Smoke from summer fires has finally cleared enough for us to get back outside to take advantage of Montana’s numerous photo opportunities. This was also the first chance I’ve had to check out the new Lowepro Photo Sport BP 300 AW II pack.
All-in-all, I am very much impressed with the new design features that Lowepro has incorporated into this pack. It’s a smidgen larger than its predecessor, the Photo Sport 200 AW (see review dated 1/24/13), allowing a little extra room for more gear. They’ve also provided a little more in the way of creature comfort with the addition of ergonomically padded shoulder straps and waist band. The “Active Zone” back support is also more comfortable and provides a little more air circulation capability than the previous model.
Other noticeable differences in the new BP 300 AW II are bigger zip pockets on the waist band, zippered pocket for the built-in rain cover, the solid internal small pocket has been replaced with a mesh zip pocket, the external pocket in the cover flap is roomier, and the camera pouch has memory card holders built-in to the cover along with an externally adjustable strap to cinch camera gear tight .
Both the old Photo Sport 200 Aw and the new Photo Sport BP 300 AW II have a separate zippered hydration compartment that easily holds a 1-1/2 liter pack, trekking pole holders, a deep cinch-able side pocket that will securely hold a 1 liter water bottle, generous shoulder strap adjustment system, and sternum strap. One feature that I especially like, on both packs, are the secure sliders on the sternum strap. I prefer to have my camera readily available for quick access, while still being able being able to hike hands-free without the camera hanging from my shoulder. With this sturdy sternum strap arrangement, I can utilize my Cotton Carrier Belt Holster (Photo 1), on the sternum strap, without concern that the strap will pull loose (with catastrophic results) as it sometimes does with other fastening systems.
As far as gear, the camera pouch readily held our Canon 6D fitted with a 28-300 mm zoom and still had enough room for a second zoom lens. Filters, battery, etc. can readily be stowed in the top pouch for easy access. The pack’s main compartment has ample room for rain gear, jacket, lunch or other essentials you might need for a day-long outing. See Photo 2 for what I typically pack for a day of shooting on the trail in Montana. The only thing missing is a tripod – I don’t always carry a tripod on day hikes and try to avoid it if at all possible. I do however find that it’s a must to carry along if I know I’m going to be doing streams and/or waterfalls.
While there are many fine points associated with this backpack, there are a couple of things that have been omitted in this new design that would make it even better from a photographer’s perspective – the first being additional attachment points on the shoulder straps, for extra small gear; and adjustable straps on the bottom for conveniently carrying a tripod. Neither are sufficient reason for the active outdoors-person/photographer to not consider this pack as top-of-the-line.
Lowepro periodically provides us with photo packs for our evaluation.