The best camera backpack for hiking

The 9 Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking and Adventuring in 2018

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 2018. A selection that will keep your kit safe, sound, and scratch and shatter-free wherever your adventures may take you!

ProductType of caseFeaturesVolumeCost
Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 350 AWBackpackExcellent compartmentalisation15l$$$$
Clik Elite WhisperBackpackVery comfortable31l$$$$$
Burton F-stop PackBackpackGood storage for other gear28l$$$$$$
Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera PackBackpackWater resistant40l$$$$$
Vanguard Alta Sky 45D BackpackBackpackExcellent all rounderNot available$$$$$
Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AWBackpackGreat hiking features14l + camera storage$$$$
Lowepro Inverse 200 AW Camera BeltpackBeltpackWeatherproofNot available$$
Mountainsmith Tanack 10 Lumbar Camera PackBeltpackExcellent storage10l$$$
Osprey UltraLight Camera CaseCaseCompactDifferent sizes available$

Before we get down to our review, let’s first take a look at the things to consider when you’re buying your camera backpack for hiking.

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

The best camera backpacks for hiking

Got all that? Great, then we’re ready to roll with Cool of the Wild’s selection of the best camera backpacks for hiking in 2018!
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


Clik Elite Whisper

Clik Elite Whisper

It may cost you an eye-watering amount per liter of storage, but the Whisper is a wonderfully functional, comfortable and commodious backpack that repays your financial outlay with plenty of features in a lightweight, streamline design. Most impressive are the superbly breathable, padded shoulder straps and hip belt and also the Whisper’s lovely ClikDraw™ system. This allows you to clip your camera safely to the pack and stow your camera in the waist belt for fast shooting on the move. It’s not as roomy as the Flipside Trek, but offers just as much compartment-wise and in terms of quality of build and overall practicality. Surely one of the best backpacking camera cases out there!

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Great compartmentalization
  • ClikDraw system lets you keep camera safely attached and stowed in hip belt
  • Lightweight
  • Rear access
  • Good padding on internal dividers

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Limited room for other items of gear

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


Lowepro Inverse 200 AW Camera Beltpack

Lowepro Inverse 200 AW Camera Beltpack

Somewhere between a large carry case and a very small backpack, the Inverse 200 is a nice, middle-of-the-road option for those keen to store their kit in something substantial and practical and happy to keep the rest of their kit in a separate backpack. It’s big enough for a DSLR with a spare lens or two (or 70-200mm lens), comes with an integrated rain cover and boasts very well-padded walls and a comfy waist belt. The nicest touch of the Inverse is the top-loading, easy-access entry, which allows you to whip your gear in and out with the minimum of fuss. It’s not as cool looking as the Tanack 10 from Mountainsmith, but it also comes in at around half the price!

Pros

  • Reasonably priced compared to the Tanack 10 (below)
  • Plenty of room for a DSLR with extra lenses
  • Lumbar belt help with weight distribution and prevents bag swinging around
  • Quick-access top entry
  • Very good weatherproofing

Cons

  • Maybe too small for full-sized Pro DSLR with a vertical grip and extra lenses

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


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:
REI


Osprey UltraLight Camera Case

Osprey UltraLight Camera Case

For those who just want a simple, no frills camera case to sling over their shoulder, the Osprey Ultralight is pretty much the ideal carry solution. It’s light, well padded, big enough to carry a spare lens and has a comfy shoulder strap. The ideal minimalist carry-solution for clipping onto your backpack!

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Can be attached to backpack
  • Comfortable strap
  • Maybe the best backpacking camera case out there

Cons

  • No room for anything other than your camera, obviously!

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


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!

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