Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Lowepro Flipside 400 AW Backpack Review

I had the chance to try Lowepro's Flipside 400 AW camera backpack on my recent trip to photograph a few hikes in Zion National Park. This camera backpack is a high capacity backpack built for the outdoor shooter.  

As an avid hiker and landscape photographer, I need a sturdy backpack that will carry all my gear and also accommodate enough essentials to at least take me thru through a full day of shooting. I need to be able to carry all my camera gear, food, water, and some basic first aid supplies with comfort and security. I use the Rover Pro 45L AW for backpacking, camping and multiple day shoots. 

The Lowepro Flipside 400 AW will easily hold my Pro DSLR body and attached lens and accommodate  4-6 lenses. The gear compartment area is fully adjustable with velcro padded compartments.

 Body side access means nothing will accidentally tumble out of my backpack if I have inadvertently unsecured the zip compartment. 

Comfortable padded shoulder and waist belt distributed my gear with extreme comfort while hiking 11 miles of the Narrows in Zion. I experienced no fatigue due to the backpack. 

While hiking up the Virgin River in Southern Utah, there were a few times when the water level was waist high, yet I found comfort knowing my actual camera was sitting high between my shoulder blades.

The bag is not touted as waterproof but and I brought along dry bags, fortunately for most of the hike, the water level was seasonably low enough that I didn't need to dry bag my gear.

 I did fall once into a deeper part the river and completely submerged my backpack, but after quickly whisking it off to the side, I was relieved to see all inside contents were completely dry and stayed dry during the 9-hour hike. 

Once the tripod is removed the entire contents of the gear compartment are easy to access and will lay completely flat on the ground.  No fumbling around, it's all right there. 

The built-in all weather cover can also be used to lay under the backpack in wet
environmentsI prefer to completely remove my backpack before I shoot, but while standing in water or even snow this backpack offers the option to access your gear while standing. 

Being able to change lenses, re-zip and flip the backpack back around on your back without removing the bag from your body.  In certain conditions, this could be a lifesaver. 

To get to the main compartment you keep the waist strap fastened, pull your arms out of the shoulder straps, then swing the bag to your front and let the top of the bag fall away from you as the rest pivots on your waist strap. It becomes like a small table in front of you that allows you to make changes to your gear without having to completely take off the bag.

I chose the Flipside 400 AW over the 300 AW due to the extra amount of gear compartment space. 

However, being of smaller weight and stature at  5'4", the bag is noticeably large on my body frame. Even though this wasn't an issue in regards to comfort while hiking, the bag at times felt cumbersome and bulky having to load and unload often on the summer shuttle system at Zion National Park while being heckled by the Australians!.

I also felt as though the tripod hideaway mount didn't fully secure my tripod enough and it seemed to have a bit of movement in it, even with the adjustable straps. I noticed this while attempting to hike Angels Landing, a precarious hike with a drop off on both sides of the trail of more than 1400 feet.  

I may have felt more secure with the lower profile Flipside AW 300 or 200 which would have shaved over 3 inches off the depth dimensions of the bag but certainly could not have carried the same amount of gear

All things considered, I like this bag! I love the size and organizational possibilities of the gear storage area. For 5 days of intense hiking in water, over large slippery boulders, wet sand, mud, heat and high elevations, the bag did much better than my body did.

When I return to hike Orderville Canyon in the same area, I'll bring the Flipside 400 AW in tow.

 Lowepro's website