- It had to be lightweight, yet durable to stand up to the rigors of outdoor adventures.
- I wanted a bag with a padded compartment for my photography gear.
- Side access panels were a must so I could quickly access my gear.
Photo by Chalabala via iStock
Each year, we do a review of some of the very best bags on the market.
I either own or have extensively tested each bag on this list, so I can speak from experience about each bag's specs, features, pros, and cons.
It seems like camera bags are becoming more and more sophisticated. Or maybe I'm just getting older...
Either way, this year's list of the top camera bags is something to behold. Let's get to it!
Best Camera Bags of 2021: HEX Ranger DSLR Sling & Ranger Mini Sling
HEX Ranger Mini in Glacier Camo
If you’re not so much a shoulder bag or backpack kind of person, a sling bag might be right up your alley.
Two of the best sling bags I’ve tested in recent years both come from HEX: the Ranger DSLR Sling and the Ranger Mini Sling. And there’s a host of reasons why this is the case…
HEX Ranger Sling in Black
For starters, the Ranger DSLR and Ranger Mini Sling bags are affordable, priced at $99.95 and $69.95, respectively. Where similar bags can run into the hundreds of dollars, with these bags, you can get a bag that fits your needs while still having money left over to actually buy gear to put in it!
Secondly, these bags are loaded for bear with features. They’re compact and lightweight. Both have collapsible interior dividers for improved packability. And with side adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps, you can customize the carrying experience each time you go out to shoot.
HEX Ranger Mini in Camo
Each sling also has a front organizer that you can use to easily access items like your driver’s license, car keys, or phone.
A third feature that’s worth mentioning is the durability of these slings. The Ranger DSLR uses Genuine Cordura® for the ultimate performance while the Ranger Mini uses 900D Poly for excellent water resistance.
HEX Ranger DSLR Sling in Glacier Camo
Both slings also have faux fur-lined pockets (one for a tablet and another for your phone or sunglasses in the Ranger DSLR and one for a phone or sunglasses in the Ranger Mini) that will withstand years of inserting and taking out your delicate electronics or glasses.
Fourth, HEX has integrated smart components that extend the functionality of these bags. Both feature hidden Velcro stash pockets for small items like memory cards you want to keep safe. Both bags also have YKK zippers with metal pulls that are easy to operate and will provide long-lasting performance for years to come.
HEX Ranger Mini in Black
I use the Ranger DSLR to carry my DJI Mavic Pro 2, and it fits perfectly with a couple of extra batteries, the remote, and other necessities. The Ranger Mini is a similarly ideal setup for my DJI Mavic Mini. In both instances, these bags hug my body unlike any sling bag I’ve tested. It really is incredible how small their form factor is without sacrificing space.
Speaking of space, the Ranger DSLR carries up to eight liters of gear. The Ranger Mini clocks in at 2.5 liters.
In either case, you’re getting a high-quality, well-designed, functional bag for your photo and video pursuits. And with various designs to choose from (Camo, Glacier Camo, and Black), you can select the right bag with the right look for you!
Best Camera Bags of 2021: The Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon
Another camera bag that is really impressive is the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon.
This pack was specifically designed for people that need to travel with their camera. Its ingenious design helps you organize your personal gear and your photography gear into a single bag.
As you can see below, there's a clothing side and a camera gear side that are separated by an interior panel.
This beautifully designed "ecosystem" means you can travel with a ton of gear without having to rifle through a disorganized bag to find it.
Except...it isn't a single bag. There's a removable day pack inside (called a Cube Pack), that way you can run and gun when you need to.
This backpack can hold up to 42 liters of gear when expanded (35 liters otherwise), so there's no lack of space. And with a full clamshell opening, you can see all the gear you’ve stowed away with ease.
The moveable interior dividers allow you to customize the space to your specific needs. There’s even a sleeve for your tablet, pockets for your camera accessories, and quick side access for easy retrieval of gear, too.
For your personal belongings, you can use compression cubes for your clothes, compression straps to keep everything where it should be, and pockets for smaller items to keep things organized.
This is my go-to bag. My gear stays in it on a virtually permanent basis. If you pick one up, it'll prove to be just as useful for you!
BEST CAMERA BAGS OF 2021: f-stop tilopa
I've been using f-stop bags for years and years, and each time I pick up a new bag from these guys, I'm always surprised at just how well-made and innovative they are.
But I shouldn't be surprised because that's the reputation f-stop has built!
My current f-stop bag is the Tilopa, a 50-liter bag that has replaced my giant 70-liter f-stop Sukha bag as my heavy haul option.
The bag measures 23.5 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 12 inches deep and weighs in at four pounds when it's empty. I told you it's a heavy hauler!
Even when it's loaded for bear, this bag is ultra-comfortable to carry thanks to the beefy, padded shoulder straps and hip belt that have reinforcements to ensure they can accommodate a heavy load.
And unlike some big bags, the Tilopa offers a slew of load adjustment stabilizer straps so you can get the load just right for your optimum comfort. There's even an adjustable sternum strap to give the bag more stability.
Speaking of stabilization, the Tilopa comes with an internal aluminum frame that helps support the weight of your gear without adding a lot more weight to the load.
On the top is a huge lid where you can carry additional items and have easy access to them. Access to the inside of the bag is easy with a back panel that unzips. There's a zippered front panel, too.
The treated ripstop nylon exterior has TPU laminate that makes the bag weather-resistant. To give it extra weather resistance, f-stop even added Hypalon in some areas.
But my favorite feature of f-stop bags is the internal camera unit (ICU) system.
These ICUs (like the medium one shown above) give you a removable cubby system for keeping your gear organized and protected. They come in various sizes, so you can customize the ICU to your bag and your particular kit.
It's an ingenious design that makes f-stop bags among the top bags for 2021!
Learn more about the f-stop Tilopa.
Best Camera Bags of 2021: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
No best camera bags list would be complete without an entry from Peak Design, which seems to find ways to improve on their already incredible lineup of camera bags year in and year out.
Their Everyday Backpack V2 is certainly one of the best bags of 2021, with features that make it more usable than ever.
Peak Design incorporated MagLatch hardware on the top of the bag so you can open it up and access your gear in a flash.
To expand access further, this pack has two side access panels that are secured by weatherproof UltraZips.
The shell of the bag is comprised of 100-percent recycled 400D weatherproofing so your gear stays nice and dry. There's also a handy tuck-away strap system that enables you to lash gear to the exterior of the bag to expand its carrying capacity.
As impressive as the outside is, the inside of the bag offers lots of goodies.
There's dedicated sleeves for up to a 15-inch laptop, numerous internal slip pockets for smaller items, and three configurable FlexFold dividers to help keep your gear organized.
Of course, the FlexFold dividers also help protect your gear by keeping it neatly organized and separated from one another.
The Everyday Bag V2 is available in 20-liter and 30-liter sizes so you can select the right fit for your needs. Both are a great option for urban explorations when you want a backpack with a smaller footprint than the Nomatic bag.
Either way, you'll end up with one of the best bags of 2021!
Best Camera Bags of 2021: LowePro Photo Sport 200AW
There is no getting around it - I have a lot of camera bags. Yet, there is just one bag that I turn to over and over again for my outdoor adventures, and that’s the LowePro Photo Sport 200AW.
I’ve had this bag for over 10 years and it has gone with me on an untold number of epic adventures. It’s still going strong, so why replace something that’s worked so well all these years?
It’s perfect for adventures like biking because I can fit all my camera gear, a drone, and still have lots of room left for a jacket, snacks, and so forth.
Back in the day when I got this bag, I had a number of requirements:
This bag ticked all the boxes back then, and it still ticks all the boxes now.
I would also add that it’s extremely important to have a bag that allows you to rotate it to your chest for quickly getting out your camera. Again, this bag does the job - I just slide one arm out of the shoulder strap, rotate the bag forward, unzip the side access pocket, and grab my gear.
Learn more about the LowePro Photo Sport 200AW.
Best Camera Bags of 2021: Peak Design 10L Everyday Sling Bag
The Peak Design Everyday Sling bag was my go-to sling bag for a long time. It really is a fantastic bag, but the HEX Ranger just outdoes it!
At any rate, I'd still highly recommend this bag because it is impeccably designed and built.
The weatherproof 400D nylon canvas shell keeps things dry while also being a highly durable fabric.
Like the HEX Ranger, this bag also has a low-profile design that keeps it from being obtrusive as you work.
You can easily access your gear via the wide-mouth opening, and if you have small accessories that need to come along for the ride, there's plenty of pockets where you can stash your stuff.
That includes an expandable outer pocket that can accommodate a flash or other small camera accessory.
There's even a side-load option for the main compartment and an external carry system so you can easily carry your tripod.
The best part of this bag, though, are the internal FlexFold dividers.
Inspired by origami, these dividers can be molded into various shapes, including walls, cubbies, and passthroughs, so you get a high level of customization of how the bag works with your gear.
And since they fasten with Velcro, you can take them all out if need be. Heck, the back even folds flat for traveling!
The Everyday Sling is super comfortable, easy to use, and well made. It's definitely deserving of consideration if you want to invest in a new sling bag.