One of the most personal choices a photographer can make is a camera bag. They need to be strong, help distribute weight, easy to pack and easy to access. Bags also make great gifts, since they typically won’t break the bank in the same way a new lens or camera might.
Below, we’re rounding up ten of our favorites. Many of them have been tested (and then recommended) by your peers.
When carrying around thousands of dollars worth of gear, security matters. This PacSafe backpack has locks, is RFID-lined and protects you against slash and run theft. Reviews also report that they last forever.
“I have had mine for 4 years, use it every week and it still looks the same!”
– Portrait and wedding photographer Kara “Kiki” Lamm
WANDRD PRVKE Series – $184 (20L) – $204 (30L)
WANDRD bags feature a nice mix of comfort and style. The PRVKE has tons of easy-to-access pockets and gets bonus points for weather-resistant zippers. It’s a great bag for traveling and everyday use, too.
“I’d been looking for a travel camera bag for some time because my Pelican case just wasn’t as flexible as I needed it to be. This bag has a rolltop that lets it expand to include clothes/toiletries along with your laptop and camera gear. It’s incredibly versatile, weatherproof and looks pretty rad to boot. I compared about 15 bags before settling on this one and it is the go-to for a photojournalist who travels a lot for work.”
– Photojournalist Tara Pixley
Think Tank Retrospective 30 V2.0 – $199.75
Recently updated to include a zipper for added security, the Retrospective looks like a classic messenger bag but has the functionality you need.
“My favorite street photography go-to bag is the Think Tank Retrospective 30. It’s an over the shoulder bag and very unassuming. I can also access my gear easily when I’m shooting during the day.”
– Adventure sports photographer Jody MacDonald
Tenba Shootout 24L – $245.95
Built to be the most comfortable backpack in the market, the Tenba Shootout meets carry-on standards, can carry two DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, up to six lenses and your laptop. Who could ask for more?
Gitzo Adventury 30L Backpack – $259.00
This is a great bag for anyone who loves adventure. Featuring a rain cover, an internal unit with dividers that can be completely removed and an expandable roll-top, it’s also compatible with both regular DSLRs and drones. Plus, it comes with a waist strap to help with weight distribution.
This pack is waterproof, has a great front-loading lower compartment, is stylish and has sturdy nylon straps that secure most tripods.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack – $259.95
Nicely designed with an adjustable height from 18.3″ to 22.3″, this bag is perfect for someone with a smaller frame. You can also feel good about purchasing this bag because Peak Design is carbon neutral certified.
F-stop Tilopia – $319
The Tilopia looks just like any typical multi-day pack you’d find at REI or any other outdoor store. Lightweight and durable, it features an internal H-frame, quick-release compression straps and is intensely weather-resistant thanks to “a combination of oxford-weave ripstop nylon and AdvantaTM, a thermoplastic polyurethane film.” (ICU sold separately.)
This bag was recommended to us by action and sports photographer (and skiing enthusiast) Gabriele Facciotti.
Billingham 335 Shoulder Bag – $341.24 & up
If backpacks aren’t your thing, then the Billingham 335 is for you. Stylish as they come, it’s made from “soft-weave fabric” which can help eliminate abrasions, and it has a fully waterproof top flap.
It’s National Geographic Photographer Jim Richardson’s go-to bag.
ThinkTank Airport Takeoff V2.0 – $389.75
The perfect travel companion for countless photographers, the Airport Takeoff has wheels to take some pressure off your back when you’re headed to check-in and easily converts to a backpack when you’re running to your flight.
“It can carry a wide variety of gear from lenses to lights to light modifiers to cards and laptop in one bag. It’s terrifically strong.”
– Documentary photographer Chris Parkes
Check out The Photographer’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for even more gift ideas. Inside, you’ll find recommendations from 27 pro photographers including Pete Souza, Amy Lombard, Yannis Davy Guibinga, Henry Do and Jody MacDonald. Plus exclusive staff picks from PhotoShelter and our partner, Feature Shoot.
NOTE: None of the links above are affiliate links. PhotoShelter makes no money from these recommendations. This post is only intended to provide gift ideas and holiday cheer. If you have bags you would like to recommend, we’d love to grow this list in the comments below!