If you want to do any photography outside a studio, you’ll need a bag, and if you’re heading out for long periods of time or hiking with your camera it’s an important bit of kit. On longer trips, it’s not only going to carry your camera gear but also other essentials, food, water etc. I’ve had the Lowepro Flipside Sport (20L) for a few years now, so this is more of a long term review, but at least that means its thoroughly tested.
When I was looking for a backpack to replace my previous bag (Tamrac expedition 5), I wanted something that was going to be capable of carrying a reasonable amount of photography gear, but double as general purpose daysack when needed. A few features key to this were a water bladder pouch, tripod carrying system and a flexible interior layout. The Flipside sport has all of these, with the bladder pouch/tripod system located on either side. The bladder pouch is on the outside, so nicely separated from your gear, but also feels like it provides enough protection from accidental puncture. Similarly, the tripod carrier has a wraparound sleeve for the tripod to protect the legs and minimise the risk of snagging it on anything, something that’s particularly nice when moving over rocks or through foliage. One feature that I wasn’t looking for, but is a nice to have is the carrying system for poles/axes. I don’t often use poles, but this does make taking them less of a burden when they’re not needed. Above you can see the bag loaded out with a tripod (Manfrotto BeFree) and poles.
Inside, there’s plenty of room, if I want to head out on a short trip with more gear it’s possible to take a couple of mid size lenses and some smaller ones. Below you can see the bag loaded out with my Canon gear, a 7dii + 300mmF4, Sigma 70-200F2.8, 24-105, 10-22, 1.4TC and a filter pouch. The pockets on the front can take more than enough batteries and cards for even the hungriest mirrorless cameras. If I’m heading out on longer trips, I’ll often leave behind the 70-200 and use that space for food. Another nice feature inside is the removable liner, this means you can take the entire contents out and use the bag as a normal daysack (or put a smaller camera liner in) and it also means you can close the inside off to protect against things like dust or sand in less camera friendly environments.
The back of the backpack is comfortable, with enough ventilation to help keep cool, and being one of the Flipside series it opens on the back side allowing you to rotate the bag around your waist to access the contents while standing. This was one feature that drew me to this bag as it makes accessing the contents when on rocks, beaches and trails easy and dirt free. Built into the bottom of the bag is the attached waterproof cover, this fits over easily yet securely and still allows access to the contents inside. Because you can still get inside, I’ll often leave the cover on even when dry to help keep dust away, or if you’re in a city it can help shield the outer pockets from unwanted attention.
Being discontinued, the used market is the only place to find these now unfortunately, but I have seen some turn up on ebay at around the £60 price. Overall I’ve found this backpack extremely flexible, having used it for short city breaks and all day hikes alike. I’m not looking forward to the day I need to replace this bag, it’s been dependable, and covered many, many miles with me.