A gear-roundup guide to finding the best camera backpack for hiking, travel, and adventure.
After living on the road for the past five years as a full-time professional adventure travel photographer, finding the perfect backpack capable of protecting my photography gear from the airport to the hiking trail has always been a struggle.
Even as an amateur photographer, I went through several photography backpacks. While they usually kept my photo gear safe, I always felt like there was something missing– from poor durability, uncomfortable bag fits, and most importantly, poor access to equipment which often resulted in missed shots.
That’s why I set off in search of the best camera backpack for hiking, travel, and adventure. I personally trialed and compared dozens of backpacks from top photography equipment brands, and spent hours reading reviews and speaking to other travel photographers for recommendations for the best travel camera backpacks designed for outdoor use, either on the trail or on an expedition.
So, to help out my fellow photographers who spend more time shooting in the mountains than in the studio, I’ve culminated my research into this photography backpack guide which I update yearly. Let’s get into it.
- Quick Answer: Here are the Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking & Travel
- Video: What’s in My Camera Backpack
- Breakdown: The 11 Best Travel & Hiking Backpacks for Photography
- 1. Atlas Packs Adventure Pack My Top Pick
- 1. F-Stop Tilopa DuraDiamond Pack
- 3. Peak Design Travel Backpack
- 4. Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II
- 5. Thule Covert Camera Backpack
- 6. Bagsmart Camera Backpack
- 7. Burton F-Stop 28L
- 8. LowePro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
- 9. WANDRD FERNWEH Backpacking Bag (M/L)
- 10. Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack 35L
- 11. Shimoda Action X30
- Want More Photography Gear Guides?
- Bonus: Use Your Hiking Backpack With the LowePro GearUP Creator Box
- Anatomy of a Great Photography Backpack for Hiking & Travel
- More Photography Equipment Guides
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Quick Answer: Here are the Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking & Travel
Don't want to read through the pros and cons of all of the best camera backpacks in my guide?
Here is the quick answer. The backpack that I currently use every single day to haul my camera gear on the hiking trails and all my electronics through the airport terminals is the Atlas Adventure Pack.
I firmly believe that this is the best camera backpack overall for travel and landscape photographers serious about their craft and their gear. Read on for an honest breakdown of why I use this camera backpack every day.
I first saw this camera pack in the wild on an expedition to Island Peak in Nepal. I asked my friend Chris to give it a try and was immediately impressed with the Atlas Pack for its versatility, comfort, and unique features.
During this time I had been using the F-Stop Tilopa (number 2) for years as my primary pack. However, the Atlas Adventure Pack really did tick off all the niggly issues I had with the F-Stop and I have recently spent the last few months using it daily.
10 more great photo backpacks include:
- F-Stop Tilopa Duradiamond - previous pick
- Peak Design Travel Backpack
- Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II
- Thule Covert Camera Backpack
- Bagsmart Camera Backpack
- Burton F-Stop 28L
- LowePro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
- WANDRD FERNWEH Backpacking Bag
- Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack 35L
- Shimoda Action X30
Below I'll go into more detail about each pack, offering reasons why I would recommend them for hiking and adventure shoots.
Video: What's in My Camera Backpack
Below is a quick video showing my current photography gear setup that I carry around the world. This is a good showcase of some of the good features of my current favorite pack: the Atlas Adventure.
Breakdown: The 11 Best Travel & Hiking Backpacks for Photography
Next, here is a detailed breakdown of the best camera bags for hiking, travel, and adventure.
Below I've listed 11 camera backpacks and included specifications, pros, cons, and some reasoning for why I've included them in this roundup.
1. Atlas Packs Adventure Pack My Top Pick
- Pack volume: 60 liters (compressible to 35L)
- Weight: 6lb+ | 2.8 kg+
- Size: 23 x 11.3 x 9 in | 58.5 x 28. x 23 cm
- Compressable and expandable depending on the load
- Custom fit with various sizing options for a very comfortable trekking-minded mount with custom hip belts sized to your torso
- Intuitive origami internal design makes it easy to modify the camera storage capacity without buying several camera cube inserts
- No side access compartment to camera gear
- No dedicated water bladder insert (although there are easy routing options)
Right off the bat, you already know that I consider the Atlas Packs Adventure backpack to be the best camera bag on the market.
What I love most is the Origami fold system in the main camera compartment. It negates the need for multiple traditional camera inserts, letting me easily adjust the space to fit different gear setups.
Furthermore, the pack's expandable design is a game-changer. It goes from a carry-on-friendly 35L to a generous 60L, allowing me to fly with all my must-have electronics but still have room for trekking and camping essentials when needed on bigger adventures.
This is the most well-thought-out pack I have ever used. It's clear that Atlas has spent A LOT of time thinking through every scenario to craft the perfect camera backpack for hiking.
You'll find a full list of features on the Atlas website, but here are the top features I believe have allowed this pack to take the top spot.
- Customizable torso size and hip belt when purchasing - makes carrying heavy gear for long periods very comfortable
- Unique Origami folding internal pocket to adjust internal camera storage size
- Spacious bottle pocket on each side
- Fits up to 17" Laptop (including the 16" MBP)
- The new version has added MOLLE attachments on the lid
- Traditional trekking backpack opening lid with compression straps
- 60L maximum capacity and compressible to 35L for air travel
- Plenty of space for hiking/adventure gear.
To be honest, there's very little I can fault regarding this pack.
However, it may be too large or bulky for some photographers, especially if you're primarily looking to pack perhaps one body and a couple of lenses. If this is the case, you might want to check out the Atlas Athlete Pack. I haven't used this pack but it gets a really good wrap among other travel and adventure photographers.
Furthermore, there are no side-access compartments on this backpack, limiting photographers from quickly swapping gear without taking the pack off.
The Adventure Pack from Atlas is my number one pick for the best camera backpack for both travel and hiking, including long trips in the backcountry and professional photographers working on demanding expeditions.
Overall, the big list of features and well-thought-out design make this an excellent backpack for hiking adventure photographers, travelers, and really anyone who prioritizes comfort, versatility, and who are looking for one great camera backpack for all outdoor applications.
1. F-Stop Tilopa DuraDiamond Pack
- Pack volume: 50 liters
- Weight: 4.2 lb | 1.9 kg
- Size: 24.5 x 13.7 x 11.1 in | 62.3 x 34.8 x 24.4 cm
- Great weatherproof build quality
- Top-of-the-line modular camera insert system (ICUs)
- Very comfortable photography backpack for long hikes and treks
- The new version still lacks water bottle pockets
- More expensive than other camera bags
- Fewer included compression straps than the original Tilopa
F-Stop Gear is known for top-of-the-range camera storage systems for harsh backcountry adventurers. Their line of camera bags features removable camera inserts, or ICUs, allowing for a completely modular storage solution for your gear.
The Tilopa Duradiamond used to hold the top spot in this camera backpack gear guide, and it's a pack that I used every single day for the past two years until I began using the Atlas Adventure Pack.
Additionally, the original Tilopa is an adventure camera backpack that I have personally used and severely abused in the past. With only a few minor opportunities for improvement, the new DuraDiamond version includes some subtle yet appreciated upgrades that make this one of the best hiking camera pack on the market.
Here are a few stand-out qualities that make this pack so great. For owners of the original Tilopa, I've highlighted the new features.
- Proprietary DuraDiamond material is insanely durable, lightweight, and includes excellent water-repelling coating (a new feature)
- Intuitive easy access integrated pocket zippers enabling "pockets within pockets" for flexible organization (new feature)
- Very comfortable, wide, and thick algae-based shoulder straps (new feature)
- Aluminum buckles and adjustment hardware (new feature)
- Welded water-resistant zippers (new feature)
- Wide back panel access to all gear, including a padded 16-inch laptop compartment (new feature)
- 50L storage capacity is perfect for DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras including long telephotos, drones, tripods, and accessories, with plenty of pockets and enough room for personal items & hiking essentials
- Solid aluminum frame and solid waist straps for comfort when carrying gear-heavy setups on multi-day treks
Truthfully, there really is little to gripe about with this camera backpack. However, F-stop has again chosen not to include a water bottle holder on the side of the pack, which I liked on their older LOKA lightweight bags.
This does seem like a downside at first. However, this decision was intentional in order to create more versatile side pockets, which are already a huge improvement over the original Tilopa. Furthermore, there is an integrated water bladder pocket with convenient hose routing, which is a good way to carry water anyway.
Additionally, for those who use water bottle filters, you can still clip one on easily using a carabiner and a Gatekeeper strap as I do in the photo below.
The second initial downside is that the integrated side-compression straps have been removed on the DuraDiamond version.
The result is a more refined stock backpack. However, I find these compression straps essential to make the backpack smaller for use as an in-flight carry-on bag. This is quickly resolved by using F-stop's Gatekeeper Straps mounted onto the integrated strapping points.
While photographers will have to pay extra for these straps, the fact that they are removable could actually be viewed as an improvement as it provides more flexibility in external pack configuration. Either way, I keep two on the side for extra compression potential at all times.
The Tilopa from F-Stop's Mountain Series is my number two pick for the best camera backpack for both travel and hiking, including long trips in the backcountry and professional photographers working on demanding expeditions.
Keep in mind that the F-Stop Tilopa is quite a substantial investment and is by far not the cheapest camera backpack on the market. However, with an included 20-year warranty, this is the camera backpack that you buy once and use for life if it ends up being the pack for you.
The #1 Photography Accessory
Enter the Peak Design Capture Clip. I've used this for years to quickly clip my camera to my backpack's shoulder strap. This is the most comfortable way to carry a camera and will save your neck a ton of strain.
3. Peak Design Travel Backpack
- Pack volume: 30 liters
- Weight: 3.9 lb | 1.8 kg
- Size: 19.1 x 13. x 10.6 in | 48.5 x 33 x 27 cm
- Excellent versatility with side-access zippers
- Compatible compartments and straps turns the bag from a 45L gear hauler into a 35L day bag
- Durable and weatherproof outer material
- Not as comfortable for long treks as other hiking backpacks
- Minimalist design limits organization
- Hard to justify the weight with limited pockets and attachments
The Peak Design Travel Backpack is another excellent and versatile camera backpack from Peak Design, the maker of one of my all-time favorite photography accessories, the Peak Design Capture Clip, as well as one of the best lightweight travel tripods on the market.
I regularly use many of Peak Design's innovative products and have personally tested out their highly acclaimed Travel Backpack (45L), as well as their more popular Everyday Backpack. Of the two, the Travel Backpack is more suitable for hiking, with a large main compartment and straps comfortable enough to carry heavy gear on any day hike.
Top features of Peak Design's Travel Backpack include:
- International carry-on approved size
- Stowable shoulder & waist straps great for airline travel
- Large main compartment with tear access, dual side access, and top access
- Comfortable enough to take on day hikes and versatile enough for city shoots
- 45L is a good size to store plenty of camera equipment including a DSLR camera, drone, large lenses, and even a 16-inch Macbook Pro
- Solid bottom liner and weatherproof, recycled 400D nylon canvas
- Removable camera units for modular storage
While Peak Design's offering is an excellent, all-round travel photography backpack, there are a few things that might not make it the best camera backpack for hiking long distances or over several days.
Firstly, Peak Design has done a good job of making this camera backpack as versatile as possible for travel. However, this has resulted in some not-so-comfortable traps that can really dig in when carrying big loads. Honestly, I would have liked to see more attention paid to the shoulder and waist straps for added comfort rather than the ability to stow them.
Furthermore, while the Travel Backpack undeniably looks great, it does lack some organizational features present on other backpacks. This includes a lack of many pockets or organizational zippers inside the backpack. The bag is also quite heavy considering there are not many attachment points or pockets.
Also, this backpack is one of the most expensive in this gear roundup, which might discourage some people from purchasing it. However, Peak Design offers a lifetime warranty, making your investment a safe one.
The Peak Design Travel Backpack is one of the best and most versatile camera packs on the market. This is a premium backpack that photographers can use to carry their gear in a wide range of cases, from day hikes to overnight trips or week-long vacations.
However, the lack of a solid frame and rather thin straps would discourage professional photographers looking for a premium hiking backpack to carry their camera equipment in tough alpine or backcountry conditions.
4. Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II
- Pack volume: 25 liters
- Weight: 6.3 lb | 2.8 kg
- Size: 20.4 x 14.2 x 8.7 in | 52 x 36 x 22 cm
- Rugged turret-loading hard-top for optimal protection of fragile gear
- Dual-side access, rear access, and top access zippers
- Plenty of attachment points using LowePro's SlipLock loops allows a modular exterior configuration
- Quite a stiff mount can be uncomfortable on multi-day treks
- Non-welded zippers will leak in water (need to use a rain cover even in light drizzles)
- Velcro dividers are a little flimsy and dislodge from side-access opening
LowePro is one of the world's top photography brands, offering a wide range of high-quality storage solutions for everything from heavy-gripped DSLR camera rigs to lightweight electronics organizers for hard drives and accessories.
Their most popular backpack is the LowePro Protactic BP 450 AW II. You'll see this bag advertised everywhere, with many great photographers using it as their go-to camera backpack for hiking and travel photography.
This is a top-of-the-line backpack made from a serious photography equipment manufacturer. Some of the things I love about LowePro's Protactic backpack include:
- Great hard top with turret access
- Four convenient access points (sides, back, and top) enables photographers to access their gear quickly
- Comes with a rain cover
- Zippable camera compartment capable of housing up to 15-inch laptops
- Nice organizational features with zippers inside the backpack
- Compatible with many accessories and add-ons using LowePro's SlipLock mounts
- Minimal design doesn't stand out too much at airports
I used the original version of this pack for quite some time and while I did harbor some gripes with it, it seems that LowePro really has addressed most of this in their new version.
However, one thing in particular that I wish they would have addressed is the thin shoulder straps and waistband. I have tested this new backpack with a full-load of gear and I couldn't imagine hiking any more than a few days with it on.
Furthermore, the pack is very heavy considering LowePro only offers 25L of internal storage at over 2.8 kg for the base backpack. As a comparison, the F-Stop Tilopa at a similar pricepoint offers double the storage at a lower base weight (roughly equally weighted after adding the ICU).
Lastly, I wish that LowePro would upgrade the velcro dividers that come with this backpack. While they do offer some unique solutions including dividers with pockets for lens filters, they all seem to come unstuck easily and just feel flimsy after a few weeks of use.
If you're looking for a great, all-around camera backpack that you can take on short trips or use to transport your equipment between jobs, then the ProTactic BP 450 AW II from LowePro is an excellent option. However, the thin straps and low-quality velcro inserts are disappointing to see in such an expensive bag.
5. Thule Covert Camera Backpack
- Pack volume: 32 liters
- Weight: 4.71 lb | 2.1 kg
- Size: 20.5 x 14.2 x 9.1 in | 52.1 x 36.1 x 23.1 cm
- Convenient roll-up top for expandable storage and quick-access
- Thin form factor makes it a great camera backpack for carry-on
- Removable and modular camera insert can be used as a sling bag on its own
- Limited storage for camera equipment
- Very thin straps might be uncomfortable on long hikes
- Bag becomes very stiff when placing a full-sized laptop in the back laptop compartment
Swedish company Thule makes excellent, high-quality electronics and photography bags. Their premiere backpack is the everyday Thule Covert 32L, which includes a unique, removable camera insert that doubles as a small sling bag.
In my opinion, the Thule Covert is one of the most beautiful-looking backpacks. Apart from the aesthetics, there are some practical features that have landed this bag a spot on this list:
- Innovative, removable camera insert can be taken out and used as a sling bag
- Roll-up top for extra storage for personal items
- Plenty of pockets with quick access pockets on the sides
- Adjustable and transformable from a convenient hiking day bag or camera backpack
- Laptop storage on the back panel up to 16" MacBook Pro
- Expandable side pocket for storing tripod or large water bottle
- Magnetic front pocket zips
- Zip-up inner divider to separate personal and photography items
- Overall great accessory storage compartments throughout the bag
There are many things to love about this backpack. However, similarly to LowePro's Protactic and Peak Design's offerings, the Thule Covert's thin straps just don't cut it when it comes to long-distance hiking.
Additionally, while the removable camera storage unit is an innovative and well-thought-out feature, the small size means you can't store more than a DSLR camera and lens with maybe some small accessories. For professional photographers, this is nowhere near enough storage space.
After speaking to other professional photographers, not many had even heard about the Thule Covert. This surprised me since it really is a great backpack, but I have to be honest when I say that I haven't seen it in the wild too much either.
Regardless, its innovative storage solution, attractive design, and abundance of organizational features make this a great pick for many travel photographers.
In fact, I believe this is a better option than the Peak Design Travel and even the LowePro Protactic for most travelers, especially those carrying a minimal gear setup. However, pros and serious backcountry photographers with multiple lenses might want to give this one a swipe.
6. Bagsmart Camera Backpack
- Pack volume: 20 Liters
- Weight: 3.5 lb | 1.6 kg
- Size: 15.7 x 11.8 x 7.5 in | 39.9 x 30 x 19.1 cm
- Very affordable backpack with great reviews
- Stylish and functional design with several pockets and separated zones for clothes and camera gear
- Carry-on compatible size
- Laptop compartment zipper doesn't close with bulkier 15.6" laptops
- Durability is questionable
- No waist strap
The BagSmart DSLR Camera Backpack is by far one of the most popular camera backpacks on Amazon. That's because you can pick up this stylish backpack, featuring a 15-inch laptop compartment, customizable velcro camera storage unit, and several accessory pockets for less than $50 delivered.
Photographers looking for the most affordable camera storage solution for their short hikes will love this pack. Here are a few standout features.
- 15-inch laptop compartment
- Well-built backpack with thousands of 5-star reviews for under $50
- Quick access side pockets and expandable top pocket for personal items and clothing
- Thicker back padding than some of the premium camera backpacks with decently thick shoulder straps
- Water bottle holder for tripod or bottle
- Comes in several colors
Professional photographers looking for the absolute best travel camera backpack or one for the outdoors will certainly miss things like welded zippers and seams, a waist strap, and customizable attachment points.
Furthermore, while this bag has held up on the Amazon review test, BagSmart is still not a premium brand and therefore quality and replacements are questionable.
Right off the bat, you can't expect this backpack to serve as a professional bag capable of transporting your gear for hundreds of miles in the backcountry. However, that's not what BagSmart has set out to create.
While this bag lacks premium features it's still a great hiking camera backpack for beginner photographers and hobbyists– or those who spent all their money on the newest mirrorless lenses.
7. Burton F-Stop 28L
- Pack volume: 28 liters
- Weight: 5.1 lb | 2.3 kg
- Size: 26 x 12 x 7 in | 65 x 30.5 x 19 cm
- Targetted as a professional hiking backpack for photographers with build-quality to match
- Comfortable, thick, and adjustable shoulder straps for hiking and trekking
- Plenty of pockets for accessories, tripods, and more
- A little bulky for a 28L pack
- No removable camera storage pockets
- No dedicated laptop sleeve pocket
The Burton F-Stop 28L backpack is a feature-rich camera bag with enough side pockets, extra compartments, and attachment points to satisfy most professional needs. It's made by Burton, one of the world's best outdoor brands for snowsports. So, you know it'll hold up in tough conditions.
Unfortunately, this bag is often hard to get your hands on. However, if you do, here are some top features you'll get with this backpack.
- Designed by professional snowboard photographers Dean Blotto Gray and Jesse Dawson
- Backcountry-grade "bomb-proof" design and 500D nylon Cordura ripstop material
- Lots of pockets
- Main compartment includes enough space for 2x DSLR camera bodies, large telephoto lenses, and collapsable drone like the Mavic Pro 3
- Included compression straps for a tight pack when carrying the bag on long hikes
- Adjustable and ergonomic sternum strap, thick, comfortable shoulder straps, and load-balance waist harness with a padded hip belt
- Includes snowboard carry mount
Right off the bat, the one thing that I wish this backpack had was a dedicated laptop sleeve. This should be standard in any adventure backpack for modern photographers. Furthermore, this bag is slightly heavy and long, resulting in a comfortable carry but will likely limit your carry-on capabilities at the airport.
This is one of my top picks for the best hiking camera backpack for professionals, especially those working in snowsports industries or in mountain conditions. This backpack is great if you need a bag simply for the outdoors. But, if you're looking for an all-around backpack to use for travel, the lack of a dedicated laptop sleeve might be a deal breaker for you.
8. LowePro Flipside Trek BP 450 AW
- Pack volume: 40 liters
- Weight: 3.7 lb | 1.7 kg
- Size: 54 x 31 x 24 cm
- Convenient front access pocket
- Comfortable chest straps and waist harness
- Good balance of camera compartment storage and personal adventure items
- No laptop sleeve compartment (only 10-inch tablet)
- Small back access compartment
- Not made from weatherproof material (needs rain cover)
While LowePro's Protactic is a great backpack, its straps and fit are not exactly ideal for long hikes and outdoor photography shoots. That's why LowePro released the Flipside Trek BP 450 AW, an excellent 40-liter camera backpack designed for hiking and outdoor photography.
Things that I love about this backpack include:
- Unique, convenient front access zipper
- Solid design and zipper layout allows photographers to access their gear by hanging the bag in front of them using the waist straps
- Fits dual camera bodies and extra lenses, with enough space for personal items and adventure equipment
- Adjustable chest straps and padded shoulder straps comfortable for long trips
- Plenty of zippers and included water bottle/tripod holder
- Strapping points and compression straps built-in
Similarly to Burton's F-stop backpack, the LowePro Flipside Trek also lacks a dedicated laptop compartment. I think this is a huge design flaw that limits the bag as it renders it useless for traveling photographers– often the guys and girls who work in outdoor conditions.
Furthermore, another flaw in the Flipside Trek is that it is slightly long, with limited adjustment positions for those under 5' 7".
Photographers who only need a backpack for hiking will love this pack. It offers everything you're looking for in a stylish and feature-rich design. It's also made by one of the world's best camera backpack manufacturers.
However, again, the deal breaker for me is the lack of a laptop compartment. F-Stop's Tilopa is a much better option or traveling photographers and digital nomads who need rugged protection for their kit and remote office gear.
9. WANDRD FERNWEH Backpacking Bag (M/L)
- Pack volume: 50 liters
- Weight: 5 lb | 2.3 kg
- Size: 26 x 13.8 x 9.5 in | 66 x 35 x 24.1 cm
- Very comfortable backpack designed for trekking with 6 points of mount adjustments
- Excellent breathable foam material on the back piece
- Modular camera cube inserts
- Lacks a water bottle holder but expandable side pockets will fit one
- High-visibility color option for alpinists and mountaineering
- Not as many internal organization pockets as the F-Stop Tilopa
Next up on this roundup of the best camera backpacks for hiking and adventure is the WANDRD FERNWEH backpacking bag. In terms of features, this is the closest competitor to my top pick, the F-Stop Tilopa 50L.
This bag is one of my favorites on the market. After the wild success of the WANDRD PRVKE, they have finally made a backpack more suitable for outdoor photographers. Top features include:
- Intuitive "bucket" is a removable separator in the main compartment
- Dedicated water bladder in the front
- Looks absolutely amazing
- Excellent side pocket for storing drink bottles or tripods, with main camera cube side-access on the other side
- Amazingly comfortable mount with great adjustment features
- Waterproof Tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon construction is bomb-proof
In all honesty, there's very little lacking when it comes to features on this bag. As is the case with the Tilopa, I would have liked to see a water bottle holder on the side, but WANDRD instead put a large and more versatile expandable pocket there that essentially does the same job.
While this bag looks fantastic, there are only two color options, which might not be great for alpine professionals looking for a high-visibility backpack.
The WANDRD FERNWEH is an amazing backpack that is very comfortable. In terms of features, it's almost identical to the F-Stop Tilopa, while offering additional side-access capability.
Comparing the two backpacks fully loaded, I still prefer the Tilopa as it is more comfortable, but it's a close game. The FERNWEH is a top-of-the-line backpack for hiking photographers and while I've only tried it on briefly, I have been told that the durability is superb.
10. Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack 35L
- Pack volume: 35L - 42L
- Weight: 5.75 lb | 2.6 kg
- Size: 22 x 13.5 x 9 in | 55.9 x 34.3 x 22.9 cm
- Nice, firm, and durable velcro dividers make for versatile sectioning
- Solid and very durable outer material
- Back opens up completely for quick-full access
- Very heavy for low storage capacity
- Not possible to only access the camera compartment without exposing the entire interior
- Thin straps comfortable for long hikes
As a long-term traveler, I have a soft spot for Nomatic products. They make high-quality, versatile storage solutions that really last a lifetime. In their newest collaboration with Peter McKinnon, they've taken their travel expertise into the world of photography.
Most photographers and videographers have tuned into one of Peter's videos at least once. His gear expertise is unquestionable. So, you'd expect a collaboration with one of the world's best travel bag brands to result in some great features like:
- Expandable storage turns this 35L backpack into a 42L one
- Durable and waterproof material
- Plenty of organizational pockets in a minimal design
- Side tripod or drink bottle pocket
- Back panel completely opens up (can be a negative also)
- Very attractive design with hard, durable, and innovative velcro dividers
Firstly, the product I tried on didn't have an attached waist strap. I was told that it does include one, but couldn't find this option online either. Secondly, the straps are quite thin, and if you load this backpack up completely, you will struggle wearing it for hours on the trail.
Lastly, access to the primary compartment requires the Nomatic McKinnon's back panel to open up completely. This exposes all of your other gear to the elements and increases the risk of dropping or losing something.
This is arguably one of the best camera backpacks for travel available on the market today. However, Nomatic promotes this backpack for adventures, and I believe there are several design aspects that limit this backpack for serious outdoor use.
11. Shimoda Action X30
- Pack volume: 30 liters (expandable to 37L)
- Weight: 3.7 lb | 1.7 kg
- Size: 19.7 x 11.8 x 6.3 | 50 x 30 x 16 cm
- Comfortable and great for fast day hikes
- Durable and rain-resistant material with welded zippers
- Roll-top expands the backpack's internal storage
- No water bottle pocket
- Side pockets are small
- Top shoulder straps can dig in when fully loaded
Last up on this roundup is the Shimoda Action X30. Shimoda is a brand dedicated to creating long-lasting and top-performing mountain photography backpacks for professionals. The X30 series is one of their best-selling backpacks, and a top pick for the best lightweight hiking backpacks for photography.
There's a lot to love about Shimoda's backpacks. Here's a quick summary:
- Welded seams, zippers, and waterproof outer material is excellent for rough-weather jobs
- Compressable with intuitive compression straps and roll-top
- Side-access pockets for quick camera access
- Plenty of extra pockets for accessories and miscellaneous items
- Lightweight and comfortable for short hikes or on long trips with ultralight equipment
Honestly, there really isn't much lacking in this backpack besides its size. At 37L fully expanded, this bag is slightly too small for long-distance or multi-day hikes.
Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the roll-up top. While I can see the benefits, I have seen this backpack look very top-heavy when storing extra gear, water, or bulky items in the top compartment.
At almost half the price of F-Stop backpacks, Shimoda Designs does a great job of matching them in terms of quality and features. If you're looking for a smaller backpack, the X30 is one of the top bags on the market for photographers who need their gear protected in harsh conditions.
Bonus: Use Your Hiking Backpack With the LowePro GearUP Creator Box
While there are so many great purpose-built hiking camera bags, wouldn't it be great if you could just use your comfortable hiking or trekking backpack instead? Well, this is possible, thanks to Lowepro's line of Creator Boxes.
These soft-padded camera storage boxes are similar to other padded inserts like the ICUs from F-Stop but offer additional functionality including front zippers, internal zip compartments, and convenient "Quick Door" access.
Additionally, the fully-opening zipper is great, since you can use them with a top-opening trekking bag to access your gear quickly either from within the backpack or as a quick method of transporting your camera gear.
Anatomy of a Great Photography Backpack for Hiking & Travel
This list of the top 11 best camera backpacks for hiking and travel should have you covered for a wide range of photography and outdoor applications.
However, if you're still not convinced, here are some important things you'll want to consider when purchasing photography backpacks.
1. Durability & Weatherproof Materials
When it comes to bringing thousands of dollars worth of photography equipment to the outdoors, the number one job of your backpack is to protect your gear. Look for things like:
- Included weather cover
- Durable, waterproof materials (with waterproof coatings)
- Welded zippers (bags often leak through closed zippers)
- Heavy-duty, ripstop fabrics (especially on the bottom)
2. Accessibility & Organization Features
The second most important thing that I look for in a great camera backpack for hiking is accessibility and organization. Ask yourself what kind of gear you will want to stow, and how you'd like to access it.
Some great features that stand out in a great camera bag for hiking are:
- Included tripod holder or mount
- Quick-access pocket for batteries, SD cards, or head-lamp
- Internal zippers and compartments for additional organization of small items
- Plenty of pockets
- Side-access pockets to access gear without putting the bag down
- Laptop storage (for before and after outdoor shoots)
3. Modular Designs or Camera Storage Flexibility
F-Stop was the first company to revolutionize how we store our camera gear in the outdoors. In fact, their innovative ICUs are now what most photographers call modular camera equipment storage compartments, even when made by other brands.
Brands like Atlas have taken things a step further to create even more versatile camera storage solutions.
Photographers looking for a great backpack that's going to allow for a versatile range of gear carried will want a modular or customizable layout.
4. Carry-on Capability (Bag Weight and Size)
Travel photographers always dread the check-in desk at the airport. That's because we know that if we catch an attendant on a bad day, they might force us to stow our heavy camera gear in check-in luggage. If you've ever watched baggage handlers working, you'll know why I'd rather refuse the flight than let this happen.
To minimize the risk, consider the weight and size of the camera backpack, especially if you're planning to travel a lot with your gear.
5. Gear Fit & Comfort
Perhaps unique to hiking camera backpacks, a comfortable mount with thick, adjustable straps and a load-carrying waist belt is a top priority.
Think about it, you wouldn't use shoulder bags on an alpine expedition. And, that's because backpacks are the best for weight distribution.
It's often a good choice to try on your backpack in-store. But, remember to add your gear, or significant weight to it before making a decision.
More Photography Equipment Guides
And that's a wrap for this detailed gear guide helping you find the best camera backpack for hiking, adventure, and travel.
While you're here, take a pick from the below list for more honest and hands-on camera gear guides tailored for the outdoors. If you're looking to upgrade your equipment, I recommend starting with my guide to photography gear for travel.