Rugged and Ready: Lowepro Backpacks and Camera Bags


When shopping for a new—or if you’re like me, yet another—camera bag, you no doubt have a checklist of qualifiers the bag in question must possess before it joins you on the checkout line. My qualifiers include, in no particular order, weight (I do not like bags that feel heavy before you even load them up), construction (What’s the bag made of and how are the parts stitched together?), internal partitioning and padding, comfort level when fully loaded, and lastly—is it good-looking? Full disclosure—I currently own more camera bags than I care to admit and three of them are Lowepro camera bags. Why? Because they each check off all of the qualifiers on my list and then some.

Lowepro ProTactic II-Series Photo Backpacks and Shoulder Bags

Lowepro’s ProTactic-series camera bags are among the company’s best sellers, and building upon a combination of user feedback and organic intuition, Lowepro has begun the rollout of its newest Lowepro ProTactic II-series backpacks and shoulder bags.

Hallmarks of Lowepro’s ProTactic II-series backpacks are their incredibly supportive ActivZone harness systems (left) and protective FormShell outer facing (right).

“Mission Critical” features built into Lowepro ProTactic II-series camera bags include FormShell composite-shell construction, which affords hard-case protection with a lower weight factor compared to traditional hard cases. ProTactic II bags also feature an ActivZone harness system that maximizes shoulder, lumbar, and waist support.

The “Big Mama” of the lineup is the Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II camera and laptop backpack, which can safely carry a pair of DSLRs, a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, a 15" laptop, up to 8 additional lens, and accessories within its highly adaptable interior. It can also safely swallow up a DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom. A new, boxier design allows for additional storage space, and there’s four-point access that makes it easier to get to your gear when you need it fast. The harness system has thicker padding, is better contoured, and breathes freer than the BP 450 AW II’s predecessor.

The Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II Camera and Laptop Bag

The zippers have been beefed up on the new BP 450 AW II and the waist support, which is compatible with Lowepro SlipLock modular components, including the water bottle pouch, accessory case, tripod cup, and cinch straps, can be separated from the backpack and used as a utility belt. And if the weather goes south on you, there’s a handy all-weather cover tucked away at the base of the bag that can quickly envelop the entire camera bag.

If you like the features found on the BP 450 AW II but you prefer something a bit smaller, check out the Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II camera and laptop backpack, which shares all of its bigger sibling’s updated features but is designed to accommodate a 28-70mm f/2.8 rather than a 70-200mm f/2.8, with extra room for up to eight additional lenses and a smaller 13" laptop.

The Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II Camera and Laptop Bag

Not all of us have to (or want to) haul around multiple camera bodies and a lens for every occasion. For those more likely to head out with a camera, three to four lenses, a laptop up to 15", (and) requisite accessories and personal items, there’s the Lowepro ProTactic BP 300 AW II, which is the smallest, most compact ProTactic II-series backpack. This bag is equipped with a Quickshelf insert that can be reconfigured easily to hold an array of gear or removed completely for maximum personal storage space. Like its larger siblings, Lowepro’s ProTactic BP 300 AW II shares all of the updates, refinements, and improvements that make these bags so popular among pro shooters.

The Lowepro ProTactic BP 300 AW II is the smallest of Lowepro’s ProTactic-series photo backpacks.

If you’d prefer to have all of the protective benefits of ProTactic II backpacks in the form of a shoulder bag, there’s the Lowepro ProTactic MG 160 AW II camera messenger bag. It’s designed with an interior space that can be easily subdivided to carry a full-size DSLR with a medium zoom lens and a small drone, or perhaps a full-size DSLR with a 70–200mm f/2.8 zoom plus two to three additional lenses and smaller accessories.

Lowepro’s ProTactic MG 160 AW II can be worn three ways depending on your needs (over your shoulder, cross-body, or low on the hip) and features an oversized top cover flap that does an excellent job keeping the elements out, as well as a hidden All-Weather cover that can envelope the entire bag when rain or snow comes your way.

Lowepro Whistler AW II–Series Backpacks

Generally speaking, Lowepro camera bags are tough and very well made, but for times you plan on taking a serious outback country trek, you might want to consider one of Lowepro’s Whistler AW II-series backpacks.

Constructed from abrasion- and tear-resistant 420 Nylon Ripstop with TPU/PU dual laminate protective coatings, the latest series II versions of Lowepro’s Whistler-series backpacks contain 20% more interior storage space compared to previous models and can now fit three lenses across the width of the interior.

The Lowepro Whistler Backpack 450 AW II is designed to keep your photo gear safe and dry in the coldest, most rugged environments.

Like Lowepro’s ProTactic AW II-series camera bags, Lowepro Whistler AW II-series bags feature ActivZone back panels and a dual-density foam harness for maximum back comfort.

Lowepro Fastpack III and Slingshot-Series Camera Bags

Designed for travel and assignment work, Lowepro Fastpack III travel-ready backpacks and Slingshot bags feature individualized storage zones, including a Lowepro CradleFit storage compartment with EVA dividers and Lowepro QuickDoor opening, a well-padded waist belt, an All-Weather cover to protect your gear from heavy weather, along with PU-coated exterior fabric protection.

Lowepro’s Fastpack III and Slingshot-series camera bags feature QuickDoor two-stage gear access, a Lowepro CradleFit storage compartment with EVA dividers, and enough room for a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom, and, depending on the model, three to five lenses, a speedlight, and a 13" or 15" laptop.

There are two backpacks in this group: the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW III and its slightly larger sibling, the Lowepro Fastpack Pro BP 250 AW III. The Fastpack BP 250 AW III has enough cargo space to comfortably carry a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom along with two to three additional lenses, a flash or comparably sized accessory, and a 13" laptop. There are additional compartments and slots for personal items, mobile devices, and other odds and ends. The larger Fastpack Pro BP 250 AW III can accommodate up to five lenses and a 15" laptop.

The BP 250 AW III and Pro BP 250 AW III both feature rugged weather-resistant outer shells with pull-out rain capes for nastier weather conditions.

The personal and business compartments of the Lowepro Fastpack Pro BP 250 AW III camera backpack

The Lowepro Slingshot SL 250 AW III is the single-harness sling-style member of the group. Size-wise, the Slingshot SL 250 AW III, which can swallow up a DSLR or mirrorless camera and up to four lenses, including a 24-70 f/2.8 zoom, and a 13" laptop, fits neatly in-between its backpack siblings.

The Lowepro Slingshot SL 250 AW III is a dual-compartment camera bag designed for carrying a DSLR, a couple of lenses, a laptop and/or tablet, a small tripod, and personal items and accessories in a neat, trim mobile package.

Lowepro GearUp Creator Boxes

If you’ve ever wanted to reconfigure the interior storage compartment of your camera bag and came up short, Lowepro GearUp Creator Boxes could very well be what you’ve been looking for. Lowepro’s GearUp Creator boxes are designed to enable you to subdivide the spaces you store your gear in to fit your particular storage needs.

Compatible and thoroughly usable with bags and backpacks from manufacturers other than Lowepro, GearUp Creator boxes are available in a choice of three sizes and feature water- and tear-resistant nylon construction, heavy-duty zippers, and a carrying handle.

Lowepro GearUp Creator boxes, which can be used with most camera bags and backpacks, are perfect for custom-fitting storage compartments for your cameras and lenses.

Like I said up front, I’m a longtime fan of Lowepro camera bags. What about you? Do you or have you owned a Lowepro camera bag or backpack? If so, let us know your thoughts on the Lowepro product line in the Comments section, below.


CORRECTION:  the older wonderful bag I extoll below is a ZOOM Loader,  Sorry about any confusion. CB

Nice points about most of the Lowepro series.  Consistently good build and favorable design characteristics.  Any comments on the Pro Trekker series of photo bags?