Best Camera Backpack (2019)

Tl;dr - Searching for the best camera backpack can seem like trying to find your soulmate. But I have an answer.
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The World On Your Shoulders

Some people have an obsession with bags. Okay, maybe I have an obsession with bags. It wasn’t always the case (pun intended) until I discovered just how amazing it can be to find that perfect bag that has all the right pockets in all the right places.

So, in this review, I’ll be taking a look at some of the best camera backpacks out there right now. Onward!

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    Finding the Best Camera Backpack

    Bags are just big canvas sacks to dump all your things in, right? So what’s the big deal about bags, and why are some of them so expensive?

    Like most great things, the value is in the details. When you find a bag that gels with you, it kind of feels like the designer leaped into your brain and solved all of your problems that you didn’t even know you had.

    I was bagless for many years and preferred using Pelican Cases for my camera equipment. But that is because I don’t travel with my equipment that often, so hard cases makes the most sense when loading and unloading my precious gear into the back of my car along with a mountain of stands and lights.

    It wasn’t until I went to a shoot in Nashville, TN where I had to bring two cameras with me that I realized the true value of a nice backpack. Here are the things that made it so nice.

    Carryability

    Yes, I made that word up. But you get the idea. Carrying around a hard Pelican Case like it’s the nuclear launch codes handcuffed to your hand is not ideal for long trips where you are traveling great distances.

    You’ll be that person walking 20 blocks, constantly alternating the case back and forth between hands when your grip gets tired.

    You’ll be that person getting onto the bus or the subway and trying to squeeze by large clumps of people with this awkward rigid case by your side.

    And, you’ll be that person trying to do everything single-handed so you don’t have to put your case down and risk it getting picked up by some hooligan teen on a skateboard.

    Having the ability to throw your single bag over your shoulders and walk normally down the street for as long as you desire, both hands free to do your business, and no fear of losing it is a dream. But this leads to my next point.

    Comfortability

    Also a made up word. Get over it.

    But having the gear on your back is meaningless if it’s not comfortable. There’s nothing worse than walking to your destination with a painfully unbalanced boulder weighing you down or nylon straps cutting into your shoulders.

    Luckily many bag companies have added solutions for these problems.

    Organization

    If your bag is just a single big opening to dump everything into, you aren’t quite nailing this whole ease of life experience.

    It’s time to move away from the Jansport that you had in high school and graduate to a more luxurious existence.

    Backpack designers these days actually LISTEN to their customers. Amazing right? The internet… who knew.

    They’ve heard all of the complaints and wishes and have taken the time to design products that solve your problems.

    Some bags come with dividers or packing cubes to store your devices safely. They have put in special pockets and pouches for camera accessories and anything you can think of.

    Having your gear organized not only speeds up your work because you know exactly where everything is, but it also helps to protect your equipment by making sure everything is secure in your bag and not shifting around and banging into other things.

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    The CineBags CB-25B is the bag that I took to Nashville, TN. 

    I was able to fit a Canon C300 AND a Canon C300 mkii in this bag along with three lenses, batteries, chargers, cables, media. Everything that I needed to do the shoot.

    The straps on the outside allow you to mount a tripod or monopod, and really pull everything together into one sleek profile so you don’t feel like it is too bulky on your back.

    The straps are heavily padded and great on the shoulders. They also have a mesh feel to them that I think helps circulate air so you don’t get the dreaded sweat marks on your shoulders and back.

    It includes a waist strap, and a chest strap which is an absolute MUST when carrying heavy equipment on your back.

    All-in-all, it is a great backpack with high quality materials.

    CineBags is known in the industry for having robust, purpose driven bags for professional filmmakers and photographers. They are definitely a brand you can trust and they stand by their products.

    I also have their Production Bag as my main gig bag that I always bring to set and their AC Pouch. I’ll do a review of those a little later.

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    Coming in at just about $100 less than the CineBags bag above is the Manfrotto Manhattan Mover 30.

    I actually like the look of this bag better. It has a sleeker look overall.

    But it has all of the great dividers and pockets for things like camera, lenses, tablets, and even a small drone.

    They have included some straps that tuck away inside the bag when not in use that can strap a tripod or monopod to the bag.

    Plus, there’s a removable camera insert that can organize all of your gear and be used as a separate bag.

    It is weather resistant and has an included rain cover for those really damp situations.

    The biggest thing that this bag is missing in my opinion is a waist strap. They have a chest strap to help secure the bag on you and make it more comfortable, but without a waist strap, I imagine this bag can get pretty uncomfortable when loaded to the max.

    It’s definitely worth a look!

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    The Nomatic Camera Pack is currently in pre-order on Kickstarter, so I can’t say first hand whether it really is all it stacks up to be.

    But! I am a Nomatic fanboy for sure. I have their 40L Travel Bag for my normal carry-on suitcase and their Travel Pack as my every day carry pack for my laptop and other things.

    They are amazing. That’s all there really is to it. When it comes to organization, I don’t think anyone else does it better. Just watch the video above to see what I mean…

    I used my two Nomatic bags for a 10-day trip to Greece last year, and they were a dream for lightweight, easy, no-checking travel. I now use them every time I travel, and they are the best.

    I haven’t pre-ordered the camera pack (yet), but I imagine I will at some point. 

    Take all my money Nomatic! You scoundrels.

    It's a Closed Case

    Man, my puns are on point today.

    Choosing the right bag can be difficult. There’s a ton of them! My advice to anyone looking to purchase a camera backpack is to watch review videos online and purchase from a store that has a good return policy.

    At the end of the day, you will only know once you try it out with your particular equipment. So buy one you think is right, and then if you find out it’s not, return it!

    So, what are your favorite bags that you’ve found? Let me know in the comments.

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    Alex Darke

    Alex Darke

    Alex is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker located in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 7 years working with the legendary broadcaster Larry King and shooting thousands of episodes of television as a camera operator and director of photography. He owns the motion picture production company Gilded Cinema and co-hosts the No-Budget Filmmaking Podcast.

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