The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari + What to Look For

If you’re planning a safari, the possibilities are good that you’re fascinated by taking a bigger digital camera and lens with you. These can produce fantastic wildlife images, however additionally they include a draw back, which is that they are often heavy and laborious to carry for extended durations of time.

Usually the answer to a heavy lens and digital camera is a tripod or monopod. Nonetheless, most safaris have you ever observing wildlife from inside a car, the place it’s usually not potential to simply arrange and use both a tripod or monopod. That is particularly the case when there are a couple of individuals within the car vying for viewing area!

Nonetheless, you don’t need to miss an amazing shot of a lion or an elephant as a result of your arms are drained from holding your gear up. As an alternative, you must take into account investing in a pictures bean bag.

On this article, I’ll let you know how they work, why you may want one, vital options to search for in a pictures bean bag, and provides some suggestions on among the finest pictures bean luggage for safari.

I like to recommend studying this put up together with my information to getting great photos on safari, in addition to my information to the best safari camera and lenses, so that you’re totally ready on your journey.

We even have a complete safari packing list for the whole lot else you would possibly want.

Causes to Use a Pictures Bean Bag

A pictures bean bag, because the identify suggests, is a bag crammed with beans (or related materials) which is used to assist a digital camera when taking footage.

These could be positioned both over a window body or on the highest of the car if you’re standing up and searching of a pop-up prime, and can let you hold your digital camera pointing in the precise course with out tiring your arms out.

It’ll additionally let you use slower shutter speeds if required, relying on the out there gentle and the way a lot your topic is shifting.

Primarily a pictures bean bag gives related advantages to a tripod or monopod, however in a smaller and extra versatile package deal. Some key advantages of a pictures bean bag embody:

  • You don’t have to carry up your lens and digital camera
  • It supplies a spot to relaxation and regular longer lenses or recognizing scope
  • They defend your gear from having to relaxation on the usually soiled and uneven surfaces of the edges of the car
  • It may possibly additionally defend your gear and provides stabilization if capturing from the bottom
  • It’s extra versatile to be used in lots of conditions in comparison with a tripod or monopod

After all, these pictures bean luggage usually are not simply helpful for safari however for all kinds of nature and out of doors associated pictures eventualities. So it’s nice if you may get a bag that additionally, you will be capable to use elsewhere.

Listed here are a few images of me on safari with and with out a bean bag to provide you an concept of the distinction. I’ve used a lot of these bean luggage on varied safaris throughout a lot of African international locations.

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

What to Search for in a Pictures Bean Bag for Safari

Earlier than offering some steered bean luggage, I needed to share my strategies for what to search for in a bean bag for safari pictures. This can enable you to to resolve which bean bag goes to be finest for you.



The very first thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the form of the bean bag. Pictures bean luggage are usually not simply shapeless spherical blobs, they have a tendency to have a particular type which permits them to work extra successfully.

There are three principal shapes of pictures bean luggage. First, there’s a cushion-like flatter form which is the best choice. Then, there’s the double cushion, which is successfully two cushions sewn collectively.

Lastly, there’s a model which seems a bit like a decrease case “n” (or an inverted “u”). This form has two “legs” with a cushion half on the prime. It’s successfully a saddlebag form, and is the preferred choice.

Under are some photographs displaying a few of these totally different designs.

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

Which form will give you the results you want will rely a bit on the place you’re prone to be capturing. I discover the saddlebag model gives an excellent little bit of versatility as it may be tailored to suit quite a lot of areas, from capturing over a window body to balancing on the sting of a car roof when capturing by means of a pop-up prime.

It additionally has the benefit which you could invert it when capturing on a flatter floor to offer a kind of cradle on your digital camera.

The straightforward flatter cushion-like form can show to be fairly versatile, particularly when capturing on the roof of a car or from the ground. Personally I discover it a bit much less sensible for safari use because it doesn’t mildew to a car window or door space in addition to the opposite choices.

Laurence using R5 on safari in Africa



Pictures bean luggage are available quite a lot of sizes. The principle factor is to make sure that the bean bag you select is massive sufficient so your digital camera and lens will comfortably match on it, while not being so large that it’s impractical to make use of and carry.

Jackal Kenya


Filler Kind

Many bean luggage include the choice to buy them with a filling or with out. We usually discover it’s simpler to journey with an empty bean bag after which fill it with an acceptable filling at your vacation spot, similar to buckwheat (hulls), chicken seed, or dried beans. This reduces the journey weight and bulk of the bean bag.

Nonetheless, you may as well decide to buy a bean bag with a filling, which is usually one thing like polystyrene balls to maintain transport weight down. This may undoubtedly work and offers you a light-weight choice, though it received’t be as secure as a heavier choice.

Notice that many forms of uncooked and dried beans could be toxic to wildlife so for those who use them to fill your bag you’ll need to take additional care to maintain your bag away from animals and hold them secured contained in the car while you depart it.

We now have had monkeys, significantly baboons, attempt to snatch the luggage from the automobiles, as they’ve learnt that the fillings typically include tasty treats!

Photography bean bag safari



While the fabric the pictures bean bag is product of may have some influence on its weight, the primary factor that impacts its weight is what it’s crammed with.

If it’s crammed with a light-weight materials like polystyrene balls for instance, then it will likely be very gentle. If it’s crammed with dried beans or seeds, then it would naturally be heavier. The bigger the bean bag, the heavier it will likely be.

We’d usually suggest utilizing a heavier filling like beans or seeds because the bag will hold its form higher when arrange and supply a extra secure base. Nonetheless, now we have additionally used a pictures bean bag crammed with polystyrene balls with good outcomes.

On our final journey, we crammed our bag with a mixture of dried beans and a few pillow stuffing which was an excellent combine .

Black Rhino Kenya



A safari could be fairly a difficult surroundings, with a number of bumpy roads in addition to automobiles containing laborious edges.

It’s vital that you simply use a pictures bean bag which goes to face up to the rigours of this surroundings. You undoubtedly don’t need to be in a scenario the place the bean bag develops a gap and bursts open half means by means of your journey!

A well-made bean bag that has good stitching and which is constructed from a sturdy materials similar to canvas or one other thick hard-wearing materials could be finest. Evaluating the 2 photographs beneath, the bean bag on the precise is comprised of a harder canvas like materials which is able to doubtless last more.

Photography bean bag safari



On safari you usually need pretty impartial colours that don’t stand out. You additionally need to keep away from blues and blacks which may appeal to tsetse flies.

Most pictures bean luggage we’re conscious of are available shades of inexperienced or beige, or are in a kind of camouflage sample of greens and beige colours, which works properly.

Photography bean bag safari



One of many extra vital options of a pictures bean bag is whether or not or not it may be refilled. I’d argue that having the ability to empty and fill your bean bag is admittedly vital.

That is so you possibly can change the contents to fit your wants. For instance, if you’re travelling gentle or need to cut back bulk, you would possibly need to empty out your bean bag and fold it up. Then, while you arrive in your vacation spot you possibly can pop to a market and purchase some dried beans, rice, or buckwheat to fill it with.

Most pictures bean luggage are refillable. Some open with a zipper while others open with velcro. I’d personally suggest a system that closes with a zipper as it’s far safer and there may be much less threat of it coming open by mistake.

Photography bean bag safari



You’ll in fact need to take into consideration worth when buying a pictures bean bag. The excellent news is that almost all bean luggage are properly priced, usually coming in at round $25 – $85 USD.

After all, you possibly can pay extra (and fewer!), however in comparison with the worth of many pictures equipment in the marketplace immediately we expect that is undoubtedly one of many extra inexpensive choices you should purchase to enhance your images and make your pictures expertise simpler whereas on safari.

Photography bean bag safari


Different Options

In addition to the above options, some pictures bean luggage produce other options you would possibly discover helpful. These embody straps or pockets, or issues like being water-proof.

A strap or wire can undoubtedly be helpful as you should use it to safe the bean bag when in use. Water proofing can be useful for those who assume you may be capturing in moist environments.

Some have shoulder straps to make them simpler to hold if capturing on foot – these straps can be used to safe to the automotive. As well as, among the flat luggage can be used as ballasts on your tripod.

Talking of tripods, some pictures bean luggage even have the choice to connect a ball or pan head to the bean bag, providing you with a better of each worlds choice.

Leopard - Safari Photography Tips


The Greatest Pictures Bean Luggage for Safari

I’m now going to undergo what I believe are among the finest choices for pictures bean luggage for safari. These are ordered by worth, though pricing can range so do examine.

You’ll discover this isn’t an enormous listing. That’s as a result of there are just a few manufacturers who give attention to this kind of product. Nonetheless, these manufacturers do know what they’re doing and the result’s a strong product.

Moreover, with Kinesis and LensCoat, they provide a spread of choices at totally different sizes and worth factors to go well with most digital camera setups.

Personally, from the listing beneath I’d suggest both the Kinesis SafariSack 4.2 or the LensCoat LensSack Pro Jr as my favorite choices to be used on safari.


Kinesis SafariSack 1.4

Kinesis have been making pictures bean luggage for safari for a few years, designing their bean bag merchandise particularly for photographers heading on safari in Africa. What we like about them is that clearly Kinesis have put some thought into what’s vital for this kind of product.

They’ve a spread of safari bean luggage, however we advise testing the SafariSack 1.4 as an excellent choice for those who would like a flatter bean bag choice.

The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari + What to Look For

This bag is comprised of rip-stop 400-dernier nylon. It has a zippered compartment so you possibly can simply fill and empty it. It has D-rings on the ends so you possibly can match a strap, and there’s additionally a small sewn-in strap which can be utilized to safe it to a car.

This can work for smaller and bigger cameras alike. In case you have a smaller setup particularly then this generally is a nice choice.

Verify worth on Amazon here and on B&H Photo here.


Kinesis SafariSack 4.2

My favorite choice from Kinesis is the SafariSack 4.2, which is designed for these of you with bigger lenses and cameras.

The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari + What to Look For

The SafariSack 4.2 is double-stitched for sturdiness and constructed from powerful rip-stop Nylon. You get a rubberized backside to stop it from slipping, and there’s an elective shoulder strap in addition to a hand strap.

Maybe the perfect characteristic although is the 2 built-in quick-release straps. These permit the SafariSack for use in two principal modes when on safari. With the straps undone, you should use it as a flat sack, which is extra suited to use when capturing on the highest of a car or different flatter floor.

You possibly can alternatively join the straps to create the basic saddlebag form, permitting it for use over a window. Primarily you get the perfect of each worlds, making this a contender for the perfect pictures bean bag in the marketplace.

The bag is on the market with or with out a fill, and there’s even a selection of filler materials.

Verify worth on Amazon here and on B&H Photo here.


NatureScapes SkimmerSack II Mini Beanbag

The NatureScapes SkimmerSack II beanbag was developed by a full-time nature photographer who needed a bean bag that might meet his wants. The excellent news is that this has resulted in a beautiful product that’s perfect for safari pictures.

The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari + What to Look For

The SkimmerSack II is comprised of powerful 500 dernier nylon cordura, with a non-slip rubbererized coating beneath to assist forestall it from shifting round when in place.

The inside is constructed from a rubber-like materials, giving it some water-resistance. It’s double-stitched for energy and has a zipper opening for including your individual fill. There’s additionally a hand-grab loop strap on every finish of the bag, and there are a pair of straps on the base to let you safe it to a door deal with or roof rack for security.

Verify worth on Amazon here and on B&H Photo here.


LensCoat LensSack Pro Jr

One other well-known model within the pictures bean bag world is LensCoat, who make a spread of bean luggage that may accommodate a variety of lenses. They’re additionally out there in a number of colours.

The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari + What to Look For

We’d suggest looking on the LensCoat LensSack Pro Jr. This saddlebag formed bag can deal with lenses as much as 500mm in size (variations are additionally out there with assist as much as 800mm).

There’s a non-slip coating and it’s comprised of sturdy waterproof Cordura with strengthened seams. It additionally has two storage pockets, MOLLE webbing straps, and two locking YKK zips that make it straightforward to fill and empty.

Maybe essentially the most fascinating characteristic of this bean bag although is the truth that it comes with a detachable mounting plate with a 3/8″-16 thread. This can be utilized to connect a gimbal or ball head, that means you possibly can doubtless use it along with your current tripod head. This provides you the perfect of each worlds – the compact and moveable advantages of a bean bag, with the flexibleness of a head, making it simpler to trace shifting topics with out having to regulate the bean bag.

Verify worth on Amazon here, on B&H Photo here and direct from LensCoat here.


Make Your Personal Pictures Bean Bag

As a result of a last-minute baggage mix-up previous to a current African safari, I used to be left with out my pictures bean bag simply earlier than the journey began. Fortunately, my mum is an professional with a stitching machine and he or she occurred to have some good high quality thick materials readily available.

Between us we got here up with a design for a u-shaped bean bag with a zipper. My mum made it with a heavy calico cloth and a zipper. We then dyed it inexperienced. As soon as in Uganda, we crammed it with dried beans and a few pillow stuffing.

It labored nice, and goes to point out that if you’re a bit artistic, you possibly can undoubtedly make your individual bean bag answer.  Nonetheless, this feature might be finest for these with a stitching machine and a few primary stitching expertise!

Elephant eating Kenya


Suggestions for Utilizing a Pictures Bean Bag

Now that you’ve chosen your pictures bean bag, I needed to share a couple of tricks to get essentially the most out of it, based mostly on my experiences.

  • Invert your tripod collar. In case you have a digital camera with a tripod collar, rotate this so it’s on the prime of the digital camera relatively than the underside, as in any other case it’s going to get in the way in which of the digital camera resting totally on the bean bag
  • Fill it in vacation spot. If you’re touring, as you doubtless will likely be for safari, it can save you your baggage area by filling the bag in vacation spot relatively than travelling with an already full bag
  • Select your filling properly. There are a number of choices for a filling. I discover buckwheat, sunflower seeds, or bigger dried beans works properly. The form of rice means that’s can compact a bit an excessive amount of and means you possibly can lose among the versatile form advantages of a bean bag. Polystyrene balls can work however I discover them to be a bit too gentle and noisy, to not point out environmentally unfriendly.
  • If you’re utilizing an natural product to fill your bean bag you’ll want to take care that it doesn’t get moist, and bear in mind that it would have to be changed occasionally.

Shoebill Stork

Additional Studying

That’s it for my information to the perfect bean bag for safari pictures. When you discovered this handy, you would possibly get pleasure from a few of my different pictures content material. Listed here are some articles to get you began.


Trying to Enhance Your Pictures?

When you discovered this put up useful, and also you need to enhance your pictures total, you would possibly need to take a look at my online travel photography course.

Since launching the course in 2016, I’ve already helped over 2,000 college students learn to take higher images. The course covers just about the whole lot it’s essential to know, from the fundamentals of how a digital camera works, by means of to composition, gentle, and photograph enhancing.

It additionally covers extra superior subjects, together with astrophotography, lengthy publicity pictures, flash pictures, and HDR pictures.

You get suggestions from me as you progress, entry to webinars, interviews and movies, in addition to unique membership of a Fb group the place you may get suggestions in your work and participate in common challenges.

It’s out there for a tremendous one-off worth for lifetime entry, and I believe you must test it out. Which you are able to do by clicking here.

And that’s it! I’d love to listen to about your ideas on wildlife pictures on safari, and am pleased to reply any questions you have got. Simply pop them within the feedback beneath and I’ll get again to you as quickly as I can.

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