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The Best Camera Backpack for Hiking

As a photographer – it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned hiker out on a multi day trip, or a casual nature explorer going for a walk through the woods – having the right camera backpack for hiking is quite possibly one of the best investments you can make.

But picking out the best camera backpacks for hiking isn’t the easiest of tasks. While the camera backpack and bag market is huge and flooded with choice – not every backpack is suited for hiking and the outdoors.

That’s why we’ve looked at what’s out there on the market and picked out the best camera backpacks for hiking – making life easier for you.

Before you buy

We’ve created a very handy guide: “How to Pick the Right Camera Bag” – which explains everything that you need to know before you go out and buy a Camera Bag. We’ve briefly summarised some key points below, but its worth checking out the entire article before you buy a new Camera Bag.

Now picking out a camera bag or backpack in-itself isn’t the easiest task, but finding the best camera backpack for hiking is even more tricky. While almost any bag can be used as camera bag, not every backpack is suitable for for hiking, regardless if you’re just going out for a day trip, or a long hike up a mountain.

Here are some essential points that you need to look out for when choosing a Hiking Camera Backpack.

Comfort And Breathability

There’s nothing more annoying than packing up all your camera gear in your backpack, only to have your shoulders and back start aching after being on the trail for an hour. When picking out the right hiking camrea backpack, you should look out for the following features:

β€’ A Padded Back. This helps protect your back against the potentially hard egdes of your gear that might poke you in the back, and it helps stiffen up your backpack.

β€’ Padded shoulder straps. An absolute must with any backpack, padded shoulder straps ease the feeling of having a heavy strap cutting into your shoulders.

β€’ A Frame System. While a frame system or a back stiffener isn’t an absolute essential feature for a camera day pack, it does help distribute the weight of your gear evenly across your shoulders and hips.

β€’ A padded waist belt. Just like padded shoulder straps, a padded waist belt helps ease the stress of your shoulders and makes for a more comfortable carrying experience.

β€’ A breathable back. It’s important that there’s at least a little bit of airflow between your back and the camera bag. This helps prevent a buildup of sweat and moisture on your back and will ensure that you have a far more comfortable hike.

Material

You want your hiking camera backpack to last don’t you? Well then you’d better pick one thats made out of material that can withstand the elements and wear and tear. Today most good hiking backpacks are made of either polyester or nylon (or a combination of both). The advantage of polyester used to be that it was more weatherproof than nylon – but the material degraded quicker than nylon. These days almost all nylon hiking products have a good weather coating making it the optimal material choice.

Weatherproofing

While quite a few camera backpacks have an integrate rain cover, they do come with the setback that they make your gear slightly difficult to get to. If you don’t like the idea of having to unwrap your hiking camera backpack like a christmas present, look for a backpack thats properly weather sealed and has sealed seams and zippers. Some camera backpacks made for hiking also have an integrated rain cover, just in case.

Storage

No matter how long the hike you’re going on, you know that you wont just be taking your camera gear with you. Setting out with a poorly packed and too small backpack is a recipe for disaster. When picking out the best camera backpack for hiking, make sure to pick one that boasts extra storage for everything essential that you might need – from jackets, to food and water. A good size range is about 15 liter capacity.

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The Best Camera Backpack For Hiking Shortlist

Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II

Very light, super comfortable and a great price.
$129.88$199.95 AMAZON

Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack

A rugged and weatherproof hiking camera backpack designed by a photographer
$229.95 AMAZON

Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II

Fantastic camera protection combined with versatility.
$339.75 AMAZON

Vanguard Alta Sky 45D

Made for hiking in mind. It combines comfort with great carrying capacity.
$229.99 AMAZON

Atlas Athlete Camera Pack

A steep price – but a stellar combination of hiking backpack and camera bag.
$495 AMAZON
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A closer look at each Hiking Camera Backpack

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Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II

Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II

$129.88 $199.95
Size: 10.63 x 9.45 x 22.05 in
Weight: 3.30 lbs
Volume/ Interior Size: 8.3 x 3.5 x 8.8 in
Water resistant: Yes, Rain Cover
Laptop Sleeve: No

It’s no secret, but we are somewhat partial to Lowepro Camera Backpacks, having used various models over the past 15 years. The Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II is a favorite of ours as its one the most budget friendly camera backpacks for hiking out there, and it doesn’t compromise on features or quality.

It features what Lowepro calls an ActivZone harness, which includes a padded backpanel and hipbelt, as well as adjustable shoulder straps. There is space between the foam ridges on the inner backwhich lets air properly circulate, so your back should remain dry over longer hikes.

As well as fitting most  mirrorless and DSLR cameras, you’ve got enough space for a flash, extra lens or any other gear that you might need. What we also really like about the Lowepro Photo Sport is the seperation of compartments for your camera gear (which can be accessed from the side) and the top compartment for your clothes, jacket, camera straps and other necessities.

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Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack

Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack

$229.95
Size: 23.5 x 15 x 13 in
Weight: 5.5 lbs
Volume/ Interior Size: 38.5 L
Water resistant: Yes
Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Designed by photographer Chris Burkard, the Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 Camera Pack is a beast of a camera backpack. The Mountainsmith Tanuck 40 is a camera backpack made for hiking, with its water resistant exterior, fully waterproofed pockets and extra raincover. It has a load capacity of 40L as well as an interior laptop sleeve (17″).

As to be expected, its also a comfortable hiking backpack with its padded shoulder straps and waist belt allowing you to distribute the weight of your gear. Unlike other camera backpacks for hiking, the Mountainsmith Tanuck comes in a more boxy – tactical design, rather than the oblong shape that we’ve become accustomed to.

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Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II

Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II

$339.75
Size: 1.18 x 3.94 x 7.09 in
Weight: 5.28 lbs
Volume/ Interior Size: 33 L
Water resistant: Yes, Rain Cover
Laptop Sleeve: Yes

The Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II is the second Lowepro bag in our list, and it couldn’t be more different than the Photo Sport. The Whistler 350 AW II was designed with the intent of carrying equal amounts of camera gear and hiking gear.

Its got waterproof barrier with a drain hole which separates wet gear from the main compartment. Just like the Photo Sport, its got the ActivZone back panel and dual density foam harness to provide increased comfort.

A nice feature that we’ve seen in other Lowepro backpacks is the ability to remove the camera and lens inserts, turning your Lowepro Whistler 350 AW II from a camera backpack into a standard hiking backpack

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Vanguard Alta Sky 45D

Vanguard Alta Sky 45D

$229.99
Size: 12.25 x 9.0 x 19.5 in
Weight: 4.85 lbs
Volume/ Interior Size: 260 x 190 x 450
Water resistant: Yes, Rain Cover
Laptop Sleeve: Yes

Similar to the Lowepro Photo Sport and the Mountainsmith Tanuck, the Vanguard Alta Sky 45D was made with hiking in mind. We love the fact that its got 2 sperate compartements for both your camera gear and hiking gear, though the drawback here is that both compartments arent equally sized.

Like any good hiking camera backpack, its got some properly padded shoulders straps and a decent waist belt. Like the Mountainsmith Tanuck, its got a laptop sleeve (13″) and enough compartments for all your smaller cables, SD Cards and other gear.

Its a very rugged and sturdy backpack with great accessibility, and features a rain cover as well.

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Atlas Athlete Camera Pack

Atlas Athlete Camera Pack

$495
Size: 22 x 11 x 6 in in
Weight: 4.6Β lbs
Volume/ Interior Size: 40L
Water resistant: Yes
Laptop Sleeve: No

Atlas produces a range of fantastic hiking backpacks, and with the Atlas Athlete Camera Pack, they’ve essentially combined the best of both worlds to make a great camera backpack for hiking.

They’ve kept all the great aspects of a hiking backpack, such as its form factor and weight distribution, as well as making sure it was water resistent without the direct need of a rain cover.

The Atlas Athlete Camera Pack can only hold up to one DSLR, but it does have space for up to five lenses – which should be enough for most photographers. In addition, its got a separate compartment that will hold up to 30L worth of equipment or clothes.

What we also love about the Atlas Athlete Camera Pack is that you can remove the frame and convert the into something more suitable for a one day hike. While the Atlas Athlete Camera Pack is the priciest of the bunch, it is a seriously good camera backpack made for hiking.

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FAQ

Can you use a regular backpack for hiking?

Of course you can use a regular backpack for hiking. The real question is, how long you want to go hiking for. A regular backpack is fine for hiking, but you should make sure that you have enough space for all your essentials (water, food, camera gear, spare clothes/jacket), and that its got at least padded shoulder straps to ease the stress on your shoulders.

How do I protect my camera while hiking?

Most camera backpacks for hiking have special padded compartments that will protect your camera from any bumps or drops. Additionally you can also buy camera padding inserts that you can place in your hiking backpack that protect your camera and lenses.

How big of a backpack do I need for a 3 day hike?

While everyone has different needs when it comes to hiking, it is recommended that you pack with a volume of at least 40L. This allows you to pack everything that you need such as sleeping bag, food, supplies, a small tent and your camera gear, as well as extra clothes and water.

Is 40l Backpack enough?

A standard 40L camera backpack, or weekend backpack is generally a great allrounder. Its got enough space to carry a sleeping bag, a small tent as well as extra clothes and your camera gear as well as a food and cooking utensils.

What is the best hiking camera backpack?

There is no single best camera backpack for hiking, but we are very partial to the Lowepro Photo Sport 300 AW II as it combines a fantastic price with excellent quality and features.

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