Best Camera Bags for Travel

One of the best camera bags for travel

A lot of people get frustrated when they are traveling. It may be due to overpacked luggage or their lack of organization in general. Also, when you are no pro photographer or videographer you probably won’t consider a separate bag for gears. Instead, you would use one bag for everything.

Unfortunately, this causes frustration especially when you have more gears. It’s often the reason why people forget their camera and use their smartphone instead. 

However, this doesn’t have to provoke frustration all the time. If you pick the best travel camera bag according to your gear and type of travel, there won’t be any frustration. 

Depending on what photo/video gear you carry, you will be able to fulfill your creative potential by taking great photos and making memorable footage.

In this post, you will learn how to choose the best camera bag for travel. Also, which important things you should pay attention to and which are the most popular bag types. 

In the end you will see bags we personally recommend you by size and bag type.

Table of Contents

What Makes a Great Camera Bag for Traveling?

Bags, cameras, and accessories

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The simple answer is to have all you need in a size that is as compact as possible where everything is secured. The ideal solution is to put everything in just one bag as you would in your pockets (keys, smartphone, wallet, documents, and other stuff).

This is the reason why we would like to focus on camera bags which won’t be a burden to you but instead will help you leverage photography and enjoy your trip.

How to Choose The Type and Size of Your Bag?

If you bring just a camera and a single lens you are lucky because you chose the lightest things to carry and the easiest setup. 

But many of us bring a bit more than this (additional lenses, tripod, action camera, accessories, etc.), so things start getting complicated. You end up with one big bag and a lot of gear inside. This probably will make your trip less enjoyable for you. Who likes carrying big bags during the trip?

Well, if you bring just your smartphone as a travel camera you should skip this article because you will probably keep your phone in your pocket. In this case, you just need to make sure your phone is safe and won’t accidentally fall out of it.

However, chances are that you are a bit different, as many of us are. We like to bring big camera. Also, we will probably bring a tripod, accessories, and other gears. 

But also many of us like to be free of mind on trips. Simply we want to get some rest, and photography is just one of our hobbies. We don’t like to be in a situation where we don’t enjoy trips and to spend all our time just taking photos or making some footage. If you read this, we are pretty sure you are in the same situation.

So, in our experience as a travel and hobby photographer/videographer (a photo enthusiast), the good practice is to have 2 bags

One bigger bag/backpack if you need to carry more gear with you and one small bag if you want to keep just the necessary stuff. 

In this post, our focus will be on bags that are not too big and will serve as a good storage or a bag you can easily carry every day. Or both!

3 Important Things You Should Pay Attention to When You Choose a Bag for Travel Camera

1. Size, Material, Comfort, Organization

Sony camera & backpack

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The first thing you need to think about is what your ideal bag should look like. 

Imagine all the gear (current and future) you want to carry with you. In the end, think about your future trips. Are you going to plan a lot of road trips? Will you use your car as the main way of transportation? Or airplane? You get the point. With these details in mind, you should choose the preferable size of your bag, its materials, and internal organization.

Your bag should carry at least your camera, lens, cards, charger, and batteries. You will probably carry a tripod, maybe also an action camera and other equipment as well. 

No matter which type of bag you choose, we would recommend that the bag is capable of carrying all equipment safely. 

That means you should think about the internal organization (dividers and inside pockets) to keep all your gear scratches-free or to prevent that accidentally fall when you open a bag. 

Also, the good practice is to have a bag that is weather-resistant, so it means that materials are waterproof and also offers good protection against humidity, sand, and stuff like that.

Last but not least, you must not lose sight of it. When traveling by car, you will probably don’t care too much about the size and weight of your bag, but if you are going by plane, you need to pay attention to limits in both size and weight for your carry-on luggage.

2. Accessibility & Customization

If you buy an ideal-sized bag but with poor accessibility, it will be a source of your frustration whenever you want to access your camera fast. 

That means good accessibility is a must for a care-free experience for travel photographers.

Another thing is good options to customize your bag. Think about dividers, organizers, and fully adjustable compartments in order to use all the available space. 

Also, think about external pockets, straps, and additions for multipurpose use.

3. Security

Your gear should not be vulnerable to potential theft so you should make sure you are not an easy target for people that want to steal from you. 

The best option is to have an anti-theft bag but most of them are not as good as camera bags. In this post, we will recommend anti-theft camera bags as well. If you are not going to use them you need to ensure that your bag is not an easy target. That means that your bag shouldn’t scream “$ inside” and should appear simple. 

It’s a good idea to have hidden zippers and some way of locking them.

4 Most Popular Camera Bag Types

4 most popular camera bag types

Shoulder bags

Shoulder bags are probably the most popular camera bags. These can be small or big and they are very easy to carry on you. 

The good thing is that they usually have enough space and pretty adjustable compartments. You can think about a shoulder bag if you need a compact bag for a camera with a single lens comfortable enough for daily use, but also consider a bigger bag for all your equipment. 

You need to also pay attention to the weight, because if you use a shoulder bag as storage for all your equipment the weight can become an issue.

Holster bags

Holster bags are also a very popular choice for travel photographers, especially for everyday use

If you want to carry just a camera with a single lens you should definitely think about purchasing a holster bag, especially considering you will be able to access it quickly.

Backpacks

Backpacks are a type of bag that you can use for both – storing your camera and carrying it on you everyday. 

If you want to take other gear with you such as a computer or tablet, a backpack will be a great choice. The good thing about backpacks is that your hands are free all the time, you can carry more equipment and keep the same level of comfort because that weight is divided to both shoulders and back. Plus, you can use it to carry other necessities beside photo equipment like a jacket, a bottle of water, and so on.

You should consider 3 types of backpacks according to your needs and preferences:

  • General backpacks;
  • Outdoor backpacks;
  • Anti-theft backpacks.

Roller bags

Roller bags are also a popular choice for some travel photographers. 

Of course, roller bags won’t be your choice for everyday use, but if you want to bring a lot of equipment plus maybe other personal things on a plane with you, a roller bag is a very good choice. 

Of course, you should consider another smaller bag for everyday use.

Best Camera Bag for Traveling (by Size and Bag Type)

Travel camera bag with camera and accessories

Photo by Robin McSkelly on Unsplash

Before we go further, we need to stress out that you will find this post useful if you are hobbyists and enthusiasts, but not if you are professional travel photographer or journalist who will bring a bunch of gear in order to be able to work. 

So, if you are in that category you may not agree with our choice, but if you travel and just want to keep your memories, this chapter is for you.

In order to make it easier to read, we compare bags by size (compact, medium, and big) and type (within each size).

Compact

Holster bags

Case Logic SLRC-201 SLR Zoom Holster
Case Logic SLRC-201 SLR Zoom Holster

Image source: Case Logic

It’s another good solution for travel photographers that use a mid-size camera with a single lens attached to walk around. The best fits are lenses that are not so long. So, if you attach a KIT lens or prime, the size of the bag will be good enough. However, if you use some bigger lenses you should pay attention to internal dimensions.

In any case, your camera will be very well-protected with the Hammock system which works as a suspension and you can adjust it. The purpose of the suspension system is to keep your camera above the bottom to keep it safe. The base is water-proof and is structured in a way that can stand up. 

Materials are very good both on the external and internal sides. We especially like memory foam on the interior which will help you protect LCD screens from scratches. There are also 3 zipped pockets where you can keep other accessories (spare battery, memory card, lens cleaning set, and so on).

You can consider this bag for storage purposes if your set is not so huge (it’s a really good choice if your system consists of up to mid-size camera + single lenses like 18-125 or 18-200 with the addition of few filters and few other accessories). For everyday use, this bag is an excellent choice considering fantastic protection and easy access for travelers who want flexibility.

Pros:

  • A perfect option for travelers with one-lens systems;
  • Materials are very good and weather-resistant. Protection is excellent – memory foam, suspension, waterproof EVA base);
  • Several pockets you can use to carry other accessories (spare battery, memory cards, and so on);
  • Great value for this price.

Cons:

  • Pockets are a bit smaller;
  • There is not enough space for a camera strap, especially if you use a larger camera;
  • The suspension system together with very good materials make it heavier in weight than other holster bags with similar external dimensions.

Medium Size

Backpacks

Lowepro Tahoe BP 150
Lowepro Tahoe BP 150

Image source: Lowepro

Lowepro Tahoe BP 150 is a mid-size backpack devoted to photographers on the move. It means that it perfectly fits for using on active trips. This bag is made of very good weather-resistant materials with protection for everyday use.

The organization of the internal part is also very good. There are internal dividers that enable you to customize storage. So, you will be able to organize a compartment to have storage for photo gears and other parts to hold personal stuff. Of course, physical laws can’t be broken, so you need to keep in mind that it is still a mid-size backpack, not a big one.

We need to mention that the opening zipper is wide so access to your gears will be fast. There are few more pockets that you can use for additional accessories like spare batteries, chargers, lens cleaning sets, etc. The ergonomy of this bag is outstanding so your back will be protected all day long.

The good side of investing in a backpack is that these bags, especially if they are mid-sized, are a good option for both storage and everyday use for travelers who have not just a camera with a single lens (as with many holster bags). 

So if you are someone who has a mid-size camera with 2 or 3 lenses and maybe an action camera plus additional accessories (spare batteries, chargers, few filters, few mounts for action camera, power bank), plus wants to keep few personal belongings inside, Lowepro Tahoe BP 150 is maybe your ultimate solution. This bag is not too big to overload you for everyday use, but it is big enough to store all your equipment.

Pros:

  • Lightweight mid-size backpack;
  • Built with very good (weather-resistant) materials;
  • Good internal organization with dividers and additional pockets;
  • Design is ergonomic;
    Very useful for traveling as both a bag for storage and for everyday use if your photo set is not so heavy.

Cons:

  • Some pockets are pretty tight and not so useful;
  • There is no additional space for tripod;
  • The camera is accessible only through the main zipper (there is no option for side access);
  • There is no separate room for a laptop.

Insert bags

Tenba BYOB 10 Camera Insert
Tenba BYOB 10 Camera Insert

Image source: Tenba

Insert bags are maybe not as popular as other types of camera bags, but it’s a perfect solution for someone who wants to transform their favorite travel bag to a camera bag. So, it’s clear why these bags are called insert bags. Tenba BYOB 10 is an almost perfect insert bag to be used for traveling considering the size.

The capacity of this bag is enough for a mirrorless camera or mid-size DSLR. There will be enough space for 1-3 not-so-big lenses and additional stuff like a charger, spare batteries, memory cards, and a cleaning set. The good thing is that this bag will offer great protection from impacts or water. So, you won’t have to worry that your expensive camera and lenses will be damaged.

The internal organization of this bag is very good. There are dividers able to be adjusted in various ways, internal material is soft so it won’t scratch your equipment, plus there are additional pockets where you can store non-photographer essentials like power bank, wallet, phone, and there is also a D-ring where you can put your keys.

So, this bag is definitely a good choice for storage while you are traveling to a destination because you can put it in any other bag, but it isn’t a great solution for everyday use considering you put this bag into another (it will add some weight) and if you need fast access to your camera, it will be a problem – can you imagine opening 2 bags 100 times per day?

Pros:

  • Can be fitted into practically any bag;
  • Compact in size and well made with good protective materials;
  • Lots of additional pockets for accessories;
  • A very good option for travelers who don’t want to have an additional camera bag but instead to leverage an old bag especially if they use a camera from time to time and don’t have a lot of other equipment nor plan to extend the number of lenses and accessories.

Cons:

  • Not ideal for everyday use;
  • If you use a longer lens this bag may not fit it;
  • There are no velcro straps, instead, there are zippers.

Shoulder bags

Tenba Messenger DNA 16
Tenba Messenger DNA 16

Image source: Tenba

If you favor shoulder bags and have a bigger camera and lenses, this bag will probably fit all your needs. We like the ability to easily access the camera and also that this bag includes a removable WeatherWrap cover which makes it resistant to weather conditions. 

However, the bag is weather-proof by itself, but additional protection is always welcome. Also, there are quiet (unlike the classic Velcro) magnetic clips to enable faster slide access.

Regarding internal space, you will for sure be able to store a full-frame camera with 2-3 additional lenses, laptop, tablet, and even a jacket and other accessories. 

The bag is very comfortable to wear but you definitely need to count on a bit more weight on one shoulder if you carry a lot of equipment and fully load it (no matter how comfortable this bag is, it’s not able to break physical laws and make your equipment easier :)).

This bag is a good option for all travelers who feel more professional and want to bring professional cameras and bigger lenses on trips. So, if you are in this group this bag should be on your wish list for both regular storage and trips. 

Another good side is that the design of this bag is excellent, it means that there is nothing that can scream “I have a few thousands worth of photo equipment with me”.

Pros:

  • Very good choice for travelers who want to bring more professional and bigger cameras/lenses;
  • Lots of space inside for all your photo gear and non-photo stuff you need to walk around with. Plus there are spaces for laptop and tablet, and numerous additional pockets;
  • Enable you to access your gear fast using a zippered top;
  • Weather-proof materials + additional rain cover;
  • Conformable to wear due to a very soft shoulder pad;
  • Stealth design – it will not attract unwanted attraction.

Cons:

  • If you use it on a daily basis with a lot of gear inside, count that the bag will be heavy, so it may overload you after a long time on the go;
  • You are not able to close the top zipper with one hand;
  • Magnets on clips could be stronger;
  • The shoulder pad seems to be a bit thin for a heavier setup.

Big Size

Backpacks

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II

Image source: Lowepro

Lowepro’s ProTactic series is designed for travelers who have professional cameras and want to have easy access and fantastic protection. 

It’s the biggest in the series and if you want to have a travel bag capable of keeping all your gear including a bigger DSLR, longer lenses, drone, action camera, flash, laptop, spare batteries, chargers, tripod, and other accessories, then the Lowepro Tactic 450 AW II should be one of your favorites. In other words, it’s a great travel camera bag for the more demanding photographers.

The overall quality of this bag is excellent. The wearing part is very comfortable considering lumbar and shoulder support and also the back panel of the bag is built with materials that will stop excessive sweat because they allow ventilation. Also, you can add a cover that will protect the bag from water, sand, and dust. 

We like its modular accessories so you will easily carry a water bottle, tripod, and other stuff with external holders. If you are worried about quick access – this bag has a 4-point access to the gear. Of course, the interior is extra roomy with flexible dividers so you can customize storage pretty easily.

This bag is ideal for those who want to carry all their photo equipment in a car or plane, but it’s also a very good choice for everyday use if you are a more serious travel photographer and want to have all your photo equipment with you all the time.

Pros:

  • You can fit all your photo gears because there is a lot of space inside and the bag is still travel-friendly in size;
  • Modular design, premium quality, and great organization of storage space;
  • Design that does not draw unwanted attention;
  • Fast access to your gear with 3 access points;
  • Weather cover for rain/snow protection;
  • Very comfortable for everyday use.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy even when empty;
  • Zippers are not smooth enough;
  • The bottom of the bag is not made of hard-shell, so the bag is not able to hold the form when you put it on the ground;
  • Not able to fit laptops over 15”.

Outdoor backpacks

Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW

Image source: Lowepro

If you are going to have a lot of outdoor activities on your trip, like hiking, trekking or something like that, you definitely need to consider an outdoor backpack for your gear. 

Lowepro with their Flipside Trek series is a great choice for it. Let’s take a look at the biggest backpack in this series, BP450 AW XL. This backpack is a great choice for trekking, hiking, and other types of intense outdoor activities. Furthermore, this bag is really big, so it can be used as a combination of a camera backpack and a general travel backpack.

As a camera backpack, this bag is capable of carrying a big DSLR camera with a long lens attached, and also you can say that this bag will be comfortable enough to hold additional lenses and a lot of accessories. 

The bag is built with extra protective and robust materials and no matter the size, the bag is very comfortable to wear. We were pleasantly surprised by the very quick access to your gear while the bag is on your back. There is also a weather cover which will protect your gear from rain or dust. 

On the exterior, you can find additional holders which you can use for a tripod, water bottle, or stuff like that. The bag has one big pocket dedicated to tablets up to 10”.

Pros:

  • Built with very good and durable materials, extra-large in size, but lightweight when empty;
  • Very big storage, so you can count on plenty of room for all your gear + other necessities;
  • External pockets to attach stuff you want to have quick access to like a tripod or bottled water;
  • Capacity which will satisfy pro photographers;
  • Comfortable to wear all day;
  • Waterproof built-in cover.

Cons:

  • The top handle seems to be a bit small, so, if you need to pack bigger stuff you should count on it;
  • If you have very long telephoto lenses this bag may not fit it;
  • Much bigger exterior than interior capacity. When you see the bag you would think that you will have more space inside than you will actually get.
MindShift Gear BackLight 26L
MindShift Gear BackLight 26L

Image source: ThinkTank

This is another very good choice for high-intensity outdoor activities. This bag is capable of holding 1 standard-size DSLR plus a few lenses, flash, spare batteries, charger, and other accessories and also there are separate pockets for a laptop (up to 15”) and a tablet.

We especially like that this backpack has spacious separate pockets at the front where you can pack personal items & everyday necessities (water bottle, snacks, jacket, and stuff like that) without mixing them with your photo/video gear. 

The internal organization of the main compartment is very good. There are a lot of dividers that enable you to customize the interior according to your needs.

Also, we need to mention that this bag is very comfortable to wear, all straps are made with soft materials which means you could wear it all day. So, for everyday use in all outdoor/adventure kinds of trips, this bag will shine.

Pros:

  • Big enough to carry probably all your gear, but still lightweight when it’s empty and comfortable to wear all day;
  • Fast access to your gear without the need to take the backpack off;
  • Built with very good materials;
  • You get rain cover;
  • Splitted interior with a separate compartment for everyday necessities;
  • Neutral design, you won’t attract unwanted attention if you have a lot of expensive gear inside.

Cons:

  • Front pockets are without padding so you should avoid keeping anything fragile inside (i.e. laptop, tablet, or other gear, it’s better to use it for things like light jacket or other soft things);
  • If you have a pro DSLR with long lenses this bag may not be a good fit.

Anti-theft backpacks

XD Design Bobby Pro
XD Design Bobby Pro

Image source: XD Design

XD Design is maybe not so famous in the photographers’ world, but when it comes to anti-theft backpacks they are one of the market leaders. That means that Bobby Pro is not primarily a travel photo backpack but can be used with this purpose more than any other XD Design bags because of its internal compartments which are clearly made with photographers in mind.

First of all, this is the most secure bag among all other bags we evaluated here. This means that there is no front access and all zippers are hidden. Basically, there is no option to open it while it’s on your back. Also the bag is cut-resistant so all your items will be extra secure. There are also options to lock the main zipper, and all pockets are RFID-protected. 

The backpack is built with eco-friendly recycled material and it’s water repellent so your gear will stay dry no matter the weather conditions. On the front of the strap, there is a single holder you can use for a bottle or phone.

Unfortunately, there are no other holders like holders for tripods and this holder at the front of the strap is not made for it.

The interior of Bobby Pro is made with 2 compartments. The main compartment is adjustable with internal dividers and you will be able to organize your gear easily. 

To be honest, if you have a bigger camera and a lot of accessories there is not enough space. This is the compromise you need to accept. If you have a mirrorless or smaller DSLR camera with attached lens + 1 or 2 additional lenses, and few additional accessories this bag will fit it, but nothing more than that. 

The good thing is that this main compartment is separated with a zipped layer from an additional compartment where you can store a laptop up to 15.6” and tablet up to 12.9”. There are also a few little pockets inside you can use for memory cards, keys, and stuff like that.

You will definitely like the integrated USB charging port (compatible with regular and USB-C) to connect it with a power bank and recharge your gear on the move.

The good thing for transportation is that the Bobby Pro is not too big and can easily be placed under the airplane seat. For everyday use the size and the weight of the bag is almost ideal and you will be comfortable to wear it all the day.

Pros:

  • Minimalistic design, built with recycled materials and lightweight when it is empty;
  • Zippers are hidden, the bag is cut-resistant on the front and on the sides, and there is no option to open it while it’s on your back;
  • Holder for water bottle or phone on the strap;
  • Internal organization with main compartment customized by internal dividers and additional compartment for laptop/tablet and other stuff;
  • USB port integrated;
    Water repellent;
  • Hidden pockets & key ring;
  • Very comfortable to wear all day.

Cons:

  • No fast access when the backpack is on your back – you need to you take it off to access anything within the bag;
  • Limited capacity of the internal storage, it’s not suitable for travelers with a lot of gear;
  • Small phone case, so the holder is useless for any flagship model;
  • Only 1 external holder;
  • Rain cover is not included.

Shoulder bags

Domke F-2
Domke F-2

Image source: Tiffen

Domke F-2 is a classic when it comes to camera bags. Can you imagine that this bag has been on the market for more than 40 years? Of course, materials have advanced over decades but this bag is still one of the most popular for pro photographers and journalists.

The interior space is huge. You will be able to store a big-size camera with a few lenses and a lot of other accessories. Plus, there is space for a smaller laptop or tablet. Thankfully, the design is fantastic for anyone who wants to be able to access their gear quickly. The strap is very comfortable so you won’t miss backpacks you wear on both shoulders. There are also a lot of pockets inside, but there are no small pockets for SD cards or stuff like that.

So, this bag is a good choice for someone who wants to have a classic bag with a neutral design, capable of storing a lot of equipment and at the same time being able to access it quickly.

Pros:

  • A lot of space for travelers with a lot of gear;
  • Materials are very good + the bag is pretty comfortable to wear;
  • The design is pretty neutral, so it won’t attract unwanted attention.

Cons:

  • A bit heavy;
  • Lack of smaller pockets for accessories like spare batteries, SD cards or so (instead you need to use the main compartment which makes it harder to keep small items organized).

Roller bags

Vanguard ALTA FLY 55T
Vanguard ALTA FLY 55T

Image source: Vanguard

This is one of the best bags for transportation especially if you mainly travel by plane. So, this bag is a combination of a trolley bag and backpack, and the design is similar to both of these types. Considering their main purpose the bag is built with strong materials so all your gear will be secure inside.

Internal space is big with plenty of pockets. Dividers will enable you to organize the space to meet your needs perfectly. Also, there is a space for a laptop (up to 14”), tablet, and a tripod carrying system. Considering that transportation is the main use of this bag, we like that it can fit a lot of equipment including longer lenses without the need to think twice about what you want to take with you on a trip.

You can wear this bag as a standard backpack and use it every day, but we encourage you to think about a smaller bag instead so that you can use this one solely for transportation. The bag is simply so big and not so comfortable to be on your back all day.

Pros:

  • Trolley and backpack in a single bag;
  • 4 wheels for easy walking;
  • Lots of space inside even for multiple long lenses and a lot of other accessories;
  • Lots of pockets;
  • Dividers are flexible and can be moved off the bag if you want to use this bag for non-photo luggage;
  • Tripod holder on the front.

Cons:

  • Too big and heavy to use it for everyday walking (except when you want to carry all your gear);
  • Not enough space for bigger laptops (the limit is 14”).

Conclusion

Photography (and videography) is a great hobby to have, and traveling is a great way to boost your creativity and take fantastic photos and videos. You don’t need to rely on just a smartphone if you choose your camera bag properly.

The main point is to choose the best camera bag suitable for the gear you want to have with you on your trip. It’s not the same if you carry just a compact camera, DSLR/mirrorless with a single lens or if you carry a bigger DSLR/mirrorless with multiple lenses with accessories, or anything in between.

The choice of a perfect camera backpack will also depend on the trip. We hope that this post helped you gain a better understanding of what bag to choose for traveling!

What’s your preferred camera bag for travel? Can you share with us your tips on how to choose the best travel bag? Is there anything other important we may forget to mention?

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