Over the years I've probably bought more camera bags than my wife has handbags, at least that's what she tells me anyway. Initially it was buying increasingly larger bags to accommodate a growing amount of gear but once you accumulate more gear than you want to carry around then the hunt begins for the 'perfect' camera bag. To cut a long story short it doesn't exist, there's no such thing as the perfect camera bag there are perfect bags for particular places or perfect bags for carrying particular amounts of gear but if there's a bag that does it all I haven't found it.
Now, if I'm writing a blog about bags again then you can guess where this is going and you'd be right, on this occasion I was on the lookout for a light backpack to carry just my essential landscape gear (camera body, 3 lenses and filters) that would be comfortable on long walks and would allow me to access gear without having to put it down. So this week after much research and social media discussion I added bag number four to my current collection... a Lowepro Flipside 15L. I should say a quick thanks to Phil Carpenter on Facebook and Lowepro UK on Twitter amongst others for the helpful information.
As you can see from the photo at the top it's the opposite of the big, bulky Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 that I use when I need everything but the kitchen sink. Everything about it is smaller and lighter, the straps are thinner but still very comfortable and ventilated to help it stay that way in use. The photo below show the removable main compartment which easily holds all the gear on my list with the filters safely tucked away in the zip-up hydration pocket on the side. There is a rather nice tripod pouch on the other side but I suspect my tripod and head would be a bit overbalanced on this backpack and I usually hang it over my shoulder anyway.
The main reason for picking the Flipside is the ability to slip off the shoulder straps, swivel the bag around the front and open it up without putting it on the floor and If you do have to put the bag down, it opens from the back so it's the from that gets wet or dirty rather than the foam padding that you'll be putting back on your back!
So, did it tick all the boxes on my list? Well I haven't had the chance to use it properly yet and I'm sure I'll find plenty that I love and hate about it when I do but from first impressions it fits the bill perfectly.
Perfectly? Ok not quite.
In order to fit my filters in I've used the hydration pocket which means I have no room for a drink. Lowepro UK actually advised me that the 20L might suit my needs better as I would have plenty of room for everything including a drink and more gear if needed, I really didn't want to have an excuse to add more gear and make the bag heavier hence my decision.
The other problem with the bag is something that baffles me. Like most camera bags the dividers are moveable, held in place by velcro. Usually the interior of the bag will be covered in a soft velcro 'loop' material with the dividers having strips of velcro 'hook' material on each end. In the Flipside 15L however, only about 80% of each side is covered with this material, the top section of the bag is covered in a shiny material that the velcro won't stick to which drastically reduces your options for customising the layout of the bag for no apparent reason. Why not just cover the whole interior, add plenty of dividers and let us take care of the layout?
You'll see the lack of velcro behind the camera in the photo below which also shows that with a quick adjustment I found I could fit a DSLR with a telephoto lens plus Fuji X-Pro1, 3 lenses and necessary accessories so there is some flexibility but not as much as I'd like. Overall though it's a quality bag and I'm looking forward to putting it through it's paces.