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Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Camera Bag Review

When Vanguard, purveyors of award-winning carbon fibre tripods (amongst lots of other gear), agreed to loan us the all-new Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Carbon Fibre Tripod to review for some landscape photography, we politely asked for a Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Backpack in order to lug all of our gear around.

Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Camera Bag Review in the field hands-on

First announced in May 2022, this particular Vanguard backpack is one of the largest in the range, offering cavernous space for virtually every possible camera and lens combination, plus a laptop, tripod and much more to boot.

Our real-world field review will help you decide whether this heavy-duty expedition sized bag is the one you’ve been looking for. Why not grab a cuppa and discover everything you need to know about the Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Backpack here amongst our many Park Cameras gear reviews.

Easy rear access to your equipment

What are Vanguard  bags about?

Vanguard camera bags have been made since the company formed in the 1980’s, after deciding to create high quality feature-rich products for photographers. The range now includes everything from rain covers and battery cases to professional camera bags like the award winning Vanguard Alta Sky Backpack series.

Photographers benefit from Vanguard’s 10 year warranty extension program, which demonstrates their commitment to manufacturing durable equipment, which is precisely what you want to hear when investing in a bag, that is capable of holding such a lot of weight.

Shooting in the field with Vanguard Alta Sky

What are Vanguard Alta Sky backpacks?

Much like tripods, there simply isn’t one camera bag for every occasion and the Vanguard Alta Sky Series are designed for photographers who hike longer distances with lots of equipment. The range has picked up awards from TIPA and Red Dot, which highlights the many well thought out features they offer photographers.

Vanguard Alta Sky 68 ‘Long Lens’ Backpack key features

Although the Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Backpack has been specifically made for transporting longer telephoto lenses, with a whopping 36 litre capacity there are plenty of other appealing features for hauling big loads, such as:

  • Dedicated padded 16" laptop compartment and space for an 11" tablet
  • Long lens compartment fits up to 800mm telephoto lens
  • Orange interior with thick configurable inserts to easily find smaller items
  • Top and rear access with several grab handles to manoeuvre the bag as required
  • Heavy duty weather resistant exterior, plus a rain cover
  • Nice big glove-friendly zips and toggles
  • Full-sized tripod holder on rear with flip-out pouch and you can stow a tripod on the side too
  • Versatile harness system with an accommodating waist belt

The only drawback to having so many useful attributes is that the pack weighs around 3kg before you add anything, which is comparable to similar sized camera backpacks, but worth bearing in mind.

Comfortable when fully loaded

How comfortable is the Alta Sky 68 bag?

The longest hike I managed during my time with the bag was a 2 mile walk in the South Downs National Park to try some long exposure photography, where it was loaded with a relatively modest amount of gear including:

  1. Two Sony mirrorless camera bodies
  2. Three E mount lenses
  3. Full-sized Vanguard VEO 3+ 303CBS Tall Carbon Fibre Tripod With Ball Head
  4. A Joby GorillaPod 3K mini tripod
  5. Two packs of lens filters including several ND filters for the LEs, a LEE filter system and various spare batteries plus other accessories
  6. Plenty of camera cleaning equipment which goes with me everywhere
  7. Water bottle

During the time I used the Alta Sky 68 it did its job of hauling gear incredibly effectively, without any problem and was impressively comfortable.

Glove friendly toggles were a real bonus

How good is the Vanguard Alta Sky backpack?

There were several pros, which I really liked about the Alta Sky pack and very few cons. As a bag nerd I’ve been through literally dozens over the years and essentially look for simplicity, with a bag which does what it’s supposed to. Here's what I found with Vanguard's premium pack:


  • Easily adjustable and comfortable harness system, which had loads of padding compared to the three camera backpacks I currently own (sadly that’s true). You can raise and lower the shoulder straps to fit your torso length and the waist belt fitted my considerable girth just fine.
  • I like the orange colour and thick protective padding inside the bag, which is reminiscent of KATA bags of old, enabling you to find your gear without fuss. The velcro is strong, which is perfect when reconfiguring the interior and staying put.
  • Access was quick and easy, through both the top or rear. It’s really muddy at the moment and your gear stays dry when you access it from the rear. A nice little touch I noticed was the backpack stays upright when you stand it up, which is very handy.
  • The large toggle pulls are a great feature, making it easy to open the many access points, and on a similar note it’s an easy bag to grab and raise, thanks to the well placed grab handles. This is more useful than you realise until you have a bag packed with 20+ kg of gear and need to lift it easily.
  • The tripod attachment on the rear is excellent, providing quick and secure mounting, although it took me a while to realise there was a small pouch stowed away for the tripod feet, which is another excellent touch.


The Alta Sky 68 is a big, burly backpack, which weighs just under 3kg. It does its job effectively without any real niggles and perhaps the only suggestion would be to wrap a bit of foam around the top handle to make it a hair more comfortable. Aside from that you have to find room to fit your personal items as there isn’t dedicated space for coats and whatnot, but really this is barely worth mentioning, as the bag is plenty large enough.

Long lens interior for up to 800mm lenses

With a 10 year warranty you have incredible protection if anything does go wrong with the backpack, and it feels suitably rugged for carrying big loads and heavy equipment. There’s a lot to like, including gear access, padding, comfort and more - I have bceome a fan!

Head over to browse all of our Vanguard camera backpacks to find the perfect one for your needs. If you regularly haul long lenses and pro-sized equipment the Vanguard Alta Sky 68 Backpack demands serious consideration, and Vanguard offers plenty of other options for smaller / shorter loads.

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By Nick Dautlich on 21/04/2023

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