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Why Rolltop Backpacks Make the Best Camera Bags for Photographers


The industry needs more rolltop backpacks. We’ve reviewed a bunch of them, but I’ve been baffled as to why they haven’t become more mainstay. Of any backpack style for photographers, the rolltop is truly the best that most of us on staff have used. There are lots of great reasons why too!

They’re So Accommodating

Most times I’ve traveled, I’ve used a rolltop backpack. There are tons of great reasons for this. I’d often need to go on a press trip. One back, the rolltop backpack, would be all for technology. Then I’d have a duffel bag on the side for clothing and personal necessities. My rolltop backpack would hold a camera or two, lenses, a light, a laptop, cables, headphones, cleaning gear, and a few personal items. That’s just inside. On the outside, I’ve often found a rolltop backpack to be able to hold things like water bottles and tripods. They’re indeed built to do just this. Lots of them have sternum and waist straps. And, for the record, we’ve reviewed the most camera bags of any publication on the market. So we know just how good the rolltop can be for photographers. Many of us prefer them as our personal camera bags.

The one I use most is a Tenba DNA Backpack. Is it stylish? No, but it gets the job done effectively at a low cost. Style is important to me, and most of these bags are nylon or some other material. But over the years, I’ve really wanted more leather and canvas. Some brands have convinced me that those are really heavy. And I’ll concur. But then in that case, I’d be all for a bag made of hemp of some sort. I just haven’t found one I like just yet.

They Adapt with You on the Go

There are times when I’ve traveled with a rolltop backpack and bought things along the way. Maybe it’s been food, drinks, gifts, etc. But the rolltop design accommodates to always bringing more stuff. And no matter what, they’ve always let me store them on airplanes in the carry-on compartment, on trains, etc. They can become smaller or larger at will and keep things all within reasonable space. 

When I’ve gotten to a hotel room, I often unpack my rolltop backpack. Then I pack it accordingly with only what I need when I get to a location. It’s really been great over the years. They’ve done wonders for my back. Often on trips, the WANDRD PRVKE backpacks are what I’ve brought with me. Besides those, I’ve used THULE before too.

They Let a Photographer Travel with Only One Bag

Here’s the biggest thing: you can actually pack minimally using a rolltop backpack. Going on a weekend getaway? Shove the camera gear down in the bottom compartment and then store essentials in the top area. You can shove another pair of pants, toiletries, two or three shirts, socks, and underwear in the top section. Sometimes you’ll have room for extra stuff you may bring or buy along the way. If you’re doing a weekend getaway, a rolltop backpack is an easy choice. 

It’s also great on your back, but we’ve said that already. Keeping things balanced on your back and posture is very important. It’s much better to put everything on your back than to have that and another bag on the side. Trust us, your back will appreciate you so much more.


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