- Holds a ton of gear
- Can be worn in a variety of ways (i.e., over the shoulder, across the body, or with the Holdfast MoneyMaker dual camera strap)
- Phenomenal for quick photoshoots due to large opening for easy access
- More appropriate for working in crowds in which you might want to carry the bag in front of you
- Weight isn’t distributed evenly, or over a large area
- Can’t carry as much gear as a backpack
- Bag can move around while you’re working
- Carry just about as much gear as your heart desires
- Comfortable and stable (no matter how much you’re moving)
- Size variation to accommodate different body types and different gear needs
- Good for travel and landscape photography
- Can be difficult to access gear at a moment’s notice
- Backpacks are bulky and probably won’t work if you’re exploring busy areas (i.e., urban environments) or tight spaces
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
It took me about two months into my photography career before I decided that lugging my heavy camera equipment with me everywhere I go was not going to work.
My neck constantly hurt from my heavy camera gear, and I almost damaged it multiple times trying to quickly throw it into the passenger side of my car.
But, there’s practically no information on the benefits of owning a camera bag vs. camera backpack.
So, here is an extensive list of the differences between camera bags and camera backpacks to help you decide which type of bag is best for you.
Editor’s note: To illustrate the differences between these bags, I use Holdfast products. I’ve been a Holdfast customer for years, and their bags are comfortable, functional, and durable over the long haul.
Camera Bag vs. Camera Backpack: Why a Camera Bag Might Be Right For You
Let’s just put it out there right now...I own both a camera bag and a camera backpack. Unless you are a highly specialized photographer, chances are that you will need both in your career for different types of shoots.
But, if you’re just getting started in photography, then there are definite benefits and negatives to both camera bags and camera backpacks. For the sake of ease, I’ll be comparing two of Holdfast Gear’s best selling items: the Roamographer Camera Bag and the Sightseer Backpack.
A good camera bag, like the Roamographer Camera Bag, should have the ability to keep all of your gear incredibly organized. If your camera bag is constantly in a state of disarray, your day-to-day is going to feel a lot more haphazard than it should.
Camera bags often make it a lot easier to organize your gear than a camera backpack and provide a greater ease of access. Like in the picture above, a good camera bag should have separate compartments that are flexible.
A great camera bag should also provide you with the option to carry additional gear on the outside of your bag, like a tripod for example.
Big, clunky equipment rarely fits into small camera bags. So, if you do opt for a camera bag make sure it has straps on the outside of the bag, like the Holdfast Roamographer, so you can bring your bigger equipment with you to your shoot.
Along the same lines, you also want to take a look at your biggest piece of equipment and make sure it will fit into the dimensions of your camera bag.
The Holdfast Roamographer will fit a mid-to-large sized laptop, but that’s not the case with most camera bags.
My final note on camera bags may very well be a personal one, but I figured I’d still share. I’m kind of a mess and alongside my mess comes, well, mess.
It’s really important for me to be able to wash my camera bag, which is another reason I bought a Holdfast Roamographer bag. It’s cloth compartments come out of the leather bag so if my lens cleanser accidentally leaks, the bag isn’t totally ruined.
And I fully admit there’s been some splashes of coffee on the exterior of the bag, but since it’s leather, it cleans up nicely.
Camera bag benefits:
Camera bag disadvantages:
Camera Bag vs. Camera Backpack: Why You Should Consider a Camera Backpack
To discuss the pros and cons of camera backpacks I’m going to take a look at the Holdfast Sightseer Backpack (because it would be sort of unfair to compare a top-of-the-line camera bag to a cheap backpack).
Like the Holdfast Roamographer bag, the Sightseer Backpack has smartly-designed, flexible compartments that are totally customizable (and waterproof). But, the number one pro of a camera backpack is that you can fit more gear into it.
Let’s face it, if you ever tried to carry this much camera equipment on a single shoulder that shoulder would hurt for a long, long time.
When you’re shopping for a camera backpack you’ll also want to ensure the inside of the bag isn’t going to harm your gear.
So, while the Aztec flannel cloth that’s found in this bag is preferred, a nice cotton will do. Just make sure no velcro or any harsh fabrics come into contact with your lenses at any point. It’s the number one problem I see with most camera backpacks that people neglect to think about.
You’ll also want a camera backpack that is weather-proof. The Holdfast Sightseer Backpack goes so far as to have waterproof zippers. The waxed canvas and leather exterior also provides excellent water resistance.
This type of weather-resistance is truly worth the investment when you find yourself stuck on a mountain in the pouring rain, like I did yesterday!
One final note on camera backpack characteristics you’ll want to look for: the best part about camera backpacks is their comfortability. Make sure to find a backpack with thick shoulder straps and tons of padding, or you may as well just stick with a camera bag.
Camera backpack benefits:
Camera backpack disadvantages: