Best Camera Backpacks 2021 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Camera Backpacks 2021

Annoyed you didn't bring your camera on a hike? That'll never happen again with these bags - here's our take on the best camera backpacks for 2021

Aside from essentials such as tents, sleeping bags, and camping stoves, most outdoor adventurers will also have that extra non-essential they can’t leave home without. For some people this might be a secret stash of Tunnock’s tea cakes, and for others, in the case of hiker Ursula Martin, it’s a pair of knitting needles and some wool. For many, however, that ‘non-essential’ is a camera.  

Since the birth of the camera, photography has always been an excellent way to appreciate the outdoor world in all its natural beauty. From wildlife shots and awe-inspiring landscapes to gnarly action shots and visual hiking diaries; there’s no end to the photo opportunities you might find on the trail. Coined ‘photo hikers’; aside from DSLRs, you’re also likely to find drone enthusiasts nowadays, as well as the ultra-lightweight travellers who simply use their phone.  

Though choosing the perfect outdoor camera is both a tough and highly subjective job (which we’ll leave to the experts), finding the right hiking backpack with in-built camera protection can also be somewhat of a challenge. With that in mind, here’s some of the features we find the most useful here at Outdoors Magic.  

How To Choose A Camera Backpack

One of the most important aspects of a camera backpack will be its ability to protect your kit. Considering the price of cameras, and the unpredictability of the outdoors, you’re going to want something that’s both sturdy and very secure. This usually comes in the form of weatherproofing and extra padding. The former can include water-resistant materials, sealed seams and zippers, and built-in rain covers, whilst the latter usually involves shock-resistant padding and chunky kit dividers.  

Photo: iStock/ Zephyr18

Storage capacity is also very important as you’ll need room for both your camera kit and some hiking gear too. In order to separate these storage compartments and avoid cross-contamination, most camera backpacks will have organisation dividers or dedicated camera cubes. These help to organise your lenses from your camera bodies and SD cards, whilst also keeping any potentially muddy hiking kit well away from your electrics. Attachment straps and loops on the exterior of the bag will also aid organisation and help to store items such as tripods, sleeping mats, and the like. 

Related: Best Backpacking Sleeping Mats

Though camera backpacks will be on the heavier side because of the protective padding, they usually range between 1 to 3kg so are still light enough for multi-day adventures. This extra weight also means there’ll be more strain on your back so look out for waist straps, shoulders straps, back panels, and frame systems for ergonomic support.  

Possibly the handiest feature to have on a camera backpack, however, is an easy camera access pocket. These are usually zippered side, top or back pockets, and enable you to quickly grab your kit without rummaging through the entire contents of the bag. This also means you’re less likely to miss that perfect shot.  

From quick day trips to multi-day escapades, here’s a breakdown of our favourite camera backpacks for 2021. 

Best Camera Backpacks 2021 | Our 10 Favourites

  • Wandrd Prvke
  • Mindshift Backlight
  • LowePro PhotoSport III
  • Vanguard Alta Sky
  • Peak Designs Everyday
  • Mountainsmith Tanuck
  • Thule Covert Rolltop
  • Gitzo Adventury
  • LowePro Powder
  • Shimoda Explore

Wandrd Prvke 

Price: From £124
Dimensions: From 43 x 28 x 17cm
Weight: From 1.3kg
Best For: Day trips

Designed specifically for photo adventures, the award-winning Prvke (pronounced ‘provoke’) is one of the first bags Wandrd produced and has since made quite a name for itself in the photography world. It’s a classic roll-top style and comes in 21, 31 and 41L capacities, though can expand 5L beyond that when the roll top is fully extended.  

Constructed from a water-resistant tarpaulin and a Robic 1680D ballistic nylon, this bag is made of tough stuff. The zippers are also weather-resistant, and there’s room for a rain cover in the storage pocket on the bottom of the bag. There’s both padded back panels and shoulder straps, as well as magnetic tote handles and a whole host of organisation pockets across the bag. A particular favourite is the hidden passport/ cash pocket integrated into the back panel – very handy indeed. 

On the downside the padded camera cube itself is not included and will cost extra, though the bag is sizeable enough to fit any camera bag you might already have. You’ll also be able to fit a 15” laptop or tablet at the rear, and can reach your kit from the top, back and side access points.  

There’s a solid amount of attachment points for the likes of a tripod or a sleeping mat, including an expandable bottle pocket on the side. Like all Wandrd products, the Prvke also comes with a lifetime warranty should any adventure prove too powerful…

Get the latest price at:
eu.wandrd.com

 

Mindshift Backlight Elite 45L Camera Backpack

Price: £290
Dimensions: 33 x 59.7 x 20.3cm
Weight: 1.8 to 3.2 kg
Best For: Extreme adventuring

The Backlight 45L has the design of a more classic hiking backpack but with the robust build to safely secure your photography equipment. They call the construction ‘storm proof’ with sturdy lumbar padding, YKK® AquaGuard zippers, a DWR treated and tear-proof Sailcloth material and a rain cover for more extreme conditions. Though the Backlight sizes start from 18L, the 45L seems best suited for hiking adventures with ample room for both your camera gear and your trekking essentials (17L non-camera space to be exact). As well as walking poles and tripods, the side straps are also equipped to carry skis too should the snow-capped mountains call to you.  

The main access point is through the rear-panel for extra security when you’re out traveling with expensive gear. If you’re wearing the waist belt, this means that you can swivel the backpack around and open the back up like table in front of you. Pretty handy if you don’t want to lay your bag down on muddy terrain.  

At its lightest the Backlight is 1.8kg which is fairly light considering the size of the thing. The internal aluminium frame should help distribute this weight too whilst also keeping your kit in place. Check out the link below to see what specific cameras and lenses will fit in this tank of a bag.

Get the latest price at:
thinktankphoto.com

 

LowePro PhotoSport III 24L  

 Price: £164.95
Dimensions: 27 x 22 x 50cm
Weight: 1.5kg
Best For: Lightweight dayhiking

The PhotoSport III is the latest bag from photography gear experts LowePro and is the third iteration from their PhotoSport line. This particular pack is made from 75% recycled fabrics including Ripstop and recycled Robic nylon and polyester ‘to protect your gear and the environment you shoot in’. Some parts of the backpack, like the inner lining, are actually made from 100% recycled materials and LowePro are currently looking at ways to make their padding, hardware and webbing more sustainable.  

At 1.5kg it’s incredibly lightweight for a camera backpack and includes an ActivZone harness system to further help with weight distribution throughout the bag. This harness system also incorporates a padded waist belt, adjustable contoured shoulder straps and a padded hydration pocket (up to 3L systems). 

Perhaps the coolest thing about this bag, however, is the integrated and removable GearUp camera insert. This insert will fit a full frame mirrorless camera with an attached 24-70 f/2.8 lens plus one extra lens. The straps provided mean that the insert can be removed from the bag and either attached to many areas on the bag’s exterior, or it can be worn across your body. You can even use the strap system to attach the camera itself to the chest straps of the bag, making for easy photographing on-the-move. 

Get the latest price at:
lowepro.com

Vanguard Alta Sky 51D 

Price: £229.99
Dimensions: 37 × 26 × 56.5cm
Weight: 2.9kg
Best For: Professional shoots

Though on the heavier and more expensive side of the scale, the Vanguard Alta Sky is quite the tank. It can fit one to two professional DSLRs with attached lenses, up to four extra lenses in the surrounding dividers, and any accessories such as flash guns, battery packs and SD cards. The compartments are sized 1/3 to 2/3 so you can decide how much storage your camera and hiking gear require, though you can remove and configure the dividers to your personal tastes. If you need less camera gear, this means you can easily convert the Alta Sky into a hiking backpack and vice versa. 

Related: How To Pack A Rucksack For Hiking

It’s designed specifically for carrying a heavy kit and uses an ergonomic air system back panel, an adjustable sternum strap, and a padded waist belt to help support your body each step of the way. The multi-access points also make life easier, with a full rear opening as well as side and top access.  

There are multiple attachment points on the exterior of the bag as well as an integrated rain cover. The external material is a 300D nylon whilst the interior material is a 200D polyester. This means you get the best of both world in terms of a sturdy construction as nylon is incredibly strong, abrasion-resistant and resistant to mold and most insects, whist polyester is additionally durable, lightweight and fast-drying (it doesn’t absorb water).   

Get the latest price at:
vanguardworld.co.uk

 

Peak Designs Everyday 30L Backpack 

Price: £190.44
Dimensions: 33 x 37 x 48cm
Weight: 2.11kg
Best For: Eco credentials

The Peak Designs everyday backpack takes the crown in terms of eco credentials here as the company is climate neutral certified and the bag is made from 100% post-consumer materials. Pretty impressive stuff. The fabric itself is made from a 400D nylon (DWR and double PU-coated) for optimum strength, and anodised aluminium and glass-reinforced nylon hardware for extra protection. 

Though its 30L capacity is more suited to day hiking, it can still hold a DSLR camera and up to 5 lenses, with 8L of top non-camera space remaining. That’s more than enough for a waterproof jacket, some snacks (and beers), battery packs and any other essentials you might need. All of this can be easily accessed from a large panel with weather-proof zips on the top or on the side.  

The exterior design is very minimal yet still has dual side pockets for water bottles and tripods, whilst the interior is decked out with slip pockets for laptops, wallets and phones, and smaller side and top pockets for SD cards, cables and the like. This minimal design also makes it look at home both in the city, and out on the trail. 

Get the latest price at:
peakdesign.com

Wandrd Prvke
Mindshift Backlight
Peak Designs Everyday

Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Backpack 

Price: £170
Dimensions: 45 x 20 x 54cm
Weight: 2.26kg
Best For: Versatility and discreteness

Thule are perhaps best known for their car roof racks and bike racks which, if anything, suggests the Covert DSLR backpack should be pretty darn tough. It uses a zipper roll-top system (which has a small compartment built in for personal items) with a secure buckled front flap. In terms of the exterior, it’s made from a durable and water-resistant two-tone Oxford nylon and incorporates an ergonomic chassis system to both support and cushion your back. 

Internally, the storage system is entirely customisable with zip-out dividers, while the SafeZone camera pod system is removable and has a dual density padded bottom. The divider system within the pod is described as ‘origami-inspired’ and can fold around the smallest to largest pieces of gear. It can fit a DSLR body with attached ultra-wide-angle lens plus two lenses, accessories and a drone up to 260mm x 200mm x 100mm. There’s also room for a 15” laptop or tablet should you need to edit on-the-go.   

Get the latest price at:
thule.com


Mountainsmith Tanuck 40L 
 

Price: £165
Dimensions: 23.5” x 15” x 13”
Weight: 2.4kg
Best For: Professional photographers

The Mountainsmith Tanuck 40L is another powerhouse of a backpack and when fully extended, can reach up to 59L in capacity. It was designed in collaboration with legendary photographer Chris Burkard and is nicknamed the ‘T.A.N.’ meaning ‘tough as nails.’  In this sense, it’s the type of backpack that will adapt to every kind of adventure.   

The Tanuck is made from durable and water resistant CORDURA® fabrics (5000mm PU), with fully waterproof pockets, MOLLE-style webbing on the exterior for custom accessory attachments, and a hard bottom for floor protection. This hard bottom also means the bag can stand up on its own whenever your back needs a rest.

At 17”, it has the largest laptop compartment on the market including room enough for a hydration bladder as well. The top lid is removable and can clip into the shoulder straps for a chest mount camera carrying style. Additionally, there’s two side panel pockets to fit water bottles, light stands, tripods or any other accessories you might need.  

The back panel is made from Airmesh for optimum breathability, whilst there are dual density shoulder straps with load lifter suspension for supreme comfort. The rain cover and accessory pocket come included with the bag. 

Get the latest price at:
mountainsmith.com

 

Gitzo Adventury 30L  


Price: £249.95
Dimensions: 31 x 19 x 48cm
Weight: 2.05kg
Best For: Extreme Conditions

The Gitzo Adventury 30L is aimed at landscape and wildlife photographers and has a nature-inspired green design to fit in on the trail. It can accommodate a pretty huge amount including: two DSLR cameras, one fitted with a 200mm telephoto lens, four extra lenses, a drone and additional camera accessories. Like most of the bags here, the dividers are interchangeable to accommodate your individual array of kit. In this sense, the bag can act as a camera bag, a hiking camera bag, a hiking backpack, or an everyday backpack all at once. 

The Gitzo G-Cushioning provides superior protection for your kit whilst the secure back opening ensures maximum security when on-the-move. The shoulder straps are also adjustable and the back features a comfortable ventilation system. This back opening, as well as the rest of the bag itself, is made from a water repellent fabric. The zippers and bottom of the bag are additionally coated with weatherproofing protection so you can use your bag in all types of weather conditions (rain cover included).  

Related: Best Waterproof Jackets

Additionally, the roll-top is expandable and can hold your personal items for easy-access, whilst the straps are multi-linking and can attach big tripods as well as anything else you might need.  

Get the latest price at:
gitzo.com

 

LowePro Powder 55L  

A shot from the Outdoors 100 2019/20. Photo: Chris Johnson

Price: £334.95
Dimensions: 33.5 x 22.5 x 62cm
Weight: 2.4kg
Best For: Alpine adventures

As suggested in the name, the LowePro Powder is built for extreme outdoors conditions. Though it has the look of a traditional hiking backpack, its sturdy build and weather-proof design will also allow for skiing, snowboarding and more intense winter trekking.  

At 55L, there’s a hell of a lot of room here too. In fact, 50% of the pack is dedicated to non-camera storage which means you could safely bring the LowePro Powder on a multi-day trip if you pack it right. We were actually so impressed by the Powder we included it in the Outdoor 100 for 2019/20, our yearly round-up of the latest and greatest outdoor gear on the market.  

For a more in-depth look at this mighty backpack, read our full LowePro Powder review.

Get the latest price at:
lowepro.com

Shimoda Explore 40 

Price: £250
Dimensions: 11.4W x 22.4H x 10.2D inches
Weight: 1.3kg
Best For: Water Resistance

The Shimoda Explore 40 is one of the lighter bags here – impressive considering its size. It comes in ‘Blue Nights’ or ‘Sea Pine’ colours and has an adjustable torso height. This means the Shimoda Explore is accommodating to both taller and smaller adventurers, and even has women’s strap options to help accommodate different body types too. They describe this harness system as ‘bear hug-like’ and it helps ensure your pack’s weight is healthily distributed across your body.  

There are multiple kit access points across the bag as well as a removable and customisable camera insert system. The hydration bladder port is equally handy and can hold a bladder up to 3L, whilst there’s also numerous storage pockets and external straps for non-camera gear such as skis, ice axes or a snowboard. In this sense, the bag definitely has the capacity for both photography gear and hiking gear.  

The outer shell is entirely water-resistant and is coated in carbonate ether with a double-sided resin application process. This helps create a protective barrier to exterior waters as well as interior condensation to ensure your camera gear will never get wet and damaged.  

(As an added bonus, if you buy the Explore 40, Shimoda will plant an estimated 14 trees. Pretty cool.)

Get the latest price at:
uk.shimodadesigns.com

 

Main Photo: iStock/ anyaberkut

 

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