Finding the right camera bag for your needs can be as tough as getting the right composition for a photograph. There are a variety of options available, each with their own unique set of features. We’ve put together a few tips that will help you narrow down your choices and make choosing the right camera bag for your needs a quick and easy process.

Ease of Access

A good camera bag allows you to take out your camera easily and put it away just as easily, leaving you with one less hurdle to worry about when taking photos. Ease of access depends on three things:

  • The opening & closing mechanism (zipper vs. Velcro vs. magnets vs. strap)
      • Your choice of opening & closing mechanism depends on how fast you need to get your gear out. Velcro and magnet-based mechanisms work best in these situations but they aren’t the best when it comes to protecting your gear against the weather. On the other hand, zippers prevent your camera from getting wet so opening speed can be a compromise. However, zippers also have the potential to scratch your camera if you’re not careful.
Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag
Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag
  • Size of pockets and compartments
    • A larger compartment makes it easy to take out items, but as a camera bag, a compartment shouldn’t be too big either.  The lens storage area should be snug so they don’t fall out or jumble around your bag.
  • Location of pockets & compartments
    • A compartment that’s in an easy to access location and angled in an ergonomic position makes it easy for you to take out your gear while making sure those items don’t fall out as you take them out. The last thing you want to happen is to drop your camera and lenses!
Internals of the Manfrotto Advanced Tri DSLR Backpack
Internals of the Manfrotto Advanced Tri DSLR Backpack

Material & Construction

Whether you plan on going hiking, jungle trekking, or city exploring, the material plays an important part. If you’re an outdoorsy person, your bag should be able to withstand wear and tear but also be breathable for those heart rate raising activities. If you live in a wet city, a bag made out of waterproof material is ideal. In this situation, sealed zips on a bag are vital to avoid water seeping into the bag when you’re out and about.

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Waterproof; Chrome Niko DSLR + 15″ Laptop Backpack

The material also affects the weight of your bag so if you’ve got back problems it would be best to avoid bags made from heavy materials like thick waxed canvas or leather.

Finally, how the material is bound together affects the bag’s durability. Bags that use stitching tend to be more durable than glued (but this does vary from brand to brand).

Size & Weight

Bigger is not always better when it comes to camera bags. Bigger means heavier. It also means you might need to put more things in it to keep everything snug, and you’re not thinking about what you NEED to be carrying vs. what you WANT to be carrying. A seasoned traveller knows the importance of packing light. The same concept applies to photographers, especially travel photographers.

Comfort & Feel

Messenger: Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag. Backpack: Chrome Niko DSLR +15" Laptop Backpack
Messenger: Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag. Backpack: Chrome Niko DSLR +15″ Laptop Backpack

If you’re going to be carrying around your camera gear, especially for prolonged periods, you want a bag that is comfortable to carry around. Experienced photographers tend to have multiple bags for different situations, alternating between a backpack and a messenger bag (or sling). Each has its own merit and drawbacks;

  • Backpack
    • A backpack is great if you need to carry around a lot of items. Having two straps vs. one on a messenger helps distribute the weight more evenly, making it more comfortable to carry everything you need for longer periods. The drawback of using backpacks is that it’s unfortunately on your back, meaning you’d have to take off your backpack before you can access your camera. If you’re constantly changing lenses or taking out things that you need to shoot with, then a messenger bag might be more suitable.
  • Messenger / Sling
    • A messenger, or sling bag is great for the quick shooters. Just swing over your bag, take out your gear and swing it back. It’s convenient for most people but it does get fairly uncomfortable if you’re out and about for hours. So, if you use a messenger bag, it’s important to know how much stuff you’ll be carrying around, and for how long.

Appearance

The appearance of a bag is important when appealing to individual tastes but it can also impact your safety. If thieves are a concern, the best camera bag is one that doesn’t look like a camera bag. Experienced photographers who often travel to places unknown to them tend to do two things; make their cameras look as knocked up as possible, and use a bag that doesn’t give a potential mugger the idea that there are thousands of dollars worth of gear stored in them. This is key to avoid any potential mishaps on your journey.

Crumpler The Mild Enthusiast DSLR Sling Bag
Crumpler The Mild Enthusiast DSLR Sling Bag

Now that you know what to look out for, here are our top picks:

1. Niko DSLR + 15″ Laptop Backpack by Chrome | $259.95

View the Chrome Niko DSLR + 15″ Laptop Backpack.

2. Advanced Tri Large DSLR + 15″ Laptop Backpack by Manfrotto | $204.95

View the Manfrotto Advanced Tri large DSLR + 15″ Laptop Backpack.

3. The Enthusiast DSLR + 11″ Laptop Sling Pack by Crumpler | $195.00

View the Crumpler The Enthusiast DSLR + 11″ Laptop Sling Pack.

4. 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag by Crumpler | $120.00

View the Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home DSLR Camera Bag.

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