Best Camera Backpacks
SLR. Check. Tripod. Check. Telephoto lens, prime lens and specialty lenses. Check, check and check.
Needless to say, photographers love their gear. It should be no surprise to learn that they're constantly in pursuit of the perfect camera backpack -- after all, it's protecting some precious cargo. We present seven camera backpacks that meet the ever-changing lifestyles of hobby and professional photographers.
Incase DSLR Pro Pack
A great all-around bag, Incase's stylish DSLR Pro Pack is roomy with smart strategic openings. A slot at the top of the pack gives quick camera access -- though unlike Lowepro's popular Fastpack line, you have to take the bag entirely off the body to get a hold of the equipment inside. Still, this design allows for many better, more desired features: roomy front cabin and meticulously organized dividers in the back. A deep front pocket has room for a GorillaPod or another similarly sized accessory, but sacrificing that pocket could allow for an even more coveted feature: a tripod mount situated in the center, as opposed to its actual side location, for evenly distributed weight.
Perfect for hikers, Lowepro's Fastpack backpack line has enough space to carry the photo essentials (an SLR or two and a couple lenses), a laptop and additional miscellany. The Fastpack 250's quick-access compartment opens up on the side, allowing you to grab your gear without having to take off the bag. This pack is meant for someone who wants to travel light and fast. There's no tripod mount, but who needs the extra weight?
Flipside 500 AW
The Flipside 500 AW, the latest edition to the backpack series by Lowepro, was made for the photographer who camps out in the wild with a giant telephoto lens, waiting for the perfect shot. But it is a behemoth; its deep shape allows for thick protective padding and roomy compartments for bodies and lenses. It puts the tripod mount in a smart, logical location (the center), and a built-in weather cover will protect your expensive equipment in case conditions take a turn for the worse. Considering how large this bag is, it's somewhat surprising how little space there is for non-camera equipment.
The Python Pack attempts to be the be all, end-all of camera backpacks. It's got an almost unfathomable number of pockets, including space for a 15-inch laptop; side-loading compartment; and a built-in weather-resistant cover. All this sounds like a great combination, but the Python Pack feels as if it were trying to cram more than it can handle. The rigid structure and ballistic nylon exterior shape the bag, but they also make it difficult to load and unload, especially with clumsy velcro dividers. The top compartment is a nice touch, but the zipper around it can be tough to navigate.
Booq's slimmer camera bag, the Python Sling, has the Python Pack's best qualities without the heft. Instead, this bag is all about lightweight essentials. Don't expect to be able to cram a ton, but the sling can hold one to two SLR bodies (one in the easy-access top-loading compartment), a few mid-size lenses and even a tablet or ultra-thin laptop. Like its bigger brother, it also has that great waterproof ballistic nylon exterior. All around, a worthy sling -- great for city slickers on urban shooting tours.
Snoop Camera Backpack
Much like the Python Pack, Timbuk2's Snoop Camera Backpack is plagued by clumsy velco dividers. Because equipment is loaded on the side, lens and bodies are stacked atop each other with padded separators in between. Access is made all the more difficult with a side-loading compartment that can be safely opened only when the pack is unmounted, lest risk gravity causing accidental harm to the gear inside. It also has one of the best tripod mount designs I've encountered, with sturdy straps integrated into the shell.
Well, here's thinking outside the box. TrekPak, a project on Kickstarter, proposes an entirely new approach to camera protection. Instead of velcro dividers, a patent-pending pin system could easily adjust interior compartments. Designed by a backpacker, the project has already exceeded its $15,000 fundraising goal -- clearly some shooters are excited.
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