Top 5: Best Camera Bags 2020
Camera packs. As a photographer, I have always been looking for something new and better. Different shoots need different types, and different creatives have different needs. It is still exciting to see what companies are putting out every year. This year we have had some fantastic packs come onto the market. Some with companies that have been around for years and seem to dominate, and some newcomers are working to prove themselves. From everyday packs (literally) to multiple day adventure packs, we have an excellent lineup to go through. So let us dive in and take a quick look at each one.
I’ll be honest; I was super dubious about this pack. Any time that companies who do not specialize in camera packs venture into that realm, it always seems like a miss or an afterthought. But the minute I opened the box and felt this bag, well, that all changed.
The pack is nice in that while you are out and about, there is nothing that gives away the fact that you might be carrying camera gear. While the pack is big, the harness system is pretty solid. Even fully packed, the weight distribution and carry is pretty damn good.
I can see why this pack is in the top 5. The thought and design behind the bag and the layout is one of the best I have seen, especially if you are a creative who travels a lot. This pack is not only well built and will last you for years, but the ability to separately pack your clothing and camera gear is pretty rad.
Diving into the organization. The pack’s gear section uses traditional dividers to separate gear, but these seem to work better than others. One of my favorite parts is the Cube Pack add-on. With this add-on, not only do you have a “pouch” that you can pack gear like a drone inside, but it also transforms into its own pack. The cube itself acts as a separator but does not take up any more room than the dividers or a pouch would. Opposite of the camera divider are two zippered pockets that are perfect for SD cardholders, chargers, and extra batteries. Behind these pockets is a drop pocket that you can fit a tablet or journal inside.
The clothing section has four expandable pockets with a webbing retainer to compress your clothing. I was able to fit a few pairs of pants and shirts and a rain jacket inside. Opposite are two zippered pockets that can hold base layers or books. The clothing section also expands so you can pack more in this area if you need to.
The camera pack world is as varied as any other segment of the backpack market.
While the Peter McKinnon pack is built for the long haul, I would recommend this for creatives in the travel/mid adventure market. If you are a wedding photographer, this pack would be great as it can hold a full day kit and has room to pack any extras you might need for the day.
I would put this pack between the NYA-EVO/Shimoda Designs and the Peak Design/Wotancraft. The build and the carry can bridge between the outdoor/adventure pack and the travel/day shoot bag.
NYA-EVO has hit the adventure camera pack market with force. With the Fjord series introduction, they have been building high-level adventure packs that will last a lifetime. The Fjord 36 is a fantastic backpack. Made with a thermoplastic polyurethane coated nylon fabric and YKK AquaGuard zippers with a reinforced Hypalon base, you can take any Fjord pack series on any adventure. Their RCI units are available in different sizes for you to build out your pack as you need. Still, they can also be carried on their own, and when not in use, they are collapsible for the ultimate in storage. The Fjord 36 (and 60) has a zip-in separator that allows the user to use the pack with various build-outs. You can travel with a small mirrorless kit and more clothing, or you can use the large RCI and pack a drone, two bodies, and a few lenses. It all depends on what you need.
With the Hypalon-reinforced bottom, you can set the pack down and not worry about what is underneath if you are out on adventures like canyoneering, with no need to worry about spots getting worn out prematurely. The internals of the bag are well laid out. Not only is there a weatherproof front quick-access pocket, but the front compartment has organization for all the gear you might need. Whether you are using the pack on a commercial shoot and require various batteries, filters, snacks, and other items, or you are using the pack to travel and need space for toiletries and other items, this bag will work for you.
There are two stretch fabric side pockets on the pack. When not in use, each one sits reasonably tight to the pack, but can easily hold a 32oz Nalgene, a tripod, or anything else of that size. They can also act as drop pockets for any items that you might need to store quickly.
The NYA-EVO packs come with an included rain cover (although you would be hard-pressed to get water through). The Fjord series also has an included gear net that you can attach to the pack’s front and carry helmets or jackets. The pack is built to attach a variety of gear to the sides or front, from skis and snowboards to ropes, ice axes, and tripods. This pack will take you and your gear on many adventures.
Both NYA-EVO and Shimoda are in this year’s top 5 for the camera packs. With these two companies working to improve the adventure pack market for creatives, it’s a win-win for all.
In the world of photography, Peak Design is synonymous with well built, innovative products. The Everyday Backpack is no exception. From the release of the V1 to the redesigned V2, the designers over at Peak nail not only function but a sleek pack that is built for photography and can also be carried…EVERYDAY. I’ll be honest, this was the first PD bag that I have used, but I have been familiar with them and the quality of the V2 maintains their high standards.
The EDV2 boasts more pocketing and organization as well as an adjustable height laptop sleeve. This sleeve is probably my favorite feature of the pack, and I have been able to securely carry both my 15″ and 13″ MacBooks at the same time, both being protected by their own walls.
Another nifty feature that I like is the magnetic strap keepers—a small feature, but one that keeps the straps against the pack neatly and cleanly. If you have the pack on a rolling luggage handle, you don’t have to worry about the straps flopping all over the place.
The 30L can hold quite a bit of gear, yet still has one of the most comfortable carries on the market. With the “layered” dividers, you can access a variety of equipment from the sling mode of the pack. So if you are out hiking and need your camera for a quick shot, or your drone, or even a raincoat, you can access all these items quickly. Whereas if you are in the city and need to access your sandwich, or a vest, or a camera to shoot those birds on a wire, you have easy access from either side.
The EDV2 also has multiple carry points with reinforced handles. Having multiple carry points is rad, anyone who has carried a full pack at length can attest to this. Sometimes your shoulders need a break, or if you are moving through an airport and need to have your pack on and off multiple times, these handles come in “handy.” As with all camera packs, I like to see a reinforced bottom. If you are out in the field and shooting, there are times when you need to set your pack down. For me, most times this is in the snow or dirt, and having a base that is easy to clean off and built well is critical.
I know that there are many out there who would say that the Everyday Backpack is in a league of its own, and in some ways it is. But when looking at the camera pack field, and those in the top 5, there are some contenders. The Everyday Backpack wins out in its lightweight and sleek design, which is equally at home in the city and in the field. No matter what, you can’t go wrong with picking one of these up and having it in your pack arsenal.
When it comes to adventure packs, Shimoda Designs has been a pioneer in the market. Building well-thought-out packs for adventure and with the Action X series, the action sports photographer.
I have used both the Explore 30 and 60L and was super stoked to see the Action X series. Time and time again, the team over at Shimoda kills it with their designs. You know when you put this pack on that they are not just designers but users of their end product. There are many good things to highlight about the Shimoda packs, but one of my favorites is their harness and waist belt system. These two pieces paired together make carrying heavy gear over many miles easy. Another rad feature for the Shimoda packs is the ability to adjust/change out the shoulder straps. The straps allow you to adjust the height so both tall and not so tall people can use the same pack. Also, if you are a woman and want the women’s specific straps, you can have a perfect pack for you. In my opinion, this is a hands-down win for Shimoda and sets their harness system up as one of the industry-leading systems.
The Action X series will take you and your gear on any adventure that you are planning. Some of the key features that Shimoda Designs has added to the Action X series are: a side access zipper, an expandable roll-top, a 15″ padded laptop sleeve, side pockets for water bottles or tripods, and stronger TPU straps on the sides for skis and equipment.
For photographers that are out in the field, having a pack that can expand is something that is often overlooked. You might start in the morning needing a jacket, but get too hot later and need to store it while hiking. Or you might need extra room on some shoots and not others. The ability to use one pack for many different shoots is excellent.
The coated nylon that they use for their packs is great for repelling water—paired with the YKK SplashGuard® zipper the build makes for an impenetrable force when out in inclement weather.
With the addition of the side access points, this pack is built for those who are out creating content and don’t want to put their bag down in the mud or snow. It allows you to be mobile, get the shot, pack and zip, and continue movement with your subject.
Having both the Shimoda Designs Action X as well as the NYA-EVO Fjord 36 in the running for best camera pack is rad. Until this point, there has been very little in the way of quality adventure camera packs, and it will be cool to see these two companies battle it out in the future.
Industry-leading harness system
Most versatile fit options
Looking for something rad and different? Look no further than the Nomad from WOTANCRAFT. While the visual design might appeal to certain creatives more than others, the build and the carry of this pack are impressive. WOTANCRAFT is creating some fantastic packs, both in the camera world, as well as everyday carry. With vintage-inspired materials and some unique designs drawn from military heritage, the team over at WOTANCRAFT is creating some of the coolest packs on the market. The brand has introduced me to my new favorite material, the Nylon 6,6 yarn Cordura 500D tear-proof waxed canvas. Lightweight, strong, and sexy as hell.
The Nomad is built to not look like a camera bag to protect the valuable assets inside. Some packs you look at and know there are cameras in there, possibly several thousand dollars’ worth. But the Nomad does not scream, “I have expensive camera gear.” The shape of the pack is slightly vague. While most camera packs tend to be boxy due to the camera inserts, the Nomad hides this with draping front and side pocket covers. So if you are traveling and out in an area where people might want to snag your gear, this pack would be a stellar choice. All the zippers and compartments are exceptionally well hidden on the pack, so the chance of getting something swiped by Matt Damon in Ocean’s 11 is slim to none.
The Nomad has split up the organization so that one can pack some gear up top in the upper compartment and stash the central part of their setup in the main gear compartment. The layout is akin to the Peak Design Everyday Backpack in that you can access your gear from either side, and it “stacks” on top of each other. This pack would be ideal for nearly any kind of shoot you are on as it carries exceptionally well. I wouldn’t hesitate to take this on a long hike, or as a travel camera pack. The Nomad utilizes both a MOLLE system and a Velcro modular system to build out your pack as you need. The best part is these pouches and attachments can be used in their other camera packs, and there is one for nearly everything that you might need while out and about.
As far as where the Nomad falls in the top 5, it would be in the same market as the PD Everyday or the Nomatic Peter McKinnon pack. But while they all pack your gear, the Nomad wins out on the security side. With no access points available from the front of the pack, you can be sure to keep your gear safe.
Most unique look
Wins in security
VOTING CLOSES SEPTEMBER 6TH