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


If you might be planning a safari, the possibilities are good that you’re desirous about taking a bigger digital camera and lens with you. These can produce fantastic wildlife pictures, however in addition they include a draw back, which is that they are often heavy and exhausting to carry for extended intervals of time.

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

However, you don’t wish to miss an incredible shot of a lion or an elephant as a result of your arms are drained from holding your gear up. Instead, you must contemplate investing in a images bean bag.

In this text, I’ll let you know how they work, why you may want one, essential options to search for in a images bean bag, and provides some suggestions on a few of the greatest images bean luggage for safari.

I like to recommend studying this submit together with my information to getting nice pictures on safari, in addition to my information to the greatest safari digital camera and lenses, so that you’re absolutely ready to your journey.

Reasons to Use a Photography Bean Bag 

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

These may be positioned both over a window body or on the highest of the car if you’re standing up and looking of a pop-up prime, and can permit you to maintain your digital camera pointing in the appropriate course with out tiring your arms out.

It will even permit you to use slower shutter speeds if required, relying on the accessible gentle and the way a lot your topic is transferring.

Essentially a images bean bag gives related advantages to a tripod or monopod, however in a smaller and extra versatile bundle. Some key advantages of a images bean bag embody:

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

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

Here are a few pictures of me on safari with and and not using a bean bag to offer you an concept of the distinction. I’ve used quite a few these bean luggage on numerous safaris throughout quite a few African international locations.

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

What to Look for in a Photography Bean Bag for Safari

Before offering some instructed bean luggage, I needed to share my recommendations for what to search for in a bean bag for safari images. This will aid you to resolve which bean bag goes to be greatest for you.



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

There are three essential shapes of images bean luggage. First, there’s a cushion-like flatter form which is the only possibility. Then, there’s the double cushion, which is successfully two cushions sewn collectively.

Finally, there’s a model which seems to be 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 possibility.

Below are some photographs displaying a few of these completely different designs.

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

Photography bean bag safari

Which form will be just right for you will rely a bit on the place you might be prone to be taking pictures. I discover the saddlebag model gives a superb little bit of versatility as it may be tailored to suit a wide range of areas, from taking pictures over a window body to balancing on the sting of a car roof when taking pictures via a pop-up prime.

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

The easy flatter cushion-like form can show to be fairly versatile, particularly when taking pictures 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



Photography bean luggage are available in a wide range of sizes. The essential 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 huge that it’s impractical to make use of and carry.

Jackal Kenya


Filler Type

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

However, you may also decide to buy a bean bag with a filling, which is usually one thing like polystyrene balls to maintain delivery weight down. This can positively work and will provide you with a light-weight possibility, though it gained’t be as steady as a heavier possibility.

Note that many forms of uncooked and dried beans may be toxic to wildlife so in the event you use them to fill your bag you’ll wish to take further care to maintain your bag away from animals and maintain them secured contained in the car whenever you go away it.

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

Photography bean bag safari



Whilst the fabric the images bean bag is fabricated from may have some impression on its weight, the principle factor that impacts its weight is what it’s full of.

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

We’d typically suggest utilizing a heavier filling like beans or seeds because the bag will maintain its form higher when arrange and supply a extra steady base. However, we now have additionally used a images bean bag full of polystyrene balls with good outcomes.

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

Black Rhino Kenya



A safari may be fairly a difficult setting, with numerous bumpy roads in addition to automobiles containing exhausting edges.

It’s essential that you simply use a images bean bag which goes to face up to the rigours of this setting. You positively don’t wish to be in a scenario the place the bean bag develops a gap and bursts open half means via your journey!

A well-made bean bag that has good stitching and which is constructed from a sturdy materials resembling canvas or one other thick hard-wearing materials could be greatest. Comparing the 2 photographs beneath, the bean bag on the appropriate is made out of a more durable canvas like materials which is able to doubtless last more.

Photography bean bag safari



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

Most images bean luggage we’re conscious of are available in 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 the extra essential options of a images bean bag is whether or not or not it may be refilled. I might argue that with the ability to empty and fill your bean bag is absolutely essential.

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

Most images bean luggage are refillable. Some open with a zipper while others open with velcro. I might 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 will in fact wish to take into consideration value when buying a images bean bag. The excellent news is that the majority bean luggage are properly priced, typically coming in at round $25 – $85 USD.

Of course, you may pay extra (and fewer!), however in comparison with the worth of many images equipment available on the market as we speak we predict that is positively one of many extra reasonably priced choices you should purchase to enhance your pictures and make your images expertise simpler whereas on safari.

Photography bean bag safari


Other Features

As properly because the above options, some images bean luggage produce other options you may discover helpful. These embody straps or pockets, or issues like being water-proof.

A strap or twine can positively be useful as you need to use it to safe the bean bag when in use. Water proofing will also be useful in the event you assume you’ll be taking pictures in moist environments.

Some have shoulder straps to make them simpler to hold if taking pictures on foot – these straps will also be used to safe to the automobile. In addition, a few of the flat luggage will also be used as ballasts to your tripod.

Speaking of tripods, some images bean luggage even have the choice to connect a ball or pan head to the bean bag, supplying you with a better of each worlds possibility.

Leopard - Safari Photography Tips


The Best Photography Bean Bags for Safari

I’m now going to undergo what I feel are a few of the greatest choices for images bean luggage for safari. These are ordered by value, though pricing can differ so do examine.

You’ll discover this isn’t an enormous record. That’s as a result of there are only some manufacturers who concentrate on this kind of product. However, these manufacturers do know what they’re doing and the result’s a strong product.

Additionally, with Kinesis and LensCoat, they provide a spread of choices at completely different sizes and value factors to swimsuit most digital camera setups.

Personally, from the record beneath I might 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 images 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 essential for this kind of product.

They have a spread of safari bean luggage, however we propose testing the SafariSack 1.4 as a superb possibility in the event you would favor a flatter bean bag possibility.

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

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

This will work for smaller and bigger cameras alike. If you could have a smaller setup particularly then this generally is a nice possibility.

Check value on Amazon right here and on B&H Photo right here.


Kinesis SafariSack 4.2

My favorite possibility 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.

Perhaps the very best characteristic although is the 2 built-in quick-release straps. These enable the SafariSack for use in two essential modes when on safari. With the straps undone, you need to use it as a flat sack, which is extra fitted to use when taking pictures on the highest of a car or different flatter floor.

You can alternatively join the straps to create the basic saddlebag form, permitting it for use over a window. Essentially you get the very best of each worlds, making this a contender for the very best images bean bag available on the market.

The bag is on the market with or and not using a fill, and there’s even a selection of filler materials.

Check value on Amazon right here and on B&H Photo right 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 will meet his wants. The excellent news is that this has resulted in a beautiful product that’s supreme for safari images.

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

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

The inside is constructed from a rubber-like materials, giving it some water-resistance. It is 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 permit you to safe it to a door deal with or roof rack for security.

Check value on Amazon right here and on B&H Photo right here.


LensCoat LensSack Pro Jr

Another well-known model within the images bean bag world is LensCoat, who make a spread of bean luggage that may accommodate a variety of lenses. They are additionally accessible 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 accessible with assist as much as 800mm).

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

Perhaps probably the most attention-grabbing 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 may doubtless use it along with your present tripod head. This offers you the very best of each worlds – the compact and moveable advantages of a bean bag, with the pliability of a head, making it simpler to trace transferring topics with out having to regulate the bean bag.

Check value on Amazon right here and on B&H Photo right here.


Make Your Own Photography Bean Bag

Due to a last-minute baggage mix-up previous to a current African safari, I used to be left with out my images bean bag simply earlier than the journey began. Thankfully, my mum is an professional with a stitching machine, and occurred to have some good high quality thick linen materials handy.

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 material and a zipper. We then dyed it inexperienced. Once in Uganda, we stuffed 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 may positively make your individual bean bag resolution.  However, this selection might be greatest for these with a stitching machine and a few fundamental stitching abilities!

Elephant eating Kenya


Tips for Using a Photography Bean Bag

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

  • Invert your tripod collar. If you could have a digital camera with a tripod collar, rotate this so it’s on the prime of the digital camera fairly than the underside, as in any other case it’s going to get in the way in which of the digital camera resting absolutely on the bean bag
  • Fill it in vacation spot. If you might be touring, as you doubtless will probably be for safari, it can save you your baggage area by filling the bag in vacation spot fairly than travelling with an already full bag
  • Choose 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 may lose a few of 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 might be 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 once in a while.

Shoebill Stork

Further Reading

That’s it for my information to the very best bean bag for safari images. If you discovered this convenient, you may take pleasure in a few of my different images content material. Here are some articles to get you began.


Looking to Improve Your Photography?

If you discovered this submit useful, and also you wish to enhance your images total, you may wish to try my on-line journey images course.

Since launching the course in 2016, I’ve already helped over 2,000 college students discover ways to take higher pictures. The course covers just about every part you could know, from the fundamentals of how a digital camera works, via to composition, gentle, and picture enhancing.

It additionally covers extra superior matters, together with astrophotography, lengthy publicity images, flash images, and HDR images.

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

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

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

Photography bean bags-2


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