I have been using the Flipside Sport 20L AW for the past few months now and its a good time to list the pros and cons of this camera bag from LowerPro. I have to credit my bro for getting me this from the States since at that time this bag was not available in India. *It still isn’t at the time of writing this review. So how did I find the ultimate camera back-pack, read on…
In my search for the right bag, spanning almost a year, I came across various different types and brands of sling bags and backpacks. The available ones were either too small or had very less pockets to fit everything or in most cases were bulky like a suitcase. If something eventually fit my space needs then I would be disappointed with the material quality and the dull black color. I wanted something that provided ample space but was also smart and cool.
How to choose your Camera Bag
Naturally what worked for me may not work for you. It totally depends on the gear one wants to be carrying to the field at one go. It would be helpful if I list the gear I typically carry with me on a trek or travel.
- Nikon D7100 with attached 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6
- A Polariser and a few ND Filters
- A Speed Flash
- Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Prime Lens
- Nikkor 10-24mm Lens
- Spare Battery, some extra SD cards and other accessories
- 2 liter hydration reservoir
In spite of going over and over various brands, I didn’t get what I was really looking for. In my searches, I did like the Tilopa BC from F-Stop but they were very expensive and a touch larger than I would be comfortable carrying on day treks. The bag I wished for was something in which I could carry my DSLR camera, a couple of lenses and a remote flash along with a few small accessories. It shouldn’t look overpowering when lets say, I was on the street or in a garden, shooting.
Eventually one day in the course of researching in November 2014, I chanced upon a YouTube video featuring the release of this new LowerPro camera bag at some exhibition. It was love at first sight as this bag ticked all my requirements. I had been following the Flipside Sport 15L AW. It was my best option up-till that point. The only reason I didn’t get that one is the lack of pockets for small accessories. I loved the Orange variant, there is another available in Blue. I immediately asked my brother to get the new Flipside Sport 20L AW from Amazon US. He was going to come to Kolkata for a visit during the fall and he brought it along in December.
I had to however wait for another couple of months to get my hands on it. The wait was killing. Eventually one of his friends brought it back with him to Bangalore. Having it in my hand was a cloud-nine experience. The color was beautiful and the texture was pleasantly smooth, unlike any bags I have felt before. The first thing I did once I got back home was to re-do the compartments inside so all my stuff fit snugly inside.
The Flipside Sport 20L AW is a on-the-go access camera day-pack that easily fit all my pro-sumer gear. I would say it’s essentially built for photographers in pursuit of active adventures like treks or hiking. It might feel a bit bulky for street photography.
Lowepro’s Flipside backpacks are unique in that the main compartment opens from the back. The body-side access design offers quick access to gear when the backpack can be rotated to front. So, whenever I need to change a lens, I just swing the pack around on one shoulder, unzip the compartment and viola!
Apart from the ease of lens changing, the back opening also saves my stuff from being thieved in a busy bus ride or on the streets since my camera compartment cannot be accessed while I am wearing it.
The inside of the Flipside Sport 20L AW contains a removable, adjustable camera compartment with a storm-flap closure that provides customizable space for my gear. I can easily change the layout of the compartments to suit what I am carrying for that particular trek. It also offers water-resistant protection. The camera compartment can also be totally removed and the bag used just as a regular day-pack.
The perforated, breathable padding in the shoulder straps with air channels offers cozy comfort to my back and shoulders. The pack also has one large, flat, interior pocket, suitable for a note pad or thin accessories. I generally store my ND filters here. With strong padding, it offers good protection to the glass filters.
The latest LowerPro bags have been using a unique tripod holder system on the side. I find it extremely helpful while trekking since it holds it securely and stops it from bouncing around. The hydration-ready pocket offers easy-access to a 1.5 liter hydration reservoir although I have been able to fit in a 2 liter bag. The front of the pack has trekking pole attachments points.
The built-in waterproof rain-cover in a hidden bottom pocket protects gear from rain, snow, dust and sand. I applaud the move towards lightweight, resilient and high-performance fabrics constructed of 210D triple-ripstop nylon with PU coating. It does away with a good amount of weight previous generation hiking and camera packs used to have. The PU coating also adds durability to the fabric.
Pros of the Flipside Sport 20L AW :
- It’s Orange. Love the color!
- It looks cool, not bulky like I’m wearing a suitcase on my back
- Tripod carrier on the side.
- Unique access to my gear. I no longer need to take my backpack off to get to my stuff. I just remove the shoulder straps, leaving the waist belt on and spin the pack around so it’s in front of me, then I unzip the back panel, exposing all my stuff. Because I change my lens inside the bag, the insides of the camera also gets less exposed to dust.
- The hydration pack takes a whole less space than a similar volume bottle
- Strong shoulder straps, chest strap and hip stabilizers.
- Lots of nice little pockets in the front & nooks on the straps
- Two separate rain covers, one for the entire bag, one more to cover the storage compartment
- I like that you can remove the whole camera storage assembly and use the backpack as a regular day pack if you want.
Cons of the Flipside Sport 20L AW:
- For one, I miss some more space to throw in a second set of clothes when I am on a 2-3 day mini treks. I think I will get the Tilopa BC from F-Stop for that