Best Camera Bags 2017: 11 top bags for photographers

No matter the kind of camera bag you’re after – backpack, shoulder bag, sling or roller – you’re sure to find the perfect one for you in our round-up of the best camera bags.

If you’ve spent time and money investing in your camera equipment then you’ll require a bag in which you can safely transport it all around. Camera bags come in all shapes and sizes – from simple holsters intended for a single compact to reinforced rucksacks designed to accommodate full-frame DSLRs with an assortment of lenses, flashguns and other useful equipment.

Best Camera Bag Buying Guide – Which is the right bag for you?

The size of bag that’s right for you will depend on the amount of equipment you own, and how much of it you want to carry around with you at any given time.

Either way, the first thing to do is to draw up a list of all your camera equipment. This will enable you to get a good idea of the size of bag you should be looking for. Don’t forget to factor any imminent purchases into the equation too.

The different options

There are many different types of camera bag on the market. Popular designs include compact pouches and belt holsters, waist belts, shoulder bags, backpacks, rolling cases and sling-type bags.

Pouches are the smallest and are generally designed to carry no more than a small compact. They can usually be attached to a belt to keep them within easy reach. Waist belts are generally a little bit bigger than pouches, making them ideal for superzooms, bigger compacts or even a small mirrorless camera.

Related: Best cameras

Moving up in size, shoulder bags – also referred to as ‘messenger bags’ – are usually big enough to carry a DSLR or mirrorless body plus a couple of lenses. They differ from standard backpacks in that they employ a single strap that rests on one of your shoulders. One advantage is that they’re much easier to access than backpacks, as you don’t have to remove the bag from your shoulders to get into it. On the flip-side, they aren’t as spacious and can unbalance you, especially if you’re carrying a lot of weighty equipment.

Sling bags are a halfway-house between shoulder bags and backpacks. The main compartment is usually styled like a backpack, but they’re fitted with a single, diagonally positioned strap. This allows them to be worn like a backpack but also rotated around to your chest, so you can quickly access the storage compartment without having to remove the bag completely. They sometimes come with a hip belt for added comfort.

Related: Best waterproof cameras

Budget

As is the case with all camera equipment and accessories, you’ll ultimately get what you pay for. It pays to invest as much as you can in a decent bag, even if it means having to save up a bit longer. In addition, expensive bags also tend to come with more durable zips and better-quality padding. As a rule of thumb, bags costing around £80 or more are generally of good quality.

Vanguard The Heralder 33

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 33 x 16 x 28cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 42 x 27 x 35cm
  • Weight: 1620g
  • Price: £90

Vanguard’s The Heralder 33 messenger uses space to its utmost potential. You can fit a great deal into it without it feeling overly heavy or bulky.

Featuring a range of padded compartments, it offers the right balance of protection and organisation. There are also pockets and zips to store accessories, memory card pockets at the top, and a laptop compartment.

Designed for easy access, it has a press top, allowing you to reach into the bag and find equipment without having to open it. It will accommodate one pro DSLR with grip, one additional body, five to six lenses (up to 70-200mm f/2.8), plus a tripod and other accessories.

Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 32.5 x 16 x 44.5cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 35.5 x 32 x 51.5cm
  • Weight: 4700g
  • Price: £247

The unique design of the Pro Runner sees it convert quickly and easily from a backpack to a rolling case – perfect for photographers who’d like to roll their kit through airports but want the flexibility of carrying their kit on their back when out in the field.

It holds a DSLR with a 300mm f/2.8 lens attached, with space for an additional four to six lenses; there’s a checkpoint-friendly 15.4-inch laptop sleeve too.

An all-weather cover, hideaway tripod mount system and well-padded interior complement the superb design. While not cheap, the x450 is a dual-purpose bag, well suited to photographers who travel.

Manfrotto Stile Unica VII Messenger

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 20 x 46 x 10.5cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 31 x 48 x 19cm
  • Weight: 1100g
  • Price: £80

This spacious yet lightweight messenger-style bag features a top zip that runs along the length of the bag enabling easy access on the fly.

Internally, the bag is big enough to store a mid-range DSLR with a small telephoto lens attached, along with a couple of spare lenses and a flashgun.

Two padded dividers are supplied, although these can be attached only to one side of the main compartment. There’s also a separate laptop pouch that’s big enough for a 15-inch MacBook.

One neat feature is the compartment at the bottom of the bag that’s designed to accommodate a compact travel tripod. Stylish-looking, it’s also water-resistant.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 23 x 30 x 17cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 48 x 30 x 23cm
  • Weight: 1425g
  • Price: £110

Spacious enough for a mid-range DSLR with lens attached, a flashgun and up to two additional lenses, the Advanced Travel backpack still has enough room inside for a 15-inch laptop and yet doesn’t feel overly bulky.

In use the quick-access side pocket allows you to remove your camera without fully opening the bag, while on the other side an expandable pocket can be used to house a small travel tripod. An external strap in the middle of the backpack takes care of full-sized tripods.

Subtly styled and comfortable to wear, the bag’s outer material is water-repellent – although for added peace of mind, a rain protector is also included.

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 27 x 15 x 42.5cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 30.3 x 25.3 x 46cm
  • Weight: 1600g
  • Price: £86

The zip to the internal compartment on this spacious, weather-proofed backpack is located on the side where the bag rests against your back, giving your equipment added protection against thieves. With the padded waist belt attached, you can also spin the bag around and access it without having to fully remove it.

Internally, there’s rom for a couple of DSLRs with medium-sized lenses, along with individual compartments for a couple more lenses and a flashgun.

There’s also a pocket on the back that’s large enough to house a tablet or small laptop, as well as a tripod pouch in which you can rest your tripod feet.

ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 28 x 48 x 18cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 29 x 50 x 22cm
  • Weight: 1700g
  • Price: £160

If you’re after a bag designed for use in urban and crowded environments then this is an excellent choice.

Manufactured to the highest standard with strong zippers and excellent internal protection, it holds a pro-spec DSLR and 70-20mm f/2.8 attached, with room for an additional three to five lenses and accessories.

There’s a laptop compartment too for a 15-inch laptop, and if you plan on carrying a tripod or monopod, it’s possible to securely fasten it using the bottom front pocket and fastening buckle.

A breathable mesh liner helps to keep the bag cool against your back on the move.

Ona Union Street Shoulder Bag

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 25 x 39 x 14cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 28 x 41 x 14cm
  • Weight: 1900g
  • Price: £270

This is a stylish messenger bag that comes in a choice of colours: smoke grey, ranger tan and black. The bag is intended to take a DSLR kit or compact system camera kit along with a 15-inch laptop, accessories and small personal items.

Hand-crafted from premium waxed canvas, with the details constructed from a combination of Italian leather and brass, the strap is soft but very strong and the padding to protect your camera is super-thick – offering more protection than the vast majority of messenger bags that are currently available.

You can also flatten its dividers for those occasions when you’re not using it to carry cameras.

ThinkTank Airport Roller Derby

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 32 x 47 x 19cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 35 x 56 x 23cm
  • Weight: 4800g
  • Price: £305

Made from high-quality nylon that’s coated in durable water-repellent fabric, the Airport Roller Derby case is a premium option for the frequent flyer.

Spacious and well designed, it has sufficient capacity for two DSLRs, up to seven lenses (depending on size), a 15-inch laptop, accessories such as chargers and some carry-on essentials.

Depending on your configuration, it’s also possible to fit a 400mm prime lens inside.

The wheels roll smoothly, it makes transporting heavy equipment a lot less taxing than carrying it, while most importantly for this type of bag it complies with most airline restrictions. Although pricey, it’s worth it.

Lowepro Photo Sport Sling 100 AW

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 16 x 8 x 21cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 23.5 x 16 x 46cm
  • Weight: 800g
  • Price: £79

This sling-style bag is the smallest in the Lowepro Sport Sling range with the main compartment able to accommodate a mid-sized DSLR with standard zoom, a spare lens and flashgun, plus some filters or other accessories.

A separate compartment located above can be used for further accessories, or perhaps a small lens. In use, the Sport Sling 100 AW sits comfortably on the back thanks to the wide padded strap and waist belt.

The really great thing about the bag, however, is just how easy it is to access – simply undo the waist belt and the bag can be spun around to rest on your chest, with the zip offering direct access to kit.

Domke F-5XB

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Key features:

  • Interior dimensions: 24 x 10 x 15cm
  • Exterior dimensions: 25.5 x 11.5 x 18.5cm
  • Weight: 699g
  • Price: £80

This small but stylish shoulder bag features a built-in belt loop that enables it to be used as a waist pack.

The main flap uses a Velcro fastening and opens to reveal a small front pouch and the main compartment, which can be divided via two Velcro pads.

Available in a range of colours, the F-5XB is the ideal size for a compact system camera and a couple of lenses, with enough space left over for some small accessories.

At a push you could also use it to carry an entry-level DSLR with a standard kit lens attached, leaving just about enough space for a small prime or flashgun. The strap isn’t padded, but it’s wide and comfortable.

Billingham Weekender

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Key features:

  • Exterior dimensions: 55 x 35 x 25cm
  • Weight: 1070g
  • Price: £225

The English-made Weekender, as its name suggests, is intended for one or two nights away, or as complementary hand luggage for longer trips. Most importantly it meets today’s strict airline hand baggage requirements and comes with a durable shoulder strap manufactured from shuttle-woven spun polyester with solid brass fittings.

It’s well worth paying the £30 extra for the Billingham SP40 shoulder pad, and another £20 for the base pad, which slips inside and completely covers the base of the bag to give it a bit more rigidity when carrying heavy camera kit alongside you spare clothes. However, there are no partitions, so this isn’t ideal as a dedicated camera bag.

If the pictured black-and-tan finish isn’t for you, the Weekender is also available in sage and chocolate, khaki and chocolate, or all black.