Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW (review)

Author: [ smburt ]   Contact Author: smburtSat Jul 27 14:19:40 UTC 2013

The marriage between backpack and camera bag has become a reality. On longer trips, its more comfortable, safer and more secure to carry your SLR packed away. It's just easier to move around. The only problem was that when the Kodak moment occurred, the shooter was too busy taking off the pack and digging out the camera and hence, missing the shot. Lowepro assigned its designers the task of incorporating an exterior access pocket from the main cavity of the bag. The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW (new) is one of the end results in their series of new camera backpacks.

I've wanted a day pack that would also work effectively in carrying both my DSLR and zoom lens. Even more important, I wanted quick and efficient access to the camera. The Photo Sport Pro does these things well. The version I have is a 30L, top loading pack, with a zippered side camera compartment. The door accesses a padded partition, protecting your Camera gear from the rest of the pack's contents. The padded insert can even be removed so that if you are positioned for some long term shooting, you can have your gear beside you, separate from your pack. Alternatively, if you just want to use your pack as a traditional pack, the camera compartment can be removed for more space.

Other amenities include a nice wide padded hip belt with zipped pockets, and adjustable shoulder straps. The harness itself is not adjustable, but accepts a wide range of torso heights. Also there are many attachment points on the pack for a sleepmat or tripod and lash points for an ice axe or hiking poles. If the weather gets moist, a rain cover can be removed from a storage pocket to completely cover and protect the pack. That's pretty cool!

With the camera compartment in place, the remaining volume is approximately 3/5ths of the total space. Enough room for a compact sleep mat, a summer sleeping bag and an ultra light tent. On a day hike, that equates to plenty of room for a jacket, lunch, and some insulating layers and water with room for more odds and ends. A partitioned sleeve holds your favourite hydration bladder, and the pocket in the lid might hold some energy bars, maps, and electronics. I loved the expandable outer pocket, suitable for stuffing jackets or insulating layers for quick access.

There is a mesh trampoline panel that helps in cooling your back, and for this, they deserve points for modern design, and for merging camera and back pack functions. My con was the hip belt cinches. A good design has you pulling the straps toward you rather than away. Other models they make have this feature, so I am curious about this decision.

In terms of functionality, I tried the day pack with a water bladder, and some space saving camping gear, along with my canon DSLR in the hatch. On a local hike, I was able to spontaneously stop, reach around to open the zippers, and get my camera without much contortion. Same went for placing It back. It gets even easier if you slip one arm out of the shoulder straps, but I didn't find it necessary. Removing the partition was easy, but it might be a nice idea to have a fabric partition to hold the other items in place in the absence of the camera bag.

In all, I find the Photo Sport Pro 30L AW a welcome addition to my camera toting gear. Before, I used to side mount a Lowepro top-loader bag to my pack's hip-belt, but despite the quick access benefits, sometimes found it awkward for scrambling on some mountain hikes. This pack solves this situation, and reduces the extra luggage I'd take on such a hike, yet still maintains room for an extra lens and even a tripod if I wanted it along. This bag will satisfy most outdoor adventurer photographers especially as full-frame DLSRs cameras comes into reach for the enthusiast.

Shannon Burt
East coast editor

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