This Lowepro pack was made for photographers working outdoors.
A fact: Every photographer you know is looking for the right carrying system. Personally, I’ve used dozens of bags, packs, and cases over the years.
Photography outdoors, and often at speed, requires a very specific feature set. Lowepro has hit upon it with the PhotoSport 200 AW backpack.
There is no single pack that will excel in every outdoors activity, and I will immediately discount the PhotoSport 200 AW ($165) from skiing and alpine climbing. It has no ski-carry feature, and it is not big enough or rugged enough for rough and tumble in the high mountains.
Its primary function is to be fast and light, yet still carry an array of camera kit. See my breakout of a typical haul below.
Light Camera Pack
Day hiking, trail running, and cragging work perfectly with this pack. But where it is truly at home is on a mountain bike.
Even fully stocked it feels light on the shoulders, the low-profile harness taking the weight, and its slender shape keeps it well out of the way of any arm movement.
The waist-belt pockets stow anything that might fall out of the pocket in your shorts. You can keep sunscreen, lip balm, a compass, or energy gel there.
The hydration pocket allows for drinking on the move and is separate from the main camera compartments. There is a built-in, effective rain cover.
Easy Camera Access
The real genius is in the side-accessed camera chamber, which will hold a pro body and attached lens (up to a 24-70mm f2.8).
This keeps the camera as close to hand as possible in a pack and has made the difference in getting the shot for me on many occasions.
The chamber is also ‘floating’ inside the pack, which adds protection from dropping the pack down after a long climb.
You can even fit a flash unit and radio triggers snuggly under the camera.
Room for Gear
The main compartment, although it is compromised by the camera chamber, still has room for a full day’s gear.
The pack weighs about 3 pounds empty. Its main compartment gives about 14 liters of space to store gear like food, a jacket, and other things you need out there.
The hydration pocket can stow a 70-oz reservoir, or when not used with a reservoir it can fit a mid-size notebook computer (13-inch or smaller). There are attachment points on the exterior for larger items.
Bike tools and waterproof layers will slide between the chamber and the outer fabric, while extra lenses, lunch and any other day-trip needs can fit on top.
I’ve even had a big 70-200mm f2.8 lens inside, although it’s a squeeze; a better option is to attach a separate Lowepro lens case to the outside, although it can compromise balance with heavy glass.
Add a small softbox or other flash diffuser, flat inside the hydration pocket, and a small tripod stashed in the compression straps, and you have a portable, rideable, studio.
If you’re not a pro photographer there are cheaper fast-and-light packs out there that do the job. But if you like to keep your camera close at hand when traveling and shooting at speed, the PhotoSport 200 AW should be high on your list.
Daniel Wildey is a photographer and writer in the adventure industries, serving outdoor, travel, and action sports brands. He is widely published in the travel and adventure press and currently lives among the modest hills of the U.K.