Best Camera Bags 2018: 13 top bags for photographers

No matter what kind of camera bag you’re looking for – 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 on the market.

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. The best top-of-the-range camera bag we found was the Billingham Hadley One, which is superbly made and will last for decades. It’s more than just a camera bag, with its built-in laptop compartment and flexible partitioning, it would be useful for work or even as an overnight bag. If you’re on a tighter budget, the Tenba Solstice 24L Backpack is an excellent all-rounder. This super-lightweight bag has plenty of room and is designed with the outdoor photographer in mind.

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.

Best Camera Bags: Billingham Hadley One

Billingham Hadley One

Pros:

  • Very high quality
  • Extremely long lasting
  • Built-in laptop compartment
  • Flexible partitioning
  • Can be used as an everyday bag

Cons:

  • Not many pockets
  • High price point

Billingham is one of the best-known names in British photography, having been making its top-quality canvas-and-leather camera bags since 1973.

At heart the Hadley One is a rather simple bag, designed to protect your gear against the vagaries of the British weather while providing quick access to your kit. Aside from the main compartment there’s a just full-width document pocket on the back and a pair of generously deep ‘dump’ pockets on the front: you won’t find multiple organiser pockets for memory cards, batteries or the like anywhere here.

In terms of size the One sits halfway between the existing Hadley Pro and Large models, which means that it’s deceptively capacious. But whereas those bags are designed to carry camera kit and little else, the One is aimed as more of an everyday bag, with space for other items alongside the camera.

The bag is large enough to hold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a 70-300mm telezoom attached. Alternatively I was able to fit in an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom onboard and a 7-14mm f/2.8 stacked underneath.

There’s no getting away from the fact that £265 is a lot of money to pay, especially when you can buy some nice alternatives for a lot less money. But the Billingham Hadley One is superbly made and will last for decades, while providing excellent protection for your valuable equipment.

The Hadley One is also more than just a camera bag – the laptop compartment and flexible partitioning make it equally useful as a work or overnight bag. So yes, it’s expensive: but in the long term it should be money well spent.

At the time of review, the Billingham Hadley One was available for £265.

Best Camera Bags: Tenba Solstice 24L

Tenba Solstice 24L Backpack

Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Plenty of space with multiple compartments and pockets
  • Designed for outdoor photography
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Not as high quality as some bags on the market

Hot from the factory, the Tenba Solstice 24L Backpack is one of the latest additions to Tenba’s comprehensive range of camera bags. Designed with the outdoor photographer in mind, the Solstice combines a lightweight design with plenty of storage for a day’s shooting outdoors.

This is, in fact, one of the deeper bags we’ve tested, and will carry up to a pro-spec DSLR such as a Canon EOS-1D X or Nikon D5, but is also suitable for smaller DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The amount of kit and space for personal items sits in the middle of the group on both counts, with a near 50/50 split.

There are two stretch pockets and straps on either side for carrying a tripod on one side and a bottle of water on the other, or anything else you need quick access to. Other than these there’s just one fairly large pocket on the front; all other storage is within the two main compartments inside the bag.

At 1.45kg this is a super-lightweight bag, but a couple of hundred more grams for a slightly larger belt with pockets would have been a useful.

Available in black or blue, the Tenba Solstice 24L is an interesting outdoor backpack that manages to combine a generous amount of storage for personal items, alongside space for a pro-spec DSLR with a grip attached, several lenses, accessories and even a large 100mm filter system case. While it doesn’t feel quite as well made as the MindShift BackLight 26L, it’s not far off, and is a highly attractive all-rounder.

At the time of review, the Tenba Solstice 24L was available for £175.

Best Cameras Bags: MindShift BackLight 26L

MindShift 
BackLight 26L

Pros:

  • Built-in laptop compartment
  • Rear entry
  • Excellent design and build quality
  • Designed for outdoor photography

Cons:

  • High price point

MindShift has made a name for itself in outdoor photography circles with its innovative Rotation range, favoured by photographers who carry more personal gear than camera kit. The BackLight bags, meanwhile, allow you to carry much more camera kit, but still have a generous amount of space for personal items.

This model offers rear entry, which can be achieved with the bag face down on the floor or held on the waist using the waist belt. For the latter, there’s a handy neck strap to keep the back panel open while accessing the bag. The main section allows you to carry more than enough kit for a day out shooting landscapes, and in the front pocket there are 9l of storage, with pockets for a 15-inch laptop and an iPad.

With the configuration the bag ships in you can fit up to a pro-spec DSLR with a lens attached (but without a grip), several lenses, accessories and a large 100mm filter system case if you need to – it works perfectly straight away.

When you use the MindShift BackLight 26L you can immediately see that a lot of thought has gone into the design of the bag. Not only is it comfortable to wear, but it also has a good balance of storage for camera gear and personal items. With great design, build quality and storage, the BackLight is a compelling option for anyone involved in outdoor photography.

At the time of review, the MindShift BackLight 26L was available for £205.

Best Camera Bags: Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW

Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW

Pros:

  • Converts from backpack to rolling case
  • Laptop sleeve included
  • All-weather cover
  • Designed for photographers who travel

Cons:

  • High price point

The unique design of the Lowepro 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.

At the time of review, the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW was available for £247.

Best Camera Bags: Gillis London Trafalgar Rucksack

Gillis London Trafalgar Rucksack

Pros:

  • Massive storage space
  • Can be used as an everyday bag
  • Handcrafted leather

Cons:

  • Extremely high price point

Founded in 2015, Gillis London are a relatively new brand to the photography industry. In two years there’s a range of over 20 camera bags including, satchels, messenger bag and backpacks.

One of the most unique bags is this, the Gillis London Trafalgar Rucksack. Measuring 43 x 32 x 15cm, it’s big enough to house anything from a large sized DSLR kit – like a Canon EOS 5D IV or Nikon D810 – right through to a small mirrorless kit.

Most camera backpacks have a big open front and a divider system but the Trafalgar backpack has two separate compartments – the top and bottom.

The bottom section has access to it through a zipped opening on one side and it’s big enough to house a camera with a telephoto lens attached or even a travel tripod up to 32cm in size. The top compartment has a tray with some dividers which can house a camera along with a couple of lenses.

The bag has a unique look and it’s comfortable to wear. Thanks to this styling, I find it’s just as functional as a day to day bag as it is a camera bag which is handy as it’s fairly expensive. Although, when considering it’s handcrafted leather, it is competitively priced.

At the time of review, the Gillis London Trafalgar Rucksack was available for £299.

Best Camera Bags: Manfrotto Travel Backpack

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack

Pros:

  • Good amount of space
  • Can fit a 15-inch laptop
  • Quick-access side pocket
  • Water-repellant with rain protector included
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not as high quality as some bags on the market

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.

At the time of review, the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack was available for £110.

Best Camera Bags: LowePro Flipside

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II

Pros:

  • Rear entry
  • Good build quality
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of storage for kit

Cons:

  • Not much space for personal items
  • Waist belt better suited to petite frames

The Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II is the latest release in Lowepro’s Flipside range. This, as the name cleverly suggests features a rear entry so the bag can be placed front side down on the floor to gain access to kit, or held on the waist using the chunky waist belt to avoid getting the back of the bag dirty.

There’s space to carry up to two pro-spec DSLRs without a grip attached, a number of lenses and accessories. There’s more space for kit than you’d really need when shooting landscapes.

The Flipside is comfortable to wear thanks to generous and well-positioned padding on the back of the bag and the waist belt. The downside, however, is that unless you’re small, the waist belt has a tendency to sit rather high above the hips and around the stomach, which means the weight of the bag won’t be sufficiently distributed.

Build quality is great, and it’s well-padded on the back. Overall, a great bag if you’re a petite photographer who only requires a small amount of personal storage space, but it’s less suitable for those with a medium or large build who need more space for personal items.

At the time of review, the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW II was available for £155.

Best Camera Bags: T480 Streetwalker HardDrive

ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive

Pros:

  • Designed for urban photography
  • Excellent build quality
  • Built-in laptop compartment
  • Internal protection

Cons:

  • Not as much storage space as some bags on the market

If you’re after a bag designed for use in urban and crowded environments then the 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.

At the time of review, the ThinkTank StreetWalker HardDrive was available for £160.

Best Camera Bags: Manfrotto Offroad Hiker Backpack 30L

Manfrotto Offroad Hiker Backpack 30L

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for trekking
  • Contoured back support and padding
  • Plenty of personal storage
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Minimal space for kit

The best type of bag you can have when you’re out trekking is one that’s designed specifically for this purpose. The problem is these aren’t also designed to carry camera gear. With the aim of solving this problem the Manfrotto Offroad Hiker Backpack 30L is a backpack with a difference; by blending the best of both worlds, this camera bag wouldn’t look out of place at the top of a mountain.

Photographic gear is carried in a removable insert that will hold up to a pro-spec DSLR with a lens attached but without a grip, an additional lens and accessories. This is arguably all you’d need for a day out shooting in the hills. Water can be carried in one of the stretch mesh side pockets, which also double up for carrying a tripod.

The best configuration is to carry a one- or two-litre bottle of water on one side, and your tripod on the other to balance out the weight. The hip belt helps to direct the load onto your hips rather than your back and features a mesh pocket on one side and a closed pocket on the other. Two closed pockets would be preferable, but as it is, the mesh pocket is best used for items that can get wet.

The Offroad Hiker feels rigid, but this is in part due to the hard contoured back that supports the bag like a traditional hiking backpack. This ultimately makes the bag comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and generous padding in the lower back area helps to maintain comfort. Plus, there’s a mesh back to keep the bag away from the back to maintain and maximise airflow.

All in all, it’s a highly attractive option for the outdoor photographer who carries minimal kit and needs plenty of personal storage. It’s available in blue, green, grey and red.

At the time of review, the Manfrotto Offroad Hiker Backpack 30L was available for £149.

Best Camera Bags: Ona Union Street

Ona Union Street Shoulder Bag

Pros:

  • Thick protective padding
  • Stylish design

Cons:

  • Limited space
  • Extremely high price point

The Ona Union Street Shoulder Bag 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.

At the time of review, the Ona Union Street Shoulder Bag was available for £270.

Vanguard Alta Rise 48

Pros:

  • Very well designed
  • Great for heavy kit
  • Waterproof rear

Cons: 

  • Can’t use side pocket when carrying tripod
  • No pocket for tablets/laptops larger than 10-inches

When you need to carry around a full-frame DSLR and a set of large lenses, a backpack is a much better option than a shoulder bag. With the Alta Rise 48, Vanguard has produced a well-made backpack that offers pretty much everything you might need.

This bag is designed in the front-opening fashion, with a full-height front lid that folds down to give unrestricted access to your kit. The idea is that you can put the bag down on its base, which is covered in waterproof vinyl, and then use the adjustable straps on each side to hold the lid part-open, so neither the backpack harness nor the front get mucky. There’s also a large flap on the side that gives access to your camera while you’re on the move.

The roomy main compartment will hold a large DSLR such as a Nikon D850 or Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a battery grip and 70-200mm or 100-400mm telezoom attached, along with three or four more lenses including f/2.8 standard and wideangle zooms.

The quality of materials and construction is excellent, and the back and shoulder straps are really well padded to ease the strain of carrying a heavy load. There’s even a tuck-away belt strap to help distribute the weight better when you’re carrying your kit over a long distance. The discreetly styled black exterior shouldn’t attract undue attention, while the bright orange interior makes it easy to find things inside.

At the time of review, the Vanguard Alta 48 was available for £125.

Manfrotto Pro Light FastTrack-8 Sling

Pros:

  • Innovative design
  • Quick release
  • Water repellant

Cons:

  • Expensive for the size
  • No space for a standard laptop

The increased popularity of mirrorless cameras has seen a steady rise in the number of smaller photo bags being made. One of the most intriguing examples to be released of late is Manfrotto’s Pro Light FastTrack sling, which is like no other sling bag we’ve seen before. It’s the first of its kind to combine a sling strap with a camera strap and the idea is that it solves the issue of getting your bag’s strap and camera strap into a tangle, while making it fast and convenient to access kit and stow it away when on the move or in a hurry.

Just like a normal sling bag there’s one thick, well-padded strap that’s worn diagonally across the body from which a second thinner, fully adjustable, camera strap branches off. Attached to this camera strap are two buckles. These are designed in such a way that they slide up and down the camera strap, and attach to your camera via short tethers that loop through the camera’s strap eyelets. The beauty of the system is that it lets you store the camera in the bag with the strap attached, or if you know you’re going to be using the camera frequently, you can leave it to dangle at your side ready to grab and pull up to your eye when a shooting opportunity presents itself.

Better still, the camera can be released from the camera strap in seconds should you wish to use it with a tripod, and each buckle has a lock, which offers reassurance that your camera won’t accidentally unfasten. It’s a clever and well-executed strap arrangement.

The camera compartment happily accommodates a premium mirrorless camera minus a battery grip with a standard lens attached. The side compartment is a useful area for storing a couple of small primes or one larger zoom like the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS that I managed to cram in.

There are a couple of pockets for storing cards and cables too, with the well-padded area behind the main and side compartments being a good place to slot a tablet up to 9.7in in size.

At the time of review, the Manfrotto Pro Light FastTrack-8 Sling was available for £110.

Billingham 72

Pros:

  • Robust construction
  • Moveable divider
  • Classic looks

Cons:

  • Only suitable for small cameras
  • Expensive for the size

The 72, is Billingham’s smallest camera bag. Designed for petite cameras such as fixed-lens compacts, rangefinders, or mirrorless models, it’s available in a choice of five colours.

If you’re going to spend £100 on a camera bag this size, it’s got to offer something well above the ordinary, and that’s exactly what Billingham has delivered. The 72 is a rigid bag with especially thick padding around the walls, which means it’ll provide suitably robust protection for your valuable kit. The main material is either canvas or Billingham’s harder-wearing nylon FibreNyte, but both use a multi-layer construction to be essentially impermeable to the elements. With a snug-fitting lid that’s fastened by a single quick-to-use closure, you can be confident your camera will be kept safely dry in the heaviest of downpours.

In terms of size, the interior is pretty much a 140x110x90mm box, which means the 72 is ideal for a mirrorless camera with a small lens attached. You could also use it for larger fixed-lens premium compacts such as the Leica Q, Panasonic Lumix LX100, or a Fujifilm X100-series model.

At the time of review, the Billingham 72 was available for £99.99.