For a recent trip to Europe, I wanted a new backpack to haul my camera gear around. I have a large Lowepro Pro Runner 350AW, but wanted something that would travel on the airplane and buses easier. We were taking a guided tour, so the backpack couldn’t be too large. The backpack had to hold a large body with a large walk-around lens, second wide-angle or telephoto zoom lens, backup drive, LCD magnifier for video, pocket tripod, compact tripod and any miscellaneous cables, memory cards, batteries and more.
I also heard a lot about pick-pockets around the popular tourist attractions. I didn’t want someone sneaking into the bag and removing a lens in a crowed subway or museum.
After too much research, I selected the Lowepro Flipside 300.
This model backpack is slim and very comfortable to wear. I wore it everyday for our two week trip and even climbed the Eiffel Tower with it on, though I wouldn’t do that again. It can carry a tripod well, though I would only do that for shorter trips. It fit in the airplane overhead very easily, though I could have kept in below the seat. It also fit on the floor between my feet on the crowded buses we sometimes took too.
The tough outer fabric is water resistant against moisture and abrasion. Mine did started to show dirt when I laid it on the sidewalk to get access after a few days. I had brought a rain cover from an older backpack, so I placed that on and actually left it on most of the trip. It didn’t rain, but the cover kept the bag cleaner and helped hide even what brand bag I had from would-be thieves. Like most popular photo backpacks, it would have been nice if the bag had its own rain cover included. The fabric might not require one, but my mind can’t get past the thought that it needs to be covered if it rains.
Inside is a removable accessory pouch that allows you to store cables, chargers, manuals and other accessories.
The detachable waist belt and adjustable sternum strap helps to stabilize pack. It distributes the weight evenly and adds to the carrying comfort. Don’t buy a camera backpack that doesn’t have at least a sternum strap. That little strap makes a big difference. The sternum strap on the Flipside actually pulled off once when I thought I was cinching the shoulder strap. At first I thought it was broke, but I was able to slide it back onto the piping it attaches to and I was back in business. I don’t use the waist strap for shorter jaunts, but if I were to hike any distance, I would use it.
The waist belt is handy, as it allows you to rotate the case around to your front, so you can access gear without setting the pack down on the ground. This is handy when standing in line or somewhere where it’s not convenient to set the pack down. After a little practice, it’s quite easy. The video below demonstrates how to do it.
There is a concealable hideaway tripod holder that carries a compact tripod or monopod. It carries it down the center of the backpack, distributing the weight evenly.
Any good backpack will also have a side water bottle pouch. This one is stretchy enough that I was able to carry a small umbrella along with the water bottle.
I have been well pleased with the Flipside 300. I use my Pro Runner as “the mothership” for storing everything at home or for a paid assignment when I want to bring more gear. The Flipside 300 is great for specific items for day shoots when I don’t need everything, but want more than just the camera and one lens. I also have a standard type shoulder bag that can carry the same amount of gear, but you can carry this backpack all day and not tire like a shoulder bag can wear you down. Save the shoulder bag for carrying other gear, like extra flashes, brackets, modifiers, etc.
1 Pro DSLR with 300mm f/2.8 lens attached plus 1–3 additional lenses or flash units, 1 tripod, multiple cables, memory cards, manuals and other digital accessories
9.1W X 5.4D X 15.9H in./
23 X 13.8 X 40.5 cm
10.2W X 6.9D X 17.5H in./
25.8 X 17.4 X 44.5 cm