Photography / Hands-on Review

Hands-On Review: 10 Innovative New Lowepro Bags + Backpacks

         

Today, Lowepro is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of photo equipment and carry gear, but it all started with Greg Lowe, in his small garage, in a Colorado town near the Rockies. A mountaineer, photographer, and filmmaker, Lowe developed the internal-frame backpack in 1967, and in 1972 introduced the first lightweight, foam-padded nylon cases to protect camera and cinematography gear from the hazards of climbing. Over the years, other inventive solutions followed, including the first use of lightweight plastic buckles (1977), a new ergonomic shoulder-strap design (1985) the Sliplock system, a modular design to expand carrying capacity (1993), DryZone, the first waterproof backpack (2002), the SlingShot, with quick side access (2005), and ActivZone, a harness system that distributes the weight, delivering targeted support at the shoulder blades, lumbar region, and waist (2014). This tradition of design innovation and enhanced functionality has become a hallmark of the Lowepro brand, and it’s quite evident in our hands-on review of 10 of the latest Lowepro bags.

"Today, Lowepro is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of photo equipment and carry gear..."

A trio of cool new Lowepro Scout bags

Targeting the expanding ranks of mirrorless camera shooters, all three bags in the Scout series are compact, slimly stylish, and beautifully made in a soft cotton-like Vintage Cotna 600D polyester, with an even softer 200D polyester Tricot lining, to prevent scratches and abrasions to delicate equipment. The three Scout bags we put through their paces were all furnished in Slate Blue, an attractively understated color that gives them a distinctively luxurious appearance without attracting unwanted attention.

The Lowepro Scout SH 100 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag, the smallest of the three Scouts covered here, can hold a typical mirrorless camera, like my Sony Alpha a6000 with its normal zoom lens, and an extra battery or a fairly narrow accessory like a battery charger. Behind the main compartment is an interior pocket that will just about accommodate an iPhone 6 Plus, and still let you close the sturdy snap lock on the front flap. There’s another Tricot-lined compartment on the front, with a touch-fastened closure that has a tethered snap fastener inside for holding keys and such, and another sleeve on the back for storing papers, an instruction manual, or perhaps a thin wallet. Carrying options include a robust padded top handle, a sturdy 1-inch-wide nylon strap with a very wide adjustment range, and swiveling snap hooks that clip into two strong metal-look fittings on the bag’s sides. The adjustable touch-fastening interior divider can be configured to accommodate your gear, and the gray-colored lining makes it easier to locate items in dim light. The Scout SH 100 is quite compact and lightweight, with exterior dimensions of 5.3 x 3.9 x 6.9 inches and a weight of 6.4 ounces, so you hardly notice you’re carrying it.


Lowepro Scout SH 100 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag
 

The Scout SH 120 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag is the mid-size Scout is wider and deeper than the SH 100 AW, with exterior dimensions of 7.9 x 4.5 x 7.2 inches and weighing 11.2 ounces, but it has the same upscale slim-line style. Its interior compartment can accommodate a larger mirrorless camera with mounted normal zoom, and its moveable touch-fastened dividers can be configured to hold a telephoto zoom and a battery charger with extra battery, and the interior compartment in the bag will hold a large smartphone in its case. The top flap is secured with two robust clip-in straps, and the commodious exterior front compartment, at five inches wide, will accommodate thicker objects, has a tethered key clip, and a touch-fastened closure flap. The exterior compartment on the back is more than seven inches wide and five inches deep, but it has no closure, so it’s not recommended for fragile items. As with the smaller model, it can be carried by its robust padded top handle or over the shoulder on its sturdy one-inch-wide nylon strap, which has a very wide adjustment range and swiveling snap hooks that clip into two strong metal-look fittings on the bag’s sides. A Tricot-lined interior helps avoid scratching your equipment, and its gray-colored interior makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. This bag is ideal for serious mirrorless shooters who need some extra capacity but still want to travel light.


Lowepro Scout SH 120 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag
 

The Scout SH 140 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag is essentially an upsized version of the Scout SH 120 AW reviewed above and is the largest of the three Scouts, but is still quite compact, lightweight, and easy to carry, with exterior dimensions of 9.6 x 4.3 x 7.3 inches and weighing 4.4 ounces. Its commodious interior compartment is divided into six sections by adjustable touch-fastened dividers, and it can easily be configured to hold a large mirrorless camera (or even a compact DSLR) with two or three extra lenses, a separate flash unit, a battery charger, and more. Its interior compartment is large enough to accommodate a small tablet, such as an iPad mini and, like the mid-size model, it has two robust strap-and-buckle closures on the top flap. The front compartment is nearly 7.5 inches wide, will hold objects up to about 1.5 inches thick, has a tethered key clip, and two small interior compartments near the top for holding memory cards. A large, flapless 9 x 5-inch rear compartment is great for holding non-fragile items that will stay in place. Other features include a robust padded carrying handle and one-inch-wide nylon shoulder strap that has a very wide adjustment range and swiveling snap hooks that clip into two strong metal-look fittings on the bag’s sides. A Tricot-lined interior helps avoid scratches to your equipment, and its gray-colored interior makes it easy to find your gear. This bag is probably the best choice among the three Scouts for mirrorless shooters who want to carry the entire system on location.


Lowepro Scout SH 140 AW Mirrorless Camera Bag
 

A pair of attractive new Lowepro Slingshot Shoulder Bags

Both of these stylish bags can be carried over the shoulder to transport a large amount of equipment, but they’re compact, lightweight, and provide convenient front and body-side access to your gear. They’re also beautifully finished, constructed of durable N100 and M210D Nylon Stretch Polyester, feature zippered closures, and have a hefty, padded, fully adjustable sling strap for comfortable all-day use, and a substantial rubber-clad carrying handle.

The Slingshot Edge 150 AW is an attractive medium-sized bag that will easily accommodate a mirrorless camera outfit with mounted lens, plus two additional lenses in its zippered, compartmented, main section at the bottom. Its touch-fastened dividers can be easily configured to accommodate a variety of gear, and it opens very wide from the side for easy access on location. Its large zippered top section opens at the top and can be used to store more photo equipment, such as an auxiliary flash unit, a folded poncho, or anything else you need for a day trip. Smaller accessories fit in a zippered front pocket, and there are loops with removable, adjustable snap-fastened straps for securing a travel tripod or a rolled-up jacket. This cool-looking pack seems very durable and strong, and it comes with a built-in weather cover to protect your gear from the elements. Exterior dimensions are 9.6 x 6.1 x 15.3 inches and the bag weighs 1.5 pounds. This is an excellent bag for hikers, birdwatchers, and day-trippers who need to carry enough gear to provide flexible shooting options.


Lowepro Slingshot Edge 150 AW
 

Lowepro's Slingshot Edge 250 AW is a larger, more capacious over-the-shoulder bag, similar in look, features, and configuration to the Slingshot Edge 150 AW described above. Its roomy, zippered bottom compartment opens wide from the side for easy access on the fly, will easily accommodate a compact DSLR outfit with two lenses a flash, and assorted accessories, and its removable touch-fastened dividers and interior pockets are easy to configure. A large, padded zippered top compartment opens from the top and can be used to store clothing, food, and anything you might need for a day trip; a smaller zippered front compartment will accommodate a small iPad or tablet, and there are exterior loops with removable adjustable snap-fastened straps for securing a travel tripod, a rolled-up jacket, and other items. Exterior dimensions are 10.5 x 6.1 x 18.9 inches, and it weighs 1.8 pounds. This is an attractive, durable, high-quality shoulder pack for folks who need to carry a little bit extra, or a somewhat larger camera body and lenses, in all-day comfort and style while they’re on the go.


Lowepro Slingshot Edge 250 AW
 

Five fascinating new Lowepro backpacks

Backpacks are one of the most convenient, least stressful ways of toting a large amount of photo gear when you’re hiking on a trail, walking in the woods, or simply sightseeing while traveling or on vacation. They position the load for a comfort carry, leaving your hands free, and presenting a narrow profile that lets you navigate tight spaces. Many will hold rain gear, jackets, and daily necessities in addition to photo gear, and many Lowepro models feature the ActivZone harness system that distributes the weight, and provides added support where it counts—at the shoulder blades, lumbar region, and waist.

The Tahoe BP 150 Backpack: It’s simple, straightforward, and basic, but this handsome, compact, well-made, economical backpack is definitely up to the job for many active shooters. It has a large zippered compartment that opens from the front, revealing a large, deeply padded, compartmented interior with adjustable touch-fastened dividers that can easily accommodate a mid-size DSLR outfit complete with two extra lenses and a flash unit, and has a separate zippered compartment inside for holding incidentals, such as a folded poncho. Also on the front is a deep 6-inch wide x 6.5-inch deep zippered padded pocket that will accept a 10-inch tablet, smart phone, etc., and has pockets for pens, pads, and memory cards. Other features include large, adjustable padded shoulder straps for Suspended Impact Protection; adjustable clip-in straps on the sides for extra security; and large mesh side pockets for holding extras that require easy access, like a water bottle; and a robust grab handle at the top.


Lowepro Tahoe BP150 Backpack
 

The Photo Sport BP 200 AW II, as its name suggests, is a cool backpack aimed at active lifestyle shooters who require quick access to their gear and need to carry a fair amount of equipment on long treks in any weather, comfortably. It features a zippered side compartment with a removable touch-fastened insert that can be configured to accommodate a DSLR with mounted lens and one additional lens or a flash unit, and a large top compartment secured with an adjustable drawstring cinch and protected with a clip-down weather flap that can hold food, a water bottle, or a folded poncho. In addition, there’s a large (10-inch-wide, 11-inch deep) front pocket for stowing a jacket or bicycle helmet. For long hikes, you can stay hydrated by storing your own two-liter water reservoir in a zippered compartment behind the back panel that’s cleverly marked H20. Other features include attachment points on the front for securing a tripod or hiking poles; a wide, adjustable padded ActivZone shoulder harness with sternum strap and waist belt; a side pocket for carrying incidentals like sunglasses; an extra zippered top pocket with a tethered key clasp that will hold a wallet and keep it dry; a clip-in security strap for the side compartment; and a built-in all-weather AW cover. The BP200 AW II is constructed of N100 nylon with UTS coating, N210D HD Oxford nylon, and stretch polyester. Exterior dimensions are 9.6 x 7.7 x 20.5 inches and the pack weighs 2.7 pounds.


Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II
 

Similar in features and concept to the Photo Sport BP 200 AW II, the Photo Sport BP 300 AW II provides a larger carrying capacity in a slightly larger form factor. It will accommodate a large pro DSLR with short zoom (such as a 70-200) plus one extra lens or a flash, so it’s ideal for experienced and emerging pros shooting on location or on the trail. The BP 300 AW II features a zippered side compartment with a removable touch-fastened insert, a large top compartment secured with an adjustable drawstring cinch and protected with a clip-down weather flap, a large (11-inch-wide, 13-inch-deep) front pocket for stowing a jacket or bicycle helmet, and a zippered compartment behind the back panel that’s for storing a water reservoir of up to two liters. Other features include front attachment points for toting a tripod or hiking poles; a wide, adjustable padded ActivZone shoulder harness with sternum strap and waist belt; a side pocket for carrying incidentals like sunglasses; an extra zippered top pocket with a tethered key clasp that will keep the contents dry; a clip-in security strap for the side compartment; and a built-in all-weather AW cover. The pack is constructed of N100 nylon with UTS coating, N210D Oxford nylon, and stretch polyester. Exterior dimensions are 10.6 x 9.4 x 22 inches and the pack weighs 3.2 pounds.


Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II
 

Featuring crisp, contemporary styling, the ProTactic BP 250 AW is a stoutly constructed, “hard shell” backpack aimed at mirrorless camera shooters who also need to carry a laptop of up to 11 inches, such as a MacBook Air. It offers zippered access from both sides to items stored near the bottom, plus total access to its extensive array of touch-fastened compartments via a large zippered back section that also has a large deep built-in laptop compartment with its own zippered closure. It will accommodate a mirrorless camera with short zoom plus three to four additional lenses and accessories, and it has a cool armored top section with a zippered closure that opens to reveal a separate compact mini belt case, complete with its own zippered closure that contains additional straps for attaching a tripod and more. Other features include an ActivZone System harness for support and comfort; removable adjustable waist belt with quick-release buckle; robust padded top handle; built-in all-weather cover in gray, to reduce heat absorption; and a SlipLock compatible exterior for attaching pouches and optional items. It’s fabricated of 900D Polyester and 1680 Ballistic Polyester for shooters requiring a rugged full-featured backpack. Exterior dimensions are 11.0 x 6.1 x 17.5 inches and it weighs 4.0 pounds.


Lowepro ProTactic BP 250 AW Mirrorless Camera and Laptop Backpack 
 

The Whistler BP 450 AW is a substantial, high-end, large-capacity backpack that looks like it will stand up to just about anything and protect your equipment, even under the most challenging conditions. Despite its impressive size and rugged construction, it’s beautifully balanced and it will let you transport a complete pro photo outfit into the wilds in surprising comfort—a perfect solution for wildlife and adventure photographers on expedition. It features a large rear panel secured by a hefty YKK zipper that lets you access the removable touch-fastened dividers, and the top of the panel is hinged so you can grab what you need without opening the entire lid. It even has built-in sleeves for organizing your memory cards. The large zippered top compartment is big enough to accommodate another camera body or accessories, such as a flash unit, and it has a key leash and a separate weatherproof cover to provide extra weather protection when needed. This versatile all-season backpack also features a roomy zippered front compartment for storing food and clothing. The Whistler BP 450 AW will accommodate a big pro DSLR outfit complete with four lenses, a flash unit, and a GoPro. Other features include a padded adjustable ActivZone shoulder harness; chest connector and waist belt with quick-release buckle; heat-embossed back panel for improved airflow; multiple exterior attachment points for accessories such as tripods and hiking poles; a large heft-top haul strap; and a Hypalon pack base for additional abrasion resistance and weatherproofing. It’s fabricated of 420D rip-stop nylon Oxford with TPU and PU coatings, 210D nylon, and a Hypalon base. Exterior dimensions are 12.2 x 11.9 x 22.5 inches and the pack weighs 7.3 pounds.


Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW