How to Choose the Best Camera Bag

how to choose the best camera bag

How to Choose the Best Camera Bag

Updated: September 29, 2016

Deciding upon the Best Camera Bag isn’t easy. Everyone has a preference for the size and shape depending upon the project at hand. If you are hiking or climbing you will want a light weight, easily un-packable camera bag which can be strapped close to your body to keep your center of gravity stable.

If you are an urban explorer, you may want a stealthy bag which can double as your professional go-to when not in photomode. And, if you are just a regular guy or lady who wants to store some gear when on the go, a canvas messenger like the Domke F-803 thrown over the shoulder will do…

Domke Affordable Waxed Canvas dslr mirrorless camera bag

Domke F-803 Waxed Canvas DSLR / Mirrorless Camera Bag – Review Below


Whichever way you slice it, deciding upon the best camera bag for you is up for grabs. When choosing a camera bag, consider the end use… outdoor, urban or one that can easily convert to professional use. Decide upon the features that are important and explore the options which best meet your needs. Maybe you want an unconventional camera bag? The choice is really up to you.

We’ve put together a list of the Best Camera Bags for various genres of photographer to make it easier for you to find a camera bag that’s right for your carry needs.



Best Affordable Waxed Canvas DSLR & Mirrorless Camera Messenger Bag – Domke F-803 Camera Satchel

Domke 701-83S F-803 Camera Satchel 3

The Domke F-803 Waxed Canvas DSLR & Mirrorless Messenger Bag is made to carry various types of photo imaging equipment – you can easily carry a dslr body and a couple of lenses or a mirrorless camera with a variety of lens options. The interior has one large padded container that can be repositioned to accommodate your preferred set up. The bag we are featuring is the Waxed canvas option, but Domke makes this dslr messenger in 4 colors to fit your look – and if you don’t like the waxed canvas look, there are 3 color choices without wax for you to choose from (click here to see options).

The Domke F-803 is made from canvas that is water-resistant and coated with waxes and oils to protect your gear from rain and splashes. The beauty of waxed canvas is that it ages and looks weathered with time. It will have a rugged look as it acquires a distressed look from rubbing against the ground, doors, floorboards, inside of the trunk, hanging from the back of your chair in a cafe, etc. It’s something to be relished more than not. Waxed canvas is ubiquitous in the men’s luxury bag world. There are two interior packing compartments and two large expandable cargo pockets with individual flaps to protect your best canvas dslr messenger bag, domke messenger bags, tiffen messenger bags, gear from weather. A rear zippered flat pocket is a perfect place to stash white balance cards. On the front flap there are 2 thin zip pockets perfect for documents or cash if you are jumping in and out of taxis while traveling.

The Domke Waxed Canvas DSLR & Mirrorless Messenger Bag has an adjustable gripper shoulder strap sewn completely around the messenger and a reinforced grab handle that is box-stitched to the top of the bag for convenient carrying.

Exterior dimensions make this a nicely sized dslr messenger bag and comparable to most messenger bags on the market at 13.5″ x 10.5″ x 8″. The only thing missing is a laptop compartment, but you can easily un-velcro the padded compartment on the back wall and drop in a laptop in a padded sleeve. This bag is completely padded to make carrying your gear convenient and well protected in the field.

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Best Urban Messenger Camera Bag – Artisan & Artist for the Urban Street Photographer


Urban Camera Messenger Bag Artisan and Artist Urban Black DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Bag 2Started in Japan by artisan Seiichiro Hangui, Artisan and Artist camera gear is not limited to camera bags.

The brand also crafts straps, body cases and other products that offer a broad array of camera accessories.

Artisan and Artist products are produced by a process where Japanese artisans are specialists that continue a unique tradition of using the best quality materials which are cut, worked, and sewn by hand.

The Image Smith is a modern dslr messenger bag for two Leica bodies and up to five lenses. The Image Smith is made of water and dirt repellent canvas. Not only can you carry a Leica, this unique urban camera messenger bag is perfect for a dslr or a mirrorless kit.Urban Camera Messenger Bag Artisan and Artist Urban Black DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Bag

The spacious zippered front pocket provides ample room for film, a small notebook and pen, filters, a small handheld light meter or a few lenses.

Both compartments feature removable dividers which can be positioned to suit your photography gear and needs.

Thick shoulder straps are amply padded at the shoulder section with an anti-slipping feature. You’ll love this urban camera messenger bag for its rich history of craftsmanship and dedication to principle.

artist and artisan camera messenger




Best Urban Camera Bag – Kata KT PL-R-8 Backpack

best urban camera backpackAccess your DSLR from a top opening pouch, and store your lenses in the main compartment. The Kata KT PL-R-8 lets you change lenses easily when in the city without having to take your pack off.

A revolving type magazine can be rolled to give you access to all your lenses. They can be accessed from one point on the Kata Urban CAmera Backpack 3side.  Whenever you see a shot coming up roll the internal lens holder around and get to the lens you need.

The Kata Urban Camera Backpack makes shooting in the city easy and gives you the opportunity to carry a lot of gear in a way that is easy to get to.

This will easily become your go to urban photography backpack.

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Best Cross Body Camera Bag – Jill-E Designs Jack Hudson Leather Cross Body

Jille designs best camera cross bodyJill-E Designs Jack Hudson Leather Cross Body Camera bag is made from genuine Colombian leather and holds a DSLR and maybe a lens.

The dimensions are a little small for a DSLR set up. (Dimensions are 7.5 x 9 x 4.2 inches) So if you are a DSLR photographer you’ll need to pick up a larger camera bag to carry your gear.

The Jille-E Designs Jack Hudson Leather Cross Body Camera bag is perfect for a mirrorless camera and lenses. When you need your best walk around camera set up and not much more, this cross body camera bag is an excellent option. It’s fashionable, stylish and fun.

And, it’s not too expensive for a leather bag, either. There’s extra internal storage for personal items and memory cards, and a rear exterior storage pocket for quick-access to items you need a lot. If you are looking for a cute, ladies cross body camera bag, this is it. 

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Best Hiking Camera Bag – LowePro Photo Sport BP 200 AW II for the Outdoor Enthusiast

Lowepro hiking camera backpack front view

The LowePro Photo Sport BP combines two passions… outdoor adventure and photography.  This feature rich outdoor dslr backpack doesn’t compromise your need to carry outdoor gear and photo equipment with function and versatility. You can secure your camera gear and pack a ton of stuff with this kick-ass dslr backpack by LowePro.


Lowepro hiking camera backpack front view

Secure your photogear with the UltraCinch design feature that uses a custom pull-tab to cinch and tighten photo gear space in one swift action for bounce-free protection. The ActivZone™ harness is built to provide targeted comfort for active shooters. A built-in All Weather AW Cover™ safeguards photo and personal gear from the elements, and a top loading compartment puts your essentials in an easy to reach location.

Lowepro hiking camera backpack front view

Get a snug fit with a padded waist belt, adjustable shoulder straps and a sternum strap as well.

With too many features to list, if you are an outdoor photographer and active enthusiast, this is the perfect outdoor dslr backpack for you.

lowepro outdoor photography backpack




best-rolling-camera-bagsGoing on a trip or need a carry-on for your gear?

Check out Rolling Camera Bags to meet your DSLR Carry Needs

Best Business Camera Bag – Filson Harvey Messenger for Working Professionals

Filson McCurry Harvey Messenger Bag

Made from resilient fabrics – intended to deter the elements – and created by intelligent design intended to deter theft. The Filson Harvey Messenger bag is a discreet photography bag for the guy (or lady) who wants to walk around in crowded areas without calling attention his photogear.

filson harvey messenger interior

The Filson Harvey Messenger is photo-lite and can double as an everyday messenger when you want to put your photogear away. Simply pull out the padded insert to transform your bag in a flash.

filson harvey messenger




Best Vegan Camera Bag – Alchemy Goods

Best Vegan Camera Bag Alchemy goods rubber tire camera bag 2While it’s not exactly a camera bag yet,  you can turn it into one easily. Alchemy Goods makes really cool upcycled bags from discarded bicycle inner tubes.

This durable, water-resistant messenger bag is perfect for turning into a mirrorless camera bag, a point and shoot camera bag or a small dslr camera bag.

You pick.

All you need is to wrap up your camera in a padded case to go – and we’ve written several articles about padded dslr and mirrorless camera cases. They are the most affordable way to turn any bag into a camera bag.

The shoulder strap is made from an upcycled seat belt, so pretty much all of this bag has saved the environment from man’s indiscretions.

best padded case for sony a6000 mirrorless cameraBest Vegan Camera Bag Alchemy goods rubber tire camera bagThis vegan upcycled messenger bag is a pretty good size for a camera bag – it measures 10 inches by 6 inches by 11 inches.

It’s an excellent choice to turn into a small camera bag for your mid-sized dslr, mirrorless camera or point and shoot option.

Vegan bags don’t have to be leather look-a-likes. Explore the options. The best camera bag for you is may be completely different than what you had originally envisioned.

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Best Fully Waterproof Camera Backpack – Lowepro DryZone 200 Waterproof DSLR Bag

best fully waterproof camera backpack

When you are heading out into harsh, extreme and wet environments and need to carry a full array of camera gear in a dedicated camera backpack, the Lowepro DryZone 200 (see also DryZone DF 20L – Duffel & DryZone BP 40L – Backpack) will keep your camera gear safe in a watertight backpack solution.

With heavy duty waterproof body fabrics and a mean and meaty watertight zipper, everything will stay protected.

The DryZone is a soft sided, not a hard shell. It comes with comfortable shoulder straps, a soft back panel, ergonomic lumbar support, a tuck-away tripod holder, self-draining side mesh pockets, a beefy top rubber handle, and attachment loops for lashing accessories to the exterior of the bag.

Lowepro Dryzone 200 trip

DryZone packs are large, but comfortable to wear, and Lowepro Dry Zone in wateryou’ll be able to have peace of mind in extremely wet environments.

The Lowepro DryZone 200 is the Best Fully Waterproof Camera Backpack built to carry a pro DSLR and 4-5 extra lenses plus camera accessories like filters, batteries, a tripod and more.

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Best Affordable DSLR Dry Bag – DrySak Premium Waterproof Dry Bag with Exterior Zip Pocket

Best dSLR Dry bagThis DSLR dry bag* is completely waterproof and tested by people who live on islands and need to keep their gear dry. One of the beauties of this dslr dry bag is the external pocket which makes getting to your credit card and ID handy while traveling.

Store your camera, lenses and valuables inside this dry bag and keep everything safe from the elements – including sand, mud and muck.

If you are heading to the beach, river, lake, pond, monsoon season in Taiwan, or photographing on a trip to the tropics and want to take your camera, pick up this bag.

This bag is awesome… but you will need to get a *padded insert or wrap for your camera as this is a waterproof shell only.

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