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The right camera bag will go a long way in keeping your gear safe and organized when on the go. They truly are an essential piece of your photography kit. Being able to confidently carry your equipment no matter where your travels take you can open new creative doors and allow you to photograph even more. Whether you are hopping on a plane, going for a road trip, or simply spending the day exploring your own city, having a dedicated bag to store and carry your equipment makes a big difference. They not only keep your expensive gear safe from the inevitable jostling around of travel, but they can also help you stay organized and save you some headaches when away from home. We’ve picked these outstanding options as the best camera bags for travel.
Our picks for the best camera bags for travel:
- Best Overall: WANDRD PRVKE
- Best Rugged Camera Backpack: Shimoda Explore V2
- Best Belt Bag: Domke 5XA
- Best Sling Bag: Peak Design Everyday Sling
- Best Roller Bag: Pelican Air 1535
Things to Consider when searching for the best camera bag for travel
If you are bringing your camera equipment along when you travel—and we absolutely recommend that you do—it’s essential to have a great camera bag to keep your gear safe throughout your trip. You’ll also want something comfortable to carry, especially if you will be lugging your gear around for extended periods, like hiking or long airport days.
Different bags make sense for different types of travel, and there are many options when it comes to styles of bags. Finding the perfect travel bag for your camera equipment often comes down to personal preference, but before adding a bag to your shopping cart, there are some things to consider.
In general, look for something comfortable to carry, has padding to keep your lenses and camera bodies from bashing against one another, and is big enough to fit your essential equipment. A few extra pockets to keep personal items organized are great too. Then, answering the following questions can help narrow down your choice even more.
How far are you going?
If you are traveling far from home and will be away for a while, a larger camera backpack or a rolling Pelican bag are both excellent places to start. These bigger options will allow you to bring more equipment and also have additional space for some non-photography items you may need to pack. They can also offer more protection for your gear than other options.
If your travels mean you will be boarding a plane, look for something that will fit under the seat in front of you or the overhead bin. Some bags will even specify if they are carry-on compliant. In addition, most camera backpacks feature a dedicated laptop sleeve, making it easier to get through airport security quickly.
If you are staying close to home and taking day trips, a low-profile shoulder bag or sling bag might be a better fit. It will keep you from being weighed down while photographing your adventures while still protecting your gear when you want to stash it.
How much (and what) gear are you bringing?
The second thing to consider is how much gear you need to travel with. The size of your equipment is also a factor. For example, DSLR bodies are bigger than most mirrorless cameras and won’t fit in certain bags as a result. If you don’t need to bring many lenses or a laptop, something simple like a shoulder bag or hip belt might be your best bet. For jobs that require a laptop and a more extensive kit of lenses, we prefer to use a backpack because of how it distributes the weight of the gear.
For jobs that require a ton of gear—multiple cameras, lenses, and lights, for example—we’d recommend a rolling bag. Keep in mind that you can always mix and match—using a combination of a backpack, hip pouch, and a roller if you need to. Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite bags for traveling with camera gear.
How rugged will your trips be?
Lastly, you’ll want to consider how rough your trips may be. For example, suppose you will be exploring rugged, remote places. In that case, you may want features like a pocket for a water bladder or multiple water bottles, solid weatherproofing and tear-resistant material, and additional room for storing non-photography gear. Extra sturdy padding, an interior frame for structure, and exterior attachment points may also be valuable. On the other hand, if you will mostly be romping around cities, something less robust (and potentially cheaper) with less extra room and special features may be plenty for your needs.
Best camera bags for travel: Reviews & recommendations
Best Overall: WANDRD PRVKE
Why It Made The Cut: The PRVKE is a relatively lightweight and versatile camera backpack with a streamlined design that can still hold a ton of gear. We think it’s the perfect companion for taking your camera on the road.
- Materials: Waterproof Tarpaulin and Robic 1680D Ballistic Nylon
- Volume: 31 L to 36 L (roll-top fully extended)
- Dimensions: 19 x 12.5 x 7.5 inches
- Weight: 3.4 lbs
- Bag type: Backpack
- Durable, waterproof build
- Multi-use, versatile bag
- Lots of organization pockets for personal items
- Camera cube must be purchased separately
The WNDRD PRVKE is one of our favorite camera backpacks on the market—a versatile choice for traveling that’s accompanied us on many out-of-town shooting trips. It can hold a lot of gear while doing an excellent job of distributing weight. The dedicated camera cube and laptop sleeve make it easy to travel through airport security, and its many pockets are great for keeping personal items organized as well. The roll-top design allows you to expand its carrying capacity by five full liters, making it easy to toss a jacket or other essentials on top. And it has clever travel-friendly features like a key clip and a passport pocket.
A left side pocket makes it easy to access your camera without removing the bag from your body, which is useful when you are on the go. The abrasion-resistant and waterproof material of the bag will keep your gear safe and dry, an ideal feature for the best camera bag for travel. It’s available in 21L and 31L, or if you are looking to carry less, you can check out the PRVKE Lite, which is 11L. If you are traveling with minimal camera equipment, you can’t beat the PRVKE.
Best Rugged Camera Backpack: Shimoda Explore V2
Why It Made The Cut: Shimoda’s camera bag for travel is a rugged, water-resistant carry-all designed for the landscaper shooter who might need to hop on a flight to make it to the trails.
- Materials: 420d & 210d Nylon Ripstop OX Carbonate Coated
- Volume: 30L (25 and 35L also available)
- Dimensions: 11.6 x 20.3 x 6.7 inches
- Weight: 3.6 lb
- Bag type: Backpack
- Adjustable torso height
- Meets EU and Asian carry-on requirements
- Removable camera cube
Shimoda designed the Explore V2 with the idea that different people need different bags, and what’s comfortable for one person won’t work for everyone. To do this, they created the ability to adjust the torso height of the bag, a unique feature that will make it more comfortable to carry for different torso lengths. The backpack also comes in three different sizes, with the 30L able to hold a medium mirrorless camera or a compact DSLR
Built with travel in mind, the Explore V2 meets the strictest requirements of EU and Asian carry-on rules. Plus, it has a luggage passthrough, lockable zippers, a passport pocket, and a dual-access document sleeve. In addition, it has pockets on both sides for stashing a tripod and water bottle and multiple access points for camera equipment—including side access. The bag features highly weather-resistant material and YKK AquaGuard zippers, so your gear will stay dry if you get caught in a brief rain shower. It also comes with a rain cover for more severe downpours. The Shimoda’s Explore V2 is an excellent option if your travel adventures find you exploring the outdoors with your camera gear. We liked it so much we gave it a Pop Award as one of the best pieces of gear around.
Best Belt Bag: Domke 5XA
Why It Made The Cut: A classic brand favored by photojournalists, the Domke 5XA bag is a perfect choice when you only need to carry a little bit of gear and want something inconspicuous.
- Materials: Water-Resistant Cotton Canvas
- Exterior dimensions: 8 x 8 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 1 lb
- Bag type: Shoulder/belt
- Can be worn on a belt or as a shoulder bag
- Compact, lightweight option
- Durable canvas build
- Doesn’t fit large DSLRs or long lenses
Domke is a classic camera brand if you are looking for an inconspicuous bag for a small camera body. This particular version can be worn over your shoulder or attached to your belt—making it a great choice for using in conjunction with a larger backpack for easy access to lenses or a flash.
The canvas bag features a padded divider wall to keep lenses and camera bodies safe when they aren’t in use. Two small pockets on the front of the bag allow for the storage of small accessories like memory cards or a spare battery. Made of durable, water-resistant material, it will age beautifully over time—there’s a good reason why this style of bag has been a long-time favorite of photojournalists. Although we wouldn’t recommend this for long-haul travel, this Domke bag is an excellent option if you are looking for something compact and straightforward and you won’t be straying far from home.
Best Sling Bag: Peak Design Everyday Sling
Why It Made The Cut: The Peak Design Everyday Sling is a minimalist sling bag made of 100 percent recycled post-consumer material that’s great for everyday use or shorter travels.
- Materials: 400D double poly-coated DWR-impregnated nylon canvas shell
- Volume: 10L
- Exterior dimensions: 9.8 x 16.5 x 5.5 inches
- Weight: 1.5 lb
- Bag type: Sling
- Quick adjusting, padded shoulder strap
- External strap for attaching a tripod
- Unique flexifold Peak Design dividers
- 13″ laptop sleeve is a bit snug if bag is fully packed
- Front stash pocket could be slightly larger
Peak Design’s Sling bag is an excellent choice for the best camera bag for travel if you are shooting mirrorless or favor a DSLR with a short lens. It has a nicely padded reversible shoulder strap that you can adjust easily with a quick pull feature. On the inside, you will find three of Peak Design’s signature flexifold dividers for keeping camera lenses and bodies safe and secure during travel and a laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 13″ laptop or a tablet. A front zippered pocket on the sling bag is best suited for small, flat items—like a memory card.
Peak Design made their Everyday Sling out of 100 percent recycled material. It has a weatherproof exterior and anodized aluminum hardware. As a sling bag, it doesn’t have the capacity of a Peak Design backpack, but if your travel setup is minimal, this is a good choice.
Best Roller Bag: Pelican Air 1535
Why It Made The Cut: The Pelican Air choice is the ideal option when you have to travel far distances with a lot of camera equipment. It has wheels and an extendable trolley handle. Think of this as the ultimate protective suitcase for your camera gear.
- Materials: Super-Light HPX2 Polymer
- Exterior dimensions: 21.96 x 13.97 x 8.98 inches
- Weight: 8.7 lb
- Bag type: Wheeled carry-on case
- Extremely durable construction
- Padded protection in a crushproof, dustproof and watertight container
- 40 percent lighter than other polymer cases
The Pelican Air is the best option if you have to fly with extensive camera equipment. Although it’s designed to meet the specifications of carry-on luggage and should be allowed in the overhead bin of most flights, because of its highly durable construction, you don’t have to sweat it if it ends up going under the plane. It’s made of lightweight HPX resin and has a crushproof, dustproof, and watertight design.
Inside, the Pelican Air is lined with protective foam and dividers to keep your camera equipment safe and organized no matter how far it must travel. The case has wheels on the bottom and an extendable trolley handle, so it’s easy to move around, but if you need to lift it to climb stairs, it also features a carry handle. It’s 28 percent lighter than earlier models and 40 percent lighter than other polymer cases on the market. Its watertight construction makes it an excellent travel bag if your photo adventures involve the beach or the wide-open sea.
Q: Are there any budget-friendly camera bags?
If you are looking to save when shopping for a camera bag, consider an Amazon Basics brand item. While these bags lack some of the features of the bags in this guide and may lack style points, they typically only cost $20-$50, depending on the size and style.
Q: How much does a camera bag for travel cost?
Prices vary widely on camera bags depending on how much gear they hold, what they are made of, and the size. Brand name bags will often start around $130, while higher-end, rugged bags can be over $300.
Q: Where should I pack my camera when flying?
We recommend packing your camera bag in your carry-on and storing it either in the overhead bin or beneath the seat when flying. While you can have cameras in checked luggage, it is generally safer (and better for your peace of mind) to keep them on you.
Q: How do you travel with expensive camera equipment?
If you are flying with minimal camera gear, we recommend packing it in your carry-on luggage. If you are flying with a lot of camera equipment, we suggest packing your gear inside a well padded Pelican case. If you have to check your bag under the plane, remember to remove any lithium batteries and store them in your carry-on. Insurance that covers your expensive gear while traveling is also a good idea.
Q: What is the best camera bag for professional photographers?
Professional photographers enjoy a variety of camera bags depending on what they are shooting, how far they are traveling, and what gear they need to bring along with them. For example, a professional landscape photographer will likely have different taste in camera bags than a wedding or event photographer. Also, it’s not unusual for a professional photographer to have a few different camera bags to choose from based on whatever the assignment might be.
When selecting the bags in this guide, we considered choices from well-trusted brands, a wide variety of styles, and bags suitable for several different travel scenarios. We also put thought into the different amounts and types of gear that a photographer or videographer might need to bring along with them while traveling. For example, it was critical to include bags suitable for long-haul trips with lots of gear and more suitable options for day trips around a new city with more basic camera equipment. It was also important to only include items and brands that we’ve had experience using in the field or tested as part of a product review.
Final thoughts on the best camera bags for travel
Having the best camera bag for your equipment when you travel will give you great peace of mind knowing that your gear will be safe and sound for use when you arrive at your final destination. It will also help you comfortably carry your camera when out and about and potentially help you bring other essentials.
Look for a bag with lots of structured padding to avoid damage to your camera equipment and one sized to count as a carry-on item if you will be flying. Of course, the bag that’s right for you will depend a lot on where your travels take you and what you need to bring along, but we are confident that the travel bags in this guide will fit the needs of all kinds of photographers.