Ever tried to spend a whole day out shooting with an irritating camera bag that is uncomfortable and overly complicated to get your camera out of? It can become a real chore when your gear isn’t quickly accessed and the bag isn’t the right size and shape. If your camera bag is bulky and uncomfortable it can even make you not want to use the camera. The best camera bags will be suited specifically to your camera type and gear, as well as designed for your optimal comfort. With so many options on the market, it isn’t always easy to figure out what is best.
Some might argue that you don’t need a specialized camera bag, but it is actually a good idea because your expensive photography equipment should be protected with the right padding and waterproofing. Understanding the different types of bags on the market will help you decide on the best camera bag. Whether you have a small camera, large camera, or require a full set up of tripods and lenses, we’ve selected some of the best camera bags currently on the market.
- Best small camera bag: DSLR Camera Bag Purse for Women
- Best camera sling bag: Lowepro LP36899PWW Slingshot Edge
- Best camera shoulder bag: Billingham Hadley Small Pro Camera Bag
- Best camera backpack: Think Tank Photo Streetwalker V2.0 Backpack
- Best rolling camera bag: Manfrotto Manhattan Runner-50 Camera Roller Bag
- Best budget camera bag: CADeN Camera Bag Sling Backpack
Features to consider when shopping for the best camera bag
When shopping for the best camera bag, consider the size of your camera and the amount of extra gear you need to bring. We’ve broken down our selection to determine which bag style will be the most practical and comfortable; some popular choices to consider include sling style, backpack or a camera bag on wheels.
Like the simplicity of a small camera bag?
If you carry a purse or a carry-all bag you understand that everyday bags can easily become overwhelmed with random extra junk. From keys, phones, wallets, receipts, makeup, lotions it can be endless. If you have kids, the chances of your bags having messy, crumbling items added on the fly increases tenfold. So, while it might be tempting to assume if you want a smaller camera bag you don’t need a dedicated bag designed for cameras, it is a smart choice to get one. The best small camera bag will keep your camera clean and protected and will prevent your lens from scratching, helping to ensure that your camera can be used for many years.
Small camera bags come in various styles, from sling, shoulder, backpack to purse style. Materials can vary from utilitarian dark synthetics, to more natural canvas, to sturdy leathers and faux leathers. The styles vary dramatically too from simple luggage-style to bags that don’t look like camera bags at all which can be a stylish choice if you want to be incognito when shooting. Our favorite is below, but check out some more small camera bag picks.
Best small camera bag: DSLR Camera Purse for Women
Leather hobo-style purse offers 2 styles of removable straps and a padded insert with dividers for your camera. Amazon
This is a great choice if you are looking for a camera bag purse that offers protection without looking like a camera bag. Whether you are shooting when traveling, or shooting days in a cosmopolitan city this leather camera bag looks like a stylish purse. The crossbody strap is a practical feature to allow for safety and comfort. The padded insert can be removed which adds to the bag’s versatility.
Need a camera bag that allows for easy access?
When easy access to your camera is important, a sling-style camera bag may be a smart choice. These bags are a hybrid mix of a backpack and a traditional shoulder bag. They can be carried on one shoulder, but are designed using one strap that slings across your body seat belt style. The best sling-style camera bags displace the weight by using your back (similar to a backpack) and also offer easy, fast access similar to a shoulder bag. Being able to sling the bag from your back to the front allows for quick access without having to put the bag down.
Camera bags that use a sling-style design are a great choice for long days of walking around and shooting. They are more comfortable than a shoulder bag, even though more weight will be on one shoulder. It’s best to choose this style for a moderate amount of equipment such as your camera, lenses, and memory cards. Trying to keep the overall weight of the bag manageable will make your day of shooting pleasant. Most camera sling bags are designed with tough luggage-style fabrics and look like unisex backpacks, however, some higher-end sling camera bags are made with more luxurious materials, but also are more expensive.
Best camera sling bag: Lowepro LP36899PWW Slingshot Edge
Designed with professionals in mind, easy access, and customized specifically for your camera and gear. Amazon
This is the best camera sling bag for long days of shooting. Designed with special compartments for your camera, lenses and battery packs, camera, keys, waller, tablet, and water bottle. There is even a hidden zipper pouch on the bottom that allows for an extra layer cover to put on the bag if you are caught in a big storm. This bag was designed with professional photographers in mind.
Looking for a well-made, classic-style camera bag?
If you are looking for a classic, well-made style that looks good and functions well, you can consider a shoulder-style camera bag. These are the original style that photographers used for many years, and are still used commonly today. The best camera shoulder bags will have a durable construction with well-planned compartments with substantial padding. The strap should also be durable and can rest on the user’s shoulder, but can be worn as a cross-body (messenger) style as well. The best bags will be easy to open for quicker access and offer multiple pockets for storing all your camera gear. This style comes in many colors and fabrics, from basic utilitarian to more highly crafted high-end styles.
Best camera shoulder bag: Billingham Hadley Small Pro Camera Bag
This classic British camera bag is crafted with attention to detail out of waterproof canvas, brass, and leather. Amazon
You can’t go wrong with a Billingham waterproof camera bag, as the craftsmanship has a great reputation for being very durable. Interior pockets are padded and divided to hold your camera, lens, and accessories. The bag is offered in small and large depending on the type and amount of camera equipment you need to carry. For long days of shooting this style bag could get heavy as weight is carried on one shoulder.
Need to carry a camera case for a long time?
When you need to carry a good amount of camera gear for long stretches, a great solution is a camera backpack. Being able to carry weight evenly reduces strain and using the strength of your back makes it much more comfortable even for long days of shooting. Most camera backpacks resemble either school backpacks or hiking backpacks. If wearing in an urban environment it is best to look for camera backpacks that offer a slim body-conforming design.
The best camera backpacks will use quality durable materials, and offer multiple pouches and dividers to keep all of your equipment and camera accessories safe and snug. Even camera tripods can be carried often toggle strapped onto the outside of the backpack. Look for a backpack-style camera case that uses wider, lightly padded straps to spread the weight and make the bag comfortable to wear. Look for camera bags that also offer a small pocket for your travel necessities like wallet, phone, and keys.
Best camera backpack: Think Tank Photo Streetwalker V2.0 Backpack
Be fully equipped for a long day of shooting with this backpack that is loaded with storage. Amazon
This is a utilitarian, durable camera backpack and it offers a good amount of storage for your camera and photography equipment. The padded wide straps and slim design make this a good choice for long days of urban shoots. Fits 3-4 zoom lenses and a 10″ tablet as well as a standard DSLR camera. The bag also comes with a rain cover for added protection from the elements.
Need a travel case for camera equipment?
When you are planning on traveling with your camera and camera equipment a great option is a travel camera bag that uses rolling wheels, often referred to as a roller bag. Similar to wheeled luggage, the best rolling camera bags have adjustable handles and durable wheels which make transporting your gear comfortable and easy. No matter your mode of transportation letting the power of the wheel help carry the weight is a smart and efficient solution. For obvious reasons rolling camera bags make the most sense when shooting in areas that have floors and pavement, not the best choice for nature shoots.
The best camera rolling bags will use water repellent, durable, easy to clean materials as well as a combination of hard and soft materials and padding to keep your equipment safe. If you are flying on a plane look for a travel case for camera equipment that offers proportions that fit airline carry-on bag restrictions. Rolling bags should also offer secure attachments for tripods.
Best camera rolling bag: Manfrotto Manhattan Runner-50 Camera Roller Bag
Travel rolling camera bag offers a removable insert with shoulder straps that acts as a camera backpack. Amazon
This rolling camera bag offers remarkable versatility for traveling photographers. Rolling wheels and adjustable handle make transport easy, and inside the bag is an insert that comes with 2 straps, and functions as a secondary camera backpack. The shell of this bag is flexible, which makes this slightly less durable than a hardshell rolling camera bag.
Best camera bag on a budget: What you get for under $50
When it comes to budget camera bags you do have a lot of options in various styles. However, you can expect to find a lower quality of construction as well as less expensive synthetic materials. So a budget camera bag depending on how often it’s used may not last as long as other higher end bags. However, the most important feature in your camera bag is really how well will it hold and protect the camera and equipment? And for this, you can expect the best budget camera bags to deliver. The best camera bags, even budget-friendly ones, will offer waterproofing, and multiple-padded compartments to store your camera and gear.
Best budget camera bag: CADeN Camera Bag Sling Backpack
Sling backpack-style camera bag offers adjustable padded inserts as well as a rain cover to keep camera safe. Amazon
This budget camera bag offers a comfortable, easy to access sling-backpack style. The bag opens on either side and has anti-theft buckles which offer a double layer of protection. The shoulder strap is adjustable and it comes in a few classic colors.
Best camera bag FAQ: people also ask
Do you really need a camera bag?
A camera bag is a good investment because it is designed to protect the camera and lens. When you are carrying a delicate camera and lenses it makes sense to have a bag free of dust and debris with added cushioning and waterproofing.
What should I look for in a camera backpack?
When shopping for a camera backpack you should make sure the carrying capacity is just right, big enough for your shooting necessities such as camera, lenses, battery packs and cell phone but not so big that it becomes overly heavy and cumbersome. Other smart features to look for are waterproof materials and protective padding and specialized pockets for lenses.
How do you transport camera lenses?
The best way to transport camera lenses is to wrap them in microfiber cloth (to prevent lint) and to wrap them in a protective padding. Alternately you can use a pocket inside a padded camera bag, but be sure to have lenses sit snug so there is no jostling.
A final word on shopping for camera bags
Look for the camera bag that fits your equipment, comfort and use. Whether you want quick and easy access and a backpack-style or a classic shoulder bag there are durable, padded, waterproof camera bag options that are sure to protect all your gear. You’re on a roll, get the best camera bag today!