Camera backpacks: the smart way to carry all your gear

By

Camera backpacks can be pricey but it's money well spent to protect your investment in equipment.
Camera backpacks can be pricey but it's money well spent to protect your investment in equipment.
Photo: Lowepro

So your iPhone has you convinced you’re a pretty good photographer and it’s time to raise your game with a dedicated camera and all sorts of lenses. You are going to need something to sling your gear.

There are so many types of camera bags – shoulder, belt packs, roller cases – with designs tailored for various kinds of photography, shooting environments and individual preferences. The bag type that is arguably the most versatile is the camera backpack.

Backpacks are ideal when you are in transit with a lot of gear, whether you’re flying or hiking. They are also versatile to comfortably carry as you shoot, especially if you have to bring with you a laptop or change of clothes.

Three respected manufacturers have new bags to meet a spectrum of needs and demands. Think Tank, Lowepro and long-time Apple product vendor, InCase, bring to their latest lines rugged construction and intelligent storage options. Camera backpacks are one of the more pricey accessories, but it’s money well spent to protect your investment in bodies, lights and lenses.

ThinkTanks Trifect backpack lets you grab gear without having to take the bag off your shoulders.
Think Tank’s Trifecta backpack lets you grab gear without having to take the bag off your shoulders.
Photo: ThinkTank

Think Tank Trifecta Backpack

Be prepared for indecision when you encounter a rack of Think Tank products in a camera store. There are so many from which to choose. The company was founded by a photojournalist who envisioned having bags for a range of equipment and situations.

The Trifecta Backpack, which comes in two sizes, is designed for what it calls the photographer’s three “workhorse” lenses: the ultra wide angle lens, the medium-range lens and a telephoto zoom. The bag is designed for quick access to equipment from three different panels without having to take off the pack. The Trifecta 10 runs $159.75 and is for a DSLR kit. The Trifecta 8 is for the smaller mirrorless camera system and runs $20 less. Both have moveable dividers and a pocket for a tablet or small laptop.

It is made with durable fabric that is water repellant, however if you are caught in a hard, persistent rain, the Think Tank bag is equipped with a seam-sealed rain cover.

Lowepro's updated Pro Runner series is smartly organized and great for travel.
Lowepro’s updated Pro Runner series is smartly organized and great for travel.
Photo: Lowepro

Lowepro Pro Runner BP 350 and 450 AW II

Like Think Tank, Lowepro’s catalog of backpacks is enough to induce menu anxiety. The Lowepro website has a helpful guide for you to sort out the kind of backpack you will need based on where you’re going and what you are carrying.

Lowepro’s Pro Runner series will save you from hiring an assistant. The updated BP 350 and 450 AW II are made to carry virtually everything you own for a shoot and are constructed to outlast your camera.

This particular line of bags does not have the easy access of the Think Tank bag. You will have to set the bag on the ground to get at your gear. But cameras work better outside the bag anyway, right? This is a solid travel bag with smartly organized compartments, or zones, for virtually every kind of accessory you could need.

The BP 350 AW II will fit a DSLR body, four or five extra lenses and flashes, a 13-inch laptop and a tablet for around $250. For an extra $50, you can get more space with the 450 AW II, which is made for two camera bodies and five or six lenses.

The Action Camera Pro Pack by InCase lets you carry GoPro cameras and all needed accessories.
The Action Camera Pro Pack by InCase lets you carry GoPro cameras and all needed accessories.
Photo: InCase

InCase Action Camera Pro Pack

Maybe GoPro POV cameras are your thing. You like to get a unique angle while shooting a subject. Or perhaps you are the subject, and you need to record your action-packed life. InCase knows your lifestyle – many of the company’s executives are from the surf and skateboard cultures – and can help you pack.

The Action Camera Pro Pack is designed to carry a couple of GoPros and the $199 price tag includes one accessory organizer. That leaves room for an extra pair of shoes, change of clothes or, as the pictures shows, additional accessory organizers, which run $20 a piece.

Like all its products, this bag is designed function-forward with elegant simplicity and durable, water-resistant ballistic nylon. The Action Camera pack also includes a camera mount on the left strap.

InCase wouldn’t leave the DSLR shooter out of the equation. A $40 insert quickly converts the Action Camera Pro Pack into an ideal carrier for the traveling still shooter with lots of gear.