How to choose a camera bag that fits your needs
Camera bags allow to take your camera and accessories well protected everywhere. If you are a professional photographer going on a trip into the backcountry, if you are an experienced hobby photographer or a beginner, you want to know your gear protected and accessible. How to choose a camera bag? This is especially for beginners not easy and also for more experienced photographer a task when an upgrade in equipment is made.
Having the choice between a backpack, sling bag, shoulder bag, large camera bag with wheels or without, it depends on your needs and preferences what bag you choose. Backpacks are very popular for some reasons.
With this little buying guide I would like to lead you through the process and point to the facts you should consider when choosing a camera backpack. Backpacks are comfortable to carry even when fully loaded and heavy.
Here are 4 main considerations for choosing the camera backpack that is the right one for you
- What do you want to shoot?
- Where do you go and how long is your trip?
- What activities do you plan?
- How do you get to your destination?
What do you want to shoot?
You choose your camera and lens depending on what you want to shoot. If you want to take stunning pictures of beautiful scenery, capture wildlife or take photos of family and friends during a day trip, your gear will be different. So should your camera backpack be.
Landscape photographers often have to go out very early or late in the evening to catch the right light. They carry their tripod, filters and personal items. Most of the time they need to hike or make long walks to come to those places from where you have an incredible view. Look for a backpack that can carry the extra gear and is still comfortable. You can also take into consideration a backpack with a hydration reservoir for long hikes.
Wildlife photographers carry long and heavy tele lenses in order to get a good shoot while keeping distance between the animal an them for safety and not to scare it away. Those lenses require a bigger and customizable backpack so that you can comfortably carry them. Also should those backpacks have room enough for personal items when you are going to be on a longer trip to the animal’s habitat.
Traveling photographers visit crowded places and do not want the backpack to scream out there is valuable gear in it. They want to have their camera close to the body and secured. Most times they carry laptop or iPad with them. Look for a compact backpack with a compartment for the laptop. It should look discreet and should give you the possibility to access your camera fast even in narrow places.
Everyday photographers want to be prepared for the unexpected shot. They carry their camera together with personal items and laptop. The best camera backpack in this situation would be one with extra dedicated space for your camera while carrying your everyday items in the other compartment. Some backpacks have a removable case and the backpack can be used as a regular backpack.
Where do you go and how long is your trip?
If you are going on a day trip you should consider a backpack with room for the camera and your personal items and or a laptop or tablet. Look for a half backpack that has separated sections for your camera gear and your personal items. The backpack you will choose should have a built in rain cover to protect your gear.
Going on a longer trip for more days, you need a back-country backpack with plenty of room that can carry all the necessary items as a sleeping bag, small tent, trekking poles and more. It is important to have some attachment points and straps that can hold the bigger items. Very important is the suspension system. It has to distribute the weight evenly and make it easier for you to carry the heavily loaded backpack over long distances.
What activities do you plan?
Are you planning to be active and still want to take photos? Then you should look for extra lightweight backpacks that still protect your gear while you are hiking, biking, skiing or mountain climbing. There are some photo-sport backpacks series for example by Lowepro.
You are the one who doesn’t want to speed on your hike and you take all the time to wait for the perfect moment with the perfect light. You set up your tripod to capture the beautiful sun set or wait for the appearance of the Northern Lights. Look for a backpack that has the ability to store a tripod conveniently and has room for all the other equipment you need.
How do you get to your destination?
For many photographers is traveling with all the camera equipment stressful. They do not want to check in their expensive gear and they have to pay attention to the size and weight the carry-on package can have. The accepted size for carry-on package is 22” x 14” x 19” and the weight limit is 40 pounds. Look for those carry-on camera backpacks and still check with your airline if there are any changes or specific limitations regarding the allowed size and weight.
I hope this short buying guide was helpful. Look at Reviews where I will go into more detail for specific camera bags. If you have questions or recommendations leave a comment.