Protect Your Camera with the Best Camera Backpack or Sling Bag | IGN

You’ve finally bought that DSLR or mirrorless camera you’d been eyeing for months, and now it’s time to protect your new investment. After all, you wouldn’t dream of carrying your precious new camera around by its strap, right? Harry Benson didn’t get where he was with such reckless behavior. Shame on you.

You need protection. Whether it’s a shoulder or messenger bag, your new camera deserves a comfortable, safe mode of transportation. Lucky for you, there are heaps to choose from. These are the ones we think are the best right now.

TL;DR – These are the Best Camera Bags

1. Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Best Camera Bag

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What started life as a Kickstarter campaign has become the bag of choice for many serious photographers. The bag was created in partnership with renowned American shutterbug Trey Ratcliff, so you know it’s made of the right stuff: FlexFold dividers to keep your gear organized, and a weatherproof shell to keep it all safe. Fast forward to the latest V2 version and this already great bag has gotten a new luggage pass-through on the back and some revamped pockets.

On top of carrying your camera gear, this bag can accommodate 13-inch and 15-inch laptops depending on which size you select. Best of all, its clean design and low-key aesthetic doesn’t make it stand out or look like a camera bag if you’re trying to be more discreet about your hobby.

2. AmazonBasics Backpack

Best Budget Camera Bag

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Big enough to hold two camera bodies but with a price tag small enough to keep your bank balance healthy, Amazon’s own take on the camera backpack deserves a shout out. Internally, it measures 10 x 4.2 x 14.2 in space, which is enough for 3-4 lenses plus some accessories. You should be able to squeeze in a laptop too.

For the photographer who’s just starting out, there should be enough pockets and compartments here to satisfy, but as your hobby matures, you’ll probably want to upgrade to something bigger and better looking. Still, this is great for first-timers. Amazon’s nifty SLR Camera Sling Backpack is also worth a look if you want something a tad smaller.

3. Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 Camera Bag

Best-Looking Camera Bag

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Chances are you’re familiar with Billingham’s camera bags; they’re pretty iconic. Its Hadley Pro Camera Bag is an easy top choice for us, with a perfect mixture of style and utility. The new 2020 version gets an improved top handle and an added luggage trolley strap on the back for convenience.

Beyond that, you’ve got a (removable) adjustable shoulder strap, and a weatherproof zipper on the back for holding important documents. Better yet, the padded insert can be removed, transforming it from a camera bag to something more general in a flash. It will handle a DSLR or mirrorless camera with enough space left over for two to three lenses.

4. LowePro ProTactic 450 AWII

Best Rugged Camera Bag

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LowePro makes solid camera bags, and the ProTactic 450 AW is as robust as it looks. Big enough to hold two pro-level DSLRs, including one with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, it’s roomy, with a compartment that can hold a 15-inch laptop.

With four points of access, it’s also perfect for situations where speed is of the essence. The removable waistband is just the icing on the cake, but if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, the 350 AW version offers up something a little smaller for less.

5. Domke F-5XB

Best Compact Camera Bag

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With a rugged, retro look, this shoulder bag from Domke has a lot going for it – price included. The main compartment is padded nicely, with fixed divider walls; it’ll hold a DSLR and a couple of lenses, but won’t leave much room for additional accessories.

For something roomier, check out the Domke F-2 Shoulder Bag, which has become something of a classic among photographers in the know.

6. Ona Brixton Bag

Best Leather Camera Bag

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For the more style-conscious among you, the Ona offers camera protection wrapped in high-quality leather. It’s one of the more compact bags on our list, but still big enough to hold a DSLR, three lenses, plus accessories.

There’s space for a 13-inch laptop, while the rear open slip pocket will take a 10-inch tablet. It will, however, get quite heavy should you max out all that space. A bag for the photographer who wants to be photographed, but not a great choice if you plan to be out in the rain.

A little out of your price range? A bit bigger than you need. Ona’s Bowery bag still exhibits plenty of style.

7. Manfrotto Advanced2 Active Backpack

Best Camera Backpack

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The Advanced2 is another great all-rounder but in backpack form. It’s both comfortable and roomy enough to fit a DSLR and up to three lenses, with a compartment that can hold a 14-inch laptop. As a bonus, there’s also a strap for carrying a small tripod.

Many camera backpacks focus on function over fashion, but we really love the look of the Manfrotto. All of the outer fabric is water-repellant, but there’s a rain cover included just in case you find yourself caught in a torrential downpour.

Camera bags: What should you look for?

Backpacks: Camera bags come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Backpacks aren’t as good for easy access, but they often provide better protection. They’re also often more spacious than messenger and shoulder bags, and distribute weight across two shoulders, making them a better choice for bigger excursions.

Messenger/shoulder bags: These bags have just one strap, which means all the weight is put on one shoulder. The benefit here is access: it’s easier to grab your camera and accessories in a flash, making them perfect for the type of photography where time is of the essence. However, they’re not as good for big outdoor trips where you’re carrying a lot of gear.

How many compartments do you need? When browsing camera bags you’ll see details of dimensions and the number of compartments. How much space you need comes down to how much gear you have and how you plan to travel. You may only have one camera, but if you like to carry around a lot of lenses, make sure the bag can hold them all. Some bags also come with modular compartments, so you can rearrange according to your needs.

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