Like a case for your mobile phone, a camera bag is an essential for anyone who wants to keep their tech safe. Without a secure and padded rucksack or shoulder bag, your gear is at risk from poor weather and could easily get knocked or scraped as you move between photo opportunities.

What to consider when buying a camera bag

Shoulder bag vs backpack

Most of the best camera bags either take the form of a rucksack with customisable internal compartments or a small shoulder bag.

While backpacks usually have room to store extra kit like lenses, tripods and personal items, camera shoulder bags are a convenient choice for anyone on a short trip with minimal gear. They’re also easier to access with a single hand while on the move.

It’s worth noting that if you opt for a backpack, you’ll probably need to find somewhere stable to rest it while you retrieve your kit. On some rucksacks, the entire front section lifts away to reveal the compartmentalised storage underneath, so laying it flat is essential if you don’t want your various accessories to fall out.

What size camera bag will you need?

Buy a bag without considering its capacity and you may find yourself regretting your decision further down the line.

To find the best camera bag size for you, consider the maximum amount of kit you’ll want to take out with you at any one time. Aside from your camera and a spare lens or two, think about whether you might want to take extra accessories like tripods, flashes and batteries. If you don’t shoot digitally, you may want to leave room for spare film or additional instant cameras.

The best camera bags also have compartments for personal items like credit cards and glasses, so you may not need to allow extra space for your everyday essentials.

If you’re likely to take your camera gear on holiday with you, you may want to consider getting two camera bags: a large rucksack to carry all your kit on the journey and a smaller shoulder bag for day trips when you get there.

More like this

Does my bag need to be waterproof?

Unless you love venturing out in all weathers or taking your camera on water sport adventures, you can probably get away without a waterproof bag. Many of the best camera bags are water-resistant after all, and you can always tie a carrier bag or bin bag around it as a temporary measure if you’re caught in a downpour.

Of course, buying a waterproof camera bag is always a sensible choice, and a particularly smart move if you’re planning an extended trip abroad. If you don’t need a totally waterproof design like the OverBoard roll top camera bag, look out for ones with removable waterproof covers.

What other features should I consider when buying a camera bag?

  • Design and size
  • Customisable internal dividers
  • Padded laptop compartment
  • Padded base
  • External tripod clip
  • Adjustable shoulder straps/belt loops
  • Theft-deterrent features
  • Waterproofing / rain cover
  • Side/rear access on rucksacks
  • Reflective detailing
  • Recycled/eco-friendly fabrics
  • Price

The best camera bags to consider

Lowepro Tahoe 150 Backpack

Lowepro Tahoe 150 Backpack on a white background

Known and respected by photographers across the world, Lowepro camera bags are a safe bet if you’re weighing up your options. The Tahoe 150 is one of its best backpacks, with enough room to store a DSLR camera and two lenses, as well as a flash and any small accessories like headphones and keys.

Inside the main section, you’ll find Lowepro’s padded UltraFlex panel, which you can adjust to fit around your different accessories. Store your smaller items in the zip-up front section for easy access.

While not completely waterproof, this camera bag is made with weather-resistant fabric, so it should protect your gear from the odd rainshower or water splash.

OverBoard 100% Waterproof Roll Top Camera Bag

OverBoard 100% Waterproof Roll Top Camera Bag on a white background

If you’re planning to take your camera out on the water or to particularly rainy destinations, this roll-top sac is a no-brainer. As the name suggests, the OverBoard brand specialises in waterproof bags; this one can float and should keep your gear dry if dropped in water.

Made from durable, scratch-proof tarpaulin with internal grip tape and a padded base for shock absorption, this camera shoulder bag protects against dirt, sand and dust, as well as water. There’s even a reflective patch on the front for extra visibility in the dark.

The sac is designed to store SLR and DSLR cameras snugly inside, but you’ll also find internal mesh pockets for accessories and four D-rings to carry other attachments.

Lowepro Adventura SH III shoulder bags

Lowepro Adventura SH 120 III bags on a white background

Another fantastic option from Lowepro is this small camera bag, ideal for day trips and short photography sessions. One of the first elements you notice is its moulded base, which should give an extra layer of protection against scrapes and shocks, and keep the fabric dry when placed on damp ground.

This camera shoulder bag also has sustainable design features, as it’s made with 84% recycled and solution-dyed fabrics.

As for the tech specs, the Lowepro Adventura SH comes in several sizes, starting with the 115, which fits a crop-sensor mirrorless camera with its kit lens. Then there’s the 120, 140 and finally the 160, which is big enough to swallow a full frame mirrorless camera and three additional lenses.

Plus, there’s room for memory cards and extra items in the internal and external pockets.

Choose to wear this bag using the adjustable shoulder strap or the in-built belt loop.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel III Backpack

Manfrotto Advanced Travel III Backpack on a white background

Manfrotto is another one of our go-to brands for camera gear, which is why this backpack has made our list. It’s one of the best camera bags to buy if you want a large backpack and easy access to your kit throughout the day. Just swing it onto one shoulder and unzip the side compartment.

This Manfrotto camera bag has enough room to store a DSLR with three or four extra lenses and accessories.

You’ll have the option to customise the internal layout with the brand’s padded inserts made from high-density EVA foam, or remove them entirely to use the bag as an everyday rucksack. It’s water-repellent and comes with a handy raincover for protection in poor weather.

There’s also a padded 15” laptop sleeve, a front tripod fixture and an extending side pocket for a small tripod or gimbal.

HAMA Miami 190 DSLR Camera Backpack

HAMA Miami 190 DSLR Camera Backpacks on a white background

The Hama Miami is one of the best camera bags you can get on a budget, as it comes without the high price tag associated with some of the better-known brands.

As you’d expect, it has removable padded dividers inside, so you can adjust the layout for your particular camera and accessories. Plus, there’s a 10.1” laptop and tablet compartment and a section to secure tripods on the side of the backpack.

According to the makers, the Hama Miami is also dust-resistant and comes with a raincover for protection against surprise showers.

Manfrotto Compact 1 Advanced Shoulder Bag

Manfrotto Compact 1 Advanced Shoulder Bags on a white background

This Manfrotto camera bag may look small but it’s a highly efficient storage solution, able to carry compact DSLRs and two to three lenses, along with any small personal possessions.

When you wear it as a shoulder camera bag, the top section opens away from you to make it easier to access your kit, and has two hidden pockets for memory cards and batteries. There’s even room for large smartphones and wallets in the padded top section, and on the back you’ll find a zip-up compartment for keys.

As a theft-deterrent, all the zipper tabs sit next to your body when the sections are closed.

Other clever features include the adjustable padded partitions, reinforced base and outer rain cover.

Vanguard Veo Adaptor R44 Backpack

Vanguard Veo Adaptor R44 Backpack on a white background

For something a little different, try this backpack from Vanguard.

Its in-built USB-A port makes it one of the best camera bags for on-the-go charging, as you’ll be able to top up batteries and devices using a power bank hidden away inside (check out more of our favourite smart backpacks and smart luggage in our guides).

As for the bag itself, it can hold a pro DSLR, as well as up to five lenses, a flash, a 13” laptop and accessories. There are small compartments for cables and cards, as well as a tripod attachment on the front.

Thanks to the thoughtful design, you can wear this camera bag in lots of different ways. Untuck the ergonomic harness and waist strap when you need a little extra support, and access your kit via the rucksack’s top or rear while out and about.

Extra features include the waterproof construction, rain cover and reflective detailing for visibility.

Find more of the best photography accessories in our guides: 


Alice TufferyDigital Writer

Alice is a digital writer with a knack for tracking down the most innovative and exciting products to hit the market. Working across several of Our Media's special interest brands, she's written for publications including Countryfile, Gardens Illustrated and Science Focus. Outside of work - and lusting over homeware and gardening products - you’ll find her rambling in the great outdoors or watching an old film.