- 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 Olga_Gavrilova via iStock
What makes a good camera bag?
Well, that's easy...a good camera bag is well-designed, uses durable materials, and is functional for your needs, whether you're a casual shooter or an everyday pro.
But what makes the best camera bag? That's easy too!
The best camera bags elevate things to a completely new level with unique features and innovations that you don't often find. And my list of the best camera bags of 2022 is chock-full of bags that meet that "best" threshold.
So, if you need a new camera bag, give the list below a look and see which one fits your needs the best!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: f-stop Tilopa
At the top of my list of the best camera bags of 2022 is the f-stop Tilopa.
I've had several Tilopas over the years, and each time f-stop comes out with an updated one, I think, "Man, how could this bag possibly get better?!" And then I get the bag and I'm like, "Dang, it is better!"
The latest version of the Tilopa builds on all the successes of past versions and updates it in ways that make it even more comfortable, durable, and functional.
For example, the new Tilopa has an exterior material called DuraDiamond 315D HT nylon ripstop. It's a proprietary product from f-stop that's not only lighter than previous materials but it's also stronger and has improved weather resistance (thanks to the DWR coating and a TPU layer).
As I discuss in my review video above, another upgrade is in the shoulder pads and the hip belt. The padding is made from an algae-based foam called BLOOM that's supremely comfortable. Even when the pack is fully loaded with 50 liters of gear, it's still a comfortable carrying experience with much-reduced shoulder, neck, and back fatigue.
This isn't a small bag by any means (it's 24.5” tall, 13.7” wide, 11.1” deep, and weighs about 4.2 pounds empty), but the internal aluminum frame helps shift all that weight to your hips to further reduce neck and shoulder fatigue.
You'll also find that the Tilopa has upgraded weather-resistant zippers, T6 aluminum and plastic hardware, and heavy-duty stitching with industrial-bonded thread, all of which improve the bag's long-term durability.
Inside and out, you'll find features that help you carry your gear in an organized fashion. For example, there's storage in the lid, various small pockets, and the main interior space. There's also 22 Gatekeeper attachments and loops on the outside of the bag for carrying ice axes, skis, and other adventure gear.
Of course, the new-and-improved f-stop Tilopa is compatible with f-stop's fantastic camera bag inserts that further your ability to carry a lot of gear. This bag works best with the Pro-Large or Pro-XL inserts, but you can mix and match small, medium, large, and XL inserts as needed.
From an innovation standpoint, a build quality standpoint, and a durability standpoint, no bag impressed me more in 2022 than the f-stop Tilopa. Add in a 20-year warranty, and you have the makings of a bag that takes the top spot on my list of the best camera bags of 2022!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack 25L
Next up on my list of the best camera bags of 2022 is the Nomatic McKinnon Camera Pack.
I have the 25-liter version, though there's a 35-liter version if you need more space. In either case, you get a beautifully designed and made camera bag that offers loads of functionality and organization in a comfortable-to-carry bag.
At about three pounds empty and 7.5" D x 13" W x 19" H, this is a small pack. But, because Nomatic and Peter McKinnon took the time to design this back properly, you can fit all sorts of gear inside.
For example, this bag has a sleeve that fits a 16-inch laptop, plus all sorts of mesh pockets for keeping small items like batteries organized and out of the way. The adjustable ladder system offers even better use of space that allows you to use the bag for photography-specific outings, everyday use, or both.
You can add various cubes to the bag, too, like two small cubes or one large one, depending on your specific needs. These cubes give you complete control over how the interior space of the bag is used, making it the height of functionality.
Outside, the bag features easy access on top and the back (via a full-length panel, no less). There are two magnetic tripod pockets (which are perfect for water bottles, too) as well as external carry straps in case you have additional items you need to carry.
Even if you're loaded up with gear, this bag is extremely comfortable to carry. There's an EVA molded back panel, an adjustable sternum strap, and well-padded shoulder straps to keep fatigue at bay.
The exterior of the backpack is made of water-resistant materials and has beefy hardware that stands up to the elements. I've used this bag in many different settings and environments, from the beach to the desert to snow-covered mountain forests, and it's been a rockstar in every situation.
Heck, with the luggage handle passthrough on the back, you can even use this bag for your airport travels!
The point is that Nomatic and Peter McKinnon have teamed up to develop a bag that ticks all the boxes of utilitarianism, durability, and build quality. If a smaller bag is all you need, make this one of your top choices!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55
I know this isn't a bag per se, but despite being a hard case, this sucker had to be on my list of the best camera bags of 2022. It is simply an impressive rig for long-haul photography needs!
At 30 liters, this is a well-sized case for folks like me with a decent-sized kit for photography and videography. You can easily store multiple cameras, lenses, and other accessories, plus have room left over for a small tripod if need be.
Yet, despite having all that room, this case is pretty small at about 22" x 9" x 14". With those dimensions, you can use this as a carry-on bag! The big and quiet wheels and the telescoping handle are other features that make this the ideal case for getting your gear safely through the airport.
You can rest assured that your gear will safely get from one location to the next thanks to Manfrotto's well-padded interior. Not only is there foam on the inside of the lid, but there's also four layers of pre-cubed foam that you can move around the interior compartment to customize the storage space to your gear. On top of that, the interior compartment has CPS dividers with shock-absorbing gel. Nice!
Manfrotto didn't skimp on the outside of the case, either...
This case has big, heavy-duty latches that are easy to operate. The latches also feature an integrated level that must be engaged to open the case - a handy feature to prevent the case from accidentally opening.
The case also has several padlock points, so you can lock it as you travel to ensure no one helps themselves to your gear.
On top of that, Manfrotto made the case with impact-resistant materials while also ensuring that the interior is dust-resistant and moisture-resistant. In fact, the case is air-tight, too!
I could go on and on about this case, but instead, I'll point you to my video above to get a complete explanation of this case and how I use it. As you'll see, it's been a great addition to my collection of bags and cases!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: f-stop Ajna
Leading the second group of bags (think of these next three bags as the first runners-up) is another f-stop bag - the Ajna.
With a capacity of 37 liters and dimensions that measure about 24" x 13" x 10", the Ajna is a much smaller bag than the Tilopa. But, don't let its smaller size fool you - the Ajna is a supremely functional bag for short and extended photography outings.
The bag has lots of storage in the lid and the main compartment. There's also exterior pockets for items you need to access easily. Speaking of easy access, the back panel offers a full view of what's inside the main compartment.
Like the Tilopa, the Ajna has BLOOM foam shoulder straps (and hip belt), a DuraDiamond exterior, and an aluminum frame that helps shift the weight of the pack to your hips. Also like the Tilopa, the Ajna has heavy-duty water-resistant zippers.
The mesh side pockets are ideal for water bottles or other frequently-needed items, and inside, you can use the camera inserts I discussed earlier to really customize the space inside the pack to fit your specific needs.
Check out my 12-month review of this pack in the video above to get all the details!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Vanguard VEO Adaptor R48GY
The second bag in my "first runner-up" category is the Vanguard VEO Adaptor R48, which I have in gray.
This bag is 11.4" × 8.7" × 19.3" and weights about 3.2 pounds empty, which makes it a great option for short outings with a well-stocked camera kit.
The exterior is waterproof to protect your gear, and in case things get really wet and wild, there's an integrated rain cover. No matter the weather, you'll have a comfortable carrying experience thanks to Vanguard's ergonomic harness system.
On the front is a spot to carry your tripod, while the interior compartment has lots of pockets and easy access through the top or the rear of the bag. Speaking of the interior, there's 10.2" × 6.3" × 18.9" space to accommodate a camera, a couple of lenses, and accessories, plus a 16-inch laptop.
This bag even has a built-in USB-A port so you can charge up your devices as you travel. The pack doesn't come with a power bank, but it's an easy enough accessory to find and add.
Of course, the bag also has Vanguard-quality craftsmanship, with nice stitching that makes the bag a durable and reliable option for your photography adventures.
This is a fantastic all-around bag that any photographer would enjoy having in their collection!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Holdfast Roamographer
If a backpack or hard case isn't what you need (or your style), you might consider something completely different...
The Holdfast Roamographer is a gorgeous, luxurious American Bison leather camera bag that offers incredible functionality for your photo shoots while looking like something that belongs on a grand tour of the Mediterranean coast. In terms of beauty, it's hard to beat this bag!
But the Roamographer isn't just a pretty face...
Inside is a spacious interior that houses a removable camera insert. The insert is highly padded and snuggles your camera, lenses, and other gear to ensure they arrive at your destination safely.
Outside is the hand-crafted leather exterior that offers vintage beauty and weather resistance. The carrier straps are ideal for easily carrying your tripod, while the shearling-lined shoulder strap makes for a comfortable and stylish carrying experience.
The strap even has the ability to carry a small camera, that way you can point and shoot when the moment arises.
The Roamographer comes in two sizes - small and regular. The small bag is ideal for a mirrorless system, while the regular bag can accommodate a mirrorless system with additional accessories or a DSLR setup. I have the regular-sized bag, and it's been a fantastic option for fancier events and for weekend travels, too.
Either way, your gear will live in the lap of luxury in a handmade bag from the heart of the USA in Oklahoma.
Best Camera Bags of 2022: f-stop DuraDiamond Drone Case
The last four entries on this list of the best camera bags of 2022 are what I consider to be the "second runners-up" - all excellent options with very specific uses.
The f-stop DuraDiamond Drone Case might not be a bag, but it's nonetheless an important option in today's day and age. Many photographers have drones, and as such, need a reliable, durable way to protect the delicate components of their drones. This case is ideal for that.
You can get a small or large case, depending on your needs. Either way, the case protects foldable-wind drones with a padded interior with adjustable dividers to further protect items inside.
What's more, you get multiple pockets to organize small items like memory cards and batteries. These pockets have magnetic closures that make opening and closing them a simple and easy task - just one way that f-stop makes this case so useful and innovative!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Nomatic McKinnon Sling 8L
If you need a small bag for things like street photography, I can't think of a better option than the Nomatic McKinnon Sling 8L.
With just the right amount of space for your mirrorless or DSLR system, this bag is perfect for quick outings in which a small kit is all you need.
Inside, you'll find an easy-to-access main compartment, an elastic zip mesh pocket, and dedicated pockets for small items like batteries and memory cards.
On the outside, you'll find the same water-resistant, durable material used on the 25L McKinnon camera bag I described earlier.
There's also a quick-latch system that allows you to easily open and close the bag with one hand, an EVA foam back panel that improves comfort and airflow, and a pivoting, padded shoulder strap for added comfort.
So, despite its small size, Nomatic has done its thing and crafted a highly functional bag that makes taking photos all the easier. And, as an added bonus, it fits inside Nomatic's 35L Camera Bag for a two-in-one option!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: Holdfast Leather Explorer Lens Quiver
Another camera bag alternative that I had to include on my list of the best camera bags of 2022 is the Explorer Lens Quiver from Holdfast.
This open-top bag is ideal for photographers that need to make quick lens changes, like wedding photographers. It's worn just like a messenger bag, so your lenses are right there within easy reach at your side. The adjustable shoulder strap offers a comfortable carrying experience while also giving you a spot to hang your keys or glasses for easy access.
The bag is made of 18-ounce twill canvas and leathers that can be matched to your existing MoneyMaker harness. Not only does this bag look like a million bucks, but it also has nine pockets for your lenses, flash, lens hoods, and other accessories.
Plus, you can use it with the full MoneyMaker dual-camera harness or the MoneyMaker Solo!
Best Camera Bags of 2022: 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 to quickly get 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.