The best camera bags and cases in 2018

Whether you’re looking for your first camera bag or it’s time for an upgrade because your kit has grown and your needs have changed, we’ve put together a curated list of recommendations to help you find the right carrying companion. And you're timing couldn't be better, with Black Friday just around the corner, there's every chance you can soon grab a great bargain. 

Right now, we think the Tenba Axis tactical backpack is one of the best camera bags out there. It gives you a decent build quality and plenty of room to expand for a reasonable asking price. But the right camera bag for you naturally depends on your personal requirements. While most find space to stash a tablet or laptop alongside photographic equipment, some are better for compact system cameras than bulkier DSLRs while others offer space for a camera drone too. So study the following list closely in order to find your own best fit.

How to choose the best camera bag and case for you

Of course, it’s not just the gear you’re going to be putting in the bag you need to think about. Also consider what you typically photograph – and what environments that places you in. For example, a street photographer might be better suited to an equally unobtrusive shoulder-worn messenger type bag that doesn’t obviously scream ‘photographer’.

Landscape and wildlife photographers, used to covering a fair bit of terrain and being out in all elements, may be better suited to a waterproof backpack; something that has room for a water bottle and provisions as well as that camera and tripod, while being padded and featuring breathable fabrics for extra comfort. Those who regularly hop on and off aircraft meanwhile may favour a rolling trolley-style set up – while being mindful of whether it will match current carry-on luggage rules and regulations, naturally.

The more you think about it, the more choices there are to make. So, to help, let’s look at what we consider some of the best camera bags and cases right now (and why)…

Tenba Axis tactical Backpack

01. Tenba Axis tactical Backpack

A robust yet comfortable option for all terrains and all weathers

Type: Backpack | Capacity: 20, 24 or 32 litres. Fits up to two mirror-less, DSLR or cine cameras with lenses as long as 400mm f/2.8. Can also accommodate a DJI Mavic drone | Tripod attachment: Yes | Laptop/tablet compartment: Yes (up to 15-inches for the 20L, 17 inches for the 24L and 32L packs) | Additional compartments: Webbed exterior for further accessories, plus rain cover | Internal dimensions: Up to 32x54x17cm (32L model) | External dimensions: Up to 35x57x25cm (32L model) | Weight: From 2Kg to 2.5Kg

Military inspired robustness
Several size options
Not crush proofed or buoyant 
Not much room for extras 

Aimed at pro photographers and videographers with a couple of camera bodies and long lenses, who need to keep said gear protected from the elements, are these military inspired Tenba Axis expedition packs featuring a water repellent exterior plus YKK zippers and reinforced stitching. 

There are three capacity options, all with space for a laptop plus two camera bodies and lenses. Three access points at the top, back and sides usefully enable cameras to be retrieved while the packs are being worn. An ‘airflow’ harness is height adjustable for comfort, while webbing on the exterior allows for battery pouches and memory card wallets to be added. A rain cover and space for a tripod ensures these options tick most photographers’ boxes.

Manfrotto Street Bags

02. Manfrotto Street Bags

The best cheap camera bag for travelling light

Type: Sling bag/waist pack | Capacity: Accommodates a premium level CSC or entry level DSLR | Tripod attachment: No | Laptop/tablet compartment: Yes via padded tablet pocket (with Messenger/Sling bag option) | Additional compartments: Rear external zip pocket for personal items | Internal dimensions: 34x11x19cm (Messenger/Sling bag option) **External dimensions:** 36x15x25cm (Messenger/Sling bag option) | Weight: 580g (Messenger/Sling bag option)

Small, unobtrusive and inexpensive 
Suitable for most CSCs
No space for extras

Those photographers who want an unobtrusive camera bag to stash their compact system camera or consumer level DSLR could check out this Manfrotto option which, with prices staring at just under £20, won’t break the bank. 

While obviously not designed for a pro DSLR with a 400mm lens attached, Manfrotto’s nimble Street Pouch/Holster option can still host a CSC with lens attached along with two additional lenses. Alternatively, you can pack a DSLR with a standard zoom attached. Or there’s the Sling/Waist pack option that houses a premium CSC, entry level DSLR or even DJI Mavic Pro. Either way you have transport for your system that doesn’t obviously scream camera bag and is very reasonably priced. 

Billingham 72

03. Billingham 72

The best camera pouch, from an esteemed British manufacturer

Type: Camera pouch/shoulder bag | Capacity: Premium level compact camera or CSC | Tripod attachment: No | Laptop/tablet compartment: No | Additional compartments: Front pocket | Internal dimensions: 11x9x14cm | External dimensions: 15x13x19cm | Weight: 0.46Kg

Stylish 
A no-fuss snug fit
Not much room for extras
Pricey

If you’ve spent around £1,000 – possibly more – on a premium compact camera or CSC, you might want something equally classic and swish to transport it in at an a lot more affordable £100. Enter Billingham’s unobtrusive yet stylish vertical option in, the British made, pouch-like Billingham 72, which comes complete with handy shoulder strap and brass and leather fixtures. 

With construction that includes hardwearing materials that manage to be both moisture and heat resistant, this option also comes in a choice of five different colour combinations. There’s a useful front pocket for your camera batteries and cards, a padded interior divider, plus the peace of mind of a five-year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Think Tank Signature

04. Think Tank Signature

The best shoulder bag/sling offers modern durability and protection

Type: Sling style shoulder bag | Capacity: DSLR sized camera with three or four prime lenses, plus tablet of varying size | Tripod attachment: No | Laptop/tablet compartment: Space for a 10-inch or 13-inch tablet/laptop | Additional compartments: Phone pocket, large front pocket for extra strobe, rain cover or small book | Internal dimensions: 30x20x13cm | External dimensions: 33x23x15cm | Weight: 130g

Conveniently collapsible 
Functional shoulder style
No tripod attachment
Bigger laptops don't fit

Most cameras these days mix the classic with the contemporary, so why shouldn’t the bag you choose to carry it in function the same? This Think Tank Signature is a modern take on the shoulder bag that still features a tactile wool-feel fabric and hand-sewn construction, yet the weather protection and durability with it that today’s photographer would demand. 

There a couple of options available in the ‘10’ or ‘13’ bags – the numbers referring to the size of tablet or laptop in inches that can also be housed alongside a DSLR sized camera and lenses. You also get a dedicated mobile phone pocket, while the dividers and foam in the base can be removed to create a completely collapsible bag for convenient storage when not in use.

Tenba Solstice backpacks

05. Tenba Solstice backpacks

The best camera backpack for protecting your gear in the great outdoors

Type: Backpack | Capacity: DSLR or mirror-less camera plus three to four lenses, or DJI Mavic type drone | Tripod attachment: Yes, for medium sized tripod | Laptop/tablet compartment: Suitable for an iPad Mini tablet, or MacBook pro up to 13-inches (24L model) | Additional compartments: Pockets inside main compartment for memory cards, lens cap and cleaning cloth | Internal dimensions: 50x27x19cm | External dimensions: 51x30x25cm | Weight: 1500g

Several sizes available
Large main compartment
Bigger laptops/drones don't fit

Again there are several size options available in this series of Tenba Solstice Backpacks for the outdoor snapper with an array of gear. A case in point; these packs can transport a DSLR or mirror-less camera with three to four lenses, or a DJI Mavic type drone, while also finding room for an iPad Mini type tablet. 

Depending on your requirements, choose from the 12L, 20L or 24L models, which increase in size and capacity in line with their product numbers. Boasting both practicality and durability, naturally the interior is fully adjustable, with even the smallest pack being able to accommodate an equipment set up such as that detailed above, while the largest option can fit one or two DSLRs and a whopping five to seven lenses. With padded, adjustable dividers, this is a pack not just for the solstice then, but moreover a bag for all seasons.

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06. Hama Zambia bags

The best bag for compact cameras / best small camera bag, these compact and affordable camera bags house everything from a smaller system camera to a DSLR plus lens

Type: Compact camera bag | Capacity: Everything from a compact system camera to a DSLR plus lens, depending on size and model chosen | Tripod attachment: No | Laptop/tablet compartment: No | Additional compartments: Zippered compartment under the cover for storage media and accessories, one adjustable internal divider | Internal dimensions: 16x9x14cm (largest 110 option) | External dimensions: Not given | Weight: 220g

Lightweight and compact
Practical and inexpensive
No room for tablets or laptops

For those looking for a compact camera bag for an equally small spend, Hama’s Zambia range is worth seeking out. It's capable of transporting everything from a premium compact camera, through a bridge camera, to a DSLR plus lens. 

Size wise we’re looking at everything from a snug bag with dimensions of 7x6.5x13cm weighing just 150g – making it suitable for the most compact of system cameras – to an option that can transport a DSLR, while being a still very trim 16x9x14cm in size and weighing a manageable 220g. 

With prices ranging from a suggested £21.99 to £34.99 these polyester construction bags are inexpensive options.

Manfrotto Advanced Befree Backpack

07. Manfrotto Advanced Befree Backpack

The best camera bag for professionals is a roomy bag for photographers on the move

Type: Backpack | Capacity: Fits a mirror-less camera, medium sized DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached or DJI Mavic Pro drone | Tripod attachment: Yes | Laptop/tablet compartment: Holds a 15-inch laptop and 9 or 7-inch tablet | Additional compartments: Laptop, tripod | Internal dimensions: 27x17x44cm | External dimensions: 32x19x45cm | Weight: 1180g

Compact yet expandable
Side pocket for tripod 
Bulky

Every photographer – especially the pro – wants level horizons for their landscape shots and that means packing a tripod. Manfrotto manufactures both tripods and bags, so naturally they’re designed to work in unison – its compact yet expandable Advanced Befree backpack aimed at travel and landscape photographers being a case in point. 

Cabin size friendly, it can comfortably stash its travel-sized tripods (Befree Advanced and Befree GT series models) alongside your camera gear via a specially provided expandable padded side pocket. Naturally it also finds space for your camera gear and personal belongings besides and comes with a protective rain cover. 

The dedicated camera compartment is padded and is located close to your body when the pack is worn for added security. Water resistance is provided via a rain cover. 

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08. Lowepro PhotoStream SP200

The best roller bag is a lightweight and streamlined ‘spinner’ bag

Type: Backpack | Capacity: Fits one or two pro DSLRs – one with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached | Tripod attachment: Yes | Laptop/tablet compartment: Yes, dedicated panel provides laptop access for screen sizes up to 15-inches | Additional compartments: Laptop | Internal dimensions: 32.8x14.1x44.8cm | External dimensions: 35x22.4x55cm | Weight: 4.4 kg

Fits two pro DSLRs
Laptop can be retrieved easily
Heavy and bulky

Featuring an armoured exterior with padded top and side handles, plus an interior described as flexible, this streamlined and lightweight ‘spinner’ bag on wheels has a depth of 8.8-inches, ensuring it can be taken on board flights as hand luggage. It also provides a panel via which to access a laptop without opening the entire bag, while the four wheel design provides a wide degree of movement, enabling photographers to manoeuvre around obstacles - other bags and people – when travelling. 

Capacity is such that it can stash up to eight lenses and speedlites alongside one or two pro DSLRs – one with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached. There are also customisable dividers and zippered mesh pockets inside for transporting a wide range of accessories. A larger, versatile option for when you need it.

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09. Lowepro m-Trekker BP 150

The best backpack is designed for mirrorless cameras and has side body access

Type: Backpack | Capacity: Fits a mirror-less camera or small drone | Tripod attachment: Yes | Laptop/tablet compartment: Yes, holds up to a 13-inch sleeve size | Additional compartments: Sleeve for laptop, flexible interior dividers | Internal dimensions: 27x12x42cm | External dimensions: 29x15x45cm | Weight: 0.9Kg

Compact yet expandable
Side pocket for tripod
Short on space

This smart yet unobtrusive looking backpack from Lowepro for just over £100 features convenient side body access and a robust fabric construction in a choice of either grey Canvex or black Cordura with, typically for a bag of this type, a fully customisable interior with flexible dividers. This enables a mirror-less camera, DJI Osmo or Mavic type drone to be stashed. 

An all-weather cover is also provided for those photographers who enjoy hiking in the great outdoors, while there’s a dedicated sleeve for a 13-inch laptop alongside that inevitable Thermos. A back panel provides a cushion and a low profile design for added comfort too.

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10. Peli 1510 Protector Case

The best hard camera case, this Peli provides the ultimate protection

Type: Backpack | Capacity: One or two pro DSLRs with up to eight lenses | Tripod attachment: No | Laptop/tablet compartment: Yes, holds up to a 17-inch laptop or tablet | Additional compartments: None | Internal dimensions: 51x29x19cm | External dimensions: 56x35.1x23cm | Weight: 6.2Kg

Waterproof and crush-proof
Heavy and costly
No pockets for accessories

If you’re looking for pro grade robustness when it comes to keeping your kit safe then the Peli brand comes highly rated. Not only does the Peli 1510 Protector Case claim to be crush-proof, waterproof and dustproof thanks to a rubber O-ring seal (meaning that your precious kit will be better protected than most options on the market), this trunk-like hard case features the added benefit of a retractable handle and wheels, with foam padding for the interior. 

It can accommodate one or two pro grade DSLRs and up to eight lenses, while also featuring the swish addition of a pressure equalising valve, plus a degree of buoyancy. As well as the standard black, it also comes in a range of bright colours and can manage all of the above while remaining a size that means it can be taken aboard a plane as carry-on luggage.

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