Professional and semi-pro cameras, including digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are heavy and fragile pieces of equipment. The best way to carry a camera while hiking is the one that makes the heavy equipment comfortable to for your body as you walk around. 

Again, the right solution should allow for easy and quick access to the camera whenever you need to take a photograph. While this is the case, you do not need complicated or even high-end gear to carry a camera safely while hiking. 

Currently, there are numerous ways of carrying a camera, ranging from backpacks to straps and holsters. Throughout this guide, you will learn the various ways you can carry a camera while hiking as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

Backpacks and camera carry cases are the best way to carry a camera while travelling. For hiking applications, however, one needs a more accessible method like quick detach clips, camera straps, holster, or a photography vest. A top loader, camera cube or harness will also come in handy. 

How Do You Carry a Camera While Traveling? 

When travelling, the safest way to carry a camera would be to pack it into a backpack or use the appropriate carry case. This will protect the camera from damage by shock and whether elements. However, you need to keep the camera close and readily accessible while hiking. 

Discussed below are some of the best ways to carry a camera while hiking:

In a Backpack 

This is arguably the easiest, safest, and most comfortable way of carrying a pro camera while hiking. However, most of the leading backpacks are not very accessible. As such, it will take you time to retrieve the camera and take a shot when it is tucked into a backpack.

The good thing about a backpack is that it offers you plenty of room to store necessary camera accessories, and gear such as SD cards, Filters, Camera tripod, GoPro, etc. If you have decided to use a backpack, there a several steps you need to take to ensure the safety of the camera. 

How do You Pack a Camera for Backpacking 

When packing your hiking bag, it is advisable to pack the camera last. This leaves the camera at the top, making it easier to retrieve whenever you need to take a shot. You may also need to wrap the camera using a soft cloth before placing it into the backpack. 

This will protect the lens against scratches when IG rubs against hard objects in the backpack. Rather than using a generic backpack, you should consider investing in one that is specifically designed for a camera. 

Such backpacks often feature a special access zipper that give you easy and quick access to the camera and gear whenever you need it. 

Quick Detach Clips 

Carrying the camera outside the backpack makes it more accessible. This is now possible with the use of special clip devices that attach it to the backpack. Quick detach clips are specifically designed to allow for quick connection and disconnection of the camera to the backpack straps. 

Ideally, one end of the clip attached to either shoulder strap on your backpack. The other end of the clip should be secured to the tripod attachment point on the camera. This leaves the camera dangling on your chest, but is far more comfortable than a neck strap. 

The downside to quick detach clips is that they leave the camera exposed and unprotected. Should you fall with the camera attached to a quick detach clip, it would be the first thing to hit the ground. 

A Carry Case 

Some of the leading camera models come with a convenient carry case. You can also buy one for your camera. Some of the best camera Cary cases feature belt attachments, allowing you to carry the case—with the camera inside—on your hips. Alternatively, you could also attach the carry case to your backpack shoulder straps for easier access. 

Carry cases offer a great balance between protection and accessibility. They also come in an array of designs to suit different applications. My personal favorite carry cases are the ones that feature a top-loading compartment for to the camera. 

Most carry cases also have extra compartments for storing important accessories like micro-fiber cleaning clothes and SD cards.

Top Loader 

A top loader is essentially a camera pouch that is designed to be worn over the chest. The pouch attached to your body through a lightweight harness that you wear over the shoulders. Top loaders keep the camera protected, yet accessible. 

The top loader straps do not interfere with backpack shoulder straps, hence may be worn together. Depending on your camera model and lens size, there are numerous top loader sizes to choose from. Just like camera carry cases, top loaders also have extra compartments for SD cards, extra batteries, and a cleaning kit.

The leading  top loaders—by manufacturers like Manfrotto and Lowepro—are weather-sealed. This is meant to protect the camera against damage by whether elements when you are out hiking. According to most hikers, top loaders are better than backpacks. 

Camera Cube

A camera cube is a small, unique pack that may be used to carry a camera while hiking. Rather then serving as independent bags, camera cubes are designed to slot into either messenger bags or non-camera backpacks. 

Such a camera carrying method will come in handy when you want to keep all your hiking gear together, while ensuring that the camera is well protected. In this regard, you only need to slip a camera cube into your all-purpose backpack along with other camping gear and items.

A camera cube is the affordable alternative to a dedicated camera backpack.  

How Do You Carry a Camera Without a Bag?

The various types of camera bags are only ideal when you are storing or packing the camera for long trips. While bags are a more comfortable safer, and versatile way of carrying a camera, they are not necessary—especially when you are hiking.

There are several camera carrying methods that do not involve the use of a bag of any kind, including: 

Camera Straps 

 These are a simple, lightweight and affordable way d carrying a camera. Most professional camera models come with a standard strap. However, the issued straps are not always the best. For enhanced comfort and versatility, you may need to buy better camera straps.  

For outdoor photography, it is advisable to upgrade to a longer and more comfortable strap that features a quick-release buckle. Camera straps come in multiple types and designs to suit different applications. For instance, you can decide to use a neck strap that leaves the camera hanging down the neck. 

For enhanced comfort with neck straps, go for the ones that are work diagonally across the chest in such a way that the camera rests on the hip. If you are using a heavier camera (such as a full-frame DSLR) or a heavy long-zoom lens, a camera strap may—especially a wrist strap—will not suffice. 

Photography Vest

Nowadays, photography vests are not as popular as they used to be some years back. Though not fashionable, these vests offer a convenient way of storing your hiking gear, including the camera and its accessories. 

The vest have multiple pockets that may be used to carry the camera, lenses, and other accessories. These pockets distribute the weight of the various items across your upper body for enhanced comfort. The good thing about photography vests is that you will have all the accessories and gear with you at all times.

However, the best photograph vests are comparatively costlier as compared to other camera-carrying methods discussed in this guide. Again, they have been known to restrict the hiker’s mobility, especially when you have too many items stiffed into the pockets. 

Camera Harness

A harness is another great way of carrying a camera while hiking. This method is particularly suited for intense hiking expeditions. With a chest camera harness, the camera will rest securely on the chest while its weight is evenly distributed across the shoulders. 

Regardless of the make and model, camera harnesses are accessible, safe and will always keep the camera in sight. Some of the leading harness models have a comparatively larger carrying capacity. With such a harness, you can carry two camera bodies, in addition to a few accessories. 

With such a solution, you can easily switch cameras, rather than having to change the lens. As opposed to camera straps, a harness will keep the camera close to the body at all times. This makes it less likely for it to get damaged when you fall forward. 

Camera Holster

If you need a camera-carrying method that allows for easy access, a holster will come in handy. With a holster, you only need to reach down, grab the camera and take photographs. Camera holsters come in in various shapes and designs. 

Most holsters are similar to camera harnesses in design, but are designed to secure the camera to your hip. Some versions are designed to clip onto your belt or backpack straps. Other models have been designed to attach to conventional camera bags for easy and quick access to the camera. 

Though handy, camera holsters are not suited for holding camera gear on long trips. Again, wearing the camera stung the hip exposes it to damage by impact and whether elements. However, they are a great option in situations that require fast access to the camera and gear. 

Final Verdict 

If you would rather keep the camera protected, you should opt for such options as a backpack, camera cube, and carry case. While these offer additional protection to the camera and lens, they are not easily accessible. 

Whenever you are hiking, you should use a camera-carrying method that allows for quick and easy access to the camera gear. Such methods include camera straps, holster, harness, and a photography vest. The best way to carry a camera while hiking should also make it comfortable to carry the camera gear for extended periods.


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