The 8 Best Camera Holster Bags In 2024

Camera holster bags are a great way to carry a camera with a lens attached. These are the best ones on the market this year.

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 – sometimes called a camera toploader – 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 and toploaders 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 camera holster camera bag is a perfect way to protect your camera and organize a few small accessories such as batteries or memory cards. 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 photo-specific backpacks.

The Best Camera Holster Bags

Shimoda Top Loader

shimoda camera holster

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 an SD card holder.

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 L bracket. The bag will not fit any pro-sized gripped body – DSLR or mirrorless.

In its standard 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.

Shimoda Designs has offered Shutter Muse readers a 10% discount on anything purchased through their online stores. US, Canadian, UK, French, or German residents should use the discount code ShutterMuse10 after clicking here to access the store. Australian readers should use the same code on the local Shimoda distributor’s site, Maxxum, instead.

The Top Loader has a wide rear mesh loop for attachment to a backpack hip belt. This works particularly well with Shimoda’s Action X pack series, as the belt padding is designed to match the Top Loader perfectly. 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 look at my detailed Shimoda Top Loader review.

Shimoda Top Loader Price Check:

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.

Think Tank Digital Holster 150

Sony 200-600mm alongside the Digital Holster 150.

Think Tank’s Digital Holster series 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.

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

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 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 has a pocket for your teleconverter and two more for miscellaneous accessories. There’s also a pocket and straps to carry a monopod, small tripod or attach additional gear pouches on the outside. Read my ThinkTank Digital Holster 150 review for more details on this bag.

Digital Holster Price Check:

US Customers who click this link get a free gift when they spend over $50 in the Think Tank/MindShift online store. For more details or if you have any issues, see this post.

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. The Route Pack will be the best choice if you use a larger DSLR or a gripped mirrorless camera.

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, you can squash it flat when you no longer want to use it and stuff it quickly 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 loop pass-through so that you can use it on your backpack’s waist belt. Check out my in-depth Wandrd Route Pack review for even more information about this one.

WANDRD Route Pack Price Check:

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.

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.

The Outbound Holster comes with a removable 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.

There are many ways to carry this holster.

Note about availability: For some reason, MindShift does not sell this product on their website. It is usually in stock at B&H Photo and sometimes at Amazon.

MindShift Outbound Holster Price Check:

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Camera Pod

Hyperlite Mountain Gear is known in the hiking gear industry for its expertise in working with the high tech material, Dyneema. With the Camera Pod, they have taken their knowledge of this ultralight fabric and used it to create the lightest camera bag in the world.

The smaller of the two available sizes weighs a mere 2.71oz (76.8g), while the larger size (pictured above) weighs just 3.73oz (105.7g). To put that into context for you, this bag is over three times lighter than the next most lightweight holster bag on this list! Honestly, it takes your brain a second to figure out what’s going on when you pick it up.

Dyneema is expensive, so the $109 price point will probably keep this bag out of the hands of your average user. Still, if you plan a multi-day hike with your camera, where every ounce counts, there’s no better option than the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Camera Pod. Read my review of the Hyperlite Camera Pod for more details.

Hyperlite Camera Pod Price Check:

The Navin holster from F-Stop Gear is made from the same proprietary DuraDiamond fabric as their latest Mountain Series backpacks. This high denier rip-stop weave is waterproof and incredibly durable. The Navin comes with a shoulder strap but can also be worn on a hip belt or strapped to your chest on a backpack harness. Uniquely among the camera holster on this list, the Navin also features standard Molle webbing, making it an obvious choice if pairing it with a Molle-equipped camera bag.

In terms of payload, the Navin will carry any non-gripped DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a lens up to 70-200mm f/2.8. When paired with smaller lenses such as 24-70mm, the side compression straps can shorten the bag to a more suitable depth.

F-Stop Navin Price Check:

Camera Holster Clips

After researching what people were searching for when they landed on this gear guide, I discovered that the term “camera holster” is often used for quick-release camera clips as well as holster bags. This makes sense, as those products can also work on a belt or your chest, just like a camera holster bag. This led me to expand this guide with a new section detailing the best camera clips.

Peak Design Capture Clip V3

The Peak Design Capture Clip V3 is a lightweight quick-release holster clip that can carry a camera body with an attached lens. The Capture Clip can be attached to your belt, camera strap or the shoulder straps of your camera bag or backpack. Many of Peak Design’s camera bags and backpacks also include a dedicated Capture attachment rail, such as the Field Pouch (review) and Everyday Messenger (review) shown below.

The Capture comes with a small Arca-Swiss style quick-release plate that slides neatly into the self-capturing device. The release pin on the side of the Capture can be turned through 90-degrees to lock the release mechanism, preventing any nasty accidents. The V3 version of the Capture is a very polished and top-rated product. Don’t bother with any of the knock-offs from other brands.

Peak Design Capture Price Check:

Cotton Carrier Skout G2

The Cotton Carrier Skout G2 is a chest-mounted holster with integrated padding, a padded shoulder strap and a waist stabilizer. Compared to the Peak Design Capture Clip, the Skout can comfortably carry more weight due to the thick chest padding that spreads the weight. I carry up to a 70-200 f/2.8 lens with my Skout holster. If you need to carry something larger, it is recommended to move up to the Cotton Carrier G3 harness.

When you purchase your G2 harness, you can choose a camera mount or a binocular mount. Mounts are available separately if you want to have access to both. Many wildlife photographers like to use the Skout to carry their binoculars.

Another benefit of Skout’s design is that you can remove your backpack and still have access to your chest-mounted camera or binoculars since the two are not connected in any way. A safety tether is provided to connect your camera to the harness, as well as a rain cover to keep your gear dry in a downpour.

Cotton Carrier has offered Shutter Muse readers a 10% discount on anything purchased in their online store. Simply use the discount code SHUTTERMUSE after clicking here to access the store.

Cotton Carrier Skout G2 Price Check:

Spiderpro Spider Camera Holster

The Spiderpro Spider Holster system is popular with event and wedding photographers who need to quickly switch between multiple cameras. The standard holster can carry a single camera on your hip, while the dual camera holster version comes with the necessary attachments for a pair of camera bodies, one on each hip.

The Spiderpro systems come with a camera plate that screws into the tripod mount on the bottom of your camera. If you already have a bespoke L plate on there, you can use the optional Spiderpro Clamp accessory that attaches to existing Arca-Swiss style plates.

Spiderpro Price Check:

Photo of author
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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8 thoughts on “The 8 Best Camera Holster Bags In 2024”

  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.

    • Your comments on the demise of the snap buckle closure are just what I was about to write. I have several excellent (old) LowePro holsters with this feature for my SLRs. I have just purchased a mirrorless camera and was upset to find NO vendors with a snap latch for the top. It also seems that the current holster choices are designed to protect against at most a stiff breezes on tropical islands. My SLRs have survived 30 years of hiking and climbing abuse in those old Lowe bags. The current crop of holsters seem more like re-purposed insulated lunch bags I’m also disappointed to find that Think Tank has moved from engineering to styling. I suppose this is merely the industry following the market, but that may be even worse news for the nation’s state of fitness.

      • This is interesting. I actually have a new Think Tank bag on my desk for review this week. It’s not quite a holster, but it’s not far off because it is such a small bag. It’s basically a holster and a half. In fact, it has a belt loop, so some might call it a holster when used in that way. It uses magnets to close the lid and an additional hook when you need more security. No zippers. The magnets are great and do the job you need 95% of the time, and actually make it even easier to use than a buckle, especially with big gloves on.

        I will pass a note to the Think Tank designers that such a feature would be much appreciated in their holster lineup with some additional depths to accommodate longer lenses. This is the product:

  2. Thank you for this article! Have you managed to get a look at the new Tenba Axis top loader? The expandability as well as the PALS/MOLLE-compatible webbings are making me consider it, although I’m pretty sure it would be the heaviest top loader bag in your list 😅


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