It has been nearly a decade since my wife bought the Lowepro CompuTrekker AW Camera backpack for my camera gear and laptop. Even though Lowepro has life time warranties, wear and tear will still happen and it is not covered and it just so happens that my handle strap is about to break. Not safe if you absent mindedly grab the bag by the handle and it snaps. Not a good idea at all.
I have gone through the various brands, some new ones such as Vanguard, Benro etc. Either they are too bulky, too much pads, not enough pockets or not enough room for the cameras. The tripod holder are either badly designed or non-existent.
Now I have the additional requirement of having a bag with wheels so that I need not to carrying the darn bag at places where the floor is somewhat clean like the airport.
Unfortunately wheeler camera bags are way too expensive and I have to relook at the back pack solution again.
Then I was introduced the new Flipside Sport 20L AW from Lowepro (bloody mouthfull!!)
What’s there to like?
- the bag is smaller and yet can hold equal amount of gear of my old bag
- the compartments are also deeper in height that means more headspace for DSLRs with vertical grips. Not that it really matter now when I am switching to Fujifilm X series cameras but it would mean the ability to squeeze two bodies into one compartment, allowing more space for other stuff
- the tripod holder is WAY more secure than the Computrekker that uses elastic strings to hold the tripod to the bag.It is also more ergonomic with the weight pressure from the tripod being closer to the body so it doesn’t stress the body that much.
- the compartment insert can be taken off. It got handles too! Best yet, I can squeeze it into my cabin wheeler bag so I can use it on days whenever I do local assignments.
- It comes in orange so that I can mistaken if for being a life vest! LOL!
- Waist straps comes with pockets. Good for small items.
- Perforated straps to allow perspiration to evaporate so it is more comfortable while carrying it
- Patented, built-in All Weather AW Cover™ protects gear from rain, snow, dust and sand. Not tested yet but the material did feel at least water resistant.
What’s not to like?
- Comes in blue and orange. What no black?
- Material used is nylon. It feels lighter, thinner and flimsier. Not as thick as my Computrekker AW.
- The PC slot feels more for tablets and uber thin laptops such as ultrabooks.
- No small pockets in front cover for small little stuff. Either it drops all the way to the bottom of the bag or have small bags to hold them. Again have to dig deep to get them.
- There are two small compartments for small stuff but again, it will drop to the bottom of the cover.
- No way to keep the waist straps.
- The reason you cannot keep the waist straps is because it allows the bag to hang from your waist while you take the camera out of the bag without putting the bag on the ground (see picture below). More reason for it to spoil faster. Hence I won’t use it and need to keep it.
- Although the way the tripod is carried has been improved, am still quite worried that it can drop as the bag doesn’t have an anchor point to hook the tripod on. There are two straps to at least loop one of the tripod legs through but wear and tear will occur as all the weight of the tripod will be on the straps. It relies on the flaps to hold it close to the bag. My solution? Just get a tripod strap and carry the tripod separately (prefer this method anyways).
- A very big negative – the chest clips can get lost because it is not secured to the straps.
There is definitely no perfect bag for everything. But the pros outweighs the cons in this case as there are some equipment I wouldn’t latch on the bag such as the tripod. I will also not hang the bag around my waist as it will shorten the lifespan of the bag itself. Lastly, I don’t think I will bring a huge laptop for photography trips now. The ASUS TF300TG Transformer which is thin and light enough to do a lot of things so that would be in the PC slot. So in the end, it matches what I need especially when the insert can be taken out and put into a cabin trolley luggage for some free wheeling.
The bag is retailing at S$203.00.