How to choose the best photography bag

Photography bags are one of the most important and popular products photographers need and buy. A good photography bag has to serve your needs for the best and to suit your demands so you will be able to use and enjoy it. How to choose the best bag for you? Here are some of the most important things you should consider so you can choose the best photography bag for you!

תומר רצאבי מצלם את הנוף מתצפית על קרחון אלץ' בשוויץ

photography bag characteristics

Much like all photography gear, there isn't a single universal answer to "what is the best photography bag". It all depends on your needs, personal style, amount of equipment you need to carry and more. These are some of the most important characteristics you should think about to make the best decision and buy the bag you need:

  • The amount of equipment you need to carry: are you planning to carry just a camera and lens, or much more? There's no need to buy a very large bag if you're carrying light. On the other hand, if you buy a bag that can't fit everything you need you'll find yourself struggling what to leave behind and might find out you needed exactly what you didn't take. The bag you choose should sufficiently fit your equipment. Equipment isn't always just photo gear, it might include water, food, extra clothing and if you're a serious adventurer maybe even a tent and a sleeping bag. One more thing to think about is the future! You might have just one camera and lens at the moment, but you might have more in the future, so it can be a good idea to choose a bag that has extra room.
  • The amount of equipment you need to carry: this is pretty correlated to the amount of equipment, but not necessarily. Carrying light weight means you can choose different bag styles without too much headache. It usually won't be too critical, even if your carrying it for a long time. If you're carrying heavy gear, it is critically important to choose a bag that can withstand the load and one that you can comfortably carry without breaking your back. When it comes to large amount and heavy gear, backpacks are usually the right choice. There are many photography backpacks out there with different characteristics. When choosing a backpack for heavy gear, besides equipment room you should most importantly take in consideration similar characteristics to a hiking backpack - the back support system, shoulder straps and waist straps.
  • Durability: unfortunately not all photography bags are with the same quality. If you're buying a bag that should last for a long time, it is recommended to check some reviews and buy a bag from a trusted, reliable brand.
  • Weather resistance: if you're not going to tackle with dust, rain or other challenging weather elements then most camera bags of any material will suffice. If you're a serious adventurer planning to take your gear to extreme destination (and sometimes it might even be the beach when the waves are high) then you really should look for bag that is made of tough and weather resistant materials.
  • Price: yes, there's that issue also... If you've been doing photography for a while you might have noticed that good gear usually comes with a price tag. It is usually the same with photography bags. Price is definitely one of the main considerations and should be take in account with all the rest.

photography bag styles

Here are some of the most popular photography bags and what they may fit

Top Load/holster

Top loads are most suitable for minimum, lightweight equipment for short periods of time. They can usually be carried on the shoulder or attach to your belt. Great option if you know exactly what you need and don't want to feel bulky.

Sling/shoulder

Slings can store quite a bit of gear and are also pretty stylish. They can be great for urban photography and are usually carried on the shoulder. The shoulder strap is usually more padded and comfortable than slings, but it might ache after a bit if you have some weight.

backpack

If you're carrying more than a few kilos and need to walk, this is the right choice. A good backpack should have room for everything you need and should also have good padding and back support so you can comfortably mobilize for longer periods of time.

adventure backpack

Though not very familiar, serious and high quality adventure photography backpacks with proper design market have become more available in recent years. This is definitely the right choice for photographers planning to hike and carry lots of heavy gear

photography bags brands

There are many brands out there and each brand has its own arsenal, variety and specialization. You should definitely explore, familiarize and choose whatever is good for. Some of the top names in this area are: Lowepro, f-stop gear, mindshift gear, Gitzo, Think Tank, Peak Design, Tamrac and more.


My personal choice

I've had experience with almost all photography bags styles and with many brands. I started with a sling when I had just one camera and lens, moved to a shoulder bag and soon realized it wasn't comfortable for me and after that switched to backpacks. My personal choice is obviously derived from what I do and my needs. Doing landscape & wildlife photography and also while leading photography expeditions I usually carry lots of gear and walk a lot. I sometimes find myself with a 15kg pack while on safari tours in Africa with Tele lenses, or hiking trails in the desert/mountains with various lenses, filters, tripods and more accessories. This lead to look for a large pack with a sturdy support system that will allow me to carry everything I need and carry it with comfort. Today I use the f-stop Sukha backpack. It is a 70 Liter adventure photography backpack with a back support system similar to hiking backpacks. It has an "ICU" internal camera unit (available in various sizes, I use a large one) that accommodates everything I carry which is comfortably accessible from back part. It is also large enough to carry water, food, tripods, extra clothing and more equipment according to what I need. The pack is made from high quality weather resistant materials which is great for outdoor adventures in remote destinations. Most importantly, it is the best (and currently the only one I've experienced) backpack I've used which has a proper support system that allows me to carry heavy gear while hiking with comfort. To be perfectly honest, I've been using it since 2015 and after a long and good experience with it I also became a f-stop brand ambassador during 2021.

My photography backpack set up with the f-stop Sukha - Tomer Razabi photography

This is my usual ICU set up for landscape photography. 2 Full frame cameras, 2 wide angle lenses, 70-300 telephoto lens, various filters, remotes, batteries, headlamp and more.

My photography backpack set up with the f-stop Sukha - Tomer Razabi photography

This is my usual ICU set up for wildlife photography. 2 Full frame cameras, 150-600 telephoto lens, 2 wide angle lenses, various filters, remotes, batteries, headlamp and more.

My f-stop Sukha photography backpack with gear - Tomer Razabi photography

Here you can see my f-stop Sukha bag along with more equipment during a photography session in the Israeli desert. I carried 2 Full frame cameras, 2 wide angle lenses, 70-300 telephoto lens, 3 tripods, various filters, remotes, batteries, headlamp, water and some clothing. I also used a slider to shoot a time lapse sequence which I carried separately.

f-stop gear logo

check out f-stop gear
photography backpacks

conclusions:

Choose what is right for you! I guess you already figured it out. If you've been photographing for a while I assume you already learnt that choosing good equipment depends on your needs and that it takes a good research to find out what fits for you!

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