on January 5, 2012
I am somewhat of a camera backpack aficionado. I currently own a Tamrac Adventure 9, Tamrac Expedition 5, Kata 3n1-22, Kata DR-466i and Lowepro Versapack 200AW. I also used to own a Lowepro Slingshot 200 and Flipside 300. While each bag has its own strengths and weaknesses, l have come to the conclusion there is no all-in-1 perfect backpack. I happen to run into the Video Pack 350 on Amazon and after reviewing the specs, it seemed like a great pack for a large body. I believe Lowepro has misrepresented the product by naming it a "Video FastPack" because it is equally a DSLR backpack. Maybe there is a marketing strategy behind the nomenclature but I believe potential customers will pass on this pack because of the name. The Video Pack 350 AW is an updated version of the Fastpack 350 but with an AW Cover and a tripod mount. Both of these new features were common complaints among the Fastpack owners.
My primary requirement for buying a new bag was to be able to hold a gripped DSLR with a long lens and have easy access to it. I was originally looking at the Tamrac 3385 Aero Speed Pack 85 Dual Access Photo/Laptop Backpack (Black),Tamrac 5789 Evolution 9 Photo Laptop Sling Backpack and the Kata KT D-3N1-33 3 In 1 Sling /Backpack with Laptop Slot but each of those bags has their downsides and I was left with a dilemma about which direction to go in. The Lowepro SlingShot 302 AW would probably have met my storage and access needs but I have found the sling style packs to be uncomfortable over long periods especially with heavy loads. Enter the Lowepro Video Pack 350 AW. It's well built, well padded and has a large amount of storage space. The side entry compartment allows for quick and easy access to the camera without fully taking off the backpack. The main camera compartment can fit a gripped DSLR with attached lens and at least 2 extra lenses (I was able to fit a EF 24-70L and EF 100 2.8L Macro) along with extra space for a flash or other accessories. The top compartment is relatively spacious and has internal compartments and slots for accessories, cables, etc. Most camera backpacks do not have much space for the non-camera section but the Video Pack 350 has as much room as any DSLR backpacks on the market. The pack also comes with a utility pouch that has cable wraps and can be used to organize additional accessories. Here is an overview of my assessment:
- Can hold a Canon 7D or 5D with battery grip and attached 70-200 2.8L or 100-400L lens
- Side entry compartment allows for fast and easy access to camera without taking off backpack
- All weather cover
- Built in tripod/monopod mount
- External water bottle carrier
- 17" Laptop compartment
- Padding provides good protection for equipment
- Straps seem to be comfortable
- Sternum and waist straps
- Waist strap can be tucked away into slot on back of pack. Kata does this on some of their bags and it is a nice touch because it keeps the straps out of the way if you are not using it.
- External zipper compartment on the front for small items
- Small slot on the back of pack for credit cards and ID
- All the pro's of the Fastpack 350
- Somewhat big and bulky - could be too big for small frame users
- Somewhat heavy - 4 lbs with no load
- In practice, tripod holder is limited to small to medium sized tripods
- Tripod holder is on the side of the bag. I prefer mounts in the center of the bag for better balance
- Tripod holder will interfere with water bottle holder
- The top handle is a nylon strap which is common among Lowepro bags. Other mfr's such as Tamrac provide a padded handle which is much more comfortable.
- Accessing lenses and accessories on the deep side of the camera compartment is not convenient. However, this is common among this style of pack.
- Although I haven't tried, my feeling is that this pack will not fit under an airplane seat
Overall this is a well designed, high quality bag at a reasonable price point. I consider it a step up from the Fastpack 350 and the best all around bag for quick access for a gripped DSLR with an attached long lens. While it is on the large and heavy side for when you want to travel light, I really do not see any major downsides and highly recommend this for medium to large loads.
on March 8, 2012
I was looking for a bag that can accommodate a gripped body with heavy zoom lens and 17 inch laptop. This bag fits the bill. It is rugged looking, well-built, well-padded and durable. It is tad on a heavy side but that's expected with all the padding and size-wise, slightly big, but not too big. The shoulder straps are comfortable and can accommodate a bigger person. I like the fact that the waist strap is also present but unobtrusive if I don't want to use it. On some other bags, it gets in the way.
Since the bag is divided into 2 separate compartments, the lower compartment is not as roomy as the bags that are dedicated to carrying equipment only. Unless you are going to carry another bag for secondary stuff, it forces you to think and pack carefully what you really need for your task. You cannot open up or convert upper compartment to accommodate more dividers. Therefore, if you are looking for a bag to cram only the photo gear, this bag is not for you. I have other bags that are better designed for that purpose. Still, if you need to carry more stuff, I have put extra lenses and flashes in their cushioned pouches in the upper compartment without any issues. However, the upper compartment is not as well padded as the lower compartment; therefore, you want to be careful not to put anything too fragile there. The upper compartment has two small and a medium compartment as well as an elastic strap and a detachable, small, zippered pouch to secure filters, SD cards and other accessories. There is a small pouch between the shoulder strap to carry an iPod.
Although it may make the bag feel unbalanced, I prefer to carry tripod attached to the side of the bag than in the middle of the pack. The tripod holder extends out from the side of the bag and tucks back in neatly if not used. However, when the tripod is attached, it will get in the way of carrying water bottle in the mesh pouch. I have a Cullman Magic fold-flat tripod that I can carry in the laptop space if I decide not to lug the 17 incher and still have space left over for an iPad and accessories.
The rain cover is built into the bottom of the bag so it is unobtrusive and can't get lost - a nice design detail. You can take this bag as a carry-on on the plane and it will fit in the overhead bin no problem. Just be sure to leave out your expensive Leatherman multi-purpose tool. TSA in their infinite wisdom, in the name of reducing terrorist threats confiscated my mini Victorinox key-chain pocket knife, nail clipper and my Leatherman ($65 - ouch!), but lest I digress ...
No bag is perfect, and choosing one is a very personal process. Even if you can't find one locally to check out, this bag merits consideration for the reasons given above.
on August 14, 2012
I hope this review serves not only to inform potential buyers of this bag, but also as a constructive input for future modification to this specific type of backpack. This review is written after physical comparison of (1) the Fastpack 350 AW and (2) the Fastpack 350. Please note that the Fastpack 350 is a slightly larger bag than the Fastpack 350AW. The measurements given to you online IS correct and as described, although their difference in storage space may be more significant than you might imagine. Here are my likes and dislikes:
1) I love the concept that the AW cover comes with this bag, making it practically rain proof. It fits the bag perfectly like a glove and neatly tucks away neatly at the bottom of the bag. I'm not entirely impressed however, with the material used in making this AW cover. As a consumer who's going to pay extra for all weather protection cover, I expected more from Lowepro. Note to manufacture: Please examine the STM rain cover and see that its material is better in durability. Another thing is that the rain cover shouldn't be permanently attached to the bag... what's going to happen when that cover is torn, the end-user might wish to purchase another one, and not be stuck with a torn cover stiched into the bag.
2) I REALLY like the fact that Lowepro are considering user's safety in mind when they decide to finally make their logo LOW PROFILE. The black logo you see in the picture IS in fact the ONLY logo visible outside the bag (other than the ginormous one on the rain cover). When I'm walking around with $3000+ worth of camera equipment, I would not necessary want anyone who are familiar with Lowepro products, to think that I'm carrying a high-end camera.
3) This is not included in the Amazon description: The bag has a descret pocket the size of your typical wallet! It's located behind the bag just under the top handle. I wish there is another one (bigger size) below against the lower back.
4) I LOVE the pocket that I can use to mount a tripod. Now, it's not always that I would want to be carrying a tripod on my back. When I'm checking-in for the flight, you would normally have a roller carry-on that I can keep the tripod in. However, having that tripod pouche and snap lock strap could mean one less thing I have to carry by hand.
1) The AW rain cover is made out of very thin nylon/polyester material. So thin... it is almost paper thin. I know nothing is going to last forever, but Lowepro could have done better. Second, rain cover is also permanently attached to the backpack, D: not something you can replace easily in case of tearing from normal non-abusive use. Lord forbids if I accidentally got it snag on a sharp corner and tears the material, I would then have a backpack with a useless torn rain cover attached. I am also uncertain how long the stitching of the rain cover will last base on visual inspection. It is entirely up to the manufacture's discretion (and rightfully so, since nothing can last forever) to replace the bag in the case of material wear and tear. For this reason, I think the AW cover should be made of thicker material. My Solution: I bought Lowepro's traditional Fast Pack 350 and a separate STM rain cover (thicker material) instead of Fast Pack 350 AW. So when my STM rain cover catch onto a sharp object and tears, I can easily get a REPLACEMENT one, instead of being stuck to a permanently attached and torn rain cover. Note for Lowepro design team: Please consider allowing end-users to buy replacement AW covers that can be reattached to the bag via Velcro. This way we don't feel like the whole backpack has to be replaced in case the AW cover gets torn. Also, please consider using more durable material that is comparable to the STM rain cover. I also notice that in the process of adding the AW rain cover, it seems Lowepro skim down on the thickness of the bottom shell of the bag, and I don't think that's a very good idea.
2) For the lower camera compartment, as you can see from the picture, there is only one strap that snap locks the zipping cover. In my opinion, this kinda gives off the hint that you're carrying a "special" backpack. The 2 lock straps on the flap cover you have on the traditional Fast Pack 350 actually makes it look more like a regular backpack. Lowepro should have kept the cover flap from the traditional Fastpack 350 on the new design if BLENDING IN is the key concept!
3) It really bugged me when I compare its storage space to the bigger traditional Fastpack 350. Buyers should compare the internal volume between the two (see internal measurements of this product at Lowepro's website), and decides for yourself if getting the AW version of this bag is worth sacrificing reduced storage space. For me, paying a high price for the AW version of this bag and getting LESS for the internal storage space is quite an annoyance.
Overall, if what I considered to be cons doesn't seem to bother you, then this bag is a PERFECT match for you. I LOVE ALL the concepts that Lowepro had put into this bag, I'm just slightly unhappy with the material used to make the rain cover and how it is permanently attached (giving no option for replacement), and the the bag just look like there is one strap missing. I guess I'm a bit OCD about symetry. Other than that, it is a great camera bag, and I highly recommend it for any student photographers who doesn't yet have more than 2 lenses to carry.
on October 20, 2014
Wonderful bag. Did not give it a 4 because more padded dividers are needed in the camera compartment, and padding is needed in the upper compartment.
The deep camera area is nice. But when you unzip the side to access the camera, there is not enough padding to hold the camera snugly (too much camera movement) when you lay the bag flat or carry it. More padded dividers to cover the top or outer area to hold the camera more securely would be helpful... too much camera movement.
on August 21, 2013
This isn't a bag that I would want to carry on my back for a day trip or hiking. It is handy for travel. It fits under airplane seats (barely) and is convenient to have all of your expensive gear that you don't want out of your sight. The logo blends into the backpack so It doesn't announce "expensive camera gear inside." It fits all the gear I have including laptop. It has a tripod holder on one side, a pouch for a water bottle on the other side, and a pull-out rain cover from the bottom, if necessary.
on February 17, 2013
Overall a great pack and easily employed. I prefer the older model's low profile look, but this model's tripod specific design. I wish it had the lower external pocket of the previous model, but it has enough. The one buckle on the outside almost screams camera bag though. The camera compartment is plenty for what I own in camera products and the topside pocket is plenty of space for a rain jacket and the other items I regularly bring when traveling. The material is durable like the other Lowepro products I own. I like the bag for its functionality, but I wish it maintained the low profile appearance of the previous model. Still for what I paid, I'm happy.
Update: I've completed a road trip over a weekend and a business trip with this bag since my first review. It is excellent for air travel. I like to put my carry-on bags under the seat in front and due to the slim design this bag fits easily without having to worry about cramming it like my usual carry-on computer bag. It is much bigger than I originally thought: I packed what I'd normally pack for a business trip; but added my camera with one lens, and this bag had more than enough space. I use small pouch as an accessory pouch for my cell phone chargers. I still haven't hiked around the city with this, but in the airport and on road trips this bag has surpassed my needs. Comfort rating; five stars. I still keep this at four stars, because the lack of the outer flap of the original model and how its odd look screams I have a lot electronics up for grabs.
on April 7, 2015
The backpack is suitable only for people with large cameras with grips and professional lenses (L lenses for Canon). Here is the reason:
I was looking for the backpack where I can put my camera with lenses and flash and all the other personal belongings and fly somewhere for the weekend. Lowepro 350 AW would be pretty fine for that if the case for camera was not too large. I saw number of tests and reviews on youtube where the guys mentioned that they can pack all the cameras with the grip and number of lenses. This is the truth, however if you have only smaler DSLR like Canon EOS 600D (for US market the model is called Rebel) without the additional grip and standard lenses like 18-55mm, 50mm and 55-250mm the area for camera is too big, camera moves constantly during the travels and it is not safe at all. Furthermore it is not possible to adjust the inner case suficiently to avoid camera to move. That is why I decided to return the backpack and select a different one.
on May 29, 2013
As my new main camera bag, I wish I could fit my 82mm wide 24-70mm lens with lenshood on the side with my 77mm wide 70-200mm lens down the middle. The padded bottom side pocket at 2.5" wide is just too narrow, (only good for squeezing a flash, or small lens ~67-77mm wide or less) and the top pocket is even more narrow at 1.5" wide (only fits my Lowepro Filter Pocket with covered mesh pockets or small umbrella and snacks). I will say the depth of the bag is deeper than the Lowepro Fastpack 250 as it fits my camera with battery grip much more comfortably.
* Fits DSLR body + battery grip + 70-200mm lens
* Roomy top compartment for misc items
* Tripod flip-out pocket on the side! (underneath mesh pocket)
* All Weather rain cover
* Fits a laptop comfortably
* Low profile doesn't scream "camera bag" in public
* The latch straps on top are a bit annoying
* Miss the additional flap storage in the Lowepro Fastpack 250
* Miss the small should strap pocket from Lowepro Fastpack 250 (barely fit a small phone)
PS - I never understood how to use the accessory cable storage bag.
on May 12, 2012
I previously owned the slingshot and like it a lot, although got a little uncomfortable after a long day. I recently added a "L" lens (100-400) zoom. Lens is way too heavy and large to fit in the slingshot. So I upgraded to the fastback. Best camera bag I have ever owned. My gear is heavy and this bag is pretty comfortable for extended periods. Not as comfortable as a real good hiking backpack but it is specifically designed fior your gear and not dor general camping. The fastpack is excellent and exceeded my expectations.
I love the pc compartment. Have done multiple international trips and hikes with this bag already and find it comfortable, convenient access, and love how it is layed out to accommodate my DSLR gear. Room in the upper compartment for extras, not gear related such as a pull-over or cap is great. The water repellant cover is simply superb and has been very helpful in flash tropical rainstorms as well as gave me a piece of mind on small boats that can have some mist spray.
Bag fits under most airline seats and in the overhead bin with speed light, body, 100-400, 28-130, 75-300 lens and other misc items.
If I were to provide some criticism, it would be:
- no microfiber flap sewn in to fast access opening to cover the camera like in the slingshot
- on the newer model, still sew in a small and obscure label that states DSLR VIDEO which I promptly removed to eliminate advertising on what is in the bag
- my waist strap frayed very quickly which I don't understand at all why. It is not a burden yet, but if it becomes a real issue, I hope Lowepro will address
Parting words, great bag - highly reccomend.
on February 20, 2013
I believe I wrote a similar happy-review in the past for a Lowepro shoulderbag. Which was great for a shoulderbag. Now I changed my mind, and wanted a backpack... :-)
This one is great! I think the looks are not the most modern, but it works exactly the way I want. My main concern was space, and that is what it has. I carry with me:
- 17" laptop+ all accesories (charger, mouse)
- Canon 60D+ attached battery pack+ any attached lens
- Full size flash
- 28-200 lens
- 17-135 lens
- All the extra stuff (charger, batteries for battery pack, batteries for flash, suncaps, filters, add-on lenses, etc etc etc etc
- Tripod on the side
And still... I have enough space in the top compartment for all the extra's when I'm, travelling... Tablet, phone chargers, food etc.
I will always be a big LowePro fan. It takes some time to figure out which bag best fits your needs, but after you take the time for that, you do have exactly what you need.