long trek, check out our Flipside AW series.

Landscape Photography

These beautiful, but challenging lighting conditions often require photographers to bring along tripods and extra accessories such as filters.

Shooting landscape images often occurs either very early in the morning or late in the evening. Getting epic vista shots also often requires long hikes over great distances with varied terrain, so look for a DSLR camera backpack that let you carry extra gear like tripods and filters.

Camera backpacks such as the Rover Pro 35L AW have room for multiple lenses, and are built with carrying comfort features like a trampoline suspension system, plus room for accessories such as a tripod, personal items, trekking poles and a hydration reservoir pocket. If you need the carrying capacity, but are headed on a shorter trip, check out our Flipside Sport AW series.

Everyday Photography

When your subjects and location vary on a specific shoot, look for a versatile, everyday bag that performs in multiple scenarios.

Often when shooting in these types of scenarios, you often have non-photo related gear with you. Look for a camera bag that has a dedicated camera compartment to protect your camera as well as a dedicated space for laptop, tablet and personal items. The flexibility of having dedicated space to protect your camera along with 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 so you can turn your camera backpack into an everyday bag.

Camera backpacks such as the Photo Hatchback 22L AW include room for a camera, laptop or iPad in addition to personal items, plus feature a removable camera compartment. 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. Daytrips, on the other hand, often require specific bags depending on the locale and planned activities.

Outdoors Day Trips

A light hike or a stroll around town.

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. Incremental weather can bring potential danger to your gear. Look for a camera backpack such as the Photo Hatchback 16L AW that includes a built-in weather barrier such as an All Weather AW Cover to protect your equipment from the elements. This type of camera backpack includes room for camera gear and personal items.

If you are going out for the day and are going to be in or around a lot of water, look for a fully waterproof bag such as the DryZone 200. Check out all of our camera backpacks with a built-in rain cover.

Overnight/Backcountry

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.

Camera backpacks such as the Rover Pro 45L AW 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. Check out all of our outdoor camera backpacks.

How will you get there?

Airplane Travel

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 Flipside 200, 300 & 400 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 200 AW and 300 AW and the Pro Runner x350 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

camera backpacks for urban photography

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? 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, skiing, biking, or mountain climbing, check out the Photo Sport AW series.

Slow and steady

Are you heading out on a slow hike and not worried about speed or fast access to gear? Will you scope out the perfect spot and 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 DSLR Video Fastpack AW 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