The bag is usually the least glamorous part of photography. We’ve seen so many cumbersome, bulky, inefficient designs we’d almost resigned ourselves to wrapping our gear in bubble wrap and sticking it in a duffel bag. That’s about when we started looking for better camera bags and, surprisingly, finding them. These are the best camera bags to keep your gear safe and your camera ready.

Domke Small Shoulder and Belt Bag

If you’re using a bag like this, chances are you’re not Les Stroud, trekking all over the known world carrying everything you could possibly need on your back. But sometimes the camera itself and an extra lens are really all you need to carry. Go out, get yourself some great urban photos, keep your load light and inconspicuous to get the best candid shots, and head home after a job well done. In a way, carrying so little comes with more freedom for your shots and forces you to do more with less, so a bag like this one might actually help you become a better photographer. $50


Vanguard Alta Risa 43 

On the other hand, sometimes you’re going to need a lot more with you if you’re going to get the shots you want with the equipment you need. The Vanguard Alta Risa has plenty of space for the equipment you consider crucial for a full day’s shooting, as long as you’re being reasonable about your expectations. It’s an attractive carrying case that fits as easily with the best commuter bags as it does the best camera bags, and its one shoulder setup means it has the accessibility of a shoulder bag and the security and comfort of a traditional backpack. $75


Case Logic KBD Kontrast

Most bags have some sort of reliable impact protection, but that doesn’t make us any less terrified of dropping our equipment. It just takes the one drop to turn a thousand dollar camera or lens into plastic and glass dust. Which brings us to why we like this bag. It has a unique hammock on the inside that suspends the camera and absorbs a ton of the force from the impact. It’s the most peace of mind we’ve gotten with a camera bag in a long time, so we thought we’d pass it along to those of you who’re constantly walking on eggshells when you have your gear. $96


Lowepro m-Trekker BP 150

One of the biggest problems with street photography is the potential for equipment to turn you into a roadside impediment instead of an urban ninja sneaking candid shots of interesting people. To avoid that, get a bag with a slim profile. Like this one. There’s virtually no bulk with this bag from Lowepro. It’s tight to your back, keeping you from bumping into everyone you pass on the street and letting you squeeze through crowds or fit in on public transportation. You’ll be in and out before people have the chance to bump into you. $120


The Kenora Backpack

You have to love a canvas backpack. If it’s a camera case, even better. The Kenora Backpack combines the organization potential of a standard camera bag with the style and durability of a canvas and leather bag, all while keeping the price tag far below some of the other options we’ve seen. Plus, with canvas and leather, as you well know, the materials only look better as they age, motivating you to get out there and beat this thing up. You’ll become a more practiced photographer and your bag will look the part. $149


Pelican 1510 Case

We know this isn’t a bag, but you can’t disregard the quality and security of a hard case. No one’s going to crush it during your commute and you can’t trip on it and smash a couple grand worth of camera equipment. It’s like buying a small tank for your camera. It might even be able to take a bullet, though we should be completely clear, we’re not saying to use your camera case as body armor. The model we linked to is full of foam, which should give you a lot of freedom with what you want to pack, but there’s also a version with dividers if you’d rather use that. $170


Chrome Niko Backpack

The Niko Pack from Chrome Industries have been around for a long while. It’s a reliable pack that’s stood up to enough time, photographers, and accidents to earn the reputation it has. This is the updated version of the bag. The updates came as a result of a collaboration between Chrome and the people who actually use the bags, making it one of the most practical bags available. Everything included is something you’ll actually use in your day to day photography, which is a lot more than can be said for the inexplicable straps and baffling hooks other bags have. $200


Peak Design Everyday Backpack

There’s nothing wrong with black, as you can tell from most of the other picks on this list. But sometimes we like a bag that stands out in the crowd. That’s why we like this bag, particularly the ash version. It’s bright while staying simple, so you’ll stand out in the crowd, but not for the wrong reasons. Sure it comes in black, and we won’t stop you from picking that one up, but when you have other options, explore a bit. Other than color, it has some interesting organizational features. Most notably, there are wings on the side of the bag, with pockets for all the smaller accessories you’re carrying. It’s a cool twist that works extremely well. $260

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