When it comes to choosing a camera bag, photographers typically look for the following in terms of function and form: Does it keep camera gear safe while providing easy access to it, and is it comfortable to wear and easy on the eyes? Most bags lean more heavily one way or the other, sacrificing form for function or vice versa. Finding balance between the two can prove challenging. In some instances, the available solutions just don’t quite cut it on either side. Camera backpacks that nature and landscape photographers use for extensive photo hikes, for example, notoriously lack comfort. Instead, these photographers often wear dedicated hiking bags at the risk of damaging camera gear. Thankfully, there are innovators out there who have been paying attention and they’ve answered the call.

The team at COSYSPEED recently partnered with German outdoor brand VAUDE to create the PHOTOHIKER, the world’s first camera backpacks built around a carrying system normally reserved for high-end hiking backpacks. The bags come in two sizes, 24 L and 44 L, and they’re available to pre-order now on Kickstarter. Suffice it to say, packing your photography gear for extensive photo-hikes is about to get a whole lot easier.

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for angles

PHOTOHIKER Specifications

  • BAG TYPE: Backpack (Small/Medium, Medium/Large)
  • GEAR ACCESS TYPE: Top, Side, Front
  • CAPACITY: Small/Medium = 24L, Medium/Large = 44L
  • COLORS: Black or Blue
  • WEATHER PROOFING: Waterproof Bottom made of Nylon D1000 + Rain Cover
    • PHOTOHIKER 24: 17” Tall (45cm) x 11” Wide (28cm) x 8” Deep (20cm)
    • PHOTOHIKER 44: 21” Tall (54cm) x 12” Wide (32cm) x 8” Deep (20cm)
    • PHOTOCUBE M: 10” Tall (26cm) x 7” Wide (18cm) x 6.3” Deep (16cm)
    • PHOTOCUBE XL: 36” Tall (54cm) x 26” Wide (32cm) x 6.3” Deep (16cm)
  • CARRY-ON COMPATIBLE? Yes – both sizes are aircraft cabin compliant
    • PHOTOHIKER 24 (without PHOTOCUBE): 2.6 lbs | 1,200 g
    • PHOTOHIKER 44 (without PHOTOCUBE): 3.7 lbs | 1,700 g
    • PHOTOCUBE M: 0.9 lbs | 400 g
    • PHOTOCUBE XL: 2 lbs | 900 g
  • PRICE: Starting at $353 for the PHOTOHIKER 24 and $70 for PHOTOCUBE M

Video: PHOTOHIKER on Kickstarter

What Makes PHOTOHIKER Unique?

Unlike most manufacturers, who begin the design process with the camera bag and then consider the carrying system after the fact, COSYSPEED set out to design the PHOTOHIKER to specifically meet the needs of hikers, or photographers who hike extensively. The carrying system, which is built on a metal frame and features a well-ventilated “Aeroflex 3D” backing, sets the foundation to this unique bag. This allows the PHOTOHIKER to provide outstanding comfort and adjustability as well as great protection for the gear and access to the camera and lenses.

After working with VAUDE to design a pro-grade carrying system for the bag, the COSYPEED team committed to the development process of the camera carrying system. As a result of extensive testing and gathering feedback, they built a bag that boasts a laundry list of highlights, some of which we’ll cover in more detail below.

What Can the PHOTOHIKER Carry?

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for adventure size comparison

The PHOTOHIKER bags do not skimp on carrying space. The camera system for both bags uses specially designed PHOTOCUBES that are available in two sizes. The removable padded cubes allow for a variety of customizable configurations. The larger option can fit anywhere between 6-8 lenses and 2 camera bodies, as well as extra batteries, 1-2 battery chargers, memory cards, a 16” laptop, hydration packs, and more. In addition, the bag features a number of zip pockets and flaps for memory cards, wallets, and more. Large side pockets on the bags can fit up to two decent-sized tripods, walking sticks, or water bottles.

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for what fits large

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PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for what fits small closed

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for what fits small

Who Should Use the PHOTOHIKER?

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for adventure shot

Nature and landscape photographers stand to gain quite a bit from using this backpack. Afterall, it was this genre of photographers who originally approached the COSYSPEED team (on several occasions) and asked them to make the PHOTOHIKER camera backpack. To make sure they got it right, COSYSPEED referred to the expertise of photographers like Stephan Wiesner, Felix Röser, Stefan Hefele, and SONY ambassador Michael Schaake, among others, for valuable input for making this backpack a nature and landscape photographer’s dream bag. All of the contributing photographers agreed on one thing when testing the bags. The pack is highly comfortable on extensive hikes with heavy gear.

PHOTOHIKER Highlights That We’re Most Excited About

1. Adjustability: Shoulder strap height is a rare but highly desirable option for hikers, because the balance of weight on your shoulders VS a hip belt is extremely important, and needs to be customized to tall, medium, and short people very carefully.

PHOTOHIKER adjustable camera backpack

As COSYSPEED notes, the PHOTOHIKER 24 as well as the PHOTOHIKER 44 have a sophisticated carrying system that can be adjusted to your individual body size. Both packs fit people from 5.3′ (160 cm) at the smallest adjustment to 6.6′ (200 cm) at the maximum adjustment.

2. Weight Distribution: A lot of people who have never hiked more than a few steps from their car may not realize this, but for long distances and all-day comfort, you actually want to put the vast majority of weight on your hips, NOT your shoulders.

Many “regular” backpacks fall woefully short in this regard. Their waist belt is merely there to keep the backpack tight to your body, and can barely aid in supporting any weight. The Photohiker backpack has a thickly padded, structured waist belt, which looks perfectly suited for all-day hiking, even with a heavy load in the camera compartment.

3. Pocket Access: Two side pockets with straps is extremely important, and gives a huge advantage over fashion-focused “travel” backpacks that omit one or both side pockets/straps. When hiking, for example, you’ll often want to have both a tripod and a water bottle easily accessible. If you only have one side pocket or your tripod straps are “tucked away,” your hiking experience will suffer.

In fact, with the level of external pockets and straps that the PHOTOHIKER has, photographers can possibly use the bag for 1-2 night overnight backpacking trips, with tent poles and a foam sleeping pad strapped to the side and/or bottom of the backpack.

4. Sustainable Materials & Distribution: The PHOTOHIKER is made under the standards of “Der Grüne Knopf”, a certificate by the German Government. So all materials are best-in-class sustainable. VAUDE, who will produce the PHOTOHIKER, has a leadership role in the Fair Wear Foundation. Therefore, you can rest assured that all materials are as sustainable as possible. Moreover, the packs will ship from US and EU warehouses, so no air shipping is required.

How to Get a PHOTOHIKER Camera Backpack

PHOTOHIKER camera backpack for bag in wild

Get in early while you can and pick up one of the first PHOTOHIKER camera backpacks available. The Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, August 28th, at 12:00pm. COSYSPEED has booked a slot in VAUDE’s factory for the production of a first batch of 500 PHOTOHIKER of each model (2,000 overall) for September to November 2021 and a second batch from December 2021 to February 2022. As mentioned above, the packs will ship from warehouses in the US and Germany to the USA, Canada, EU and Switzerland.