How To Transform a Backpack into a DIY Camera Bag

Instead of buying a new camera bag to facilitate his hefty Sigma 170-500mm zoom lens, one frugal photographer decided to transform an old laptop bag into a DSLR camera bag.

James Wilson aka jswilson64 posted on Reddit a simple step-by-step guide to modding out an otherwise sturdy Targus backpack using camping pads to line the innards and protect the gear inside.

An avid birdwatcher, Wilson decided to make the jump from two kit lenses to a telephoto zoom lens. “Sure, I could get a cheapie DSLR backpack for US$30-40” he writes, “but what’s the fun in that?”

Wilson bought some dual-density camping pads from Wal-Mart for about US$15. After bringing it home, he needed to unroll and weigh down each end to relax the material enough to work with.


After hollowing out the inside of the backpack using a hobby knife, Wilson used some heavy-duty glue and tape to create custom housing to snugly fit around each lens and his Pentax K-50 . At the end of his session, a foam tray was constructed that would ease into the backpack like a glove and protect the goods inside.


The foam housing was then glued into the backpack to prevent it from flapping about when in use, and with enough foam padding to spare, the thrifty photographer created some dividers out of the leftovers.

While the total cost of the custom will likely set you back roughly the same amount as a cheap camera bag, the protection gained from a solid DIY job is certainly going to be better and more discreet too!

For more details on Wilson’s DIY creation, check out his comprehensive guide here.