© Paul Mozell
A New Take On the Adventure Photo Backpack
I’ve got camera shoulder bags that look like briefcases; a rolling bag that carries the works; a heavy duty backpack that’s great for a long day on the trail with big glass; an ultra-light daypack that carries one body and just 2 lenses; and many others. And now I’m enjoying the new Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L AW® — an innovative backpack that does it all — carrying a lot, with quick access, and protection for my gear in the great outdoors.
Lowepro’s Flipside packs are unique in that the main compartment opens from the back. That’s right, from the back! At first this seemed counter-intuitive to me, but after only a short period of field testing, this design suddenly made a lot of sense. To access the cameras and lenses stored in all my other camera backpacks I have to lay the pack on snow, sand, ice, or steep slope—back-side down. This means that nearly every time I hoist the pack back on my shoulders I have to brush off the back pad to clear off mother nature’s loose stuff. And, I have to be sure the pack doesn’t tumble out of sight into a ravine. Now, that problem is solved!
The only exception in my pack depot is the one light-weight pack that opens from the side of the pack. So, if you are in a crowded city street or on a steep mountain side, you swing the pack around you on one shoulder and unzip the compartment. Although quick access is the key feature here, the flaw in this design is that it’s so easy to forget to zip up the pocket. I’ve had a few near misses, catching a Nikon in mid air. With the Flipside Sport I can release both shoulder straps, swing the pack around to my front side — held only by the waist strap — then open up the compartment like a giant fanny pack. Trust me, this works very well! I can keep all my gear high and dry with little concern about losing anything — even if I’m wading through a marsh.
The Flipside Sport 20L AW will easily accommodate a pro-size DSLR with 70-200 f/2.8 attached, another body, several lenses, a speedlight and more in it’s familiar, fully-adjustable hook-and-loop divider pockets. You’ll find one large, flat, interior pocket suitable for a note pad and very thin accessories. Anything large and lumpy would be felt through the cushioned and ventilated pack-pad. A spacious, gusseted side pouch will hold a 100 liter water bladder or a sweater. The pack’s other side panel is fitted with straps to hold a fair-sized tripod. Expandable pockets on the pack’s front will hold more miscellaneous stuff, and web-loops and quick-release shock cords will hold your telescoped hiking polls or anything else you care to strap on.
Pockets on the comfortable hip-belt will hold a snack or two but are not secure enough for a phone because they don’t zip. Speaking of zippers, the only change I might make to the design of the pack as a whole would be to use a slightly heavier gauge of zippers. Time will tell how well these hold up.
The entire main compartment lifts out, converting the pack into a convenient day-pack. Very handy.
The pack is sewn from a light-weight but durable nylon taffeta fabric. I applaud the move away from the heavier woven fabrics that were used until recently on most hiking and camera packs. Being a camera bag with Lowepro’s AW designation, it has an attached waterproof rain-cover in a hidden bottom pocket.
When the waist belt, shoulder straps, and sternum strap are tightened up, this pack rides very comfortably, even on my 6 ft. tall body. I like the firmness of the back pad as well.
If you guessed that I now have a new favorite camera backpack, you’re right. It is strongly recommended! The Flipside Sport AW series is available in three sizes (20L AW, 15L AW and 10L AW) and two colors: Lowepro Orange/Light Grey and Galaxy Blue/Light Grey. The largest model is priced at $179.99. Get all the specs at Lowepro.com.