Mar 072016
 

© Paul Mozell

As a lifelong photographer and hiker I am on a never-ending quest to find the ultimate lightweight, customizable backpack to carry both my hiking and my camera gear. With the release of the Photo Sport BP 300 AW II ($172.99), Lowepro shows that it is possible to accommodate the needs of adventure, outdoor, travel, and sports photographers who require nimble and flexible equipment.

I already have several camera backpacks that can haul one or more professional-size camera bodies, several lenses, a medium-sized tripod and an assortment of accessories. These do a poor job of carrying hiking and outdoor essentials like top and bottom rain-gear, a water bottle, hat and gloves, and first aid. I live in New England where the weather is always trying to outsmart us. I also have a collection of “regular” daypacks and overnight backpacks designed to carry a tent, sleeping bag, stove, layers of clothing and more. To carry a DSLR and lenses in these, I resort to attaching a small camera bag to the body of the backpack with camps and straps. Neither of these solutions work well on the days when I want to photograph a nordic ski race, a family of hikers on The Appalachian Trail, or a waterfall located several miles from the road. In other words…moving and shooting fast and light.

At first glance the Photo Sport BP 300 AW II looks like a medium-sized daypack. Perhaps its most important feature is the side entry camera compartment. It is large enough to hold a pro DSLR with a medium telephoto attached as well as a speedlight or second lens. A 1/2 inch web strap on the outside can be adjusted to snug up the camera so it doesn’t shake around when you are on the move. The neat thing about this design is that you can slip your right arm out of the shoulder strap, swing the pack around to your front side, and pull out your camera without setting it down on the ground. This keeps the pack out of the snow, running water, or oozing mud.

Lowepro was wise to craft this pack from light-weight, ripstop nylon, rather than the heavy-duty Dupont Codura that was the defacto fabric in most backpacks for decades. Unlike many packs of this size built with an aluminum frame — an unnecessary feature — Lowepro has used a combination of light-weight foam and flexible plastic to provide rigidity.

The top flap of the pack has a large zippered compartment. Another zippered mesh pouch inside is great for holding extra batteries, remote cables, and other accessories. The main sack of the pack it accessed from the top and is large enough to hold a one quart water bottle, a sweater or windbreaker, ski waxes and even another lens; if suitably wrapped. The sack is closed with a draw-string and cord-lock.

A large mesh pocket on the front side is ideal for a wind-breaker or your hat and gloves. A zippered pouch behind the backpad and under the shoulder straps is intended to contain a large hydration pouch. Alternatively I suppose, it could hold a tablet computer.

The shoulder straps are fully adjustable; including an ample sternum strap. My only issue with the pack is the size of the hip belt. On a tall person the belt ends up around the waist rather than the hips. A 2 inch web belt that can be tucked out of the way when not needed would suffice.

Last but not least is the familiar Lowepro AW or all-weather feature: a hidden, attached, rain cover that pulls out of a pouch on the pack’s bottom. Pretty good protection in moderate rain or wet snow.

I tested the Photo Sport on several photo walks/hikes in Massachusetts and found it comfortable and very adaptable. And, I love the blue color of my sample. Just too many black camera bags in my closet!

The Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II comes in a couple of colors and there is also a Lowepro Photo Sport BP 200 AW II sized for compact cameras. All the familiar camera dealers sell Lowepro. Please consider shopping at Adorama. If you click on the banner ad on this page I’ll get a small reward!

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Access to top compartment

 

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