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Best camera bags for wildlife photographers

When you're out in nature working hard to get the shot, you need a bag that will keep your equipment safe, protected from the elements, and is comfortable and easy to use.

Camera bags compilation
Published: July 14, 2022 at 7:00 am
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If you're an avid (or budding) wildlife photographer and you're wondering which camera bag to buy to keep your precious equipment safe from the elements, wonder no more.

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Our expert advisors have shared the camera bags they've tried, tested and trusted when heading out to photograph wildlife. Whether you're after a DSLR camera bag, a waterproof camera bag or a crossbody camera bag, these camera and lens backpacks will see you through.

“There’s no point in having great gear if it’s not looked after properly,” says wildlife photographer and journalist Graeme Green.

“Big lenses are not the easiest thing in the world to carry or to transport. Years ago, I lost a perfectly good (and not cheap) lens by carrying it in a bag that wasn’t up to the task. And I’ve taken a 600mm lens through various airports; they’re awkward and heavy, and, at more than, £10,000, it’s an item you want to take good care of. It also doesn’t help that it looks like you’re trying to smuggle some sort of high-tech weapon through airport customs. Having a bag to take care of such a giant lens is very useful.”

“Having your gear well-organised also matters, as wildlife doesn’t wait for you to scrabble around looking for the right lens or a new battery.”


Best camera bags for wildlife photographers

Lowepro Truckee BP 250 LX

Lowepro Truckee BP 250 LX

This is a comfy and stylish mid size camera bag. Ideal for a DSLR camera and spare lens along with room for all your personal bits in the space above. I liked the way the Truckee also has options to reconfigure the inside to hold a larger lens or serve purely as a rucksack if desired.

This feels perfect for day or weekend outings with plenty of space to store chargers and hardrives or clothing and non camera bits in the top half.

Lowepro Truckee BP 250 LX - pocket open

I am a real fan of the signature jazzy orange colour lining, it contrasts nicely against camera kit and is echoed round the bag- though perhaps try not to flash this if you’re trying to camouflage yourself mid-wildlife shoot.

Reviewed by Tom Gilks, pictures editor, BBC Wildlife

Vanguard VEO Active 53

Vanguard VEO Active 53 Trekking Camera Backpack - inside view Vanguard VEO Active 53 Trekking Camera Backpack

Vanguard’s VEO Active 53 is a sturdy, durable 45 litre backpack, with comfy straps and cushioned back so you can carry the weight for a day on the hills or in forests. It’s designed for a DSLR and 6-7 lenses, and can also take up to a 16 inch laptop or a tablet. The bright orange interior can be personalised, so you can organise the segments to fit your gear needs for each assignment or trip.

The main section also lifts out, so you can unload and take out all your gear in one go. It comes with lots of additional pockets and sections for storing everything from batteries to rainjacket, and can attach tripods on the side and back.

Vanguard VEO Active 53 Trekking Camera Backpack - inside view Vanguard VEO Active 53 Trekking Camera Backpack

Available in green and grey, it has a water-resistant material and waterproof zips, but comes with an extra seam-sealed rain cover, which is vital, anywhere from Scotland to Rwanda, to stop your gear getting destroyed by the rain.

Reviewed by Graeme Green, wildlife photographer and journalist

Billingham Hadley Pro 2020

Billingham Hadley Pro

The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 is an update on their classic and bestselling Hadley Pro. There’s not a huge amount of difference between the two, so don’t go throwing out your Hadley Pro in order to buy this one. In fact, the Hadley Pro is still a fantastic bag and available to buy.

The Hadley Pro 2020 is not a replacement, but instead another version of it, with a slightly improved carry handle, removable shoulder strap, a luggage strap on the back and a waterproof zip on the back pocket.

Billingham Hadley Pro - removable inserts

Like all of Billingham’s bags, it’s a fantastic premium quality bag with a choice of two outer waterproof fabrics (canvas or FibreNyte™), full grain leather and solid brass fittings. There’s room for a variety of equipment depending on what you take out with you – I tested it with a DSLR and three small-medium lenses, and they all fit together fine. Plus, there’s two front dump pockets for batteries and spare SD cards (and in my case, some snacks too).

Read a longer review of the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020.

Reviewed by Megan Shersby, editorial and digital co-ordinator, BBC Wildlife

Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW II

Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW II

The first test for this bag was an overnight shoot for the magazine, when I needed to lug around quite a bit of camera kit. I found the bag and the options to reconfigure the inside of it to be very well thought-out, and really liked that one of the Velcro dividers inside the bag doubles up as a mini storage pouch – I used this to store a lens cloth for easy accessibility. There’s also plenty more internal and external pockets to hold all the other bits and bobs, such as memory cards.

Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW II - open bag

I really liked the way that it stays upright when put on the ground, rather than toppling over as many bags tend to do, and found that the dash of orange on the zips helped you navigate around the bag from the corner of your eye, whilst sizing up the next shot.

Read a longer review of the Lowepro Whistler BP 350 AW II.

Reviewed by Tom Gilks, pictures editor, BBC Wildlife

Vanguard ALTA SKY 66

Vanguard ALTA SKY 66

Vanguard’s Alta Sky 66 is designed to carry a super telephoto 600mm lens, or even some 800mm lenses, with a DSLR or mirrorless camera attached to it, so it’s all ready to go when you need it. You can wear it like a rucksack with two shoulder straps and waist strap, or with the shoulder strap, with one more strap for good measure on the top to lift it.

Vanguard ALTA SKY 66 - inside view

There’s a section on the front that can hold a tablet (up to 9 inch), with side pockets for water bottles. You can also attach a tripod to the front. The material is weather-resistant to waterproof, though again, with any expensive gear, you’ll want a full-on waterproof cover (it comes with one).

At 38 litre capacity, it also doubles up as a decent travel rucksack or day pack for non-photography gear.

Reviewed by Graeme Green, wildlife photographer and journalist

Groundtruth RIKR Camera Bag

Groundtruth Rika camera bag

For those times when you don’t want to lug your whole kit and kaboodle around, the lightweight, 3-litre RIKR Camera Bag from Groundtruth fits the bill perfectly.

There space for your camera, plus one or two smallish lenses, plus internal zip pockets will take spare memory cards or batteries.

On the outside, handy mesh pockets will take your water bottle and brolly, while a zip pocket at the back is perfect for phone, keys and cards. There are even straps at the base for a collapsed tripod. Plus, when you do want more kit, it’s compatible with their 24L backpack.

Groundtruth camera bag open

Made entirely from recycled materials, Groundtruth manufacture all their products to high ethical and sustainability standards, which always get the thumbs up from us. It may be small, but it’s perfectly formed – in every sense.

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Reviewed by Paul McGuinness, editor, BBC Wildlife

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