Travel and photography are like peas and carrots.
Like thunder and lightning or a needle and thread.
The two are intrinsically intertwined. They’re a perfect complementary coupling.
After all, what subjects could be more enticing than a vast untamed landscape, an exotic indigenous inhabitant or a historic architectural landmark?
Yet as appealing as travel photography is, there are still a few downsides.
Your equipment is delicate, cumbersome and expensive. If you don’t have proper protection, then unpredictable weather, a bumpy highway or a petty thief could ruin your photography plans.
With that in mind, it’s essential to invest in quality luggage to keep your gear safe.
Here’s everything you need to know about purchasing the best camera backpack for travel.
h2>What to consider when buying a camera backpack for travel
Your photography niche
All photographers have unique requirements. As a result, your number one consideration should be your intended use.
Wildlife photographers need space for lenses, outdoor adventurers want malleable materials and urban explorers desire a contemporary style.
It’s crucial to consider the type of photography that most applies to you. Then you can decide which type of camera backpack fits your niche.
The camera backpack price
Unless you’re made of money, cost is always an important consideration.
Rather than relying on well-known brands, try to assess quality by carefully examining the materials and stitching. After all, some camera backpacks are far better value for money than others.
Finally, think about how much you’ve paid for your camera equipment. If you’re rocking a pricey selection of kit, it makes sense to invest in a high-quality backpack to keep it safe. After all, the same logic applies to the rest of your travel gear.
The quality of the materials
The cheapest backpacks are made from low-quality materials that are prone to rips and tears. When you’re traveling the world, your gear tends to take a severe beating. So it’s wise to invest in something rugged and enduring.
Look for canvas, leather, rip stock nylon or a high-end synthetic fabric for optimal durability and protection.
The size and carrying capacity
Again, the optimal size and carrying capacity depend on your individual requirements.
Consider the following components:
Do you intend to carry all of the above, or just a select few?
Do you plan on buying new gear in the near future? If so, make sure you have enough room.
Count and measure the compartments of your preferred backpack to ensure it can fit all your gear.
Does it fit in the overhead luggage bin?
We’ve all seen how baggage handlers treat our check-in luggage. With that in mind, you’d be mad to trust them with such an expensive array of gear.
Aim for a camera backpack you can stow in the overhead cabin. Requirements vary between airlines, although anything under 22 x 18 x 10″ (56 x 45 x 25 cm) is usually a safe bet.
The last thing you want to do is rummage through your backpack for the ideal lens while the shot of a lifetime passes you by.
Work out which gear you’re likely to need frequently and evaluate how easy it would be to access it within your chosen backpack. External pockets are ideal for quickly obtaining your kit. However, they’re also more attractive to would-be thieves.
Consider the number of external and internal compartments, where they’re located and how quickly they could be accessed.
Serious photographers carry a significant amount of gear, which can quickly add up in weight.
If possible, test how the backpack feels on your shoulders. Does it have enough padding around the straps? Does it sit comfortably on your frame?
The ability to try before you buy presents a huge advantage when purchasing a camera backpack. By buying through Amazon, you can usually try on a backpack and return it if it doesn’t fit you well.
Calling All Travel Photographers! Find Your Best Camera Backpack for Travel
Best all-rounder backpack: Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW
For the everyday travel photographer, it’s hard to do better than the Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW.
Why is this our top pick for the best all-around travel backpack? It has a high level of customization and versatility. It also has durable materials and a super snug fit.
The ProTactic’s premium synthetic material allows it to withstand a heck of a lot of wear and tear. And although it adds to the weight and price tag, the compromise is entirely worthwhile. To counteract the relatively heavy load, the bag features an ergonomic design and additional shoulder padding.
Inside, a spacious main compartment can be customized through a series of padded dividers to suit almost any setup. Three separate access points allow optimal accessibility and ultimately result in a user-friendly experience.
For many, however, the highlight is its innovative external slip lock system. Through it, photographers can attach and remove extras such as water bottles, accessory cases and tripod cups with ease.
Perhaps the only downside is that the bag isn’t particularly discreet. Thieves can tell this is a camera bag just by looking at it.
Dimensions: 13.7 x 10.3 x 19.2″ (34.8 x 27 x 48.8 cm)
Weight: 5.7 lbs (2.6 kg)
Laptop space: 15″
Carry-on size: Yes
Click here to join our team!
Best heavy duty backpack: Vanguard Alta Sky 45D
Heavy duty photographers need a heavy duty bag, and the Vanguard Alta SKY 45D is the perfect solution.
A mixture of canvas and high-quality synthetic material makes this rugged piece of luggage the ideal companion for hardcore hikers who need to carry a substantial amount of gear.
Inside, two separate, customizable compartments can store two DSLR bodies and up to three lenses. Its 13-inch laptop sleeve is accessible from the top and back, meaning the owner can pass through security lines at the airport with ease. Down below, a large lower pocket provides easy access to all sorts of odds and ends.
The Vanguard Alta Sky comes in different models, the larger of which can fit even more gear. Be aware, however, that anything bigger usually won’t pass the cabin check.
Dimensions: 12.25 x 9.0 x 19.5″ (31 x 23 x 49 cm)
Weight: 4.85 lbs (2.20 kg)
Laptop space: 13″
Carry-on space: Yes
Best backpack for drones: Manfrotto Aviator Drone Backpack
Drone photography is all the rage these days. And given the elevated cost of these high-tech contraptions, it’s essential to invest in a bag that’ll keep them safe.
The Manfrotto Aviator ticks all the boxes. Built from tough rip stock nylon, this durable backpack has what it takes to withstand the elements.
Although it was designed with the DJI Phantom 3 drone in mind, it’s capable of housing equivalent or smaller drones, as well. Confirm your specific model with the manufacturer before committing.
In addition to the drone, there’s enough room in the upper compartment to store a DSLR and up to two lenses. Granted, this may not be enough for all serious photographers. But for most, it’ll do in a pinch.
Although it’s capable of storing larger drones such as the DJI Phantom 4, you’ll need to forgo stuffing in additional camera gear to avoid overloading the bag.
Dimensions: 22 x 13.4 x 9″ (56 x 34 x 23 cm)
Weight: 4.18 lbs (1.9 kg)
Laptop space: 17″
Carry-on size: Yes
Best backpack for wildlife photography: Vanguard Alta Sky 66
Serious wildlife photographers typically care about two things: long lenses and sturdy tripods.
Vanguard has tailored their Alta Sky 66 model specifically toward these needs. With room for 600 mm and 800 mm telephoto lenses plus up to three tripods, it’ll store just about everything a wildlife enthusiast could need.
Those carrying smaller lenses could fit up to seven within its array of padded internal compartments. For the true outdoor enthusiast, the full spectrum of camping gear can be attached to the lower exterior.
Note that this is a sturdy backpack intended for hikers venturing deep into the wild. Consequently, it’s bulkier than most, but boasts an ergonomic and breathable design.
Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 24″ (29 x 29 x 61 cm)
Weight: 5.58 lbs (2.5 kg)
Laptop space: 7″ tablet
Carry-on size: Only on certain carriers
Best backpack for urban style: VINTA S-Series Travel & Camera Bag
Urban photographers after a cool, contemporary look can’t go wrong with the VINTA S-Series. It’s an uber-chic backpack that blends in seamlessly with the inner city crowd.
The bag doesn’t have much space compared to others on our list. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to squeeze in a single DSLR body and up to five lenses in its padded and compartmentalized main pouch.
The S-Series’s water resistant leather exterior is discreet and sleek, meaning the bad guys will have no idea you’re carting around a bunch of expensive kit. For added security, crisscrossed front straps will stop robbers in their tracks. As a bonus, these straps also assist with weight distribution.
The S-Series may not be the most practical or cost-effective backpack on our list, but there’s no denying it makes quite the fashion statement. Nevertheless, magnetic strips provide a novel way of keeping the straps in place, and you can easily convert it into a standard backpack for when you’re not out on a shoot.
Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.5 x 15.8″ (29 x 14 x 40 cm)
Weight: 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
Laptop space: 15″
Carry-on size: Yes
See something you like?
We’ve covered what we consider to be the best backpacks on the market for the most common categories. However, there are plenty more out there to choose from.
If shopping online, opt for a retailer that provides free refunds, so you can quickly replace your purchase should you feel you’ve made the wrong choice or the bag doesn’t fit correctly. Those shopping at a traditional retailer should closely examine and try on potential options before they buy.
Good luck, and happy snapping!
Harry is a South American-based freelance writer who covers travel, the arts and culture, among many other things.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn languages with real-world videos.