- Buyer's Guide
Turn Your Backpack into a Camera Bag with These Inserts
Camera gear is often expensive, so adequate protection is key on the go. But unless you have a purpose-made camera bag, most carry isn’t up to the task. However, that doesn’t mean you always need to use a dedicated camera bag. With a little modularity courtesy of a camera bag insert, you can turn your backpack into a camera bag. Here’s how…
Can you put a camera in a backpack?
Theoretically yes. But in reality, you might need to do a bit of tweaking first. Fragile camera gear generally won’t hold up well to being carried in a bag that doesn’t offer any protection against bumps, drops, or scrapes. However, a camera bag insert provides a modular and adaptable solution. They come in diverse sizes to accommodate different camera gear setups, and can fit inside a variety of bags. Ideal if you already have a bag you love but wish it would keep your camera gear safe too.
How do I turn my luggage into a camera bag?
A camera insert for backpack use can work just as well in your travel bag as it can in your everyday bag. So long as it fits in your luggage, there’s no reason you can’t use a camera bag insert in a variety of different travel carry including backpacks, wheeled luggage, duffels, messengers, and more.
How do you make a camera bag insert?
If you’re keen to take the DIY approach, it’s possible to make a camera insert for backpack use. You may be able to use supplies you already have (such as a cardboard box or drawstring bag). Additionally, you’ll likely be able to find relatively inexpensive padding material (such as foam sheets) online or from hardware or craft stores. The DIY approach allows you to customize a camera bag insert for your specific gear setup and design preferences. It may also be cheaper than purchasing a camera cube, depending on the supplies and tools you have at hand. Of course, it can be a tricky and time-consuming project so you should decide if it’s the right option for you!
An alternative may be to purchase a ready-made camera bag insert and customize it slightly to suit your setup, rather than starting from scratch. For instance, how do you make camera bag dividers to tailor the organization? A little bit of foam covered in fabric is a simple divider option that can be slotted between equipment. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you could add Velcro or a fold-over padded flap for added flexibility.
Top-notch tailormade camera bag inserts
If the DIY route is not for you, don’t worry! Below we’ve rounded up some of the best tailormade camera cube and camera insert options for everyday backpacks. Ready for a range of loads and budgets, they’ll help protect your precious camera gear wherever the picture leads you…
Camera protection doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. This Koolertron DSLR Camera Insert is a budget-friendly option that can fit inside a variety of bags. The padded insert and dividers help provide shock absorption and customized organization, while the drawstring closure is quick and easy to secure or open.
Mountainsmith’s TAN Kit Cube (Small) is a great option for protecting minimalist camera setups on the move. It features a cinch-top opening and a padded interior with a divider and hi-vis yellow lining to easily discern the contents. Additionally, the cube offers a quick-access front pocket. It can be carried as a standalone bag or alternatively its compact size makes it a great option for converting a wide range of larger bags into camera carry.
The f-stop ICU Series features a range of Internal Camera Units that accommodate diverse camera gear setups. Designed to work with f-stop’s Mountain Series packs or as standalone storage, the units feature water-resistant exteriors and customizable padded dividers to easily adjust to changing gear needs.
Available in small, medium and large sizes, the Pacsafe Camsafe PCI inserts offer handy camera storage for a range of setups. The padded interiors and adjustable dividers protect and adapt to changing loads, with a zippered lid pocket for storing additional accessories. The zippers are also lockable for added security and peace of mind.
A versatile option for converting a range of bags into camera carry, the Tenba BYOB 10 offers a padded interior and adjustable dividers to protect your gear on the go. Suitable for a DSLR or mirrorless camera body and two to four lenses, the camera insert provides a choice of interior and exterior pockets to organize accessories. The zippered lid can be stowed out of the way for convenient access, and the top carry handle makes it easy to carry or remove the insert from a bag.
Incase’s Camera Insert Lite can double as a standalone case or a protective insert for a larger bag. Top and side handles provide easy portability and maneuverability, while the padded and customizable dividers protect a range of camera gear setups. Additionally, a zippered lid pocket provides handy storage for further accessories.
The EVOC CB 6L Camera Block can be used inside a larger bag or as a compact standalone option for protecting minimalist gear setups. The camera block can be carried with the top handle or a removable shoulder strap and features an ergonomic T-pull zipper closure. Interior padded dividers and a lid pocket organize your gear, while the gray lining helps enhance the visibility of the contents in low-light conditions.
This insert is designed to fit the Vanguard Supreme 40F Hard Case, but is compatible with a variety of other bags or as a standalone camera case. The adjustable padded dividers help provide protection against bumps and scrapes, and the lid pocket is useful for storing accessories. The insert fits two DSLRs and six additional lenses and includes a carry handle.
The Pelican TrekPak system is a modular alternative to Velcro dividers, letting you customize organization with TrekPak divider panels. It’s compatible with a variety of Pelican cases, backpacks, and duffels and utilizes a combination of pre-installed wall sections, divider panels, and locking pins to create personalized layouts tailored to your specific gear setup.
The Boundary MK-1 Case lets you easily reach gear thanks to three zipped access points. Multiple pockets and padded dividers allow you to tailor organization to diverse carry setups. The shock-absorbing base helps protect gear on the go, while top and side handles provide easy portability. The weatherproof case also integrates with Boundary’s Prima System and can be converted to shoulder carry using the Prima’s waist belt.
The Capsule Camera Insert introduces rugged camera protection into Mission Workshop bags and is compatible across their range except for the Fraction and Hauser. The insert also suits a variety of other bags with volumes of around 20L or larger in size. Handmade in the USA, The Capsule offers top and front access, configurable dividers, and a choice of top and side carry handles.
These camera cubes from Peak Design are the perfect match to any of your Peak Design bags or otherwise. Coming in three sizes to fit small or large setups, each cube features a tear-open main compartment with one (small) or two (medium, large) side access hatches for quick access to your most used gear. Since the cubes are highly water-resistant, we’re comfortable snatching the grab-handles and using these cubes on their own.
This article was originally published on 11 March 2018 and updated on 6 December 2022.