Photographers are tough to shop for without asking them exactly what they need. If you don’t know exactly what their setup looks like, you probably don’t want to waste your time shopping for a camera they won’t like shooing with, incompatible lenses, or gimmicky photography accessories that’ll never get used. There’s one gift every photographer could use though: a worthwhile backpack to carry around their gear.
Sure, photographers can be picky about their products — but you’ve got a better chance of gifting a cool bag that they’ll love than a camera that’ll drastically their hobby or business. You don’t even need to know much about their typical shoots to pick a good bag. You just need to have an idea of their personal style and how much gear they like to carry (and keep an ear out for any complaints they have about their current camera bag situation).
There are so many good camera bags out there today, so there’s something that will work for just about everyone. These top-tier picks have fantastic modular storage for keeping a photographer’s camera, lenses, speedlights, and accessories safe while on the go. They’re also super comfy for extended use, should be versatile enough for use on all sorts of photography journeys, and look really fashionable.
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The Manfrotto Advanced² pack has all the tools to carry your camera gear in an ultra-compact space. The top-access zippered compartment is built for a mirrorless camera and a couple of extra lenses (although some users have reported fitting more in with some effort). There’s a 13-inch laptop sleeve also accessible through the top, and a separate bottom compartment for other gear. You could always add some DIY storage below with a padded camera cube and turn that into gear storage as well.
If a photographer doesn’t have too much gear to carry, or is trying to limit themselves intentionally so they aren’t lugging around every lens they own, this pack is the right fit.
Thule’s EnRoute backpack may not look like much on the outside, but the internal camera storage is a game changer for photographers on the go. This bag comes with a really unique removable camera pod built to protect a DSLR or mirrorless camera from all angles, with space for a couple of extra lenses. The pod fits perfectly in this pack, but you can also take it out to safely stow your gear at home or use a different bag for the day.
You can transfer the camera pod, but you probably won’t want to. This backpack has a 15-inch laptop slot, a cool magnetic roll-top closure, and an integrated luggage pass-through for smooth traveling with other luggage.
The Fastpack is Lowepro’s most well-reviewed small camera bag. Three compartments have room for a DSLR with an attached lens, two or three extra lenses or speedlights, a 13-inch laptop or tablet, and miscellaneous extra accessories. There are padded organizers for your camera gear in the front-access bottom compartment.
This backpack is built to be an outdoor adventurer, too. It clocks in at just under two pounds, has an easy-access all-weather cover for rainy days, and is made with PU-coated fabrics to reject dirt, abrasion, and moisture.
Hands-down the most stylish camera bag out there is Peak Design’s Everday Totepack. The FlexFold dividers can be moved around inside to safely store a DSLR and a few extra lenses and accessories, and a stretchy sleeve is perfect for a 15-inch laptop. It can seriously fit more than you’d think.
While this pack looks like it’s putting fashion first, it’s designed to keep your gear safe in pretty awful weather. The bag itself is made from 400D weatherproof canvas, the wide-top access point has a weatherproof magnetic closure, and the external cord hook system can be used to attach a third-party weather cover in an emergency.
Chrome Industries brings a certain flavor to its bag designs that just look at home in the city. This camera bag can fit a DSLR, a couple of extra lens, a 13-inch laptop, and a few other accessories in its tight, padded internal organization system. The stylish straps on the outside are perfect for attaching a larger tripod (or a skateboard).
This is a great backpack for anyone commuting in the city or doing any sort of street photography with extra gear. This design has everything other top camera bags has but doesn’t look like a camera bag to outsiders, allowing you to keep a lower profile.
This bag may be marketed as being slim, but there’s room for a lot of gear in there. You can easily fit two mirrorless or compact DSLR cameras and up to five additional lenses, with plenty of room for extra accessories and every day carries. There’s lots of internal padded compartments so none of your gear is rolling around loose.
This backpack is designed more like a hiking pack than a tech bag. The breathable shoulder straps and back panel will keep you comfy while you’re running around to get the perfect shot, and the shape of everything is adjustable to fit anyone. The photography-specific design feature is really neat — you can easily remove the shoulder straps, but the bag’s weight on the belt strap and whip it around your body to access your gear from the rear of the bag.
This backpack from Peak Design has a cool, minimalist look and plenty of space inside for daily photography carries. Three interior FlexFold dividers allow you to configure the interiors to your needs, with room for a DSLR and a few extra lenses, or a small drone with some accessories. There’s also a designated laptop sleeve and plenty of stretch pockets for cards, cords, and other small tools. You can quickly access your main gear compartment by unzipping either side.
Externally, there are side pockets for water bottles or small tripods, and a cord hook system with four straps to cinch down bulky items. And your gear will be safe from the elements no matter where you’re shooting — the nylon canvas shell is seriously weatherproof.
For professional photographers going long shoots or need to carry a lot of gear, it can be hard to decide which cameras, lenses, and accessories to bring on the journey. With this massive backpack from Lowepro, they don’t have to choose. Technically a two-piece carry-on luggage set disguised as a backpack, this bag can fit three large DSLRs with lenses, up to six extra lenses, a 15-inch laptop, plenty of flashes and lighting gear, tripods, and more. Name a piece of gear a photographer might need and you can find room for it in this backpack.
This bag is built for roughing it a bit, too. It’s super durable, the harness is designed to keep the photographer as comfortable as possible while lugging all that gear, and it has a massive all-weather cover.