Whether you're getting up before dawn to hike up mountains for that one special sunrise shot, or commuting with your camera in tow, every photographer needs to keep their kit safe and protected, and from backpacks and daysacks to holsters and rollers, photographers can now carry their kit, accessories (and even some lunch) in all kinds of luggage.
Most of bags featured here are for DSLR or mirrorless cameras, whose interchangeable lenses, demand some thought when you're mobile. Most also now find room for a laptop – as big as 17-inches in some cases – or at least a tablet; with post-processing so integral to digital photography, who wants to wait until they get home to see how a photoshoot turned out?
Best camera bags in 2020:
1. Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 V2
Top quality and stylish shoulder bag
Capacity: DSLR or mirrorless camera with lens attached, 1-2 additional lenses, 13-inch laptop, tablet and accessories | Exterior dimensions: 38 x 27 x 12cm | Weight: 1.1kg
Though it might seem pretty pricey, the Everyday Messenger is bristling with clever touches and is well worth the outlay. A spring-loaded flap-catch with four fastening points is both secure yet easy to use, letting the bag expand or contract to suit varying loads. The flap also has a zippered top passthrough for even easier access. There are slots for a 13-inch laptop and tablet, plus you can attach a tripod on top. Rather than using typical foam partitions, the main section contains innovative dividers that snap around and over individual items. Everything’s supported by a wide and supple shoulder strap, and we also like the stabilizing waist strap that prevents the bag bouncing as you stride. Beautiful build quality and attention to detail seals the deal.
Read our in-depth Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 V2
2. Gitzo Adventury 30L
Bursting with features, this is a quality backpack
Capacity: 1-2 Pro DSLRs with 70-200mm lens attached, 3-4 additional lenses, mirrorless camera with 2-3 lenses, 15-inch laptop, tablet and accessories | Exterior dimensions: 48 x 31 x 19cm | Weight: 2kg
It’s tough to create a truly special camera backpack, as competition in this area is particularly fierce, but Gitzo has come up with a real winner in the Adventury 30L. Designed to accommodate a pro DSLR (including a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II or Nikon D5) with a 70-200mm f/4 lens attached, plus a second body and up to four more lenses. Alternatively, you can pack a 400mm f/4, a camera body and a couple of lenses or small accessories. There's also space for a 15-inch laptop as well. As you'd expect for a Gitzo product, the quality is excellent, with great internal padding, while the bag itself is made from weather-resistant materials, with coated zippers and bottom section. Should conditions get really bad there's also a rain cover, while the color of the materials used is designed to help the bag blend in when you're outdoors.
3. Lowepro Photo Active 300
Pockets aplenty make this a fine choice if you need to stash a number of extras alongside your kit
Capacity: DSLR with lens attached, two further lenses, 15-inch laptop, accessories | Exterior dimensions: 31 x 19 x 48cm | Weight: 1.48kg
It’s the numerous pockets and Lowepro’s Quick Shelf system that differentiates this bag from its peers. While there’s ample space on the inside for moderate DSLR kits, stretch pockets on the front, two side flaps and even in the each shoulder strap let you carry heaps more. The QuickShelf system is based around stiff dividers that keep everything firmly in place, while the huge D-rings on the zips makes opening them effortless. Our only reservation is the slight lack of padding towards the top of the laptop compartment, which makes the laptop feel a little exposed – but if your machine measures less than 15 inches, this won’t be an issue.
4. Billingham Hadley Pro 2020
As spacious as it is stylish, this shoulder bag blends classic style with modern requirements
Capacity: DSLR or mirrorless camera, two or three further lenses, accessories | Exterior dimensions: 43 x 16 x 240cm | Weight: 1.2kg
The Hadley line is what photographers first think about when they hear the name Billingham, and this latest Pro 2020 version of its classic design improves on the Pro version with a new luggage strap, a stronger and more comfortable handle and a weather-resistant zipper on the back. Everything feels very well constructed, with a chunky insert and thick dividers, and a pair of spacious pockets on the front, all of which is very secure once closed with the straps. You can even squeeze in a laptop between the bag and insert if you need to, although it's a shame the strap pad is an added expense, as some may expect this thrown in for this kind of money.
5. LowePro Streetline SL 140
Perfect for round the city
Capacity: Small DSLR or mirrorless camera, 1-2 additional lenses, 11-inch laptop, tablet and accessories | Exterior dimensions: 36 x 25 x 10.5cm | Weight: 0.65kg
This pocket-packed shoulder bag somehow manages to squeeze in both an 11-inch laptop and a tablet, as well as camera gear, while the padded kit compartment flat-packs when empty. Inside, three snap-shut pouches spring open to grip a compact mirrorless camera or DSLR (though it's best for smaller entry-level models). It’s probably not rugged enough for landscape photographers, but it does well around the city – and it makes for a great carry-on bag for flights. It's even got a pass-through for a telescopic handle, so it can piggy-back on rolling luggage at airports.
6. Vanguard VEO Discover 46
This stylish hybrid option is ideal for DSLR users that may want to switch between backpack and sling options
Capacity: DSLR, 3-4 lenses, flashgun, 13-inch laptop, tripod and small accessories | Exterior dimensions: 30 × 23.5 × 46cm | Weight: 1.1kg
Easy on the eye and with masses of space on the inside, this rucksack/sling hybrid provides a home for a DSLR, 3-4 lenses, a 13.3-inch laptop and a tripod around the front, together with extra space for smaller essentials. You can access your kit from left or right sides, and bright yellow padding is generous throughout, with a special scratch and water-resistant base to keep everything safe from harm. The laptop compartment might be a bit small for some, and you can get a bit sweaty as the back isn’t as cleverly contoured as the Lowepro Photo Active. Then again, this one is currently less than half the price, making it a real bargain.
7. Wandrd Hexad Access Duffel (45L)
Perfect as a travel bag as well as having loads of space for your camera kit
Capacity: 2 full-frame DSLR or mirrorless cameras with large lens attached, plus 2-3 extra lenses | Exterior dimensions: 23 x 36 x 56cm | Weight: 1.8kg
If you're going to be travelling a lot with you're camera, then the Hexad Access Duffel is the answer. Featuring a clamshell, one half of the bag can be set aside for clothes and other travel essentials, while the other half for photo gear, with dual side-access pockets. These can accommodate Wandrd's medium camera cubes (sold separately) which offer protection for your kit. If you just want to use one, you've get even more space for day to day stuff. There's also a padded laptop sleeve, stowable backpack straps and a handy expandable laundry pocket. Then there's the weather-sealed materials used, while the overall finish is excellent. Perfect if you're going to be on a city break and want to travel light.
8. Lowepro m-Trekker SH 150
This small but smart and superbly built shoulder bag would be an ace choice for mirrorless users on holiday
Capacity: Mirrorless camera with lens attached, further lens, small tablet, small accessories | Exterior dimensions: 28.5 x 13 x 19.5cm | Weight: 379g
Perhaps not the sexiest shoulder bag around, but if you’re happy to overlook that you’l love what goes on here. There’s enough space for a mid-range mirrorless camera and mounted lens, plus a further optic and a small tablet, while two clasps and plenty of Velcro keep everything secure. Expandable pockets on the outside provide home to batteries or even small bottle of sunblock, while a zipped pocket on the front of the lid is joined by a further zipped pocket on the back. Build quality is high and the pad on the shoulder strap is a bonus, plus it can be removed if not wanted. While small in size and super light, it feels very well put together and is comfortable on the shoulder. For holidays and travelling with just modest kit, this would be a fine option.
9. Manfrotto ProLight Redbee 110
Superb protection and plenty of space makes this new option from Manfrotto great for mid-sized kits
Capacity: 2 mirrorless cameras (one with lens attached), 3-4 further lenses, 13-inch laptop, small accessories | Exterior dimensions: 47 x 30 x 24cm | Weight: 1.4kg
This option from Manfrotto holds many charms, but if there’s one thing it does really well it’s padding. Everything feels very well protected here, with chunky internal divided, thick shoulder straps and a fat back panel. You can access your gear from the top, back or two side flaps, while a mesh divider keeps everything in the main compartment in place when you're dealing with anything in the back panel. There's only one strap connecting the shoulder straps, but your can shift this up and down to suit your body. It doesn't sit quite as snugly as the Lowepro BP300 AW Photo Active and Vanguard VEO Discover 46 on the back, but what it lacks in comfort it makes up for with great design and protection.
10. Peli 1510 Protector Case
Perfect for those travelling regularly with a lot of kit
Capacity: 1-2 Pro DSLRs with up to 8 lenses, 17-inch laptop, tablet and accessories | Exterior dimensions: 56 x 35.1 x 23cm | Weight: 6.2kg
Ideal for professional photographers or anyone flying off on a landscape photography expedition, a safari or or even just storing your kit when it's not in use, you won't find a better solution than the Peli 1510 Protector Case. It's not just the protection it provides that makes it a great buy – the ease with which you can organize and access your camera kit on location makes it incredibly useful. It's a little heavy and bulky, but it's worth it for the protection it provides.
Read our in-depth Peli 1510 Protector Case review
11. Manfrotto Holster XS Plus
Compact, everyday holster bag
Capacity: Mirrorless camera with lens attached, 1 additional lens | Exterior dimensions: 21.5 x 17 x 9.5cm | Weight: 0.2kg
Designed for compact mirrorless APS-C cameras like the Sony A6500 and Panasonic's Lumix G85/G80, this holster-style case makes good use of space. A camera fitted with an 18-50mm lens can fit inside the main compartment, while there’s a zip-around section attached to the bottom for another lens. It’s compact, sturdy and offers a lot of protection, but it's worth trying it out with your specific camera and lens to make sure it all fits neatly. As well as a shoulder strap and belt loops, the Holster XS Plus includes a few zipped pockets for SD cards and accessories.
12. LowePro Tahoe BP 150
Bug-shaped backpack that's easy to use
Capacity: DSLR or mirrorless camera with lens attached, 1-2 additional lenses, tablet and accessories | Exterior dimensions: 40 x 27.5 x 22cm | Weight: 0.8kg
Looking more like traditional urban luggage than a camera bag, this bug-shaped backpack has a hard yet padded front lid that zips all around, and drops down for easy access. The dividers inside are easy to move and secure, and make it simple to configure for a DSLR and two to three lenses. If used in that configuration there's just a small zipped area for other items, but an UltraFlex divider can be used to make the bag half for camera gear and half for other stuff, making the Tahoe BP 150 handy for anything from street photography to a serious hike. There's also an organizer area in the lid with a tablet pouch, and a couple of mesh side pockets.
Also consider: Chrome Industries Pike
A great backpack for day-to-day use
Capacity: 22 liter internal capacity with additional space for a 15-inch laptop | Exterior dimensions: 30.4 x 48.2 x 15.8cm | Weight: N/A
This backpack isn't strictly a camera backpack, but is certainly worth consideration if you're looking for a quality bag to stuff plenty into if you're going to be out for the day. While there's no padding for camera gear, you'll easily be able to fit a padded camera pouch into the 22 liter main compartment. As well as this, there's also a large 15-inch laptop compartment and elastic side pockets. Nice and comfy fully loaded, this is a great bag to wonder round the city with camera in hand.