Review – Vanguard Alta Rise 45 camera backpack 

We have both used Lowepro camera bags for years, in fact, Paul has used a Lowepro Mini Trekker for close to 20 years or so and it was a fantastic bag, however, it was time for a change. You’d think with all the camera bags on the market that there would be the perfect bag out there but alas it took us well over a year to finally settle on the bag that would cover all his needs (over 30 years in the industry has also made him very fussy).

Peak Design Travel Tripod


There are a few factors that a bag must-have for us to even consider. Keep in mind that we are professional Travel Photographers and your needs may differ from ours.

  1. Quality – Naturally, a good quality bag will last a long time so this is always at the top of our list. There is nothing worse than having a bag that can only last a few years
  2. Weight – as Travel Photographers this is very important. As some airlines only allow 7kg as carry-on luggage it is important to be able to get all the gear you want into the bag. We do not want to be in a situation where we want to take a lens but can’t due to weight restrictions. Many of the bags we initially liked were well over 2kgs alone and some were close to 3kgs which would only allow 4-5 kgs for your gear and accessories. The reviewed bag is just over 1.5kgs
  3. Practicality – a bag has to be practical and comfortably fit all our lenses in an organised manner. We’re sure that this is a requirement for anyone buying a camera bag
  4. Laptop Size – the bag must accommodate a 14″ laptop. The reviewed bag not only carries a 14” laptop but also fits a tablet as well
  5. Pockets – an abundance of pockets for accessories as well as space for chargers/cords for carrying onboard a flight. We always carry at least one charger and cord onboard and pack the remainder in check-in luggage. That way, if the check-in bag goes missing, we can still charge our camera batteries
  6. Rain Cover – a must-have in our line of work and not negotiable
  7. Waist Belt – carrying 7-8kgs on your back all day (we can walk up to 20kms a day) can be taxing on your shoulder and neck muscles so a waist belt is a must for spreading this weight. We found some great bags that suited all of our needs but didn’t have a waist belt – a deal-breaker for Paul
  8. Accessibility – the Lowepro Mini Trekker only had one access point and Paul wanted side access to the new bag which would be accessed without taking the bag off
  9. Comfort – Naturally the bag had to be super comfortable
  10. Price – Paul’s a tight-ass and wanted all of the above preferably without spending a fortune 
Photography Planner


Up until we decided on the reviewed bag the Manfrotto Pro-Light 3N1-26 & Manfrotto Pro-Light 3N1-36 backpack camera bag with the cross-over shoulder straps were at the very top of his list, however, these tended to ride up on the shoulder and try to strangle him.

Then we came across the Vanguard ALTA RISE 45 which seemed to fit all his criteria. The bag fits a Pro DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 24-70mm f/2.8), a flash, accessories and it carries a tripod. The unique +6 expansion system will allow you to add 6cm storage width with one simple zipper motion, offering storage for laptop or tablet, while still keeping gear protected. Here are some of the features of the bag –

  • +6 – expand or contract with one simple zipper
  • Quick-action – side access in split seconds
  • ‘Magic’ pocket – full length, padded internal pocket with easy and discreet external access
  • Safe storage – concealed pocket on the back panel to secure travel document and wallet
  • Comfortable carrying – ergonomic Air System back and harness
  • Always protected – well-padded all round
  • No fumbling – bright coloured interior makes finding things easy
  • Well organized – dedicated pockets for all essentials
  • Stay steady – optimal balance tripod carrying system. If not using the side tripod holder this acts as a great pocket for carrying a water bottle
  • ALTA LINK – Alta Action Tripod Bag (Not Included) connection for ultimate Vanguard ALTA EXPERIENCE
  • Keep dry – total coverage rain cover
Peak Design Slide Camera Strap

Above: Front View

Above: Inside the main compartment

Above: Side access

Above: the bags expandable section

Skylum Luminar Neo

The Vanguard ALTA RISE 45 backpack with the +6 revolution offers you the possibility to supersize or downsize, with one easy zipper motion, while still keeping gear protected. Designed for intuitive use, you will find that the quick-action, side flap opening allows you grab-and-shoot in split seconds when releasing one shoulder strap and swinging the backpack around.

In both size modes, the ALTA RISE 45 ensures padded protection. Ideally, the capacity is designed to hold a Pro DSLR, 4-5 lenses (up to 24-70mm f/2.8) a flash and accessories in the large dedicated camera compartment, and when the +6 width is expanded you can utilize the full length padded compartment to store personal essentials, or carry along a laptop or tablet less than 9.7″. Strategically placed internal and external pockets, arrange all other essentials, such as memory cards, cables, batteries, charger, smartphone and water bottle, exactly where one needs them; either secured in a zippered compartment, or on hand at any given moment in a slip-in pocket. While a concealed rear pocket will secure valuables such as wallet and travel documents close to your body where no prying hands can reach. Additional storage is made possible with the connection to the side strap loop. Enhancing performance, you will discover our second-to-none quality, materials, and bag construction, our signature total coverage rain cover and our optimal balance tripod carrying system.

The ALTA RISE 45 carries comfortably and it features ergonomic Air System breathable back and harness as well as a sturdy top handle, which makes grab-and-run possible at any given moment and allows you to hang the bag from any hook.



There are lots of combinations of gear that will fit in the bag but below is the gear Paul carries in the bag to give you an idea (keep in mind that there are two of us and we swap and share some lenses) –

The Vanguard Alta Rise 45 carries all the above comfortably and if he is not carrying the 70-200 or filters there is room for a wet-weather jacket as well.
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Pauly Designed Streetwear


There’s always gotta be some negatives cry These are not deal-breakers but minor things.
  • The side access to access the camera could have been just a little larger and sometimes the zipper struggles to open around the corner sections.
  • The top handle is fantastic on the top of the bag but it is a bit big to hang on the bottom of the tripods centre column for extra stability. Another small loop would have been handy.

All-in-all the positives far outweigh the negatives of this bag and Paul is looking forward to many years of comfortable shooting with this attached to his back. If you are looking for a great camera backpack for travelling, or for general use for that matter, then look no further. If you are looking for something a little larger then try the Alta Rise 48.


UPDATE: It’s 2023 and we are still using this bag, however, these days it is mostly used as an equipment transit bag while travelling. At our destination, we will usually transfer the gear to our Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L bags. On odd occasions, we will use the bag in the field, but try to avoid it. Nevertheless, it is still our go-to backpack camera bag for all our travel.

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First outing with the Vanguard Alta Rise 45. Paul contemplating a composition on Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia. Just need some clouds :-). Taken with the Sony A7ii and Laowa 15mm f2 Zero-Distortion lens.

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