This review covers the Lowepro Photo Sport 100 AW and the 200AW (larger version). As founder of trailpeak.com, I've done a lot of trail photography using Nikon prosumer cameras.|
I've recently completed an 11 week photo course to augment all the photography I do with my trusty Nikon D90. I love(d) my D90, it was a real prosumer break through camera, and, many still choose it today (the D3100 being today's equivalent for much less). Now I've upgraded to the D7100 and I've got lots of learning to do with this even more ambitious camera. I've also been fortunate enough to add a small collection of lenses, ranging from 50mm, wide angle, and two zooms. I am a lot more careful with my camera gear now that I have a few decent lenses and a good DLSR body.
Enter Lowepro, who've had a number of good bags or waistpacks that could be used for hiking, and we've reviewed a few here. The packs aren't as snug on the body for "adventure" purposes and were a bit heavy. But now it seems, the engineers at Lowepro have taken some of the best features of a lightweight hydration backpack, the type a fast weight conscious day hiker would use. It could also be used by mountain bikers or trail runners because it has features to "snug" in your camera in it's compartment to stop it from bouncing around.
Let's cover the camera holding features first. A side entry to the main DLSR hold works well for quick access as you swing (sling) the pack around. The camera sits on the bottom of your pack in this separate compartment. It's good to have the heavy stuff at the bottom of your pack, and this is not something you achieve when you just toss your expensive DLSR in the top of your day pack. So top marks for the separate compartment, which has a side divider giving space for a telephoto. But by far where this pack goes beyond what's on the market today, the camera compartment has a chamber lid that snugs around your camera using a drawcord to hold your camera tight. Yes you can run or bike with this pack, snag the vista shot as I did on the cliffs of Labrador, then race back down. If you want to know more or see the video, just visit Lowepro's web-site as all the details are there.
Now we move on to the pack itself, and hikers (real hikers) will be pleased to know it's got all the features that the market now demands; topload pouch, topload draw strings, shoulder cinch straps, padded shoulder straps, hydration pack compartment, airflow padding and profile at the back of the pack, ripstop denier fabric, loop straps (e.g. ice axe), and bottom straps that could be loosened off to hold a jacket or other roll. There is a good waist harness with zip pockets on each side for small items like energy packets, a sternum strap, and, a side water bottle pouch. Lowepro added it's trade-mark all weather cover which can be loosened out of the bottom of the pack for a complete waterproof cover of your gear. Overall it's a very clean look.
You'll find many of these high-end hiking features on the leading brands, but now Lowepro is in the game with this sport pack that works for photographers who are hikers, bikers, or runners. These days, the focus is on lightweight gear and Lowepro has heeded the call. I found it fairly easy to stuff my usual day-hike gear in the pack; jacket, lunch, spare shirt, and a first aid kit. Other small items fit in the topload pouch pack, and, you've got a hydration pack or a side-pouch to use.
What I found going out for some day hikes, is that if I am going be to using my good camera, I want this pack. I don't have to give up the features and comfort of a good fitting daypack. Good fit is important as it lets you move fast, without a wiggly pack. Hikers who are photographers should have a look at the Lowepro Sport 100 / 200 AW. The 200 is a larger version, and for me, this is the pack I'd prefer as I am a bigger guy, but for those looking for minamalist, the 100 is a great choice (and cheaper) and may be more ideal for mountain biking as a combined hydration pack / camera bag.