The Best Canvas Camera Backpacks for Photographers

If you’re in the market for a new camera bag, a canvas camera bag needs serious consideration. Today we’re going to go over why canvas backpacks are so special, and follow that by our own canvas backpack recommendations. Let’s get started!

Why Canvas Backpacks?

First, lets go over their very distinct advantages.

Design

I think we can all admit that most camera bags are very… unique. Camera pack designers are always trying to maximize space for more bodies and more lenses. While this is a good intention, the final backpacks end up being very large, and awkwardly box shaped. Don’t get me wrong, I have one of these, and they are very functional. All my gear has a place. But there are quite a few drawbacks.

The box shaped backpack aesthetic is not a very attractive one. Whenever someone has a weird shaped backpack, you know its for a specific purpose. They stand out. This is certainly true for most camera backpacks out there.

Enter canvas bags. Canvas camera bags are a perfect combo of a good looking backpack with camera bag benefits. Canvas backpacks are very common in the world of backpacks. In fact, they fall into the “fashionable” backpacks if you ask me.

The canvas bags we’re going to go over today have the classic canvas bag look, but with all of the function. This means padded compartments dedicated for your DSLR or mirrorless camera along with lenses and accessories.

If you are tired of the box backpack, and want something more fashionable, canvas backpacks are the way to go.

Perfect for Casual Use

One drawback of canvas bags is that they can store less gear. This makes sense, as they are not a straight cloth box. But capacity is admittedly not supposed to be the strength here.

If you are doing a shoot for a client, such as a wedding, a low key canvas backpack with only a few pieces of gear is probably not in your best interest. You don’t need to hide the fact that you have photography gear. A professional photographer carried professional gear. You would even expect to see a pelican case or something much more utilitarian.

A canvas backpack truly shines for casual use. Traveling, walking around the city, or across your college campus, a canvas backpack gets the job done. When taking your camera around for casual use, you probably don’t have (or need) a full lens set with you. Your main camera setup along with a spare lens and batteries is pretty much all you need.

If travelling, you also probably don’t want photos of yourself with that awkward box bag.

Security

A huge advantage of not using typical and obvious camera backpacks is keeping away unwanted attention. Unless I’m part of an official event, I don’t make it clear to the world I have a big bag full of expensive cameras and lenses. This doesn’t only apply when carrying it. Even if you unintentionally leave your backpack in the car in plain sight. A camera bag will be more of a target than a normal backpack.

This is also why I generally avoid camera bags from Canon, Sony, or other camera/tech companies. If you have a big shoulder bag with the Canon logo on it, people around you will guess you have a nice Canon camera inside. The best case is you make a photographer friend! The worst case though is having someone target you for your expensive gear.

The same logic applies to those who don’t like using factory neck straps that come with cameras. They simply yell your gear make and model. Hey everyone, I have a “Canon EOS 5D Mark IV”! You just don’t gain anything from announcing to the world that you have camera gear.

Spoiler, this is why you won’t see Peak Design packs on this list. Everyone will know that you could have a camera in that ridiculously expensive and sleek backpack. The packs on this list are not nearly as popular, so they will thus be more low key.

Canvas backpacks look like normal everyday backpacks, so they are automatically less of a target.

Weight

Now we know that canvas backpacks are better looking and make you less of a target, but they also have one more functional advantage.

Because canvas backpacks are smaller and much less boxy this results in less weight of your pack! This is a huge plus, a lighter backpack means you are unencumbered for longer, and maybe even means you will shoot longer!

We also talked about how the lower gear capacity means you will carry less glass. This will further result in less weight on your shoulders.

Our Picks

Finally, let’s dive in to the best canvas backpacks for photographers.

1) Endurax Leather Camera Bag

This first pack gets the number 1 spot, as it comes in at a significantly more affordable price point. This is a great looking bag from a lesser known backpack manufacturer, hence the price.

It it covered with vintage looking buckles, buttons, and leather trim. This makes it a great choice for those digging the vintage look. The leather and buckles do increase the weight, so keep that tradeoff in mind here.

Unfortunately, because of the small brand, they do not have any official bag volume numbers.

Weight: 3.1 lbs
Capacity: DSLR + 4 Lenses
Extra Features: Room for 15″ laptop
Cons: No side access

Endurax Leather Camera Backpack Bag for Photographers...
  • Unique Design - Endurax vintage camera backpack made with waterproof & durable waxed canvas and genuine leather trim, gives it a very stylish and distressed looking that can...
  • Dual Compartment - Top-loading for necessary like clothes and food etc. Drawstring bag design and adjustable strap can release for extra capacity. Lower compartment fit the...
  • Versatile Camera Bag - Included dividers are flexible and removable, by taking out all dividers and flipping up the layer between upper & lower parts can convert this...
  • Easy Organize - Large capacity with multiple storage pockets made this DSLR backpack easy to organize, interior contains a padded compartment for 15.6 inch laptop, two side...

2) Tenba Fulton 14L

Tenba is a much more well known bag in the world of photography. Many of their bags fall into the “classic photography backpack” territory. Meaning boxy and ugly. That was until they released the Fulton series.

This bag comes in many colors and sizes. The colors include black, black camo, tan, and olive. The sizes include 10L, 14L, and 16L. The 14L hits just right for day trips with a small loadout.

If you want a more modern looking canvas bag, this is a terrific choice. You won’t find any leather or metal buckles here. You can tell they wanted to keep this backpack light. Simple straps and plastic buckets keep this pack from looking very utilitarian. Inside, and outside however there are lots of compartments for you to stay nice and organized.

Weight: 2.3 lbs
Capacity: DSLR + 4 Lenses
Extra Features: Room for 13″ laptop

Tenba 637-724 Fulton 14L Backpack - Tan/Olive
  • Secure rear camera access – camera gear is secured up against the user's back so that nothing can be removed from the front or sides of the pack while traveling. Rear access...
  • Versatile roll top design — protects contents from rain when rolled tightly, and allows EXPANDABILITY to hold extra cargo when needed.
  • Capacity — Mirrorless or DSLR camera with 3-4 lenses (up to attached 24-70mm 2.8), Plus iPad or iPad Pro up to 10.5 inches. Also fits DJI Mavic and other compact drones.
  • Tripod/monopod storage – reinforced side pocket fits a tripod or monopod.

3) Sunny 16 Voyaget 31L

The Sunny 16 Voyager is a bit larger than the Tenba Fultons, however with this, you can store much more.

The increased size means it can fit a 16″ laptop, and hold way more lenses than you would need for a casual stroll. This is more of a full on camera bag without the camera bag aesthetic. A nice middle ground to make our list.

This is also the first backpack on this list to offer side access to your camera! Thank goodness! Side access is a game changer. You don’t have to put your bag down on the floor to access your camera on the go. This bag has many more features like a suitecase sleeve, tripod holder, hidden compartment and removable waist straps.

If you are okay with having a more traditional camera bag interior, give this pack a serious look.

Weight: 3.0 lbs
Capacity: DSLR + 6+ Lenses
Extra Features: Room for 16″ laptop. Side access!

XVI SUNNY 16 Voyager 31L Professional Anti-Theft DSLR...
  • 🏆【THE MOST FUNCTIONAL DIGITAL CAMERA BACKPACK】Our Voyager camera bag can not only hold all your photography camera gear including your lenses, computer, tripod — you...
  • 🏆【QUICK SIDE ACCESS CAMERA BACKPACK】Instantly access your camera from the side access zipper so you never miss a shot. This zipper pocket can fit cameras and camera...
  • 🏆【BUILT TO LAST PREMIUM MATERIAL】The black Voyager camera backpack features 1000D tarpaulin material (waterproof) and lined with water-resistant zippers to ensure...
  • 🏆【31L INTERIOR CAPACITY】This is the perfect DSLR camera backpack size because it’s not too big and not too small — you can fit so much gear and personal items...

4) Think Tank Retrospective Backpack 15L

Think Tank has long been in the camera bag game, like Tenba. Similar to the Sunny 16, the Retrospective is for photographers who only want to store gear in a nice looking pack. The main compartment is size of the entire bag.

Because of the main compartment taking all the space, we can carry loads of gear with this bag too. It is a bit more boxy than the Sunny 16, but it remains a casual looking pack. It comes in weighing a bit more, because it is strong enough to carry more gear.

You can attach Think Tank’s accessory system to this bag. Not that I personally would. I think it starts looking a little too “tactical”. If you’re into that look then it’s a great modular system to add more exterior pockets to you backpack.

This bag is offered in plain black, or a nice green “pinestone”. Think Tank has always made quality products, and this definitely reflects in the price. I’ll tell you now, this bag is the most expensive on this list.

Weight: 4.0 lbs
Capacity: DSLR + 6 Lenses
Extra Features: Room for 15″ laptop

Think Tank Retrospective Backpack 15L, Pinestone
  • Retrospective Backpack 15L (Pinestone) - Waist Belt - Rain Cover - Think Tank Lifetime Limited Warranty
  • Soft and form-fitting with minimalist outer appearance
  • Top and rear-panel access to camera gear
  • Dedicated pocket fits up to a 15" laptop

5) Small Rig Camera Backpack

Small Rig is another less popular camera gear brand that has been getting my attention in Amazon. As one of those random Amazon brands, the price is delightfully low.

This pack is 20L, so it is right in the middle of the other bags on this list. Similar to bags 1 and 2, the gear is stored in the bottom half of the bag. This helps that top not be all boxy. This bag also has side access to your camera.

Rain covers haven’t been talked about on this list, but the Small Rig backpack actually comes with one. I’ve been caught in the rain before, and a rain cover can be a life saver. Especially when expensive camera gear is involved.

Weight: 3.0 lbs
Capacity: DSLR + 4 Lenses
Extra Features: Room for 15″ laptop. Side Access!

SmallRig Camera Backpack, Waterproof Camera Bag 20 Inch...
  • 【Three Separate Compartments】19.6 x 11 x 8 inch, approx. 20 liters. the camera bag could be used for both your camera gear and daily necessities. It’s divided into an...
  • 【Quick Access】 Side access for quick access to the camera and accessories while wearing - so that you are quickly at hand in the crucial moments.
  • 【Additional Storage Bag】 It offers multiple extra pockets for a 15” laptop, a 9.7”iPad, filters, tripod, keys, sunglasses, passport, and other accessories
  • 【Keep Safe】Its padded foam with wear-resistant fabric provides security, structure, and aesthetic cleanliness throughout, and the vented, quick-drying mesh back padding...