I had a chance to take the latest Lowepro backpack for a spin. Happy to test it out as I’m a long-time Lowepro customer and have been using their bags for a while - during weddings, travel, commercial and personal shoots. Here is my review of Hatchback 22L AW based on one month interaction with it. Disclaimer: Lowepro were generous to let me keep it after and give us extra for giveaway. Keep on reading to find out how you can get your hands on a brand new Hatchback (shipped with love from 500px HQ).
The first thing I noticed is that the bag feels ultralight. Being a photographer with a passion for travel I’ve hauled photo equipment for years via air, car, motorcycle, by foot and in some cases canoe. Mostly ending up with sore lower back. Not this time. I spent a day hiking, walking the beach and riding the motorcycle with this bag packed with my camera (Canon 5D II), lenses, reflector, snack, and a good read. I got home happy and pain free.
Having tested this bag for weeks since, taking it everyday to work, weekends and my recent trip to L.A. I can certainly say that the lightweight feel of the bag stays fresh; be it empty or full of equipment and other useful bits and bobs. Though light, it doesn’t look or feel cheap. All the stitching and fabrics used are high quality, and there is generous padding on the straps and the back of the backpack. Side note, my co-workers Roxy and Diana (dainty 120lb girls) carried the bag around the office a few times and were impressed with its portability.
Backpack is medium sized and compact. It is a sporty type which is a good thing as it does not scream ‘Photo bag’. In some countries ‘Photo bag’ directly translates to ‘Steal me’ to the street thieves. Sad to admit I had one of my fancy-looking camera bags stolen in the past, with everything that was in it including my passport. Hence, I appreciate utilitarian look and use of this backpack. I have been using it as a photo bag, laptop bag and a few times as grocery bag (my groceries were lucky to travel in luxury). Overall, the look is simple and perfect for the everyday and travel. My backpack is a subtle grey colour, should you feel adventurous you can get the same bag in blue or orange colouring.
Space and pockets
The space is divided into two main compartments, a familiar configuration to most Lowepro backpack owners. General compartment at the front, and lower ‘camera section’ at the back. Lower section smartly opens from the back only, which provides insurance against the occasional ‘Darn, I forgot to zip it!’ moments and makes stealing your equipment a harder job. The top section, at the front of the backpack, has generous space for travel goodies and on occasion can be used to fit your camera or a spare lens.
There are extra compartments and pockets to the bag. They are great for your keys, photo filters, gum, pens, holding your water bottle, and fitting in a magazine, small reflector or a tablet last minute when rushing out. The slim front compartment can be used for your laptop. While you can tightly squeeze in a 13-inch MacBook Air when bareskin it’s not possible to fit it in with a case (e.g. Acme Made). If you are planning to use the backpack as your laptop travel bag I recommend to pick an 11-inch model or smaller.
It is awesome! While it seems very compact, it fits a large full DSLR and several lenses. I was using Canon 5D II with Canon 24-70, and there was enough space for 2 more lenses (50mm and 85mm). You can rearrange the sections any way you want, something I was doing quite often when carrying different equipment. Also you can easily remove the camera box when needed (it is secured with strong hold velcro), and fill that compartment with misc. items or your jacket (perfect for cool or rainy weather).
The material of the bag is water-proof. For additional water-proofing there’s a built in weather cover for the bag. The cover is located at the bottom, gets pulled out with ease and adjusts to the backpack straps with velcro, securing the cover for the rest of your trip. It took my co-worker Diana, who saw this cover and bag for the 1st time, under a minute to find the cover, get it out, put it over the bag and secure it. Also, you are unlikely to forget or lose the cover as it is attached to the bag with a sturdy strap.
I'm simply in love with the bag. It’s compact, light, smart, minimalistic, and is a great example of user friendly design as all its aspects are intuitive. Great for travel, city roaming, and motorcycle riding; I am sure it has a lot more uses that I am yet to discover. If you are planning to get this bag and got questions or you already have this or similar bag and got feedback let me know in the comments below :)
Participate in a tweetup and get a brand new Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW shipped to you. Open internationally, we will ship anywhere the mailman would go. One winner will be chosen randomly and DM-ed asking for shipping details. Rules:
1. Tweet @500px @Lowepro
2. Mention why you'd love to get this bag in the same tweet
3. Use hashtag #LoweproHatchback