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Traveling is no fun without taking pictures. But, if you want to trot around the globe making images, you’ll have to choose the best travel cases for camera gear to protect your precious cargo. Not every photographer needs the same level of protection, however. That heavy Pelican case could make sense for an intense safari but would seem silly on the beach.
- Best camera backpack: Lowepro m-Trekker
- Best waterproof hard case gear: Pelican 1510 Carry-On Camera Bag
- Best for camera lenses: Ruggard Lens Case
- Best fashion travel camera case: ONA Camera Messenger Bag
- Best GoPro case: Lowepro Hardside CS 80
Why do you need a sturdy travel case?
Gear is expensive, and even when it promises durability and solid weather sealing, it cant match the protective prowess of the best travel case. For camera gear to survive years of overhead bins and trips to far-flung locations, it needs extra padding and protective layers that won’t break down when things get intense. Check the gear of any hardcore travel or adventure photographer and you’ll likely find it nestled comfortably inside sturdy travel camera backpack or even hard cases. Here’s how to pick your own camera bags for protecting your rig.
Best travel cases for camera gear: Reviews & Recommendations
Best camera backpack: Lowepro m-Trekker
The Lowepro m-Trekker is the perfect backpack for photographers who are constantly on the go. The bag is sturdy, with thickly cushioned walls, to keep all of your equipment safe. The front opening drops completely down, so you can easily access all of your gear at once. In addition to its mesh side pockets, which are great for color cards, hard drives, memory cards, filters and other flat objects, the camera bag also has adjustable hook-and-loop walls in it’s open center. These walls allow you to adjust the space to keep any gear of any size secure, so no matter which lenses or cameras you want to bring, making space is simple. If you’re planning on bringing a tripod with you, it easily clips to the straps at the bottom of your bag.
While this backpack is amazing for packing essentials, if your camera is especially large you may want to choose a travel bag for your gear that is less compact.
Best waterproof hard case: Pelican 1510 Carry-On Camera Bag
Pelican cases are rugged and ready for impact, and meet military grade standards when it comes to protecting your camera gear. This case is the size of a standard carry-on suitcase, making it perfect for travel. The interior is built with both foam, and adjustable dividers, so you can properly and securely carry all of your important equipment how you best see fit.
Best for camera lenses: Ruggard Lens Case
With dense foam walls and water resistance, this lens case from Ruggard is ideal for traveling with your camera lenses. It’s guarded-zipper keeps your lens safe from dust as well. It’s built with handles, hook loops, shoulder strap, and an attachment to connect to your belt, so you’ll be able to integrate it easily into your journey no matter how you choose to carry your photography gear.
Best fashion case: ONA Camera Messenger Bag
This Italian Leather camera bag looks more like a business-casual briefcase with its antique brass closures and adjustable shoulder strap. Inside it has pockets galore, as well as padded adjustable dividers to make room for everything in your kit. Even better, this bag is designed with a top flap to protect your camera gear from rain you may encounter during your travels.
It doesn’t necessarily read immediately as a camera bag, which is a nice feature in and of itself. Sometimes you’ll go to locations in which a bag that screams “I’m full of pricy gear!” isn’t ideal.
Best GoPro case: Lowepro Hardside CS 80
This dedicated GoPro case has room enough inside to hold several GoPro cameras if you’re working on a complex video. It also has dedicated slots for memory cards, batteries, and mounts so everything is easily accessible in a hurry. Even if you only own a single GoPro camera, you can arrange the rest of the bag to hold more accessories or even larger camera gear within its customizable padded dividers.
Things to consider before buying the best travel cases for camera gear
Looking for a backpack to carry all of your essential gear?
The best travel case for your camera might be a camera backpack. These types of bags are great for trekking, and also great if you’re a one-person-band shooter who works at a wide variety of locations.
If this sounds like the right product for you, first you should consider the safety of your gear. Some backpacks for camera gear are flimsier than others, and the last thing you want is for your even most expensive camera gear to break because your much cheaper camera bag didn’t properly do its job. A broken strap or a busted zipper can cause catastrophe. Look for bags with sturdily built outer walls that hold their shape even when empty; many backpacks will have cushioned walls for extra support.
Secondly, you’ll want to consider organization. Think about what you plan on carrying. You’ll want to be able to fit each of these items in your bag so that they are secure, and don’t jostle around or rub against each other. This is important to keep your camera gear safe during travels.
Does your camera gear need extra protection?
If you’re a professional—or even just really into photography—the photography equipment in your camera bag could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Are you about to put your $3,000 pro zoom Lens into a dinky piece of fabric and just cross your fingers that nothing bad happens? Over your dead body and gut-wrenching insurance claims you will. So if you have camera gear that needs protection in addition to transportability you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, look for a case with a hard outer shell. You’ll want to look for cases that have solid and thick plastic walls with airtight and waterproof locking mechanisms.
You’ll also want the inside to be cushy and organized, because if your camera gear isn’t secure inside it will just tumble about. Some cases will have foam or plastic walls that adjust in size and position so that you can change them over and over again as necessary. Other cases will come with one giant block of foam, in which you can carve out the specific shape you need to safely suspend your camera equpment with protection all around. If your photography gear situation ever changes you can always buy a new foam block filling and cut it to fit your new requirements.
Are you looking to protect your lenses individually?
One of the most expensive parts of any camera gear set tends to be the lenses, so it makes sense that many photographers want the best travel case for these.
Similarly to other bags listed in this category, you’ll want a thick layer of protection around your lenses, so that they don’t jostle against hard surfaces while you move them about. You’ll also want to make sure that you order the proper size of case for the specific lens you want to protect, so that it doesn’t rattle about within the case as it’s being transported.
Also make sure everything is dust proof, as any debris could potentially damage your lenses, or could even result in scratches on your glass, creating an odd artifact in your final images.
Is fashionability a factor for you?
Wanting to shoot in style is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, you’re a photographer — who knows better than you the importance of aesthetics? Of course you want your camera bag to look nice, but you don’t want to compromise to do so. When it comes to looks, you may want to consider something timeless such as leather or neoprene materials, as well as neutral colors.
Think about how much photography equipment you want to carry and whether or not the bags you’re looking at will be able to sufficiently pack all of your things. This includes not only your camera, but also your lenses, your accessories such as filters and memory, and maybe even your laptop.
And don’t forget safety! The last thing you want is for something to happen to your camera gear. Make sure there is plenty of padding to protect your equipment, as well as any relevant weather protection you may need.
A GoPro case to grab and go
Action cameras have come a long way since their extreme sports origins. Modern GoPro cameras have robust feature sets and downright incredible image stabilizations, which make them appealing to anyone who wants to shoot cool video on the road.
Anyone who has ever owned a GoPro, however, knows that they come with loads of accessories, which can be tricky to keep in check. The best GoPro case will have room to hold the camera as well as its arsenal of mounts, grips, batteries, cards, and probably at least one energy drink.
Q: Can I bring my camera bag on a plane?
This depends on a couple of factors. In theory, yes. Photographers and videographers alike travel with their photography equipment on flights all the time. Be sure that your packed case is the proper size and weight to meet your airline’s requirements for either carry on or checked luggage. If you’re carrying some more intense photography gear, such as v-mount batteries or other bricks, you may also want to consider checking the TSA’s current policies in advance to make sure all of your equipment is permitted. Just be sure you’re under the size limit. You don’t want the airline to force you to gate check a bag full of pricy gear.
Q: How do you pack camera gear for travel?
Make sure everything is as secure as possible. Organize your camera equipment so that things stay tightly in place, even if you move your case around. You may even want to use extra cloths or cushions to softly hold your camera gear in place, and to protect it from its surroundings. Items like lenses and cameras need to have their own caps, and memory such as SD cards will be more safe if they have a case for their own homes too. Starting with a checklist can help when you’re packing and when you’re repacking once the trip is over.
Q: What makes a good camera case?
The best camera case is one that keeps your equipment safe as well as organized. Keeping your equipment safe will mean that every compartment of your bag is cushioned, and fits the shape of your pieces of gear so that nothing jumps around in your case as you travel around. To keep your bag organized look for a case that has adjustable internal walls, and plenty of slots and pockets so that each category of gear and each individual item has a proper home.
Final tips on shopping for the best travel cases for camera gear
Picking a bag can be tricky. The best travel case for camera gear means many things to different people. Putting in the legwork now, however, could make all the difference when it comes to getting your gear home safe and sound after an adventure.