Windows For the Soul - Photography

Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L AW

Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW review (update): a small big backpack

Almost two years ago I wrote posted my opinion on the Lowepro Flipside 15L AW and I added a few photos of the backpack fully loaded to show just how much gear one could put in it. Later, I updated the post by adding a few more photos of the bag with different gear in it. Now, after more than two years using this backpack, on a truly daily basis, it is time to update those thoughts based on the experience of toting it around, fully stuffed with whichever cameras and lenses I was using at the time.

This is a great bag! After all this time I could not find a single negative comment to add to the complaint that I made on day one: the backpack lacks a couple of decent small exterior pockets. I have never used the water bladder compartment on the side to carry water. Therefore, it has always been used as an useful pocket for keys, phone, wallet, etc. However, the shape of the zipper is quite inconvenient to close and, when the bag is full and the compartment crowded, I fear that the fabric may get ripped near the stitches holding the zipper. So, I always end up not closing the zipper totally. As I already knew that the bag lacked pockets when I bought it, I was by no means disappointed with this.
The bag is extremely light, yet very tough and resistant. Mine has been tossed around time and again, used fully loaded and it is absolutely fine. Even though I have always crammed as much gear into it as I could, it has proved to be extremely resistant. It has taken some occasional drizzles without need to make use of its rain covers and still keeping any rain drops or humidity away from my gear. In fact, I have only used the rain cover on a handful of occasions. As I said, the backpack lacks small pockets and in the inner zipped pocket I can only squeeze a few papers. However, I have started using the side of the bag, between the external wall of the bag and the camera gear insert (the arrow in the photo), to squeeze small occasional accessories, as long as they are relatively flat.

So, if the bag is so great why am I considering buying another one? Well, as we know, bags and backpacks, for some of us, are pretty much like shoes and purses for women: you can never have too many because they all serve different purposes and there is always a different bag for a different occasion. Ok, that is probably a bit of an overstatement. However, the truth is that our needs in terms of bags evolve with our gear. Throughout the past couple of years, my basic kit has changed frequently. Despite the fact that I have managed to keep it within the packable limits that my Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW allows, I now have a couple of lenses that are often left behind and I frequently leave home without a speedlight. At the moment, I usually carry the following gear in the backpack (see photo below):

- Nikon D600
- Nikon D3S
- Nikon AF-S 300mm f4 ED-IF
- Nikon TC-14E ii
- Nikon AF-S 85mm f1.8 G w/ reversed hood
- Nikon AF-S 28mm f1.8 G w/ reversed hood
- Nikon AF-S VR Micro105mm f/2.8G IF-ED w/ reversed hood
- Nikon Nikkor AI-S 200mm f4
- A hoodman loupe
- A blower

This is quite a load for such a compact backpack and, if I leave the 200mm f4 home, I can still put my iPad on top this gear. However, I cannot put the same equipment in the bag if I attach the 300mm and the TC-14Eii to the D3S, instead of attaching it to the D600. This can be a pain sometimes, because I would often prefer having the long lens on the D3S and using the others on the D600. So, I end up having to switch the combos before using the cameras and before stowing them back in bag. Moreover, I occasionally need to carry a Nikon AF 80-200mm f2.8 D ED as well as the 300mm f4. I used to be able to carry these two lenses, with the 85mm f1.8 and two bodies when I had a Nikon D700 instead of the D3S. Unfortunately, with the D3S this is no longer possible.

So…this has been an extremely useful backpack, day in day out, allowing me to carry my essencial kit in a small and rather discrete bag. But it is time to look elsewhere for some added capacity. I already own a Lowepro Vertex 200 AW. A great backpack as well, but a bit cumbersome for a daily use. I need something pretty much like the Lowepro Flipside Sport 15L AW but a tad bigger. I guess I need….a Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L AW. This is just the bag that I am sure that it will suit my needs and I already know its pros and cons so that there will be no surprises. There is just one small detail: they sell it in Light Blue and in Orange and whilst the latter is a bit too loud for me, the former costs almost twice as much. Go figure that!