Besides my actual camera gear, I feel like the most important accessory I own is my camera bag. It keeps my precious gear safe, and allows me to take it everywhere. And the fact is, if you can’t carry your gear, you’re not going anywhere at all. So, having a reliable camera bag is essential. For landscape photography, the pack needs to be tough and durable, have lots of space for equipment, and be comfortable to carry over long distances.
The good news is that there are plenty of companies that make great camera bags. However, this make our choice for finding the right camera bags rather complicated. I spent a significant time picking out my camera bag. I thought I would share some of my tips for features to look for when purchasing your bag.
The first thing you need to decide is what is the purpose for your bag? In the end you may need to get two! Some options to consider are the amount you travel, hike, backpack, or if you just need a day pack. If you are day hiking, then a nice light weight bag would be ideal that you could stuff a rain coat in. If you are backpacking, you are going to need something very robust that is supportive and can fit all your personals and camping gear along with your camera.
Here are the six most important features that I looked for in my purchase:
#1: Light Weight Materials
Make sure the material of the bag is durable. Rain proof is a huge bonus, or a bag that comes with a rain cover. A light weight bag is nice on your back. Don’t carry any extra weight if you don’t have too! You want to make sure that they bag can hold up under some serious stress.
#2: Shoulder Straps
Make sure that the shoulder straps actually fit! Check to see if they curve inward and sit on the correct part of your shoulder. A strap that buckles across the chest is important with weight distribution and strap positioning. Check to see if the strap padding is plush. You don’t want to have any problems with chafing or soreness.
#3: Sturdy Waist Belt
Another really important part of your bag! You will want to make sure that the belt sits low enough on your body to actually distribute the pack’s weight to your hips. Bonus is that the straps are actually long enough to adjust for a proper fit.
#4: Hydration/Laptop Sleeve and Side Pockets
Make sure that there is an internal hydration sleeve that can also be used as a place to stuff your laptop when traveling. It sits behind the ICU inside the pack. Side water bottle pockets are also an ok alternative unless you are backpacking. Make sure that they can fit your water bottle. Some of the hydroflasks are too large for the pockets.
#5: Lots of Pockets!
Pockets are so important! Some of the ultralight bags don’t have nearly enough pockets as the intention was to make them as lightweight as possible. Make sure there are compartments for your small accessories, and that there is also a giant front pocket that you can stuff a rain jacket or snacks into.
#6: Tripod Attachment
Make sure there is a way to attached your tripod to your camera bag. If not, you might have to purchase additional straps for your bag. You don’t want to get stuck carrying it around with you. If there is a way for you to test drive the bag you want to buy, I would suggest bringing your tripod so you can see how it attaches, and how the weight distributes.
I hope these tips help you to pick out the right bag for you! If you have the opportunity, try to take one for a test drive first, or at least try it on before purchasing.