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The best camera bags and cases for photographers in 2021

best camera bags and cases for photographers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On the hunt for the best camera bag? While there's absolutely loads of choice out there, it's easy to narrow things down by figuring out which type of bag is the best fit for your camera setup and for what you need it to do. 

For instance, if you're using a lightweight compact camera and that's it, a small holster or pouch will probably do. You'd likely get away with this too if you're using a small mirrorless unit with a pancake or other short lens. 

However, if you want to shoot with a DSLR or even a larger mirrorless camera, and want space for multiple lenses, then a holster won't cut it. You're going to want to look at one of the other main types of bag.

Carrying something for long distance and need to ease the strain? A backpack is probably the best bet. However, if you want something small and unassuming for flitting around a city and jumping onto busy metro trains, a shoulder bag or sling bag is likely a much better choice. You may even prefer to let the ground do some of the work, and plump for a rolling bag. And there are also hard cases, which are less easy to carry, but give your gear serious protection.

We've got guides to all of these bags, which you can browse in the box-out above if you're already honing in on what you want. If, however, it still seems a little complex, scroll down for a quick overview of each category of bag, with a few examples included. So whether you're using a point-and-shoot camera and need something small, or are looking to house your mirrorless or DSLR cameras with flashguns, filters and various camera accessories included, there will be something on this page to suit you. 

In our guide to the best camera bags on the market right now, we've made sure to include current and up-to-date examples from every category of bag. And what's more, we've used our deal-finding tools to get you the best prices one each one, so you can be sure you're getting a bargain. 

So let's waste no more time and get started with the best camera bags! Remember you can click the headings above if you want to jump to a particular section.

Best camera bags and cases in 2021

Shoulder bags

Shoulder bags are arguably the traditional camera bag. They're simple to use without any fussy straps that might get in the way – plus a shoulder bag makes it easy to access your kit as quickly as possible. However, the major disadvantage is that carrying all of your gear on one shoulder can become unwieldy. Messenger bags are similar to shoulder bags, but they'll also include space for laptops and other work tools such as paperwork, pens and tablets. If you're a frequent commuter who also likes to carry your camera everywhere, this is definitely a good choice of "do-everything" bag.

(Image credit: Peak Design)

1. Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13 V2

One of the best-designed photographer's bags just got even better

External size: 38 x 12 x 27cm | Weight: 1,000g | Color options: Black, Charcoal, Ash | Laptop size: 13-inch

Impressive capacity
Easy to organise
Could use another divider

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is a classic photographer's bag archetype at this point. Its simple blend of classic styling with voluminous internal space and FlexFold dividers has been a winner with photographers for years. The Everyday Messenger 13 V2 is one of the more recent iterations, a streamlined bag for photographers of all stripes.

The interior compartment is impressively efficient. Using the FlexFold dividers, you can arrange and cosset your kit for maximum security. It works best for larger setups; you might find some careful arranging is warranted for small-camera setups to stop them rattling around. 

There's also a sleeve for a 13-inch laptop, as well as what feels like a multitude of smaller pockets for sundry items. The main compartment opens and closes with a single flap that uses a "MagLatch" system to stay secure. This strikes a pleasing balance between convenience and security, one that makes the Everyday Messenger 13 V2 a winner as far as we're concerned.

Read more: Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13-inch V2 review

2. Billingham Hadley Pro

This superbly made shoulder bag is expensive but worth it

Type: Shoulder bag | Camera: DSLR/CSC | Additional lenses/accessories: 3 | Laptop/tablet compartment: Tablet | Tripod attachment: No | Additional compartments: 2 | External dimensions: 350x120x300mm | Weight: 1,100g

 Slimline design 
 Beautifully made 
 Shoulder pad costs extra 
 Space can feel a little limited 

Something of a design classic, in a school satchel kind of way, the Hadley Pro oozes class. Along with full-grain leather and brass fixings, the canvas-style construction looks smart-casual, but is nevertheless fully waterproof. Unlike many photographic shoulder bags, the build is slim and easily manageable, yet you can just about squeeze in a full-frame DSLR body with an attached 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, plus a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom (without tripod collar) and a flashgun. Two additional front pockets enable extra gear to be stashed away, and the rear zippered pocket is big enough for a tablet. For heavier collections of kit, the optional shoulder pad is worth buying, and additional ‘AVEA’ side pockets are also available. Overall, this is one of the best camera bags there is.

Read more: These are the best shoulder bags and messenger bags for photographers

Backpacks

Backpacks are a firm favourite for photographers who have to travel long distances with their camera gear. If you're a walker, traveller or landscape photographer, you'll be looking for something comfortable, ergonomic and that will protect your gear from any accidental falls or scrapes. However, one downside is that you'll have to take the backpack off in order to access your kit, even if you've got one of the best camera backpacks

3. Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II backpack

A modular backpack that’s perfect for airline cabins too

Dimensions: 30x18x47cm | Weight: 2.2kg | Lenses: 4 | Raincover: Yes | Padded hip belt: Yes | Tripod storage: Yes | Laptop compartment: 13in | Tablet compartment: No

Modular design
Loads of accessories
Accepts a drone
Accessories can look messy
Accessories are expensive

Have you never got the right bag for the job? Although this unusual and rather pricey modular system will likely have niche appeal, it’s actually great value for money because it can be easily modified for all kinds of scenarios. The Velcro dividers inside can be moved to accommodate specific gear (including a drone) or dumped in favour of open space, while the rear-opening lid contains a zipped compartment for a 13-inch laptop. However, the real genius is the front’s succession of loops that can be used to attach accessories such as a neoprene flash holder, a tripod toe-cup and straps, and a phone case, making this a truly versatile camera backpack.

(Image credit: MindShift Gear)

4. MindShift Gear BackLight 26L

Great for pure camera users, with extra security for travel

Type: Backpack | Camera: 1 x DSLR / CSC | Additional lenses/accessories: 4-6 plus accessories | Laptop/tablet compartment: 15-inch | Tripod attachment: Yes | Additional compartments: 5 | External dimensions: 290x 515x200cm | Weight: 1,800g

Well laid out
Good security
Styling not for everyone
Less customisable than others

While the Mindshift Gear BackLight can be picked up in a variety of sizes, including a mahoosive 36L version, we think the 26L provides the best balance between size and capacity. This is a perfect backpack for a one-camera setup, with space for four to six lenses (depending on their size) and sundry accessories. The interior is simpler and less customisable than that of some other backpacks, and this is very much a backpack for camera gear first and foremost. While there's space for a laptop, you probably wouldn't want to try and pack, say, a change of clothes in there with your camera. 

(Image credit: Vanguard)

5. Vanguard Alta SKY 51D

Comfy but heavy-duty backpack that leaves no stone unturned

Dimensions: 37x26x56.5 cm | Weight: 2.9kg | Lenses: 5 | Raincover: Yes | Padded hip belt: Yes | Tripod storage: Yes | Laptop compartment: 15in | Tablet compartment: Yes

Excellent build quality
Top, front and side access
Heavy when empty
Shoulder straps obstruct rear access

The Vanguard Alta Sky 51D is designed to carry camera gear, a drone, or a combination of both. The main compartment has room for a pro DSLR with attached 70-200mm lens, and up to four lenses around it. Padding is good, and there’s a hatch on one side for mobile access, although openings on both sides would be better. Primary access to this area is via a large rear panel that contains a slot for a 15-inch laptop. The flap opens wide, but you’ll need to bend the shoulder straps out of the way for unobstructed camera access. Comfort is assured by good-sized hip pads, thick back padding and generous shoulder straps.

6. Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

Stylish urban-optimized transport for mirrorless and smaller DSLR kits

Weight: 1400g | Number of lenses: 4 | Tripod connection: Yes (travel tripod) | Personal items storage: Yes | Laptop storage: Yes (13in) | Material: Nylon, Canvas | Dimensions: 46x30x54cm

Easy access side flaps
Internal divider design
Waist belt lacks hip pads
No front or rear opening

It’s hard not to like this bag’s chic style, tactile materials and beautifully crafted hardware. At 46 x 30 x 17cm, it’s pretty compact for a camera backpack, but can still transport an ungripped DSLR with up to five lenses. There’s no front or rear opening, but rather large side flaps which afford very good mobile access. Inside are internal dividers that form shelves attached to the front and back. These are a clever design that can snap into thirds to allow a long lens to pass down one side, or can be instantly segmented so multiple small lenses can share one shelf. Up top is a large multi-use area that can expand by up to 8L thanks to a top flap with four latching positions. A travel tripod will stow on the side, there’s space for a 13” laptop and tablet in the back, and you can even lash a small drone on the front. A basic waist belt helps support heavier loads, and though it lacks hip pads, it can be completely trucked away.

Read more: These are the best camera backpacks right now

Sling bags

Sling bags aim to offer the comfort of a backpack with the access of a shoulder bag. They can swing round to the front to be opened like a shoulder bag and swing round to your back like a backpack. They are kind of halfway-house between a shoulder bag and a backpack.

(Image credit: Future)

7. Tenba Solstice Sling 10L

An uncomplicated design that fulfills the sling brief extremely well

Exterior dimensions: 24 x 18 x 44cm | Interior dimensions: 20 x 12 x 42cm

Compact
Versatile interior size
Good quality 
Few fun frills
Only wide enough for a tablet, not a laptop

Despite boasting a fairly small 10L capacity, and measuring a relatively narrow 24cm, the boxy shape of the Solstice makes it a practical size. It’s well suited to carrying a full-frame body with two or three lenses, and they’ll be well protected. Generous front, rear and base padding, along with substantial interior dividers, give the Solstice a tough feel, as do the quality water-resistant outer materials.

Access is via a full length side flap that gives a wide opening to the whole bag. On the opposite side is an expanding pouch suitable for a bottle, or a typical travel tripod, anchored by an additional side strap. Up front is a long slot opening revealing storage for a tablet and filters.

Speaking of anchoring, this camera sling bag also features a secondary cross-body strap for keeping things stable when you’re really on the move. The main strap sits on your left shoulder. It’s supple and well padded, and combined with the decent back padding makes the Solstice a comfortable companion.

(Image credit: Think Tank)

8. Think Tank TurnStyle 20 V2.0

Looking for a sling bag with style? You've found it!

Type: Sling bag | Camera: DSLR/CSC | Additional lenses/accessories: 4 | Laptop/tablet compartment: Tablet | Tripod attachment: No | Additional compartments: 1 | External dimensions: 235x440x137mm | Weight: 500g

 Capacious yet lightweight 
 Easy access to photo gear 
 Doesn’t spread the weightload 
 What, no black option? 

Available in three sizes and two colour options (blue/indigo and charcoal), the ‘20’ is the largest of Think Tank’s TurnStyle camera bags. With one shoulder strap rather than the usual two, it’s worn as a sling bag. A particular bonus is that you can swivel it around on its strap to access your camera and accessories without needing to take the bag off and lay it down - although the downside is that it doesn’t spread the load like a typical backpack would. There’s enough room for a DSLR and up to four additional lenses or other accessories. The ‘10’ edition takes one less lens, and the ‘5’ is better suited to mirrorless camera outfits. Each bag has an additional tablet pocket and an extra front compartment. Even the largest 20 model is refreshingly lightweight, yet robust and trusty.

Read more: See more of the best camera sling bags

Holsters

Holsters and pouches are designed to carry a single camera with lens attached. Depending on the size, these could be designed for compact cameras, mirrorless cameras or DSLRs. They're great if you're not planning on taking or changing lenses.

(Image credit: Think Tank)

9. Think Tank Digital Holster 10 v2.0

Our favorite camera holster available in seven sizes

Internal dimensions (WxDxH): 160x100x152-210mm | Weight: 400g | Alternative sizes: 6 | Removable shoulder strap: Yes | Belt loop: Yes | Top handle: Yes | Adjustable divider: Yes | Additional pockets: 3

Expanding height adds versatility
Extensive feature set and range of sizes
Only available in black

Think Tank really did have its thinking cap on when designing this holster, which is packed with clever features. The ‘10’ model has internal dimensions of 160x100x152mm and weighs 400g, making it an ideal size for a large CSC or smallish SLR with a kit zoom lens. Better still, it has an extending bottom, with a similar zippered arrangement that you’ll often find in carry-on luggage, enabling the internal height to stretch to 210mm. This makes it equally suitable for a camera with a larger lens fitted, like a compact telephoto zoom.

There are no less than seven different sizes in the entire Digital Holster V2 range, to suit everything from a medium-sized CSC right up to a pro-style SLR with a 150-600mm super-telephoto zoom attached. The 10 model we’re featuring includes two adjustable and removable inner partitions, enabling you to stash an extra lens underneath in the holster’s taller configuration. There’s an additional Velcro-secured accessory pocket inside the top flap and a zippered external side pocket, plus a stretchy front pocket.

The strap is removable, there’s a grab handle on the top, plus an over-sized belt loop which, again, has a Velcro fastening so it’s easy to attach to a belt or other strap. A slip-over rain cover is also supplied.

(Image credit: Lowepro)

10. Lowepro Dashpoint 10 Camera Pouch

Brilliantly simple and effective pouch for small cameras

Type: Pouch | Camera: Compact | Additional lenses/accessories: None | Laptop/tablet compartment: None | Tripod attachment: No | Additional compartments: Memory card pocket | External dimensions: 93x60x134mm | Weight: 100g

Trusted name and impressive build quality
Tough but small and lightweight 
Pricier than some pouches
Less protective than a hard case 

Lowepro is somewhat legendary in the field of camera bags, renowned for its clever design and tough build quality. The Dashpoint range of pouches come in ‘10’, ‘20’ and ‘30’ options to suit a range of compact camera sizes, each of which are available in slate grey or galaxy blue. For small point-and-shoot cameras, the Dashpoint 10 is likely to be the best fit, but it definitely pays to check the dimensions of your camera before buying. Each edition of the pouch comes with wide-opening zippers for easy access, impact-resistant padding and a removable shoulder strap.

Read more: The best camera holsters and toploader camera bags

Roller bags

Roller bags are designed specifically for travel, with wheels in the base, an extending handle for pulling them along like suitcases and often with dimensions chosen to fit international cabin baggage requirements.

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

11. Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader-55/Switch-55

Brilliant for frequent fliers, the Manfrotto hold lots of kit

Type: Roller bag | Camera: DSLR/CSC | Additional lenses/accessories: 10 | Laptop/tablet compartment: Laptop + Tablet | Tripod attachment: Yes | Additional compartments: 2 | External dimensions: 350x230x550mm | Weight: 4,200g

Built-in wheels take a load off
Works with most carry-on limits 
Heavy even when empty
Pricey to buy 

For travel on trains, planes and automobiles (or at least coaches), the Manfrotto Reloader 55 is a great roller bag. You can fit loads of kit in the very well-protected main compartment, which has endlessly adjustable dividers. Additional pockets are built into the lid to safeguard both a tablet and a laptop of up to 17 inches in size. Further pouches are built into the underside of the flap for smaller accessories. Typical of roller bags, it has a sturdy set of wheels and an extending handle that makes it easy to maneuvering your kit around without having to carry it. There's now a new and slightly lighter Switch-55 which doubles as a backpack – even better!

Read more: These are the best roller bags for your camera right now

Hard cases

Hard cases for cameras offer the ultimate in protection against impact, rough handling and harsh environments. They're not really designed for carrying any great distance, but they can keep your camera gear protected in environments where no other bag can.

(Image credit: Future)

12. Pelican Air Case 1535

It's 40% lighter than a regular Peli case, but very nearly as tough

Wheels: yes: | Exterior dimensions: 55.8 x 35.5 x 22.8cm | Interior dimensions: 52.2 x 28.6 x 18.8cm | Weight: 3.95kg (empty)

Very light for its size and toughness
Optional TrekPak insert works well
Wheeled and cabin-friendly
Optional divider inserts can be costly
Not quite as tough-feeling as some rivals

Pelican, aka Peli, is probably the best known brand for hard cases. The Air range has been designed to be 40% lighter than a regular Peli hard case of the same size. Consequently the Air 1535 weighs just 3.95kg, though that’s just for the plastic shell. Load it with foam or a divider insert and the weight difference between this and the equivalently-sized Peli Protector 1510 hard case is more marginal. As for toughness, we did our best to burst the Air, but while it does flex slightly more under pressure than the Protector 1510, the difference is reassuringly small.

The default interior option is cubed foam. You can also spec a Velcro divider insert, however we went for Pelican’s innovative TrekPak system. This uses sheets of corrugated plastic sandwiched between layers of dense, closed-cell foam. There’s a bespoke cutter included so you can slice each sheet into strips to fit around the gear you want to carry, and the joins are secured by special hooped pins. It’s a very nicely engineered padding system that’s more elegant than basic Velcro dividers, but it's a bit less soft and cosseting than the default foam setup.

(Image credit: Vanguard)

13. Vanguard Supreme 53D Hard Case

This tough hard case is even waterproof to a depth of 5m

Type: Hard case | Camera: DSLR/CSC | Additional lenses/accessories: 11 | Laptop/tablet compartment: None | Tripod attachment: No | Additional compartments: 0 | External dimensions: 630x520x240mm | Weight: 7,820g

Removable soft interior
Tough, secure and weather-proof
Heavy to carry
Big (smaller sizes are available) 

For the ultimate in kit protection, you can’t beat a hard case, and the Vanguard Supreme 53D Hard Case is our pick of the best. This camera case from Vanguard is super-tough, fully dust-proof and waterproof, has steel-reinforced padlock rings and an automatic pressure release valve to cope with changes in air pressure and altitude, for example when consigned to the baggage hold of an aircraft. This strong case has an O-ring that will withstand being submerged in water to a depth of five metres, as well as a removable soft inner case with adjustable dividers. There are no fewer than three carrying handles for lifting the case, plus a set of wheels and a retractable pull-along handle.

Read more: These are the best hard cases for cameras

More buying guides

Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio. Previously he has been Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. 


Rod's near-encyclopedic knowledge of cameras both old and new makes him an invaluable resource, whether we need to ask a question about transparencies or the latest X-Trans sensor. He owns all manner of cameras, from Nikon DSLRs through Olympus, Sony and Fujifilm bodies, and on any given day you'll see him using kit from just about every manufacturer.