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Best Backpacks Under $100

Here is the recommended list of best backpacks consumer reports under 100 dollars $50 and 200 dollars in 2020. This is one of the top rated camera backpacks, which are lightweight and compact.

Are you tired of lugging around a heavy kit bag? We explore ten great lightweight alternatives for your gear.

Bags are the unsung heroes of the photography world. Tasked with keeping your gear both safe and easily accessible, a good kit bag can make or break a shooting expedition.

With all the careful forethought and planning that goes into choosing your kit for a shoot, the next step is to cut down on any needlessly heavy weight of your backpack’s design.

This hand-picked collection of camera backpacks represent the perfect mix of compact build, handy features and impressive agility.

Each comes with its own strengths that can help to expand your creative potential, as well as allow you to get mobile more easily with your gear.

Whether you’re looking to take a long trek, snap away on a city break or pack a tripod and a couple of lenses, there’s something for you here.

Prices start at £49 and the lightest on the list weighs in at just 500g. If portability is your preference, read on for our top ten best-value lightweight backpacks.

Best Backpacks Consumer Reports

  1. Manfrotto NX Sling Under $50
  2. Manfrotto NX Backpack Under $50
  3. Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 Under $100
  4. Think Tank SidePath Under $50
  5. Vanguard Veo Discover 42 Under $100
  6. Tenba Solstice 7L Under $100 £69
  7. Think Tank TurnStyle 20 V2 Under $100
  8. Lowepro Flipside 200 AW II Under $100
  9. Manfrotto Manhattan Mover 30 Under $100
  10. Vanguard Alta Rise 45 Under $100

Best Hiking Backpacks Under 100

1. Manfrotto NX Sling Best Under $50

This manfrotto backpac is actually a sling, meaning it has a single shoulder strap and can be quickly moved from your back to your front for fast access through the side zip.

While this means it’s great for small setups, it doesn’t offer as much space as some of the traditional backpacks in test can.

That said, you have space for a DSLR with attached medium zoom lens and additional optic thanks to a handy removable padded compartment. This allows you to turn your kit bag into a day bag if you want to explore the local town.

It also has space for a 13in laptop in a rear padded compartment. There’s a small space above the insert that allows you to stow some personal gear or accessories, and a net even gives space to pack in a Manfrotto Pixi tripod – great for low-angle shots in a pinch.

Though space is at a premium, there’s still a small slip at the front of the bag that’s ideal for small accessories or personal items. Having said that, it still offers a great entry to bags for the price.

Despite being small in stature, there’s a good amount of room for personal items, including a laptop.

Specifications

  • Weight: 653g
  • WxHxD: external 25x43x13cm; internal 24x41x12cm
  • Removable compartment: Yes
  • Laptop: 13in

PROS

  • Sling design for quick access
  • Very light
  • Laptop sleeve

Cons

  • Lacks space
  • Small camera compartment

2. Manfrotto NX Backpack Under $50

For a dollar more than the NX Sling, the NX Backpack gives you more space and a solid ratio of gear to personal belongings.

The removable camera insert houses Manfrotto’s Protection System, and gives room for a DSLR with attached mid-size lens, plus an additional two optics.

You can access this through either the front or top zips, though if you have personal items loaded up it does get a bit fiddly.

That said, a padded divider cuts the bag in half, meaning the top can be used to stash your personal items or photographic accessories, and gives plenty of room.

You can remove the inserts and lock the divider up to create a traditional backpack – ideal for city breaks. There is a tripod system for a compact travel tripod.

Though it won’t be comfortable with anything heavy duty, it’s still a very handy feature. There is also room in the padded rear sleeve for a 13in laptop or tablet device, which comes in handy if you want to edit as you go.

Whether you want a camera bag or a backpack, the NX gives you the flexibility to choose with a removable inner.

Specifications

  • Weight: 949g
  • WxHxD: external 31x46x17cm; internal 30x44x16cm
  • Removable compartment: Yes
  • Laptop: 13in

Pros

  • Very spacious design
  • Removable compartment
  • Tripod system

Cons

  • Can be fiddly
  • No quick entry

Best Travel Backpacks Under 100

3. Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 Under $100

Although this is technically a sling bag, it has a more traditional backpack feel to it.

You still benefit from a single shoulder strap that allows you to reposition your kit in an instant, however the side access extends across the front of the bag.

This means you can grab your camera in a hurry, but also unzip the whole way to get to your gear with ease.

As well as the camera compartment, which gives you enough room for a mirrorless camera with one or two additional lenses and small accessories.

There’s also a brace of dedicated SD card pockets and a large top space for your personal kit. This even includes a padded sleeve for a small 7in tablet.

On the front of the bag is a compact tripod carrying system that’s large enough for a tabletop tripod or GorillaPod. A side pocket is ideal for carrying the all-important water bottle.

It’s not a huge bag, but it does a good job for day trips where personal items are equally as important.

The traditional camera bag compartment is a big bonus, as is the roomy top compartment for personal storage.

Specifications

  • Weight: 700g
  • WxHxD: external 24x39x16cm; internal 22x19x11cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Laptop: 7in

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Large access
  • Compact build

Cons

  • Small tripod carrying system
  • No removable compartment

4. Think Tank SidePath Under $50

One of the sleekest backpacks in test, the SidePath looks more like a sling, though it features dual shoulder straps and gives you an ultra-secure rear access.

There’s plenty of room for a mirrorless with an additional lens, as well as a DSLR with single lens if you remove the dividers.

The top area has been designed to give you plenty of space for your personal items or photography accessories, and includes a handy mesh pocket for smaller kit.

There’s also room for a 10in tablet that slides into the rear of the top compartment behind a padded divider for ease of access.

Despite being small, there is a tripod carrying system for compact travel tripods, as well as a pair of stretch pockets on either side that are ideal for bottles.

It doesn’t offer the biggest gear space, though it’s well designed for single camera use and fits in well in urban environments where less is sometimes more.

The SidePath is perfectly split between a small camera bag and a day bag, with equal space for gear and belongings.

Specifications

  • Weight: 700g
  • WxHxD: external 26x47x15cm; internal 24x15x14cm
  • Removable compartment: Yes
  • Tablet: 10in

Pros

  • Clever design
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Tripod system

Cons

  • Not as roomy
  • Not suited for pro DSLRs

Best Camera Backpacks Under 100

5. Vanguard Veo Discover 42 Under $100

Vanguard’s VEO Range is known for bridging the gap between compact and value for money.

The Discover 42 comes in at a very reasonable sub-£70 and offers versatility. You can use this bag as either a sling or a backpack thanks to the 2-in-1 strap system.

There’s space for a DSLR or CSC with an additional lens or two, depending on size. It will also take a 9in tablet.

Small pockets give room to include smaller personal items or accessories. With mesh pockets designed for SD cards and batteries.

If you need more, there is a bigger top compartment that’s designed for larger items and comes in very handy.

Whichever configuration you choose, you’ll be able to access your kit from the rear or the side, which gives you a choice of quickly taking the shot, or spending a moment to pick the right lens.

It even includes a compact tripod carrying system, which lets you hook your legs across the front.

The VEO Discover 42 gives a good mix of space, and can carry a tablet and tripod along for the ride.

Specifications

  • Weight: 930g
  • WxHxD: external 27x42x22cm; internal 22x41x17cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Tablet: 10in

Pros

  • 2-in-1 strap system
  • Tripod system
  • Good space for the price

Cons

  • Limited space for personal items

6. Tenba Solstice 7L Under $100

TENBA’S SLING IS A SAVVY MIX OF compact build and intelligent design. Despite offering a minute 7L capacity, it gains Tardis like abilities and can pack a DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8, or a brace of spare lenses.

It will also take a tablet or device up to eight inches, and a side pocket has been designed to accommodate a water bottle – essential for long days on the photography trail.

If you’re looking to maximise the load-carrying potential, the side pocket can combine with the security strap to attach a compact travel tripod to the side.

Since this is a sling-style backpack, it utilities a single padded shoulder strap which allows it to be transferred from your back to your front with ease.

You can then take advantage of the side access to open up the camera compartment and grab your camera at top speed.

One last thing to note is the water repellent nylon fabric used on the Solstice makes it the ideal companion for bad-weather shooting.

Although the fabric is water-repellent, there’s still a handy waterproof cover to be found in an inside pocket.

Specifications

  • Weight: 600g
  • WxHxD: external 21x38x17cm; internal 18x34x11cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Tablet: 10in

Pros

  • Compact
  • Smart use of space
  • Tripod system

Cons

  • No space for personal gear
  • Water or tripod

Best Laptop Backpacks Under 100

7. Think Tank TurnStyle 20 V2 Under $100

Think Tank’s Sling Turnstyle is an ultra-lightweight bag that offers an intuitive design.

As with other slings, the single shoulder strap is perfect for quickly dismounting your gear from your shoulder.

While the side access is just the ticket to get your kit out quickly for those once in a lifetime shots.

There’s room for a DSLR or mirrorless and a brace of lenses or additional accessories, as well as a padded slip for a tablet up to 9.7in in size.

It may not house a full kit or give you a tripod carrying system, but it weighs in at a svelte 500g and the tough exterior is treated with durable water resistant material that lets it stand up to the weather.

The well-placed internal pockets are ideal for SD cards or batteries, as well as small personal items that you may wish to carry with you on a shoot.

It isn’t the largest in test, but it gives plenty of flexibility for a one-camera setup that makes it perfect for day trips and city breaks where blending in is an important factor.

The front pockets are perfectly designed to carry smaller, important personal items.

Specifications

  • Weight: 500g
  • WxHxD: external 24x44x14cm; internal 21x38x12cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Laptop: 10in

Pros

  • Very compact
  • Comfortable
  • Weatherproof

Cons

  • Not the most spacious
  • Limited personal space

8. Lowepro Flipside 200 AW II Under $100

This Streamlined Backpack from Lowepro gives a lot of space for the money, yet manages to remain under 1kg.

You can fit in your mirrorless or DSLR with up to a 70-200mm lens and there’s still room for an additional lens or two.

There’s an added pouch at the front to hold small personal belongings, as well as dedicated internal pockets for batteries, SD cards and smaller accessories or belongings.

It gets its Flip side name from the rear access. Using the belt strap you can quickly take off the shoulder straps and flip the bag to the front to grab your gear.

It’s a nice idea and one that works well, though it’s a bit more complicated than other sling bags.

For the landscape enthusiasts, there is a tripod carrying kit, though this is aimed more at compact travel sticks than bulky ones, so keep that in mind.

There is also room for a 7in tablet to allow you to carry out some quick edits in the field. If you like to travel light, but want a good kit-to space ratio, the Flip side 200 is worth a look.

With some savvy divider positioning and careful organization, this slimline backpack will hold a lot of kit.

Specifications

  • Weight: 950g
  • WxHxD: 25x44x20cm; camera pocket 21x38x13cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Tablet: 7in

Pros

  • Flip side access design
  • Secure access
  • Good space to weight ratio

Cons

  • Can be fiddly
  • No laptop slip

9. Manfrotto Manhattan Mover 30 Under $100

Coming on the heavier side of backpacks, this premium model from Manfrotto gives a lot of bang for the gram.

It’s designed to hold a high-end CSC with four additional lenses, including a 70-200mm f/4.

There’s space for a 14in laptop and a 9.7in tablet with protective padding. The handy NeverLose tripod holder system is just the ticket for transporting a set of sticks.

There are access points at both the top and rear of the bag, and the padded Flexy Camera Shell insert is fully removable to allow you to use the Mover 30 as a traditional day bag as well as a protective camera backpack – a useful feature when packing light.

The chunky straps give confidence when hauling your kit around, and there’s enough pocket space to be found at the front and sides of the arrangement for a water bottle and personal items.

It may not be the smallest, but it offers a lot for the money to make this ideal for larger kit requirements.

The Mover 30 has bags of space for a drone, tripod and personal kit – all for under 80.

Specifications

  • Weight: 1410g
  • WxHxD: external 29x44x17cm; internal 26x41x13cm
  • Removable compartment: Yes
  • Laptop: 14in

Pros

  • Bags of space for your kit
  • Laptop space
  • Solid tripod system

Cons

  • Can be fiddly
  • Boxy design

10. Vanguard Alta Rise 45 Under $100

Vanguard’s Alta Series of bags and tripods have a reputation for being extremely high quality at the price, and the Alta Rise 45 does a great job upholding this.

There is space for a pro DSLR or mirrorless with a 70-200mm and additional four or five lenses.

There are easy access points at both the top and side of the bag, allowing you to quickly get at your kit for those must-have shots on the fly.

While the padded Velcro inserts allow you to organise your gear as you need. For those who require a tripod carrying system, there’s a sturdy one included here, as well as useful side pockets and an internal compartment for SD cards and personal items.

If you want to take a laptop on your travels, there’s a padded space to accommodate a device up to 13in.

You can even use the front zip to give yourself an extra 6in of internal depth when it’s needed. If you have plenty of kit to carry, look no further

Vanguard’s flagship bag series delivers on all fronts, with a tripod system, plenty of space and great value for money.

Specifications

  • Weight: 1200g
  • WxHxD: external 32x49x23cm; internal 26x25x13(+6)cm
  • Removable compartment: No
  • Laptop: 13in

Pros

  • Brilliant value for money
  • Tripod system
  • Enough space for pro setup

Cons

  • Fiddly access
  • Awkward strap

Vanguar’s Alta Rise 45 represents amazing value for the money, yet it doesn’t sacrifice any features.


Tripod Carrying System

Tripods can be essential for many photographers, though they aren’t the most portable of accessories. That’s why a backpack with a tripod carrying system is a must for longer photo treks.

Strap Yourself In

Although these are light bags compared to some of the pro kit, it’s still important to ensure the straps give you comfort and support, especially if you’re shooting all day.

Accessories

A big concern is the space for smaller accessories and any personal kit. Most bags cater for this, but always make sure it fits your needs.

Space Race

Kit bags offer padded Velcro dividers that let you customise your bag. Make sure their arrangement leaves enough space for all of your kit.

Be Supportive

Larger bags will often have a belt and chest strap. Using these distributes the weight and keeps the stress from your back and shoulders.

Edit on The Go

Many bags offer space for a laptop or tablet – perfect for editing on the go.
However, always check that your laptop size is supported.

One Strap or Two

We’ve tested a mix of regular and sling-style bags that open in a variety of ways. Identify the most comfortable and suitable arrangement that suits your kit and shooting style.

Weather Proof

Although some kit bags are crafted with water-resistant fabric, most will contain a fully waterproof cover that sits in a dedicated pocket and can be deployed when needed.

Going in Hands First

Side and top access points are great for quick kit grabs, while back and front access require you to lay your bag down. Make sure you get the right type.

How We Tested Backpacks

Features VS Weight

We set our sights on backpacks and sling bags that come in under 1.5kg maximum. This means we’re looking at everything from day bags to some meaty enthusiast backpacks. However, it’s important to note that we didn’t sacrifice too many features to gain the weight advantage.

Functionality & Value

We wanted to be able to transport a camera and at least two lenses, as well as small personal items and accessories that you would expect to carry on a usual shoot. We also wanted to ensure that the bag would be able to stand up to regular use and appear discreet for low-key shoots to avoid drawing attention to expensive camera gear. Finally, each had to represent value for money, so we’ve stuck to bags under $100.

Conclusion

A backpack is a very personal purchase. Not only does it come down to the ability to meet all your kit requirements, it’s also a style choice. That makes this a very hard test to gauge.

On one hand, the ultra-svelte sling bags are great if you have a small camera setup and don’t need tons of space.

However, you need more room for multiple lighter cameras and lenses, which means the backpacks come into their own. While we endorse all of the bags here, one did come out on top.

Vanguard’s Alta Rise 45 represents amazing value for money. It may be a touch over the kilogram mark, but it’s still lighter than many pro bags, yet it doesn’t sacrifice features.

It has room for multiple kit items and personal storage, as well as a handy tripod carrying system and great expanding zip feature for times when you need the extra inch or so.

Snapping at the Alta Rise’s heels is Manfrotto’s Mover 30. It’s heavier, but the recent reduction in price means it raises the value for money stakes, and for the size, it’s still relatively light.

It has space for multiple lenses, a large DSLR and even a drone or personal items. It also has a tripod carrying system, and space for a 14in laptop and water bottle – not to be scoffed at.

Though the design might not appeal to everyone, the price definitely will. Finally, we felt the Lowepro Flipside put up a valiant challenge.

It may be svelte, but it gives great scope for packing light, and even has the capability to carry a compact tripod and 7in tablet, should you need it to.

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