If you’re a photography enthusiast that loves to travel and want to ensure that your camera gear is always secure and well protected, you’ll need to find a camera bag to pack all of it in while not slowing you down. Backpacks are great because once you remove your camera gear to use, your hands are free without the bag getting in the way. The best camera backpacks for women are better suited to a narrower and shorter body frame than that for men and are as light as possible without sacrificing on good protective construction.
Some camera backpacks are all-rounders and can be used to hold quite a lot of gear plus enough of the other travel essentials. Some are good as carry on bags for flying, while others are more like daypacks for those photography jaunts around a city. Nature enthusiasts may prefer a hiking backpack with hydration features, while large body DSLR users that travel with their laptops may find that they’ll need large packs overall. In that case, if you’re looking for the best camera laptop backpack, we’ll cover that in a separate post, as they tend to vary in features and size themselves. If you’re not after packs specifically designed for your camera gear, read our reviews for travel backpacks to carry on your flight or our picks for best daypacks.
The following reviews for camera backpacks for travel cover quite a few styles but they’re all good for female travelers even if they’re are unisex in design.
Best Camera Backpack for Travel in a City
Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L Camera Backpack
For a casual, yet highly functional all-round camera backpack, consider the 16L Lowepro Photo Hatchback. It may not look like a particularly feminine option like the Isaac Mizrahi one below, but as a technical backpack, it’s pretty good looking and is high performance for an urban photography tour or even for an all day adventure. It is the most secure pack you can get if you’re worried about theft of your camera while out and about in a big city. It does not have a dedicated hydration reservoir pocket, but there are two external side pockets for water bottles.
This pack measures 10.8 x 7.3 x 18.5 inches and weighs just under 2 pounds.
The removable camera hatch is located at the bottom with double zippered access from the back, so it’s completely secure when you’re wearing the pack. It has its own storm flap and two grab handles to safely remove your gear and store it separately from the pack. When the hatch is removed, this backpack can be used as a regular daypack. The camera hatch has dividers and enough space for a small DSLR with attached lens and 1 or 2 extra lenses or flash, or a compact camera with attached lens and 2-3 extra lenses, or a GoPro with accessory kit.
A dual compartment on the front of the pack houses a padded pouch for a tablet and other quick access items. A top compartment gives you space for other personal items, like a jacket, packed lunch, sunglasses, etc., and there is a smaller zippered pocket here for keys, a memory card pocket for extra camera memory, and two stretched mesh pockets for other small items. There are special attachment loops on the shoulder straps to allow you to add extra storage capability.
The waist, sternum and shoulder straps are all padded and adjustable and the back panel is mesh-covered and provides all day breath-ability. A top webbed grab handle lets you quickly grab and go. An all-weather cover protects the entire bag from the elements.
While this is the most secure bag, it is not designed to be quick access. You have to remove the pack to take out your camera gear. However, as long as you’re not carrying one of the largest cameras out there, this is probably the best DSLR camera backpack you can buy.
Isaac Mizrahi The Kathryn Camera Backpack
This is the most stylish of our picks, as the Isaac Mizrahi Kathryn Full Size Backpack in genuine leather is styled like a backpack purse and not a camera bag even though it can hold quite a lot of camera gear. The leather exterior is supple and easy to wipe clean, and the gold toned hardware and leather accents and straps make it one of the best camera backpacks for women to wear while photographing a city’s sights.
Inside the main compartment is a well padded divided camera insert that can hold the body of a DSLR camera plus 2 extra lenses and accessories. This insert is removable, so the pack can be used as a regular backpack purse when not moving around with your camera. There is an interior divider with space for a tablet that can be accessed from a vertical zippered pocket on the exterior rear of the pack. This interior space also features several pockets and compartments for your cards, smartphone, keys, etc.
It features a secure magnetic closure flap over the top. Before closing the flap, the main compartment can be cinched closed with the carabiner clip and loop on the two sides at the top.
The leather backpack straps are adjustable and there’s a top grip handle to grab and go, although this can cause the magnetic closure to pop open if the bag is completely full.
This pack measures 4 x 9.5 x 7.2 inches and weighs 2.8 lbs.
Kattee Professional Canvas SLR DSLR Camera Backpack Laptop Bag Case
For a backpack that does not look like one but comes with unique features that blend into quite a chic bag, the Kattee Professional Canvas SLR DSLR Camera Backpack is a winner, with a trendy canvas shell and PU leather bottom. The design features two horizontal halves that are stacked on top of one another in a split-pack style and joined by a zipped closure. When unzipped, the top half flips up and back to reveal the bottom half that is the camera box with its own lid and grab handle.
The camera compartment holds a removable pod with padded walls and dividers and two rubber feet, and you can lift the pod out from the compartment by the handle. You can also leave your camera gear behind and use the pack like a regular backpack whenever you want. A velcro flap separates the two compartments when the pod is in place but can be folded back to create one big space as well. The pod has space for a DSLR camera, one or two additional lenses and a flash and accessories.
When you zip close the bottom compartment of the split pack, you can then fill the top compartment through a full zipped opening with things like a book, snacks, etc. There are also plenty of small pockets and holders here to hold your smartphone, keys, credit cards, pens,SD cards, etc. At the back of this compartment is a tablet sleeve with Velcro closure.
For carrying the pack, you have adjustable padded shoulder straps and sternum strap, and a top grab handle. A rain cover is included in a hidden pocket at the back.
This backpack weighs 2.2 pounds and measures 11.81″ by 5.12″ by 16.93″.
Best Camera Backpack for Hiking
Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW II
If you’re a sports or active adventure photographer, you’ll probably need to take a tripod with you, in which case it is good to have a dedicated tripod holder in your camera backpack. The Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW II is the best camera backpack with tripod holder and hydration compartment, and features extra bounce-free protection for a camera and an ActivZone harness that’s designed for ultra-comfortable carrying even if you’re running with it. The adjustable shoulder and sternum straps and padded hip belt all ensure a comfortable fit. A pull tab is provided to tightly cinch the camera compartment to keep it as snug as possible around the camera hatch. It is a minimal pack with a sleek profile and is great for small kits.
It measures 9.65 x 7.68 x 20.47 inches and weighs 2.6 lbs. You can fit in certain mirrorless or DSLR camera models with an attached lens, 1 extra len, adapter and flash in the camera hatch. The compartment on top of that is good for a light jacket, snacks, etc. There’s a dedicated hydration reservoir that will hold a 2L Camelbak. The large front pocket is the place for a bike helmet, gloves, etc. A zippered compartment at the bottom of the pack hides the built in storm cover to keep everything dry if it rains.
You can have quick side access to the main compartment without removing the pack from your back. Just rotate it to your front to reach your camera. The hatch can be completely removed if you want to use the bag just as a daypack. However, there is no proper separation between the camera compartment and the top compartment, so if you pack small accessories on top, they will tend to fall down into the space underneath. The multiple attachments points keep your tripod, hiking poles, etc. secure at all times.
Keep in mind that while there is a hydration reservoir pocket on this pack, it is too small for anything larger than a standard 2 litre Camelbak, so this pack is not meant for very long hikes or extremely large camera kits. Also, the front pocket is not as well made as the rest of the pack and tends to tear.
For larger cameras and kits, there’s also a slightly larger 300 AW II version, although that one may not be as comfortable for some women.