So I have a Nikon 300mm f4 AF and may consider it's older but larger cousins the Nikon 400mm f3.5 or Nikon 600mm f5.6. I have a special pouch for the 300mm and it can easily fit in my backpack when I'm walking around. (I'm assuming that I'm not using the lens, otherwise it would be on my body.)


Assuming I buy a heavier lens, what's the safest way to carry it in a backpack or in a checked bag? I measured the lens and they both clearly fit in my backpack, so I was thinking of leaving it at the bottom.

I do see special cases to hold the lens but I can't afford to check another bag. The fancy trunks are nice but yield the same problem, requiring me to check another bag.

I do understanding that padding is important but are there specific tips that relate with larger lens? I was imaging getting some fabric and wrapping that tightly around the lens so it can soften the blow but I'm unsure if that's enough or do teleprimes need more padding than smaller lens due to both it's weight and size?

This is similar to How to safely transport a camera and its lens from one place to another? except I'm focusing on larger lens which may require different backpacks or related. Many bags can fit and handle smaller lens/cameras but teleprimes are massive and not all bags may even fit them, let alone cushion them properly.


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    I like that you included references to other similar questions on this site, but its not clear what those do not answer that your question necessitates, could you point that out in an edited version of the question? I also am confused by your requirements, and you OK with having a check bag or not, because your question contradicts itself on that point as far as I can tell.
    – dpollitt
    Apr 7, 2016 at 19:01
  • Hey @ChrisH — please see Short answers as comments — please resist the urge. If you have an idea you want to get out there and then might come back and expand on, it's perfectly fine do do that as an answer initially.
    – mattdm
    Dec 18, 2016 at 13:59
  • Nah, that other question doesn't even hint at the idea of a lens the size of the Nikon 300 f/4, 400 f/3.5, or 600 f/5.6.
    – Michael C
    Dec 18, 2016 at 23:30

3 Answers 3


"...carry it in a backpack or in a checked bag"

if you are asking this whether you should put your lends in the checked in bag on the airport, DON'T.

Actually NEVER. Your photography gear is NEVER safe in the checked in baggage. At least that's what I believe.

But if that's not your question, then a better backpack might be the only was to go, like the one by Jeffrey Michael, as he has shown.

Primes have fewer elements, tele or not. However you could simply use a huge amount of bubble wrap, although I don't think your backpack can take it.

Also if you could simply provide extra padding at the bottom on the base of your backpack and then put the lens in, should there be a need for an absolute cheapo method, although I don't recommend it.


I backpack and I use a Canon 100-400 L that I keep on the camera when I travel. I use the LowPro Photo Classic model with the lens in the center of the back pack.

This setup works excellent. My gear survived a 12 foot drop off a cliff on to a giant boulder with no damage. I couldn't believe it. The drop and impact was protected by the backpack. I arranged the interior padding to add extra protection for the lens. enter image description here

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    And I've had countless times the bag has fallen off a bench, chair, table and even a tailgate and no damage. If you shoot with a bigger full frame camera, I recommend going with a longer backpack as the LowPro Classic model is not quite long enough. Good luck and happy shooting! Dec 19, 2016 at 19:05

When traveling I check my large heavy lens, and use Pelican cases with lots of foam. As for Backpacking, I don't think I would carry a Heavy Prime (like a 400 f2.8 / 600 f4.0). Risk vs. reward is not great enough.

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