Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking and Adventure Travel (2024)

Photo Accessories, Gear

A hiker with a red backpack standing atop a mountain overlooking a misty coastline.

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Updated: January 17, 2024
Feature photo by everst/Shutterstock

When it comes to nature photography, particularly when that photography is part of a larger outdoor adventure, one thing is clear: a reliable camera backpack is an absolute must.

However, picking a camera backpack that allows you to navigate through rugged terrain and unpredictable weather while ensuring the safety of your precious gear can be daunting.

Our mission? To help you find the best camera bag that is not just a storage space for your camera accessories while you're traveling but also functions well as a camera backpack for hiking.

From high-end to budget-friendly, from compact to spacious, we've scoured the market to find the best camera bags for hiking and adventure travel.

How we picked the best camera backpacks for hiking

The best camera backpack is more than just a carrying case for your camera gear – it's an essential tool that can make or break your photography adventure. And here at the Conservation Visual Storytellers Academy, we're not just writers – we're experienced nature and wildlife photographers who've logged countless hours in the field. We've battled the elements, hiked up rugged trails, and navigated through dense forests, all with our cameras by our sides (or, technically, on our backs).

Our process of selecting the best camera backpacks blends our firsthand experiences, valuable insights from fellow professionals and industry experts, comprehensive editorial and user reviews, and specific details provided by camera backpack manufacturers.

In compiling our recommendations, we've aimed to cater to a variety of photography goals and budgets. We've considered factors like capacity, weight, durability, organization features, and how well these bags protect your camera gear. Our final lineup includes options for beginners dipping their toes in the world of photography and seasoned pros needing a reliable companion for their high-end gear.

And, though we've found that no single camera backpack meets every criterion for every type of photography need, below are quite a few that tick lots of the boxes for awesome.

For advice on what to consider in a camera backpack and how to choose the right one for you, use the table of contents to jump to those sections.


Best Camera Backpacks for Hiking and Adventure Travel: Our Reviews & Recommendations

MindShift Gear BackLight 26L

Best for pros or amateurs looking for a camera backpack that gets rave reviews from users of all types

MindShift Gear BackLight 26L
  • Designed for easy back access without taking off pack
  • Flexible and expandable options for tripods and extra poles and camera equipment or hiking gear
  • 9 L additional gear storage available
  • Works well as a carry-on bag
  • Not adjustable for different torso lengths
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 11.4 x 7.9 x 20.3″
  • Volume: 26L
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes, 10 x 1 x 15.3″
  • Tripod Holder:Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Exterior fabric is abrasion-resistant and has a durable water-repellent coating, plus the underside of the fabric has a polyurethane coating. Plus, a seam-sealed rain cover is included.
  • What It Holds: Adjustable padded dividers provides space for one standard-size DSLR camera body and 4-6 standard zoom lenses, plus a flash
  • Price: $

Without hesitation, this is one of our go-to recommendations for a camera backpack for any reason. So, of course it's one of our top choices for a day hiking camera backpack.

Though the volume isn't the biggest around, the functional design is exceptional. It's designed with the needs of a nature photographer in mind, and it shows in every detail.

From the adjustable dividers that accommodate large telephoto lenses, traditional photo gear, or hiking gear to the top zippered pocket that allows for easy access to essentials, it's on of the best camera backpacks around, especially for the price.


Peak Design Everyday Backpack 30L

Best for those looking for a sleek camera bag that's equally impressive as a hiking backpack

Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2 30L
  • Easy side access
  • Expandable size
  • Inconspicuous design
  • Hip belt available only as an accessory
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 13 x 10.6 x 19.1″
  • Volume: 30L
  • Weight: 4.65 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: 15″ laptop or 16″ MacBook Pro
  • Tripod Holder:Yes
  • Weather Resistance: 100% recycled 400D weatherproof shell. Rain cover not included.
  • What It Holds: Two mirrorless or DSLR camera bodies plus 3-4 extra lenses and accessories
  • Price: $


The use of recycled materials and the selling of pre-owned gear on their site really pulls on our conservationist heart strings.

We love the company's environmental ethos and were already fans of the original pack, but the newly revamped version really shines.

It's built around easy access, photography gear organization, and camera equipment protection. With fast top access, dual side access, and the three configurable FlexFold dividers inside, your gear is safe and accessible.

The bag has significant external carrying capacity thanks to a versatile tuck-away strap system and expandable side pockets. We hate to play favorites, but this camera backpack makes that kind of tough.


Shimoda Explore V2 35 Starter Kit

Best for travel and day hikes requiring a long lens

Shimoda Explore V2 35 Starter Kit (with medium DSLR core unit)
  • Large camera compartment to carry long lenses and two bodies
  • Multiple torso lengths and shoulder strap options for optimal fit
  • Sized as carry-on bag with TSA lock-friendly zippers
  • Hydration bladder compatible
  • Comes with a medium insert, but a large insert might be better for wildlife photographers
  • Insert reduces space available from top roll-up section
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 11.6 x 7.8 x 21.2″
  • Volume: 35L
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits 16″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Water-resistant nylon. Rain cover included.
  • What It Holds: Built to pack mirrorless and DSLR cameras, even those with a vertical grip. For example, can hold two DSLR bodies with grips or mirrorless, one large lens.
  • Price: $$


We're so impressed with the Shimoda Explore V2 35 as a travel camera bag – with its thoughtfully incorporated lockable zippers for added security, a concealed passport pocket, and a luggage pass-through handle – that we sometimes forget what a stellar hiking camera backpack it also is.

Accessing your gear is easy with the rear and side access points, ensuring you never miss a shot. The modular camera inserts provide shockproof protection for your camera setup and offer layout flexibility that adapts to your needs.

Combine this with quick-deploying pockets on both sides for a water bottle, tripod, or other hiking gear, and you've got a camera backpack that's as practical as it is protective.


MindShift Gear BackLight Elite 45L

Best for those wanting to get into the backcountry for a few days with a sturdy and reliable hiking camera bag

MindShift Gear BackLight Elite 45L
  • Spacious enough for a four-day trek with all your pro gear
  • Easy back panel access
  • Stormproof construction
  • Includes room for hydration
  • Honestly... we don't have any for this pack
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 11.4 x 7.9 x 20.3″
  • Volume: 45L
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits a 17″ laptop and a 10″ tablet
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Stormproof construction with YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and waterproof and tear-proof Sailcloth and waterproof, heavy-duty Tarpaulin base. Seam-sealed rain cover included.
  • What It Holds: Holds 2 standard-size camera bodies and 4-7 standard zoom lenses plus a flash
  • Price: $$


We really appreciate the roominess of this camera backpack overall, plus the extra space provided by the front pockets.

One of the standout features of this camera bag is its customizable dividers that allow you to maximize space for camera storage or hiking gear.

The carrying capacity is also increased by the inclusion of a daisy chain, ice axe loops, and additional lash points.

The padded waist strap provides all-day comfort, and the quick-fit adjustment allows for rapid and convenient fitting, while an adjustable neck strap keeps the back panel against your chest, providing unencumbered access to your gear.

Considering the build and the capacity, this is easily a top-ranked favorite for any nature photographer needing a rugged, reliable pack for their gear that's also comfortable to wear.


Gitzo Adventury 45L

Best for folks looking for a heavy-duty hiking camera backpack for big gear that can masquerade as a regular ol' backpack

Gitzo Adventury 45L
  • Designed for pro photography gear
  • Doesn't look like a camera bag
  • Accessible through the back
  • DSLR camera with 600mm fits tight, so little wiggle room for wildlife photographers keeping a lens attached
  • A little on the heavier side
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 13.8 x 8.7 x 21.7″
  • Volume: 45L
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits a 15″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Coated zippers, water repellent fabric, and coated bottom enable you to use the bag in humid environments. Rain cover also included.
  • What It Holds: Pro DSLR with up to 600 mm f/4 telephoto lens attached, plus a second camera with lens attached and additional lenses. The interchangeable dividers allow it to also fit a DJI Phantom Drone plus remote and a camera with lens attached and additional lens and accessories
  • Price: $$


Though somewhat on the pricier side, the thoughtful design and practical features of the Gitzo Adventury 45 L make it one of the best camera backpacks available.

The camera bag's roomy, feature-rich design makes it perfect for carrying a full camera gear kit while the removable camera compartment can transform this versatile pack into an everyday outdoor backpack.

The adjustable and removable waist belt comes with an ample pocket for additional accessories, the side infinity pocket expands for extra space, the bottom zip allows for storage of a long tripod or accessory, and the multi-link straps can connect a big tripod or other accessories on the front and side by simply changing the configuration of the daisy chain… Bascially, they thought of everything!


WANDRD PRVKE Camera Backpack 41L (with Pro Photography Bundle)

Best for the trend-setter travel photographer who appreciates a well-equipped, sturdy bag

  • Quick side and back access
  • Customizable, removable camera storage
  • Fleece lined pocket for electronics
  • Range of size and photography package options available
  • Great travel backpack, but not our favorite hiking backpack
  • Rainfly sold separately
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 12.5 x 9 x 21”
  • Volume: 46L
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits a 13″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Weather resistant material and zippers. Rainfly sold separately.
  • What It Holds: Depends on the camera cube you select – the Essential camera cube, or the Pro camera cube. For example, the Essential Fits one camera body and 2 to 4 lenses. Meanwhile, the Pro fits up to 2 camera bodies and 4 to 6 lenses, including larger lenses. It can also fit a drone.
  • Price: $$


This relatively lightweight bag packs quite a bit! The new PRVKE camera backpack brings significant enhancements to an already stellar product with a redesigned back panel and shoulder straps to accommodate a variety of body shapes and sizes, while the new luggage pass-through strap augments the bag's versatility, making it an ideal companion for travel photography.

The fleece-lined pocket has been repositioned for better accessibility and quick access to gear is facilitated by the removal of the liner flap covering the Camera Cube compartment.

And, like all PRVKE products, this one is sleek and trendy.

We also love the 31L version (with the photography bundle, of course). This is a great option if you are focused on landscapes or macro and don’t need to fit telephoto lenses


Think Tank Rotation Series 50L+

Best for photographers looking to access their camera fast while on a shoot

Think Tank Rotation 50L+
  • Handy rotating separate camera compartment offers quick access
  • Interior can be modified to carry extra camera gear including 100-600 zoom
  • Expandable roll up top for heavy jackets
  • Daisy chains and extra straps for gear such as poles and ice ax
  • Rain cover not included
  • On the pricier side
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 24 x 13.8 x 11.8″ (when not expanded)
  • Volume: 50L
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits 16″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Exterior fabric is coated on both sides with a durable water-repellant coating. Construction includes YKK® AquaGuard and RC Fuse zippers, 100D high-tenacity Triple Ripstop material, and 1680D nylon ballistic bottom panel.
  • What It Holds: Bottom camera pack holds a gripped mirrorless or DSLR kit with three to five lenses or one ungripped camera with a 70-200mm f/2.8 attached
  • Price: $$


We can't praise the convenience of the ThinkTank's rotation feature enough.

It provides immediate access to your camera allowing users to keep their backpack on, saving time and sustaining creative momentum during shoots. You can go from stowed to shooting in just 3 seconds.

The camera bag's versatility with its detachable waist belt pack, perfect for light travel or quick shoots also helps it stand out from the crowd.

Overall, this is one of the best camera bags out there.


Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II

Best for active users looking for a lighter weight, smaller capacity camera bag

Lowepro Whistler Backpack 350 AW II
  • Made with 100% recycled materials
  • Flexible configuration will accommodate a long lens with body attached
  • Breathable materials
  • Dedicated laptop sleeve
  • Camera box insert is extra for an already relatively pricey bag
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 11.4 x 9.4 x 20.9″
  • Volume: 33L
  • Weight: 5.8 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes, fits a 13″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: 420 Nylon Ripstop with TPU/PU dual laminate provides robust abrasion and tear resistance plus waterproofing. Includes an all weather cover to protect gear from rain, snow, and dust
  • What It Holds: DSLR or pro mirrorless body with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, up to six lenses
  • Price: $$


This 4-season ultra-resistant camera backpack designed to carry equal parts camera equipment and hiking gear, with a front pocket that expands to fit essentials and a waterproof barrier with a drain hole to separate wet gear from the main compartment.

Plus, for our cold-weather photography friends, we're quite impressed with the ability to attach skis and ice tools to the sides without restricting access to the main compartment.

Though on the more expensive end for the volume, this sturdy camera bag is versatile and comfortable, making it worth the investment for those who can swing it.


WANDRD FERNWEH Backpacking Bag 

Best for those looking for a durable and stylish camera backpack for hiking

WANDRD FERNWEH Backpacking Bag
  • Four points of access
  • Dedicated water bladder pocket
  • Breathable material everywhere it touches your body
  • Multiple sizes and strap adjustment options to accommodate different body types
  • On the pricier side
  • Small laptop compartment considering the volume
Check price on Amazon >>

  • External Dimensions: 13.75 x 9.5 x 25” (S/M), 13.75 x 9.5 x 26” (M/L)
  • Volume: 50L
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: Yes: fits a 13″ laptop
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: Weather resistant material and YKK weather resistant zippers. Rainfly sold separately.
  • What It Holds: The Pro Deep Camera Cube (recommended for this pack) can fit a DSLR and lens, red cinema body, three medium lenses, and one small lens. Essential Deep Camera Cube fits one camera body and 2 to 4 lenses
  • Price: $$$


There is so much to love about this pack, but, ultimately, it's that WANDRD style that makes us swoon.

Our practical side appreciates the durability of the materials, the four access points to the main body of the bag allowing for convenient access to all your gear from multiple angles, and the thoughtful inclusion of a removable bucket to segment gear.

The pack really does standout as both a camera bag for nature photographers and a hiking backpack for a backtracking trip. You pay for that snazzy style with a higher price point than other packs, but this camera backpack is undeniably a solid blend of functionality and durability, and a worthy companion for any photography adventure.


Lowepro PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III (M-L)

Best for hikers heading out on a multi-day photography adventure

Lowepro PhotoSport PRO 70L AW III
  • Good camera bag with room for your camping gear
  • Easy access to camera
  • Separate pull-out bag for gear
  • Made of recycled materials
  • Not large enough for long prime lens
  • No dedicated laptop compartment
Check price on Amazon >>


  • External Dimensions: 16.1 x 14.2 x 31.5″
  • Volume: 70L
  • Weight: 7.1 lbs
  • Laptop Compartment: No
  • Tripod Holder: Yes
  • Weather Resistance: 420D Nylon Oxford and 420D Nylon Diamond Ripstop with carbonate exterior. Includes an all weather cover to protect gear from rain, snow, and dust
  • What It Holds: CSC/DSLR with grip, 70-200/2.8 attached and two extra lenses
  • Price: $$$


With its capacity to fit enough photography and camping gear for overnight adventures, the LowePro PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III is ideal for backcountry trips.

The removable camera insert and accessory strap system provide multiple options for finding a comfortable carrying configuration for all users.

Their harness system further increases comfort by distributing the weight of the pack.

We'd like to see a laptop sleeve, especially for getting post-processing work done while “on the road,” but other that, we're pretty pleased with this camera backpack.


How to choose the best camera backpack for you

Let's start by saying no camera backpack is perfect. Also, everyone and every photographer is different!

One person might most value a comfortable camera backpack with a padded hip belt and well-padded shoulder straps, while someone else needs enough space for a variety of lenses. It also depends if you're going on a day hike or a full-on backpacking trip.

Needs are always variable, and what works for one person might not work for another.

So, take your time as you consider which criteria are most important to you when deciding on a travel camera backpack that can carry more than just your camera.

Photo: encierro/Shutterstock

What makes a great camera backpack for hiking? 7 top features to consider

1. Accessibility

Convenient and quick camera access is essential. Having gear neatly tucked away is useless if you've just spotted a special bird or animal and you can't easily get your gear in hand in time to catch the action. That's why we value camera backpacks with multiple access points to get to your camera kit.

2. Customizable

Every camera backpack should include a padded, removable camera compartment to protect delicate camera equipment. Ideally the padded compartment includes flexible dividers so you can arrange it to fit whatever gear you take.

3. Extra Space

Whether you're on a plane or out in the woods, your pack also needs enough space for other gear to facilitate outdoor adventures. If you're traveling, you might need your laptop so make sure the camera bag you choose has dedicated laptop storage or if you're on the trail, you'll need to pack water, hiking gear, or a sleeping bag for overnight backpacking trips.

4. Comfort

Beyond these basics, keep in mind that if you don't get a pack that fits you comfortably, you probably won't use it. The best hiking camera backpack should take the load off your back and be comfortable to wear and walk in. Look for padded shoulder straps and an easily adjustable hip belt.

5. Weather Resistance

To keep your camera gear safe, check that the camera bag is made of water-resistant fabric and if it includes added protection like a cover for rain.

6. Budget

Many camera backpacks designed for camera gear can be quite expensive, but there are great camera bag options available for any budget. Having a budget in mind will help you narrow your search as you can easily identify which camera backpacks fit in your price range, then look at features from there.

7. Style

And, let's face it, if a backpack doesn't look good to you, are you really going to want to wear it? If that's your thing, look for a stylish and versatile camera backpack that provides ample storage space for all your equipment.

Considerations for women

Even today, most hiking camera backpacks are designed for men and then adapted for women. Often, packs designed for men sit too low on the hips for women, resulting in unbalanced weight distribution. Women who are petite, have narrow shoulders, are curvy – whatever their body type – need to look for camera bags that fit well and are adjustable for the most comfortable fit. We've created a guide specifically for women looking for a great camera bag. 

Recommended: Check out our gear guides on top cameras, lenses and accessories for what to put IN your awesome new camera backpack.

Photo: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

11 Essential tips for packing a camera backpack for landscape or wildlife photography

So, you've chosen the perfect camera backpack for you, and you're stoked to get out there on a hike and photograph wildlife.

Before you can do that, you need to pack your gear.

Problem: when you look at the huge pile of gear you want to take, then look at your backpack… you might notice that packing will be a bit of a puzzle to solve!

Here's where some savvy planning will help.

❂ Choosing Gear to Pack

1. Prioritize Your Essentials

Not every piece of equipment you own needs to be in your backpack. Start by identifying the essentials. This typically includes your camera body, a versatile lens such as a 70-200mm for close-ups and a wider lens for landscapes, spare batteries, memory cards, and a tripod.

2. Consider Your Subject and Environment

The type of wildlife you're photographing and the environment you'll be in should influence your gear choices.

For instance, if you're shooting birds, a telephoto lens is an absolute must. That'll take up a lot of room in your pack, and you may need to decide on just one telephoto lens plus an extender, rather than two lenses.

Meanwhile, suppose you're focused on landscape photography. In that case, you may want to bring several wide-angle lenses and a variety of filters to ensure you have what you need, whether you're photographing sunrises and sunsets, the night sky, or other challenging conditions. Or, if you're bringing a drone for those aerial shots, so you might need to minimize your lens choices for your DSLR or mirrorless camera body.

Odds are, you won't be focused on BOTH birds and landscapes, so decide on your priorities and go from there.

❂ Maximizing the Space Available

3. Use Lens Pouches and Camera Inserts

These can help you organize your gear within the backpack and maximize space. They also provide additional protection for your equipment.

4. Roll Your Clothes

If you're carrying clothes in your camera backpack, roll them instead of folding. This can save a lot of space and prevent wrinkles.

5. Utilize External Straps

Many camera backpacks come with external straps. These can be used to attach bulky items like tripods or water bottles, freeing up space inside the backpack.
Watching the Weight Distribution

6. Keep the Heaviest Items Close to Your Back

When packing, make sure the heaviest items are closest to your back. This helps in maintaining balance and reduces strain on your shoulders. Utilize the chest strap, which most camera backpacks have, to help distribute the weight even more and protect your posture.

7. Make Frequently Used Items Easily Accessible

Items like memory cards, batteries, and your camera should be easy to reach. Many camera bags have specific compartments for these items, such as an internal pocket that's easy to reach.

❂ Essentials Besides Camera Gear

8. Don't Forget Personal Items

Remember to pack essentials like snacks, a first-aid kit, and any necessary personal medications. A multi-tool can also be handy for unexpected repairs. Most camera backpacks have a water bottle pocket on the side, and for good reason! Be sure to take plenty of water in the field with you.

9. Pack for the Weather

Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. This could mean packing a rain cover for your backpack, warm clothing, or sunblock.
Protecting Your Gear

10. Use Rain Covers and Lens Caps

These not only protect your gear from the elements but also from dust and scratches.

11. Consider Using Silica Gel Packs

These can be placed in your bag to absorb moisture and protect your gear from fungus – a common issue in humid environments.

With these tips in mind, packing your camera backpack for wildlife photography should be a breeze. Remember, the key to successful packing is to prioritize, organize, and protect your gear. Happy shooting!


Nancy Crowell


Nancy K. Crowell is an award-winning writer and photographer based in La Conner, Washington. A former magazine editor, Nancy has written about a broad range of topics from water sports to regional gardening advice to conservation. In the past decade she has narrowed her focus on wildlife photography and specifically raptors and birds of prey.

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