Many cyclists when they are out riding are either out to just enjoy the ride and or explore new spots. You may be out riding and want to capture some epic moments but only have a cell phone on you. For those that would like to use a real camera like a DSLR or some mirrorless camera, you may be wondering what can you use to carry your items.
So the common question that comes up is, How do you carry your camera on a bike?
- Small Pouch
- Trunk Bag
- Bottle or Handlebar Bag
- Shoulder Strap Bags
- Backpack Mount
- Sling or Neck Strap
In my research, there have been a host of questions as to how to carry a camera on your bike while cycling. Although I have not tried carrying a full-sized camera beside my camera phone, I’m sure you will find some helpful content in the post here that can help you get an idea of what’s possible. Much of the material presented here has been derived from the experiences of others and my close network of cycling photographers.
Carry In Small Pouch
If you’re going to carry a camera but don’t really want to lug around a large camera, have one small enough to fit in a pouch.
You can find inexpensive pouches that mount on your top tube. These pouches allow easy access for point and shoot cameras. Some small digital camera pouches have a holding strap that can easily slip through the chest strap of Camelbak.
Having a few small pouches may be a great option too for keeping small additional camera accessories.
What you want to look for when purchasing a small pouch is something that’s padded inside, easy to remove and swap in and out of bags.
Best Small Camera Pouches:
Carry in a Trunk Bag
Some bicycle tourists have found that carrying their camera in a trunk bag/pannier bag has been all they need.
Despite encountering environmental issues like rain, some have experienced little to no issues with their camera getting damp.
A good tip to protect your camera would be to carry it in a waterproof bag or wrap it in a protective fabric like the Lens wrap OP/TECH Soft Wraps.
One of the best bags you can purchase for a rear bike rack is a combination trunk bag with panniers attached.
Some additional benefits to carrying a camera and your gear in a trunk/pannier bag are the following:
- Keeps the weight of the camera low and off your back
- Ideal place for strapping a tripod if needed
- Can carry heavier and larger loads
- A carrier that slides on and off a bike rack easily
- Distributes load evenly on the bike while riding
Best Trunk Bags:
- BV Bike Bag Bicycle Panniers w/Adjustable Hook
- Ibera Bike Trunk Bag– PakRak Clip-on Quick-Release Bicycle Commuter bag
- Kolo Sports Bike Pannier Bag
- Roshwell 14892 3-in-1 Multifunction Bicycle Expedition Touring Cam Pannier
Bottle or Handlebar Bag
These types of bags are mounted on your handlebars and some come with minor pros and cons.
You can easily fit a camera like a DSLR in and out of a handlebar bag.
One con to using a handlebar bag is that it could interfere with headlight, shifters, or the handlebars may not be shaped well for your specific setup.
On the other hand, a benefit to using a handlebar bag is that it allows you to hold other camera accessories like lenses, backup batteries, and small camera attachments.
A handlebar bag has become one of the go-to-bags for most cycling photographers as it is proficient at carrying more than just a camera. I read from many posts and forums that handlebar bags or used as a multipurpose bag to carry other things like small foldable jackets, snacks, a mini-tripod, and more.
An easy one-handed operation while riding is using a bottle bag or what some people call a point n’ shooter bag.
Bags like the bottle bag are made to carry a water bottle or food but works great for carrying a camera.
The best use for this bag is when you’re on the road and need to capture a photo shoot on the go.
One con is to using this type of bag is that using bigger lens attachments can be cumbersome due to the fact that cameras are rectangular and fill up much of the room in a cylinder accessory like this.
Some cyclists have found it easier to take a pancake lens versus a big lens so it’s easier to fit in a jersey pocket or in this type of bag.
Most bottle bags are made from waterproof materials and have a simple one-handed closure.
Best Bottle/Handlebar Bag:
You can easily swing this bag to the front of you, grab the camera, and take a quick shot while moving. Although I highly recommend stopping to take a shot to avoid an accident.
One negative with carrying this bag for hours is the pain that can become unbearable with it strapped on one shoulder.
This type of bag is carried like a courier bag as it is usually strapped over one shoulder. across the chest.
While cycling you may have to move the bag around a bit due to it being loosely attached, but it’s very convenient to access a camera with one hand. You can get to your gear right away.
Shoulder bags are becoming more popular due to cameras becoming smaller following a smaller sized shoulder bag.
Many shoulder bags have evolved and become fashionable. You’ll notice a lot of the popular bags are made from upcycles materials like innertubes.
Best Shoulder Bags:
For some cyclists, carrying a backpack of some sort will do just fine for holding their camera and gear.
Backpacks are usually budget-friendly, have multiple pockets, and carrying capacity
Some backpacks have specific mounts on the shoulder strap to carry an action camera or use a camera clip for larger cameras. But when carrying a digital camera or heavy equipment, wearing a backpack comes with some negatives.
They don’t distribute your load evenly on the bike very well and if you ever crash you not only will hurt your back but whatever you put in your bag risks being damaged or destroyed.
A few key points to consider when using a backpack to carry your camera:
- Travel with a light backpack
- Use a dedicated piece of fabric to wrap your camera with
Best Backpack Camera Clip/Mount:
Sling or Neck Strap
If you are a professional photographer and tend to wear heavier cameras, you may need a sling strap with more adjustability while riding.
Also if you’re not a professional photographer, a sling or neck strap would be perfect for those that have too big of a camera to fit over handlebars or in a bag.
From a professional photographer who happens to shoot pics of cyclists, I’ve been informed that a Peak Design strap has worked great for him.
The Strap allows photographers to cinch up a strap so the camera is tight against the body.
Another benefit to using a strap carrier is when you’re riding your bike. You can loosen the strap, take pics, and still keep one hand on the handlebars.
In most cases, you will probably have to invest a good amount of money on a strap to make sure it doesn’t come loose. Whatever the price you pay, it will definitely be worth it to protect an expensive camera.
Best Sling/Neck Straps:
Can vibration damage my camera?
While cycling with a camera it’s common to worry about road vibrations and conditions damaging your camera. If you have the camera against your body while cycling, the vibration frequency would be too low to affect the camera.
On the other hand, if you were to crash or fall hitting your camera against the ground you will damage the camera due to the blunt force.
Some cyclists have no issues with vibration affecting their camera as long as it’s in a handlebar bag or trunk bag. If vibration damaging your camera becomes a concern, it may be best to have it chest mounted or use a less expensive camera while out cycling.
Is it safe to bring my camera with me when cycling?
Bringing your camera cycling will always pose some risk and stir up some fears of damaging it in some way. Some cyclists who also photograph wouldn’t take anything beyond a point and shoot camera to avoid the risk of damaging a really nice camera.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t safely bring a nice camera while out cycling. You might just have to plan your ride and adjust according to the road conditions you’ll be traveling on. There will be some sacrifice in the ride as carrying expensive equipment may keep you from fully enjoying the ride.
A good tip for carrying your camera safely is to adjust your riding technique. Take it more on the safe side while riding and don’t speed as you normally may do. Avoid riding down sketchy uneven roads and passages and just walk it. Also, ride standing up when going across bumpy or rocky terrain especially if you don’t have a bike with suspension.
How can I carry a tripod on my bike?
If you’re cycling to a specific location and want to set up shop to shoot pictures you are going to want a tripod to hold the camera.
The most popular answer I have come across for carrying a tripod on your bike is to attach it to a rear bike rack. This ensures that the tripod is out of the way of your legs and it’s one less thing to have to strap on your top tube or handlebars.
Another place that I’ve read others try is attaching the tripod to the long side stem of the bike forks. You will want to have some good straps for carrying a tripod here because of the slippery and narrow area you have to work with on the forks. This option may be best for someone who has a bike with long forks or no shocks.
If you don’t like the idea of attaching a rear bike rack for your tripod then another option would be to carry this on a rucksack. One con some find with wearing a rucksack is a sweaty back and risk of developing lower back pain.
An alternative to wearing a rucksack is to go with a small/mini tripod and just carry it in a handlebar bag.
How do I carry a DSLR on a bike?
If you’re new to carrying a camera on your bike you may be wondering what is the best option for your specific camera.
I generally mentioned some ideas above in the blog post on how to carry a camera on your bike, but to carry a specific DSLR on a bike will require some quality carriers.
The best answer I’ve found for carrying a DSLR on a bike is to use pannier bags on a rear rack. Having the weight towards the rear of the bike versus on your back will be way more comfortable. It’s always better to have the bike carry the weight instead of equipment weighing you down.
Another option is to use DSLR specific bags and shoulder carriers that will securely fit your specific DSLR. This may be just fine for you but for others who like a little freedom while riding using a handlebar bag might be more sufficient.