The 4 Best Camera Holster Bags In 2021

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Why Use a Camera Holster Bag?

There are many different types of camera bags on the market. How do you choose the one that is right for you? Well, let’s be honest here, most people are not going to choose just one camera bag, are they? Different styles of camera bags are useful for different situations. On some days, with some gear, a backpack is the right solution. On other days a shoulder bag might be the right call. Sometimes, though, a camera holster is exactly what you need! Here are two reasons why:

Ease and Speed of Access

Camera holsters are sometimes called top-loaders because the camera access is always on the top. If you wear the holster on a belt, or the front of a camera pack, this gives you fast and easy access to a camera with an attached lens. Particularly when you’re hiking, you will find that you take far more photos when you have your camera accessible in this way. There’s no stopping to take your pack off when something catches your eye.

Camera Protection In a Backpack

Although holster-style camera bags typically have many ways to externally attach them to your body, one of the other great uses of them is to protect your camera inside another bag or backpack. In some cases, you might want to use a specific bag that isn’t a camera bag, but you still want to take a camera and a lens with you on a day out. The most common situation is people who have a favourite hiking pack or a sport-specific bag such as one designed for mountain biking or skiing.

In those situations, a holster camera bag is a perfect way to protect your camera and organize a few small accessories. With some careful packing, you can usually position your holster at the top of your bag so that the camera is easily accessible. While I always use a dedicated camera bag when I’m working, I often carry a camera in this way when I’m out on the weekends with my family and don’t want to be burdened by my larger packs.

The Best Camera Holster Bags

1 – Shimoda Top Loader

The Top Loader holster from Shimoda Designs is a sleek-looking bag made from durable, weatherproof nylon and priced at $64.95 (discount available below). There’s a single, slim accessory pocket on the front of the bag that is suitable for a couple of spare batteries and a memory card wallet.

This holster is perfectly sized for a mirrorless camera without a battery grip. It comfortably fits a mirrorless camera with an attached L bracket, too. A non-gripped DSLR will fit, but things get a little tight if it has an attached bracket. The bag will absolutely not fit any kind of pro-sized gripped body – DSLR or mirrorless.

In its regular form, the size is perfect for an attached 24-70, but a zippered expansion will allow something slightly longer such as a 100mm prime lens or a 24-70 with the hood attached. In expanded form, the bag will carry an attached 70-200 f/2.8. The expansion could also be used to carry a small second lens tucked at the bottom, if you wrapped it up in a protective case like the Tamrac Goblin.

Note: Use discount code ShutterMuse10 to save 10% on any items from the Shimoda Designs store. Read this for more details: Shimoda discount code.

The Top Loader has a wide rear mesh loop for attachment to a backpack hip belt. This works particularly well with Shomoda’s Action-X pack series as the belt padding is designed to perfectly match the Top Loader. It can also be worn on your shoulder with the included shoulder strap or attached to the front of a pack using optional straps and four d-rings on the holster. If you want more details and photos of this holster, you should also take a look at my detailed Shimoda Top Loader review.

Shimoda Top Loader Video Review

If you prefer to read the written review, you can always watch the video review below. Remember to like, comment and subscribe! It really helps the channel.

2 – Think Tank Digital Holster 150

Sony 200-600mm alongside the Digital Holster 150.

Think Tank’s Digital Holster series actually spans seven different sizes, but the 150 is a real standout and deserves a specific mention in this guide. The Digital Holster 150 is the largest model in the series. It sells for $109 and can comfortably accommodate a pro-sized body and a telephoto zoom lens such as the Tamron or Sigma 150-600mm, the Sony 200-600mm, the Nikon 200-500m, the Canon RF 100-500mm or any 100-400mm.

The size of this holster makes it a unique offering on the market. I love using it to carry a Sony 200-600mm lens attached to my camera when I’m driving around national parks on the lookout for wildlife. In the past, I have written about how important it is to have a telephoto lens accessible at a second’s notice when searching for wildlife, and this Digital Holster 150 is perfect for the job. It even has a pocket for your teleconverter and two more for miscellaneous accessories. On the outside, there’s a pocket and straps to carry a monopod or attach additional gear pouches. For more details on this bag, read my ThinkTank Digital Holster 150 review.

Related Post: 8 Easy Tips for Photographing Wildlife from Your Car

Get a free gift when you spend over $50 in the Think Tank online store after clicking this link. For more details, or if you have any issues, see this post.

3 – Wandrd Route Pack

The Route Pack ($69) from WANDRD is designed to be the perfect companion for their Fernweh backpack (our review), but there’s no reason you can’t use it with any of the other WANDRD packs, or a bag from another brand. The Route Pack has an expandable design, just like the Shimoda Top Loader, but it will hold a significantly larger camera than the Shimoda bag. If you use a larger DSLR or a gripped mirrorless camera, the Route Pack would be the best choice.

Another big difference is the amount of padding and protection offered by the bag. This bag has the thinnest padding out of all the options, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some padding still exists, and it’s plenty to protect from bumps and dings on tree branches while hiking with the bag on your chest. Because it is so light and thinly padded, though, you can squash it flat when you no longer want to use it, and stuff it easily into the top of your bag. The same cannot be said for any of the other camera holsters in this guide.

Like the Top Loader, the Route Pack comes with a shoulder strap, as well as chest mount straps and a sizeable belt pass-through so that you can use it on your backpack’s waist belt. For even more information about this one, check out my in-depth Wandrd Route Pack review.

WANDRD Route Pack Video Review

If you prefer to read the written review, you can always watch the video review below. Remember to like, comment and subscribe! It really helps the channel.

4 – MindShift Outbound Holster

The Outbound Holster is now grey instead of green.

The Mindshift Outbound Holster used to be called the Multi-Mount Holster. When it went through this name change, it also went through a change of colour. The version I own is the old green Multi-Mount. The newly named Outbound Holster is grey and not green. All the features are the same, although strangely you can only buy the Outbound Holster from B&H Photo. It is not available directly from the Mindshift website.

There are many ways to carry this holster.

The Outbound Holster comes with a shoulder strap, a lightweight belt and all the straps you need to mount it onto the front or rear of your pack. This is a nice bonus because some of these strap options are extra purchases with other holsters.

Photo of author

Dan Carr

Professional photographer based in Yukon, Canada, and founder of Shutter Muse. His editorial work has been featured in publications all over the world, and his commercial clients include brands such as Nike, Apple, Adobe and Red Bull.

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4 thoughts on “The 4 Best Camera Holster Bags In 2021”

  1. I really dislike this new generation of camera holsters. With the previous generation, there was a snap buckle that secured the lid down and which I used 95% of the time. Only when the conditions got really dusty or wet did I resort to the zippers. The purpose of the bag is to protect the camera when I don’t want it out just hanging by the camera strap. This is especially true if I’m scrambling and don’t want the camera swinging into a rock; having it fall out the bag would be even worse. Also, zippers are not that easy an access mechanism and zippers that go around in a circle are frequently a bit unreliable.

    Reversing the flap opening is possibly an improvement although I think the current zipper scheme is probably not as weather proof since the zipper is out in the elements whereas in the buckle-style holsters the flap actually covers the zipper so they wouldn’t be directly in the rain (t-storms happen). Maybe they could add a buckle scheme on the lid to provide a zipless open? Maybe even a solid velcro strap closure would be adequate while being a bit less bulky.

    • I have to say that what you describe does sound good. I like the idea of a buckle that can be used most of the time. When you say “this generation” I’m assuming that there were several holsters fitting your description that were available some years ago.


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