I picked up the Lowepro PhotoSport 300 II recently for a trek up Scafell Pike. I have Lowepro’s Flipside 15 AW and sometimes use the spaces not filled by camera equipment for hiking gear, trail snacks etc. The Photosport, however, has slightly more capacity, with dedicate camera and gear sections.
Firstly the gear section. It’s a fairly unfussy top-opening space which sits on top of the camera gear, the top of the camera gear section, or the base of the gear section is padded, so unless you’re carrying rocks, your gear should be protected. There’s a netted section to separate items, but it’s thin, so you’d only get small, thin items into it, without bulking out the back.
Sat behind that is the space for a water reservoir, there are advantages and disadvantages of this type of set-up, generally reservoir spaces sat against the back are bigger, so you can use a bigger bladder, the disadvantage is that they are not shielded from the heat of your back – so your water doesn’t remain as cold. I have another Lowepro backpack where the reservoir space is on the side and my drink remains much colder for the trip, however this can work as a rationing device, once you’ve consumed water from the tube, which is cold, the water goes warm, from the bladder – you’ve probably drank enough!
The padded space for the camera gear includes a few, standard Velcro fixed, padded separators and it’s a general box shape.
I can get a gripped or standard DSLR in this space with a 24-70 f/2.8 attached (hood reversed) and another lens, up to 70-200 f/2.8.
One unfathomable decision taken by Lowepro is to make the padded section fixed into the space, if it were to be removable, this would have made the bag significantly more flexible.
The padded section can be secured separately from the opening flap on the outside of the bag, presumably to deter thieves, I get this, I generally prefer my backpacks to be against-the-back opening for the same reason.
Externally there are the expected straps and pockets for a backpack of this type, including the obligatory large pocket for a rolled-up set of waterproofs. You can also fit a reasonable sized tripod onto the side and walking poles, if needed.
The comfy waistband helps support the weight of the bag, these include two small pockets for compass or small light. There is a pocket on top of the bag, slightly larger and good for trail snacks or a headlamp – or even both, it’s quite capacious.
A nice little touch from Lowepro is to colour code straps and fixings which are, comparatively, more important than securing straps. This covers the adjusters and top flap fixings.
The pack is reasonably waterproof, but in a deluge, Lowepro have included an all-weather cover in a zipped stowage pocket on the bottom of the bag. The cover doesn’t just protect your kit from the rain, it can be used to protect your kit from the heat if need be.
The shoulder straps are quite limited in their ability to be adjusted, so you should try the back before purchase to ensure it’s right for you, especially if you have a particularly large or small frame.
Finally, as is becoming more common these days, Lowepro have included a whistle on the chest-strap clasp.
I’ve only carried my D810 with 28-300 attached so far, but I reckon I could get a bunch more gear into this pack, I’ll try and remember to update the configurations as and when I try them, but most important – it takes the 24-70/16-35 2.8/4 (respectively).
I’m a big fan of this pack, unlike my other Lowepro pack, the ability to split gear and photography equipment is a nice touch and there’s lots of additional pluses that make this an easy recommendation.