I have just been getting my camera stuff ready to take away on the next Family Holiday. Let’s hope the weather was as good as last year…
Anyway what struck me was just how perfect my camera backpack is for a trip like this. With all it’s little pockets and compartments it is great to stash all the little bits and pieces that may come in handy if the need arises.
So this led me to the idea that I should write a little review of my Lowepro Fastpack 250 Backpack.
The fact that I can get access to my digital SLR while on the move simply by sliding the bag off one shoulder, even with a hefty zoom lens attached, makes the bag amazingly useful. Then there is the added bonus that I can slip my laptop in the back when travelling to and from my destination.
There were loads of bags to choose from. Far too many for my liking as I find it hard to make a quick choice when there are so many options out there…
I decided I needed a backpack to store my camera in and I wanted to have quick access to the camera while on the move as I enjoy a good hike out into the countryside and I don’t want to have to stop for ten minutes if I see something I want to take a photo of.
After a long look at all the different options out there I decided that I favoured the Lowepro style of quick access via the side pocket. Basically the bag can be slipped off your right shoulder sliding around your body, as the weight of the bag is held on your left shoulder, allowing easy access to the side pocket to just slide the camera out and shoot away.
Another reason I decided to choose Lowepro is the fact that I already had a case for my compact camera from them, the Apex 5 AW. This fits my little Canon IXUS perfectly with space for a spare memory card, can be attached to your belt or to a bigger bag and even has a little waterproof cover in case the weather turns nasty. Anyway after a little digging I found a Blue Lowepro Apex 5 AW for only £2.99 from MyMemory compared to £3.75 for the Blue Lowepro Apex 5 AW from Amazon, both of which are cheaper than the black one that I actually own.
These prices are valid at the time of writing but are likely to change over time. I paid about £20 for mine and still think it was worth it…
Even though I had chosen to go with Lowepro I then discovered that there are a few different models depending on your needs. The Fastpack 100 is the smallest of the bunch and was too small for my needs then there was the Fastpack 200 which was about the right size. The 200 is basically the same as the Fastpack 250 except for the extra compartment for a laptop up to 15.4″.
The laptop compartment seemed like a great idea as this can come in handy to edit photos or even just backup the images to a hard disk, or even the internet, ready to be reused the following day.
There is a larger model, the Fastpack 350, which allows for a 17″ laptop but that was more than I needed.
As my laptop easily fitted I had at last made my decision and the rest is history…
This all means that I have thoroughly road tested it and am not just reviewing something that I have recently got.
The main body of the bag is split into two sections. The top section is an ordinary backpack area with lots of little pockets to store you camera related paraphernalia. This section is may be a bit on the small side especially if you want to chuck in a jacket or a jumper for the trip but I can usually fit what I want in there.
The bottom section of the bag is where the camera stuff goes. There are a few adjustable compartment liners that allow you to layout your camera and lenses as you desire. The middle of this is where you can slide you DSLR from the side pocket. I can fit my Canon 350D with a 70-300mm lens attached and still have space for a small compartment at the end for the remote shutter release, wide angle and prime lenses below and some compartments above for other bits.
There are also quick access slots for a couple of memory cards on the inside on this pocket, which allow you to swap out the memory card without having to remove the backpack.
Apart from the central section that is accessible from the side pocket the rest of the bottom section is only accessible by removing the backpack. For extra security the section is basically double fastened with zips and then a covering flap with plastic clips to cover the zips.
These extra compartments to hold the varying lenses are not so quick access. To get into these you need to undo a couple of clips and then unzip the whole bottom section. This is best done with bag laying on a flat surface. Once open though the variable compartments are very useful.
The last section is the slot at the back to hold the laptop. This is completely separate to the main body of the bag and has it’s own zip down the whole length of one side of the bag for access.
The shoulder straps are really comfortable and the back is padded which makes the whole thing fit well even if well loaded and carrying a bit of weight.
The only small downside I did find was that on a strenuous walk I would quickly start sweating on my back and the back padding would become soaked after a while. The laptop section is always empty when I go for a walk though and this seems to act as a barrier to stop any of the wetness seeping through in to where the camera and equipment is.
You might want to look around a bit if you are interested as they do the backpack in different colours and the prices can vary considerably. At the time of writing the cheapest is currently the Blue Lowepro 250 Fastpack at just £36.79 on Amazon but they also make it in Red or the standard Black, which is what I actually own.