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The 13 Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking and Adventuring in 2021

The best camera backpack for hiking
 
Heading outdoors can mean a lot of different things to different people – downtime from work, a spot of fresh air, a bit of a workout or a chance to spend time with friends and get up to a bit of adventuring. For some of us, it also means the chance to capture on camera some of the manifold and multiform majesty and downright awesomeness the natural world has to offer. Then, the problems begin. The logistics of lumping your very expensive, precious camera equipment into often wet, windy and/or wild places strikes fear into the heart of many a would-be outdoor photographer. This, however, needn’t be the case. Below, we take you through our choice of the best camera backpacks for hiking in 2021. A selection that will keep your kit safe, sound, and scratch and shatter-free wherever your adventures may take you!

Summary of the best camera backpacks for hiking

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ProductType of caseFeaturesVolumeCost
Peak Designs Everyday BackpackBackpackCustomisable compartments20 and 30L$$$$$
MindShift Backlight 18 Camera BackpackBackpackGreat all-rounder, generous storage18L$$$$$
Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop DaypackBackpack15” laptop pocket, removable camera compartmentNot available$$$$
Millican Marsden The Camera PackBackpack15" laptop sleeve, waterproof32L$$$$$
Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AWBackpackExcellent compartmentalisation15L$$$$
Burton F-stop PackBackpackGood storage for other gear28L$$$$$$
Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera PackBackpackWater resistant40L$$$$$
Vanguard Alta Sky 45D BackpackBackpackExcellent all rounderNot available$$$$$
Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AWBackpackGreat hiking features14L + camera storage$$$$
Mountainsmith Tanack 10 Lumbar Camera PackHip PackExcellent storage10L$$$
MindShift Gear Multi-Mount Holster 10Holster caseMulti-wear carry straps10L$$
EVOC Capture Photo Hip PackHip PackExcellent organisation and comfort7L$$$
Lowepro M-Trekker HP BeltPack 120Hip PackCompact, functional designNot available$

The best camera backpacks for hiking

If you want to learn more about what to look for a great camera backpacking for hiking then skip down to our buying guide. Otherwise, read on to see Cool of the Wild’s selection of the best camera backpacks for hiking in 2021!
Peak Designs Everyday Backpack

Peak Designs Everyday Backpack

Eco-conscious: Made from 100% recycled post-consumer material, Bluesign approved fabric (not the black version), Peak Design are Climate Neutral certified

Available in 20 and 30 litre capacities, the latest version of the Peak Designs Everyday Backpack is an ideal option for eco-conscious photographers. The 400D recycled fabric, along with anodised aluminium and glass-reinforced nylon hardware, provide high levels of durability for everyday shoots as well as days up in the hills. Access through a large side panel, as well as through the top of the pack, makes organising gear and equipment a breeze. Plus, the removable and customisable compartments help to keep everything organised and protected.

Though there are more suitable camera backpacks for the most adventurous photographers, the Everyday Backpack provides excellent levels of support, comfort and weather resistance for, well, the everyday photographer – wherever they choose to haul their camera equipment.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly fabrics and manufacturing
  • Customisable compartmentalisation
  • Side panel access
  • Has laptop compartment
  • Lots of storage options

Cons

  • Not as suitable for mountain use as other options
  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Peak Design


MindShift Backlight 18 Camera Backpack

MindShift Backlight 18 Camera Backpack

The MindShift Backlight 18 is a well-organised backpack that offers enough space for photography gear as well as hiking gear. On the outside of the pack there’s an easy-access zippered pocket, daisy chain attachment loops, water bottle pockets, a tripod attachment and walking pole attachments. Inside you have a generous 18 litres of storage, including a separate 5 litre pocket with a 13” laptop sleeve and other non-camera gear.

One of the best features is the zippered back panel which gives you access to the camera compartment without putting the pack on the ground. We also like that the pack is water-resistant and comes with a rain cover. If you’re looking for a versatile camera backpack that’s comfortable to wear whilst hiking and convenient in the city, then the MindShift Backlight 18 is an excellent all-rounder.

Pros

  • Comfortable harness system
  • Access from the back panel
  • DWR treated
  • Generous storage

Cons

  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Alpine Trek


Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack

Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack

If you’re looking for a camera backpack that can carry a lot more than just your camera in, the Thule Covert DSLR Rolltop Daypack is one of the best on our list. It’s essentially a two-in-one hiking backpack with a removable DSLR storage compartment. The main bag is made from durable, water-resistant fabric and the inside is further protected from the elements by a zippered roll-top system and a buckled front flap.

Inside, there’s plenty of space for a jacket and your lunch above the camera compartment. Plus, a full-length side zipper gives you access to a 15” laptop compartment which is spacious enough to hold a tablet and a laptop together. Meanwhile, the camera compartment is accessed via a side D-shaped zipper. External pockets and attachment points, combined with the removable camera compartment, makes it super easy to organise your gear.

Pros

  • Plenty of gear storage
  • Padded 15” laptop pocket
  • Great organisation
  • Quality materials
  • Comfortable shoulder straps

Cons

  • Could do with a waist strap

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Alpine Trek


Millican Marsden The Camera Pack

Millican Marsden The Camera Pack

Eco-conscious: Contains recycled materials

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly camera backpack that’s lightweight, versatile and weatherproof, the Millican Marsden is the pack for you. The outer fabric is Bionic Canvas, a waterproof material that contains a blend of 65% recycled polyester and 35% cotton. The inner lining is also waterproof and made from 100% recycled polyester.

This camera backpack weighs in at 1.4kg, and features a removable padded waist strap, plenty of pockets, and two openings. From the top, you can access the main compartment via a drybag-style opening. Meanwhile, the front of the pack features a three-sided zipper that allows you to open the front panel to a 180-degree angle. This makes accessing and packing your kit extra convenient. On the outside, you’ve also got attachment points for walking sticks and a tripod.

Pros

  • Multi-functional design
  • Decent padding
  • Removable waist strap
  • Internal storage dividers
  • Large capacity
  • Made from high-quality eco-friendly materials

Cons

  • Pricey

Find the latest price at:
Millican


Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350

Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AW

We’re getting things underway with a true contender for the title of best camera backpack for travel, hiking and holidaying in general. The Flipside Trek is an awesomely well thought-out hiking-camera case hybrid that boasts plenty of space for just about everything you could wish to carry. The most winsome feature of this very well-made, comfortable and well-padded pack is that you can access your gear through the back panel without having to put the pack down. It also boasts plenty of compartments, ample storage space on the inside and a ton of external attachment points for any other bits and bobs you might want to latch on.

Pros

  • Great compartmentalization
  • Well-padded straps and belt
  • Back panel and top access
  • Very well made
  • Built in raincover
  • Light (3.08lbs)
  • Storage pocket on waist belt

Cons

  • Slightly pricey

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Burton F-stop Pack

Burton F-stop Pack

For those on the lookout for a stylish camera backpack as well as a practical one, the Burton F-Stop could well be the pack for you. It’s fairly heavy (5.1lbs), but makes up for its weight with a classy, canvas-like look with durable nylon fabrics and oodles of space for all of your camera gear and standard hiking equipment. The F-Stop also offers great compartmentalization, a healthy number of pockets in addition to the large central well, and good padding throughout. It’s another pricey pack, but other than this and its slightly hefty weight it has very little in the way of flaws.

Pros

  • Looks very cool
  • Great compartmentalization
  • Ample number of pockets for storage of other gear
  • Internal dividers very substantial
  • 28L capacity

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Quite expensive
  • No pocket on waist belt

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camer Pack

Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack

The Tanuck is another stylish devil of a camera-carrier that combines wonderfully cool aesthetics with overall functionality. It costs a small fortune, but in return offers a very well-made, tough, roomy and practical pack that will serve you well wherever you’re headed. It’s made with water-resistant materials and boasts a wealth of storage pockets in addition to the compartmentalized camera-kit that is well accessed from the front of the pack. A further nice touch is that the removable top lid can be whipped off and used as a chest mount – ideal for speedy shooting on the move. It’s pricey, but it’s also not terribly far short of perfect. All that extra room makes it one of the best DSLR camera bags for travel out there!

Pros

  • 40l of storage
  • Good compartmentalization
  • Water resistant CORDURA materials
  • Top lid can be detached and turned into a chest mount mini-pack
  • Very well made
  • Stylish!
  • MOLLE-style webbing on the exterior

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • No pockets in waist belt
  • Heavy (5lbs)

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack

Vanguard Alta Sky 45D Backpack

Who knew a camera backpack could enter the realms of pure genius? Well, with the Alta Sky 45D Vanguard have pretty much gone and done just that! This pack does everything you could hope for a camera pack to do short of take the pics for you! It boasts a ton of storage compartments for your camera and lenses, very comfy straps and multiple access points from the rear, sides and top. Its ‘bonus’ feature is an adjustable rear pouch which is large enough to carry a drone, tripod or even a very small friend(!). It has a wealth of pockets and in one of them you’ll find a very handy, integrated rain cover…nice! It’s another pricey and fairly heavy option (4.8lbs), but in terms of practicality this little beauty is truly hard to beat.

Pros

  • Plenty of storage options
  • Big enough for camera kit and hiking gear
  • Rear storage flap can carry a drone, tripod, small friend
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Very comfortable
  • Rear, top and side access

Cons

  • Pricey!
  • Not as stylish looking as the Tanuck or Burton F-Stop

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW

Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW

The Photo Sport is essentially a very good hiking pack that includes multiple tips of the hat to the photographing mountain-goer. It’s very light, comfortable, hydration compatible and boasts 14 liters of ‘personal space’ for hiking gear in addition to its camera-specific kit compartments. It includes a weatherproof cover, is very comfortable and only lets itself down due to the lack of an external tripod mount and a slightly fiddly hip belt. Otherwise, this is a great option for those who are primarily hikers with big cameras as opposed to bona fide photographers who happen to do a bit of hiking.

Pros

  • 14-liter top-loading upper compartment
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Very light
  • Very comfortable
  • Rugged materials
  • More reasonably priced than competitors such as the Lowepro Photo Sport and Flipside Trek

Cons

  • Slightly fiddly waist belt
  • No external tripod mount

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


A couple of camera cases / hip packs


Mountainsmith Tanuck 10 Lumbar Camera Pack

Mountainsmith Tanack 10 Lumbar Camera Pack

For a super-stylish, practical camera case that packs a whole lot of goodness into a very small package, look no further than the Tanack 10. This little ten-liter pack is made with tough, water-resistant materials, has a removable waist belt and boasts plenty of pockets for all your extra bits of kit and maybe even a sandwich or two. It also throws in a removable rain cover, a small accessories bag and a handy compression strap to help keep things nice and tidy on the inside. It’s not going to carry your whole kit and caboodle, but for carrying your camera, a few lenses and those sandwiches it’ll do just fine!

Pros

  • Water resistant
  • Versatile
  • Integrated rain cover
  • Lots of pockets for such a small pack
  • Detachable waist belt
  • 2 panel side pockets can hold water bottles

Cons

  • Very expensive

Find the latest price at:
Amazon


MindShift Gear Multi-Mount Holster 10

MindShift Gear Multi-Mount Holster 10

The MindShift Gear Multi-Mount Holster 10 is a practical option for people with a compact backpacking camera or anyone who prefers to have their camera close to hand instead of storing it inside a backpack. Its key feature is the clever strap system that offers five different carrying setups. You can use the adjustable padded shoulder strap to wear the bag on your chest or hip. Alternatively, you can attach it to the front, back, or waist belt of your hiking backpack. This strap system also holds the pack in place so it won’t bounce or slide while you move. This, coupled with its small size (10 litres), makes it a popular choice for climbers as well as hikers.

Pros

  • Multiple carrying options
  • Expandable front pocket
  • Adjustable internal dividers
  • Comes with a waterproof cover

Cons

  • No room for hiking gear

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


EVOC Capture Photo Hip Pack

EVOC Capture Photo Hip Pack

Designed with off-road cycling in mind, the EVOC Capture protects your camera and keeps the weight off your shoulders. This also makes it ideal for hiking days when you don’t need a backpack but do need a place to carry your camera. This water-resistant hip pack offers a generous 7-litre storage space, 6 litres of which are dedicated to camera storage in the main compartment. On the bottom of the pack, there’s also loops to attach a tripod or mini bike pump and an external water bottle pocket. Although there’s limited space for other gear, the pack does offer plenty of storage for memory cards, batteries, and other essentials in the zippered side pockets and fold-down front pocket. We also like that the back of the pack is fitted with breathable padding which minimises sweat whilst riding and hiking.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Adjustable camera storage
  • Plenty of external pockets
  • Breathable padding

Cons

  • Limited non-camera gear storage

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Lowepro M-Trekker HP BeltPack 120

Lowepro M-Trekker HP BeltPack 120

The Lowepro m-Trekker HP is a simple but functional outdoor camera bag that’s best for compact mirrorless cameras. The main compartment is organised with adjustable dividers which offer additional storage for SD cards and spare batteries. Outside, you have a zippered pocket for keys and spare lenses, plus a secure pocket that sits against your body. An adjustable hip belt lets you wear the pack on your waist or diagonally across your back or chest. This camera hip pack is made from super durable Cordura nylon, and a front flap with hook and loop closure provides additional weather protection.

Pros

  • Made from quality materials
  • Easy to access the main compartment
  • Adjustable dividers
  • Features an anti-theft pocket
  • Simple but functional design

Cons

  • Limited storage space
  • No external attachments

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Camera backpack buying guide

Protection

Camera equipment doesn’t come cheap. This being so, while out in the hills and mountains you want to make sure your kit has the best protection available. Doing so will mean paying attention to two main factors — weatherproofing and padding.

Weatherproofing

While you could just sling a rain cover over your pack to help fend off the elements, doing so would greatly detract from the convenience levels of your setup. To ensure you can access your kit quickly and know that it will all be nicely dry when you do, look for water-resistant materials, sealed seams and zippers. Some packs come with an integrated rain cover too, which is handy if you get caught in a real downpour or just need some extra cover while locating gear in a shower.

Padding

When out hiking, a number of mishaps could easily befall your kit. Scratches, dings and drops are all, sadly, very much on the cards. While human error is something hard to account for, making sure your pack has adequate padding will ensure none of the above will result from the failings of you carrying kit. Look for storage spaces with chunky dividers and well-padded walls to make sure that any bumps and bangs are absorbed by the materials of your pack instead of your pack’s precious contents!

Organisation

If you’re a serious photographer, the chances are you’ll have a fair whack of accessories — extra lenses, spare batteries, SD cards, filters and so on. The best camera backpack for hiking adventures will make provision for keeping all of these items safely stored and easily accessible in separate pockets and compartments. On the outside of the pack, you might also want to look for attachment straps or loops for your tripod, walking poles and maybe even an ice axe or two, depending on how extreme your hikes tend to be.

Non-camera related storage

Your camera ain’t going to do you much good if you’re stuck in a blizzard, whiteout or other nasty meteorological source of grief while out on your hike. For this reason, a pack that boasts extra storage for waterproofs, jackets, gloves and so on is just about essential. How much storage you’ll need will depend on what you’re getting up to, but a good ballpark figure to aim for is around 15 liters.

Comfort and weight

Combining all of you photography gear with your standard hiking kit can really add up weight-wise. After a few hours in the hills, that could quickly translate into sore shoulders and, well, a bit of a rather unkindly burden on your back. Finding a pack that’s comfortable and not too heavy, therefore, is the way to go. As with any hiking pack, look for:

  • Well padded shoulder straps, waist belt and back panels
  • Good ventilation (from mesh or moulded, 3D rear panel)
  • Effective load distribution

Features of the best camera backpacks for hiking

Hip belt

DSLR’s are hardly lightweight, so most camera backpacks are fitted with padded waist straps that help to keep the weight off your shoulders. This is also essential for backpacks with a zippered back panel because it’s the waist strap that keeps your pack off the ground while you grab your camera. As a rule, the larger the backpack, the sturdier the waist strap should be.

Quick camera access

One of the key features of a camera backpack is that it offers quick access to your camera. There are three main access types:

  • Top opening camera case

    Top opening

    This is typical on holsters and hip belts where the main compartment is dedicated to camera storage. The top opening provides quick and easy access to your camera but often compromises on storage for other gear.

  • Side opening camera case

    Side opening

    On some backpacks, you can access the camera from a wide D-shaped zipper and the non-camera gear from a separate compartment. This design typically favours non-camera gear storage over camera storage.

  • BAck opening camera bag

    Zippered back panel

    A zippered back panel gives you the option of accessing and organising your camera gear whilst on the go and without putting your pack on the floor. This type of opening also doubles as an anti-theft system which makes it a smart choice for travellers or urban explorers.

Camera compartment

The most important feature of any camera backpack is the camera-specific compartment, which can be removable or built into the backpack. The camera compartment should be padded, weatherproof, fitted with adjustable storage dividers and small organisation pockets. The camera compartment should also be easily accessible, whether that’s through the main opening, a D-shaped side zipper, or a zippered back panel.

Adjustable dividers

These allow you to customise the camera compartment to your specific camera model and lenses. Dividers are fitted with Velcro at either side, allowing you to make each space larger or smaller. Sometimes dividers are made with two padded layers; this gives you an extra pocket for SD cards and spare batteries.

Laptop storage

Some backpacks offer storage for a laptop or tablet, either as a sleeve in the main compartment or a separate compartment which is accessed from the outside of the pack. An externally accessed laptop compartment is useful when you use a laptop on the go, but the internal pocket may offer better protection.

External attachment points

The best camera backpacks will also feature external tripod attachments, usually an adjustable strap on the side, middle, or bottom of the pack. A camera bag for hiking may also have bungee attachments and loops for walking poles or ice picks.


From minimalist, no-frills carry cases to backpack-style wonders blessed with all the bells and whistles, we’ve seen just about every type of pack the hiking photographer could wish to pop their kit in. Wherever you’re planning on taking your future shooting sessions, we’re sure one of the above beauties will let you carry your camera-stuff comfortably, safely, and with plenty of that all-important peace of mind!

About the author

author-kieran

Kieran Cunningham is a nuttily-passionate climber, mountaineer, trekker, trail-runner, and all-round lover of wild places. He has spent most of his life doing cool things in the Himalaya, Rockies, Dolomites and the Italian Alps, where he now lives and spends his time stomping trails, clambering up crags, ticking-off peaks and, occasionally, sleeping (with reluctance!).

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