I set out with a goal to find the best outdoor camera bag. For the most part all of these bags turned out to be pretty great bags with different strengths. To try out the bag it needed to hold at least one pro body, a wide angle zoom, normal zoom, telephoto zoom, flash, tripod and accessories. My kit was a Nikon D800, 17-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8. Let’s take a look at a number of different outdoor camera bags and see which one is the most versatile option for shooting outdoors.
1) MindShift Gear rotation180° Professional Deluxe
Weight: 6.2 lbs
Capacity: 37.5 liters
- Rotating belt pack for camera access without taking the pack off
- Very rugged and durable feeling
- Well-padded shoulder straps and hip belt
- If you don’t attach the clip-in strap on the belt pack it can fall out of the pack if you don’t have the hip belt buckled
- Not the best looking pack of the bunch
- Almost seems a little overbuilt
Get the rotation180° Professional Deluxe if you need access to your camera and a lens or two without taking off the pack.
2) Gura Gear Bataflae 32L
Weight: 5.9 lbs
Capacity: 32 liters
- Lots of pockets
- Plenty of dividers to organize the camera compartment
- Great for plane travel
- Nice understated aesthetic
- No back panel access
- Not the best for long hikes
Get the Gura Gear Bataflae 32L if you are a travelling photographer who needs a bag that holds a lot of camera gear and if you love having lots of pockets. This is my favorite bag for airports and plane travel.
3) F-stop Tilopa BC
Weight: 3.95 lbs (Not including ICU)
Capacity: 48 Liters
- The most comfortable pack I tested
- The only storage compartments I was able to organize exactly how I wanted
- Customize how much camera gear you take with different ICU’s
- Plenty of options for tripod and accessory attachment
- No water bottle spot (this was fixed in the updated Tilopa that was just released)
Get the F-stop Tilopa BC if you want a well built, comfortable bag for hiking that can handle a lot of gear. I used the small pro and medium slope ICU’s This is my favorite bag from the test.
4) Clik Elite Contrejour 40
Weight: 5.25 lbs
Capacity: 40.1 liters
- Plenty of space for non-photography gear
- Back and side panel access
- Tablet sleeve
- Photography equipment dividers are not stiff enough to keep photo gear from moving around
- Too tall to qualify as a carry-on bag
- Lots of pockets
- Chest carrier built in
- Access to camera without removing backpack
- Back panel access
- I would’ve liked the back panel access to be a little larger
Get the Clik Elite Contrejour 40 if you need a bag with dedicated room for non-photography gear.
5) Mountainsmith Parallax
Weight: 6.75 lbs
Capacity: 30.5 liters
Get the Mountainsmith Parallax if you need a bag that is great for travelling and is an excellent value.
So what bag do I reach for most? Definitely the F-Stop Tilopa BC for two main reasons. It is the most comfortable and it has the camera compartment I like the most. It also doesn’t hurt that I can attach two tripods and a slider to the outside. It is really an amazing bag.
If you don’t want to spend the money for the F-Stop Tilopa BC, I think the Mountainsmith Parallax is the best value, coming in at under $200. The camera compartment was pretty good and I really liked the removable chest carrier. I just didn’t think it fit quite as well as some of the other bags (I’m 6’1” so that might have something to do with it).
All of these bags have their place and have some amazing features so I don’t know that you can really go wrong with them. I will say that the Clik Elite bag was my least favorite due to the camera compartment dividers not being stiff enough.
This guest post was written by Chris Mabey. Chris is an outdoor photographer and filmmaker based in Utah. His love of the outdoors and passion for photography have led him to spend many days hiking through the dim morning hours with a backpack full of photography gear to get the perfect shot. He specializes in telling the stories of outdoor places and brands through still images, video, time lapses and aerial shots. You can visit his website at chrismabey.com.
For years I used the F Stop Loka and found it to be the best bag. Comfortable and I used it for years. I recently replaced it with a new Tilopia. The opening seems larger. Easier to get equipment out quickly. I load it up and I’m out for hours, and I’m 74. Love it. Wouldn’t have anything else.
Would be great to have seen where you rank the Bestek gear. It seems like it’s popular among other users for hiking backpacks – james-grundy.com/best-…or-hiking/ They have killer good looks and surprisingly are waterproof as well. Alas it would become an expensive endeavor testing all the camera backpacks on the market!
Great blog post. However I’ve gone a different way by using real hiking backpacks (and usually they are much cheaper when they are not labelled as ‚photo’ backpacks) and adapting them slightly for camera equipment (which is sturdy anyway). If you’re interested, have a look at my recent blog post: paulsphotoblog.com/2017/…ravelbags/
Update: ClickElite just updated their Contrajouer pack to version 2.0. They must be listening because they updated the dividers to a stiffer set. I ordered these from them and they are much better. Great customer service as well!
Be wary of F Stop Gear
I ordered a bag 2 months ago and cancelled a few days later. they will bill your card the second you order, even though it may not ship for months. Even worse, its been 6 weeks since I cancelled and I still have not received a refund. That’s theft of service!
Lowepro Protactic 450 is my favourite.
This camera bags/equipment only are useful if you are arriving on a location by car and not expending more than a couple of hours trekking/hiking. If you need to climb 700m you’ll need space for water, food….and even a tent (yes, sometimes you need to sleep somewhere)….so in those cases the options shown here are useless. Think twice before taking your heavyweight 24-70 f/2.8 & 70-200 f/2.8. Please visit thom hogan site for futher information.
I often ride by bicycle. And I no need the large backpack (because I have it on my bike) so – my favorite backpack and small and cheap:
www.ebay.com/itm/121593871252 – it can holds camera body with attached tamron 16-300 and sigma 8-16 + manfrotto befree…
Another item i have and also can recommend is Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW – it is not big enough for photo-equipment but can keep many other staff including camelback…
And one more: If you go for a long ride – it is better to get general backpack and put photo in it… general backpack – i mean something like this:
I wish you had included prices in your essay, even if prices vary with different vendors. It would have saved me from having to copy/paste into Amazon to find out what is affordable to me or out of my price range. :)
Did you consider a Lowepro Pro Trekker 450 AW? Can anyone that owns one, comment please?
for city travel I use store.lowepro.com/fastp…-250-aw-ii
I have it and love it. D7200 500 mirror tamron 18-300 Nikon 105mm 3 battery’s 2 charges 4 62 mm filters duster HP notebook sunpac flash and can attach my manfooto tripod. With everything it’s about 36 lbs