Carrying around a lot of camera gear can become quite cumbersome, especially if you have to use a separate bag. Fortunately, many people make special inserts you can just slide into a backpack to use it as your camera bag. In this post, we’ll look at the best camera bag inserts, why they’re an ideal solution for backpacks, and how to choose the best one.
The problem with camera bags
Even though you can go out and buy a dedicated camera bag, most of them are quite expensive, and they’re very limited in purpose. You can only carry a camera, some lenses, and other accessories. Good luck trying to fit any other items! At best, you may be able to sneak in an umbrella or water bottle.
Additionally, most camera bags have fixed compartments, so if you’re not using all of them, you’re essentially wasting space because there’s not much else you can fit in those dedicated lens/camera gear compartments.
So unless you’re a seriously professional photographer that needs a dedicated bag for all the specialized camera equipment you carry, you don’t need to spend your money on a dedicated camera bag. Instead, you can pick up a simple camera bag insert, which will fit into your existing bag.
Camera bag inserts have the advantage of protecting your camera gear and still leaving enough space for your other daily carry, like a laptop, a book or two, and anything else you may need.
Another advantage camera bag inserts provide is comfort. Let’s face it: camera bags are not comfortable, and you probably already have a favorite backpack which is so comfortable you hardly feel it on your back.
Backpacks also comparatively less expensive(or at least more value for money) than camera bags. So if you could combine a backpack and a camera bag into one without a significant difference in cost at worst, or saving money at best, why wouldn’t you?
Not only can camera bag inserts work with backpacks, but satchels, shoulder bags, and tote bags too. You just have to find the right size.
So if you don’t like hauling a backpack, but instead prefer to sling a shoulder bag or tote, an insert will be a good solution for you.
At the end of the day, hikers, students, and hobbyists will find camera bag inserts to be the ultimate solution of convenience
Hikers won’t want to carry an entire extra bag, and this would solve their problem.
Students already have a lot to carry and an extra bag is just cumbersome, and this would solve their problem.
Hobbyists don’t want to haul an extra bag around just for fun, and this would solve their problem.
Finally, an added secret benefit is being able to fit everything you need in a compact manner, which will make a huge difference in air travel!
Best Camera Bag Inserts: Top 6 picks
1. Tenba BYOB 10: Best overall camera insert
Normally BYOB means something else, but here, I’m assuming it means bring your own bag!
The BYOB camera insert is really awesome and I think it’s the BEST camera insert out there. It’s a bit more expensive than the other ones but it’s totally worth the money in my opinion.
The reason being is that you can fit a DSLR/mirrorless camera and up to 4 lenses and accessories.
Whether you have a backpack, a messenger bag, a duffel, or a carry-on, or what have you(!), the BYOB 10 should fit easily.
The exterior of this camera insert is very well padded, and the dividers are also padded to keep your gear from bumping into other pieces of gear.
Another really nice design touch is the mesh side pockets that stretch out to fit a wide variety of items like your wallet, phone, or even a small water bottle.
There’s also a D-ring to attach keys or a carabiner for hanging a lot more accessories.
There are also front and rear pockets for even more storage. It’s also got a little handle on top so you can use it as a lunchbox style carry.
All in all, Tenba have taken a limited amount of space and turned it into a very functional and expandable bag. If you don’t mind spending the slightly extra money(and you may want to considering it will house $1000s of dollars of camera gear), you should stop reading here and pick up the Tenba BYOB 10 🙂
The Tenba BYOB is also available in smaller sizes.
- PROTECTION IN ANY BAG: Designed to carry & protect a camera inside a larger backpack, suitcase or handbag, the BYOB's soft shell easily molds to the shape of a carrying bag. They work with a variety of camera systems, with pockets to organize accessories
- INSERT YOUR CAMERA: The BYOB 10 fits a DSLR or mirrorless camera with 2-4 lenses & accessories & features padded dividers that are adjustable to fit multiple configurations, & a zippered top cover that can be folded back to allow quick access to gear.
- INDUSTRY LEADING EQUIPMENT PROTECTION: For 40 years, Tenba has been building industry-leading equipment cases for rental houses, studios and professional imagemakers. Our cases can withstand being shipped or checked as luggage while ensuring protection
- HEAVY DUTY: Our Transport series is a collection of maximum-protection cases for everything from cameras to computers, lighting to grip gear & more. Made with ballistic & Cordura nylon, YKK zippers, seatbelt-grade webbing, & heavily reinforced stitching.Features interior dimensions of 10 inch W x 7.5 inch H x 4 inch D ( 25 X 19 X 10 centimeter )
- COMPARE THE QUALITY: Compare our camera bags, air cases, messenger bags, laptop bags & travel bags to similar products from Timbuk2, Travelon, Tous, Herschel, Vera Bradley, Chrome, Manhattan Portage, Eastpak, Tokidoki, Asus, Patagonia or Kenneth Cole
2. Mountainsmith Kit Cube: great for carry-on bags
- Padded compartment with internal dividers for custom camera carry
- Water resistant exterior fabric panels
- Color-coded pockets to organize new vs used memory cards, storage devices, etc.
- Water resistant 5000mm PU fabric panels for extreme durability in the field
- Fits most FAA carry-on sized lugagge and bags
3. S-ZONE Water Resistant DSLR SLR Camera Insert Bag: great for messenger bags
If you have a messenger bag or satchel style bag, the S-Zone insert is a really good choice. It’s comparatively sleek and tall, ideal to fit into a messenger bag.
It’s made out of nylon and is water resistant. It’s also really lightweight, and when you’re not using it, you can fold it up by removing the inner dividers and flatten it down to condense the size to a certain extent.
You have two dividers in this bag insert that you can adjust to a variety of configurations. The really cool thing about this insert is that you can use it to carry one camera with a large lens, a camera with a small lens and one extra lens, or just use it to carry three lenses.
This model is available in 4 different sizes which you can choose depending on the size of your bag and the size of your camera.
For really small DSLR cameras and just one lens, the smallest size will do the trick.
If you use a bigger lens that has more zoom, you’ll need the medium or large size.
Of course, you’re also limited to the size of your backpack/messenger bag. For a large backpack, you can use any of the sizes. For a messenger bag, you’ll probably be limited to small or medium.
- Material: High density nylon, Raindrop proof, Light weight, Foldable and Portable.
- Dimensions: 9''Lx7''Hx4''W inch,suitable for a DSLR/SLR camera and ONE camera lens
- Absorbing shock and vibration to protect your camera against damages, dust and scratches
- DIY a camera bag, you could insert this case into most of S-ZONE backpacks or messenger bags
- Detachable divider enable you to adjust the space of this case to match your camera well
4. Tenba Tool Box
Since we’re talking about camera inserts in general and not specifically DSLR camera inserts, it’s worth mentioning the Tenba Tool Box too.
Essentially, the Tenba Tool Box is the same as the Tenba BYOB, except it’s much flatter and more compact. That makes it a really good choice for carrying GoPros(or similar action cameras) and smaller, compact cameras and their accessories.
It doesn’t have any of the extra bells and whistles that the BYOB has(the mesh pockets and extra compartments, but you can still rearrange the inserts to any configuration and fit quite a bit of smaller gear in it.
One other huge difference is that the top is NOT padded but it is see through. So you won’t get protection from all sides.
Since it’s smaller, you can fit it in even smaller bags, too!
- Rigid, padded Tool Box provides protected storage and organization for equipment and accessories inside any bag.
- Clear, PVC-free TPU window so contents are visible at a glance.
- Durable elastic loops keep cables untangled without the need for individual cord wraps, and are also perfect for batteries.
- Fits GoPro camera systems, professional shoe-mount flash units, radio triggers, mirror less cameras and lenses, and so much more.
- Movable dividers can be repositioned to any configuration. Rigid design keeps contents from moving.
5. Lens wraps
Sometimes you don’t really need anything special for your camera itself but you do need something to carry your delicate lenses in. In case your camera insert does not have enough room for yet an extra lens, or you just need something safe to put your lens in before putting it in your everyday bag, consider using a lens wrap.
Some companies make dedicated lens wraps, while others make general protective wraps that you can use for anything from lenses to the camera itself.
- Wrap around lenses, tools, or anything else that needs protection
- Solid black color for easy organization and quick ID
- Medium 15-inch square size
- Made of padded, Velcro-compatible knit with a non-scratch nylon backing
- Velcro tabs on all four corners let each wrap be self-secured in any number of ways
- Protect Your Equipment from Damage -- Wrap cloth is made of waterproof and oilproof neoprene material which protect your electronics from scratch and water spill.
- Fit with Most Electronics and Camera Gear- It will shape easily to your DSLR camera, telescope, flash light, lenses, lens cap, spare battery, memory card,etc.
- Ideal Protection for Travling -- Protective wraps is flexible and gives additional cushioning in the camera bag when you walking around.
- Easy to Wrap -- Fastening Tape provide more secure to your gear. It's easy to set up and take down.
- Lightweight & Compact -- Small 11-inch Square Size in Gray and Black.
- Smooth interior lining of water-repellent silicone-coated rip stop nylon.
- Velcro corners and a soft knit, Velcro-compatible fabric allow it to be rolled, folded or wrapped into many configurations, form-fitted safely around contents.
- Available in three sizes - 12, 16 and 20 inches square.
- Four available colors - black, gray, blue and lime.
- Four available colors - black, gray, blue and lime.
6. Lens pouches
You can also use lens pouches instead of lens wraps. Pouches may be a bit more secure and snug and have a more secure zip open and close.
The only disadvantage is that you’ll have to buy a pouch that is the same size as your lens. With wraps, you have more flexibility and a single wrap can fit many sizes of lenses.
- (4 PACK) Includes: Altura Photo Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large Neoprene Pouch Bags for DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Lens
- BUILT TO PROTECT: Thick water resistant neoprene protects against moisture, sand, dust, and accidental bumps or scratches.
- DUAL ATTACHMENT POINTS: A belt loop and Snap and swivel clip for convenient and secure transport.
- COMPATIBLE with lenses from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, Sony, Leica, Sigma, Tamron, and more.
- Backed with DigitalGoja 90-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
- 【4 PACK INCLUDE】Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large Neoprene Pouch Bags for DSLR Camera Lens + MagicFiber Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth.
- 【COMPATIBLE MODELS】Compatible with almost all camera lenses. Works for Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, Leica, Sigma, Tamron, etc.
- 【PRACTICAL LENS CASE】With waterproof, dustproof, moistureproof and shock absorption function, protecting lens against bad weather, keeping your valuable camera equipment safe and dry, search ASIN: B06XPQ3327 for the waist strap that matched with the lens cases.
- 【THICK WATERPROOF FABRIC】Thick soft neoprene protects lens, telephoto zoom from accidental bumps and scratches.
- 【AFTER SALES SERVICE】If there is any question about the products, please feel free to contact us, Powerextra offers 24 hours friendly customer service!
- 4 Sets: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. Compatible with almost all camera lenses.
- 5mm thick, water-resistant neoprene protects your lens from accidental scratches, bumps and drops
- An easy pull cord closure allows fast and easy access; belt loop and snap carabiner available for convenient and secure transportation
- Compatible with lenses from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax, Panasonic, Sony, Leica, Sigma, Tamron, and more.
- Small pouch: 3.14" x 4" (w x h); Medium pouch: 4" x 5.5" (w x h); Large pouch: 4" x 7.1" (w x h); Extra Large pouch: 4.3" x 8.7" (w x h)