on April 10, 2008
Almost just right..., April 10, 2008
By Brett Despain (Draper, UT USA) - See all my reviews
Still looking for the perfect bag...this one comes very close. I own a Lowepro Compurover AW and a Tamrac Adventure 9 bag. The Compurover is too heavy and you have to crack it open like an egg to get to the Camera compartment. The Tamrac is the perfect size, but you have to take the bag off and lay it on the ground or your lap to open the camera compartment, otherwise you risk spilling out all of your gear! Not good.
This Fastpack 250 intrigued me because the side access pocket allows access to your camera quickly without taking the backpack off. Guess what? it works. You really can get your camera out quickly while still wearing the bag.
I bought this as strictly a travel bag. I'm a pilot so I needed a medium sized bag that I could fit in the cockpit while carrying my 40D and 3 L lenses. I also need the top compartment of the bag to carry a few snacks, water and other supplies.
Okay here's the breakdown.
1. Slim design, fits in cockpit and on top of my roller suitcase with ease. Also fits very nicely in the space underneath your seat in an airliner.
2. Side camera access in a serious advantage. I considered the sling packs, but I like the comfort and security of having a full backpack. The sling packs are uncomfortable after a while and hard to position to get your camera out without twisting up your clothes or coat.
3. It's lightweight and comfortable to wear. Significantly lighter than my other two bags.
4. Not as pricey as my two other backpacks. I paid less than $90.
5. Side pocket fits a good sized Nalgene water bottle.
6. Medium size and all black color doesn't shout "Camera Bag!" while wearing it.
1. No all weather cover flap. A major oversight if you ask me. I took the one off of my Tamrac to use with the Fastpack.
2. No chest strap. I think it needs one.
3. It's almost a little small. I wouldn't go any smaller than this bag because you'll be leaving something home that you'll want later.
4. It needs a side or bottom strap that you can attach a monopod to. I'm thinking of having one sewn on. For now I've attached a carabiner to the top handle and strap on my monopod there.
5. Outside pockets are really worthless. They are sewn in flat and don't have room to expand. You can get a few filters and a flash card wallet in them but that's about it.
Like I said it's not perfect, but I'm giving it four out of five mainly because I like the overall size and design of the bag as well as the convenience of the side access camera pocket.
on May 11, 2008
After around one month of using this bag extensively, I can say that I have found it to be almost exactly what I would have designed for myself! I have taken this bag with me on long commercial flights with several connections, in the car for short as well as extended trips, on four seater prop planes for aerial shoots, etc. It always also contains my 17" Macintosh laptop as well, plus two extra batteries for the laptop. I have packed this bag in "default" mode relatively full, with all the gear I would likely need for a trip for BOTH the laptop as well as the D300, the extra 105 mm Macro Nikkor lens, two lens hoods, the SB800 flash, additional filters, batteries, etc. Yes, it is of course heavy (by my choice, of course), but the key is that it can and does handle it all well. The camera is very readily accessible (albeit not with the lens hood, which would require my opening the side compartment for access), I have the comfort of knowing that I have almost everything on me that I might need for the shoot, and the portability of a very sturdy and well built backpack that fits superbly when completely cinched around the shoulders, chest, and waist. The only reason that I gave it four and not five stars is because try as I might I have not found a way to attach even my smallest tripod (except for the table top version, which is indeed already in the bag) to the bag to take with me. The cost to step up to the model that accepts the tripod is rather steep, whereas it should have been a rather simple addition to a bag of this dimensions to attach a tripod hooking mechanism. Nevertheless, despite this drawback, this is the bag that I want with me for 99% of my travels - and which has become not only my #1 camera bag but frankly my #1 (17") laptop bag as well, now that I can take my laptop and camera equipment with me at all times. Great job, Lowepro!
on May 29, 2008
I was considering the Lowepro slingshot 200 and the Fastpack 250, and boy am I glad I went with the fastpack. Here's a quick side by side comparison:
1. Camera storage compartment: pretty much identical between the two models.
2. Ease of Access: Much easier and more comfortable for the fastpack; just let go of the right strap and swing the bag around. The slingshot swings around and ends up on your chest, pretty awkward feeling/looking; the fastpack ends up near your left waist, allowing you to suavely draw your slr.
3. Size: the fastpack is bulkier than the slingshot, though not by much.
4. Price: the same for both models.
Other random fastpack 250 notes:
1. Laptop storage compartment: the zipper opens along the side, not around the whole backpack.
2. Cellphone pocket: my samsung t-629 fits very snugly.
3. I use this bag for school, storing a slim folder in the laptop pocket, and a couple of 8x6 books in the top compartment.
on April 9, 2008
This, like my previous lowepro, is very strong, durable bag. It's a hybrid that serves well if you have carry on camera equipments, a laptop and minor stuffs (like cloths, a book and small personal items), but like every other bag, depends on your own needs, it could be very useful, or totally useless.
1. well built, I never had quality issue with lowepro and I wouldn't expect one with this bag either.
2. laptop compartment protect your very well, I carry my laptop every day with it, and never worried
3. good for one or two camera system, but limited lens. it's designed for large bodies, like D300, still got room in it, so any SLR should be fine.
4. good extra upper compartment, for books, everything, I can even put a jean, and several t-shirt, and/or limited personal items in it. yet it is just a little shy of A4 size, so keep that in mind when you consider it.
5. plenty of small pockets, ideal for all kinds of digital items.
6. very good design to flip around for quick access to cameras (see below for more), and no, it's not easy for thieves to take advantages of that without let you notice.
7. I once put around 25lbs in it, it you feels very good with very good weight support, you wont easily get tired
1. the bag, is bulky, though after used it I get used to it, but it is much larger than I think, especially I use it as everyday backpack to work, so in a peak hour subway train, you need to take it off and put on floor.
2. no all weather cover, I really dont understand why they take that feature off, maybe it prevent you from flip over with the cover on, but do u really want to use your camera in that condition? I still believe it's a better than none feature (given that said, the bag will shield off most moisture and light rains, I had it in ligh rain for 5 minutes walk one day and it protect my laptop and camera well, but still with out the cover, I'll always think twice if get heavier.
3. when you get ur camera, 2-3 lens, a laptop, and maybe even a book or so in the bag to make it a 20-30lbs monster, don't expect you can flip it around that easily. check the video, you see they only use the smallest bag in line for that demonstration. but should expect that when you just want to ``carry'' more things with it.
4. it really depends how you will utilize this bag, it might not be able to satisfy your need of capacity, but still, cameras, laptop and ``extra'' things? those are already a lot of things.
I like this bag though it's a little bit big, check out lowepro website for their video about it, you can have a feeling about its size and internal dimensions:
And if you dont put laptop in it, it's fairly easy to flip around.
Further some people worried about the upper compartment, afraid some weight might push down and damage the cameras, yet I tried, the separate in the middle is very strong, so that's also very good point. It's a hybrid, so there are compromises in design, and definitely not perfect. But overall if you want not just a pure camera bag, and want to put more personal things with you when travel, especially as airplane carry-ons, this bag is very good, and compare to 350 to see the better balance between size and usability.
on March 5, 2010
I just completed my first trip with the Lowepro Fastpack 250, which I purchased because it provided a compartment for a laptop along with one's camera equipment. Up to this time, I had been using the Lowepro Micro Trekker 200. The Fastpack 250 held all the equipment I normally carried in the Micro Trekker, including a digital SLR with 28-80 and 70-300 zoom lenses, an external flash unit, a point-and-shoot camera, a compact camcorder, USB cables, and battery chargers. With all that and my 14" laptop and its charger, the backpack was quite heavy. Even after unloading the laptop and chargers in the hotel room, the Fastpack 250 was still considerably heavier than the Micro Trekker with the same equipment. What's more, after walking around with it for several hours, I felt some strain in my shoulders and upper back. This could be due to the fact that all the camera equipment rests in a compartment that is in the lower half of the back pack, so it pulls down on your shoulders.
The Fastpack 250's feature that allows you to swing it around to extract your camera without having to remove the pack or open the whole pack adds an advantage over all others. However, that benefit also has a disadvantage. You have to decide which lens you're going to use and mount that lens prior to packing the bag. If you change your mind, you have to remove the backpack, unclip two clips, and unzip two zippers to get to the rest of your equipment. Also, the camera equipment compartments are neither as roomy nor as flexible as in the Micro Trekker.
If you take a considerable amount of camera equipment and a laptop on trips, the Fastpack 250 is a good choice, but be prepared for some discomfort and inconvenience. Unload as much weight as possible in your hotel room, before going sightseeing. I will use the Fastpack 250 for travel, but will continue to use the Micro Trekker 200 for all my everyday needs.
on July 21, 2009
I purchased the Fastpack 350 as a replacement for my Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW so most of this review will be a comparison between the two. After owning the SS 200 for around a year, I found that I quickly out grew it and I ultimately felt that moving up to the SS 300 or SS 350 would not do the trick. The SlingShot series is good if you do not have a lot of the extras like a filter pouch, lens hoods, spare batteries, chargers, etc., but if you have any of that gear a SS simply does not work out...and forget about carrying a book or anything else with a Slingshot.
One other aspect of the Slingshot that I ended up not liking was the single strap sling approach. At first I thought that was going to be a great feature but it was cumbersome and awkward for me...this Fastpack is much easier to simply take one arm out of the strap and swing around. That is a more natural approach and works much better in my opinion.
This bag seems to be a better fit for my needs and easily holds my Canon 50d with battery grip, 28-135mm, 10-22mm, and 50mm lens. I even have 1-2 lens spaces open depending on what is mounted and there is still room for more. I can see how this bag will hold a 70-200mm (if I am fortunate enough to aquire one).
The top storage area on the Fastpack 350 has plenty of room for the extras mentioned above and there is still room for a book and snacks on a trip. The mesh side pocket is nice, but it doesn't feel that sturdy so I will be curious how it holds up over time. The laptop compartment is very well padded and makes this bag a true must have travel companion.
As far as the size, I would consider this a large camera backpack, but it is not too large as some have suggested. The materials are good, but it does seem that the SlingShot was a bit more refined (i.e. this bag does not have a microfiber cloth attached at the side opening which was a great touch on the SS and the memory card holders on the main compartment flap are not as nice as the SS and there are two less spaces for cards which seems odd for a bigger bag?) The zippers and clasps are good, but the SS just seems like it was built with better materials.
Also, it always seems as though every Lowepro bag I have purchased (this makes #4) is missing that one thing, but this one has a couple. I am disappointed that there is not an AW cover built in...that should be automatic on a higher end, premium brand product like this. Also, why is there no tripod attachment? Give me those two features and a couple more sliplock attachments and this could be that elusive perfect bag.
All in all this is a good bag and a better alternative than the SlingShot series if you like the side entry and extra storage space.
on September 5, 2008
Let me start off by saying that I have absolutely no prior experience with camera backpacks. I can tell you what I like/dislike about my Fastpack 250, but I'm unable to compare it to other packs on the market. With that disclaimer out of the way, let me just say I love my new Lowepro Fastpack 250! It served me well during a local photowalk and, honestly, there were times I forgot I had it own. It meets most of my requirements for a bag:
It was extremely comfortable. It has two straps which, to me, is very important. No worrying about the bag falling off while bent over taking photographs. The straps and the bag are very well padded and the whole thing, especially the ergonomic straps, just seemed contoured to my body shape. It's important to know that I did not have a lot of gear in my Fastpack. I only carried my Nikon D40 with 18-55mm kit lens and an extra 55-200mm VR lens. The only other accessories I carried were the charger and usb cable. I also brought along my wallet, cell phone, and a bottle of water (in the side mesh pocket). Amazon lists the bag weight as 3.6 pounds. Obviously more gear will add to the weight of the bag, so keep that in mind.
Easy to Use
I found the Fastpack 250 fairly easy to get in and out of. The side entry compartment is easy to access while still wearing the pack. Just drop the strap from your right shoulder, swing the bag in front of you from your left shoulder, unzip, and grab your camera. To open the side entry compartment completely (to access compartments for extra lens, etc.) you must first unclasp the security flap and then unzip the compartment completely. This takes more time and should not be done while still wearing the bag.
Lots of Storage
That's an understatement, at least for my storage needs. It doesn't matter if I have lots of empty storage space now because I will acquire extra lenses, external flashes, etc. as time passes. I wanted a pack that I could "grow" into. There are no less than seven storage compartments. Of course, that total includes the cellphone pocket connected to one of the straps and the outside mesh pocket (that I used for holding my water bottle). The bottom storage compartment holds my D40 with attached 55-200mm VR lens quite comfortably. I have my smaller 18-55mm lens in a neighboring compartment. My charger and other cables are in another compartment, which leaves me two empty compartments for extra lenses and/or an external flash. The interior compartments are Velcro , so they are easily removable and can be reconfigured to meet your individual needs. The cellphone pocket is quite small and might not fit older, larger cell phones. Using it for a smartphone or Blackberry is out of the question. My Krazr fit well, but it is a little snug.
I opted for the all black bag so, despite the Lowepro name, it does not scream camera bag. The clasped flap over the bottom compartment also provides added security.
I'll be able to test this out myself during our Fall vacation but, from what I've read, others have not had a problem using it as a carry-on. Apparently it will fit under the airline seats on board. Lowepro lists it as an airline carry-on on it's website.
Able to Attach a Tripod/Monopod
Sadly this is not true. I've read under some of the Amazon reviews that there is a workaround for this using a carabiner, but this is not a technique I'm familiar with, nor have tried.
The Fastpack is rain resistant, but not rain proof. For that reason, I'm thinking of picking up a rainproof cover for it or, at the very least, sliding in a kitchen-sized trash bag as backup in case I get caught in some torrential downpour.
I think the price, for the features included, is quite reasonable for such a comfortable and durable bag.
Well, there you have it. My new Lowepro Fastpack 250 is not a bag for hauling all of your camera equipment around, but it is a great back for transporting your main gear during day trips or while traveling. Its comfort factor is through the roof and it should prove to be durable enough to last me a long, long time.
A GEEK'S DILEMMA
In addition to my love affair with all things Apple (sans those moments of invasive encroachment upon my electronic liberty), I am a lover of photography and photography related technologies. Like many photo-Geeks, I love to carry along my MacBook and a DSLR when leaving the house. Considering the size of most DSLRs, finding a backpack that would allow one to securely and comfortably carry both pieces of tech has never been an easy task. If you could find a backpack that could meet the above mentioned requirements, it generally was large, bulky, and non-pleasing aesthetically (let's just say it, UGLY).
As a leader in this space, Lowepro has been producing a wide selection of protective carrying solutions for photographic and electronic devices since 1967. Prior to my evaluation of the product reviewed in this article, my experience with Lowepro was limited to word of mouth and the occasional scanning of an online review. I was excited to finally get my tech stained hands on one of these vaunted products from Lowepro. As I awaited the delivery of the Fastpack 250, I felt a sense of excitement. Would this be a great solution to the problem facing so many Geeks, or would it be another in the long line of also-rans relegated to the pile of bags and backpacks that just didn't fit the bill?
Once the Fastpack 250 arrived, I removed it from the shipping container and found a bag that was well constructed and stout.
The front offers a huge main compartment to store just about anything you need on your trip (more on this compartment later). Additionally, there is a smaller quick-access compartment in front of the main compartment for those little things you need to access quickly. In the lower section of the front, a buckle-secured flap doubles as a cover for the zipper clad storage compartment underneath and a camera compartment opening guard (more on this later).
The business end of the Fastpack is the left side (when worn on the back) of the backpack. This is where all the magic happens, so to speak. Moving from the back to the front, The first compartment is secured by a zipper that runs the vertical length of the bag. This is designed to securely carry a widescreen notebook computer with a screen size measuring up to 15.4" in length. I really liked the ease with which the side opening allowed me to insert and remove my notebook. IMO, this is much easier than the normal top load backpack.
Moving forward from the computer compartment, what I consider to be the greatest selling point of this backpack, is the side access camera compartment. The intelligent design of this compartment really sets the Lowepro products which utilize this feature, apart. The previously mentioned front flap provides a guard against opening the side access too far and dumping your expensive camera equipment onto the not so friendly ground below. The side access opening was designed to allow you to easily slip the backpack off the right shoulder so that the backpack may then slide under your left shoulder. With the backpack still anchored by the left shoulder strap, you may easily access your camera for that quick picture opportunity. You can then easily secure your camera back within the backpack, slide it back over both shoulders, and done.
The right side of the backpack provides a mesh pocket with a drawstring. This is handy for a water bottle or something that requires immediate access. The drawstring is a nice addition to provide the greatest flexibly possible.
The back of the Fastpack 250 is designed to properly distribute the weight associated with carrying around a notebook computer, DSLR camera, and all the associated connectors, adapters, and cables. In addition to the two appropriately padded and very comfortable shoulder straps, Lowepro has added a secondary support system to the Fastpack 250 through a padded adjustable waist-belt (more on this later).
While I am a fan of simplicity in design, I am also attracted to beautiful, sexy, and svelte industrial designs. I guess that is why I have been a fan of most of the products which have been mercilessly thrust upon me and my severely depleted bank account by that captain of Cupertino and his merry band of minstrels. As such, I would like to see Lowepro trim a few inches from the overall size of the Fastpack. Indeed, it would take some rethinking in-order to continue to allow someone like myself to carry a full-frame DSLR and a ubiquitous notebook, in a design that was as thin and sexy as physically possible. Don't get me wrong, I love this bag. However, I could love it even more if it were a little less.
Lowepro has taken a very straight forward and simple design perspective for the Fastpack 250. There are not a lot of gadgets and gismos here. Just a well constructed backpack with three major sections (computer, camera, and storage). It is refreshing to find a product that is simplified around and focused upon doing a really great job on the basics of what a backpack in this space should be. Just what you need, nothing more, nothing less. Jump to the product page for the specs.
The Fastpack 250 arrived just in time (thanks Vanessa) for me to take it on a vacation/photowalk I had planned with my family. I knew this would give me a chance to really put the Fastpack to the test. The night before we left on the trip, I laid out most everything (sans clothing items) I would be packing in the Fastpack 250 during my photowalks.
As you can see, the Fastpack 250 can handle pretty much whatever you throw at it. While the spacious main storage compartment can indeed handle both large and small items, I found it hard to find particular items because everything must be placed into one big compartment. My work around was to combine similar items into ziplock bags and then place all the bags into the compartment. This compartment would be much more usable if it was divided into different sections through one or more dividers that could be arranged as needed similar to the camera compartment.
With the Fastpack 250 loaded with my MacBook Air, Canon 5D2, adapters, cables, water etc., I was off for a day of fun under the sun. While the weight of the pack was substantial, I was able to dramatically lessen the stress on my upper body and shoulders by buckling and adjusting the waist-belt. I could hardly believe the difference once the belt was employed. It was like night and day. Once I arrived back home from my trip, I left everything but the MacBook Air in the Fastpack and added a White MacBook and then changed that out for a 15" MacBook Pro. While the weight change for each notebook was noticeable, the waist-belt evenly distributed the weight and allowed the added weight to be carried comfortably. Great Job Lowepro!
As I stated above, the greatest feature of this backpack, IMO, is the side access camera compartment. With the Fastpack fully loaded, I was able to remove the right shoulder strap, slide the entire pack under my left shoulder, easily remove my camera and, "get the shot." Restoring my camera into the Fastpack was just as easy as removing my precious (sorry for the Rings reference). At no time did I worry about the security of my highly sensitive and expensive electronics. I think this is the best endorsement I could give any bag or backpack.
MAKING A GREAT PRODUCT EVEN BETTER
As noted above, there are a few areas which could be improved to make this great product even better. Adding configurable dividers to the main storage compartment would allow a better utilization of this large compartment. Because the Fastpack 250 will generally carry substantial weight, adding a pad to the top handle would allow the pack to be lifted without any discomfort to the hand. Finally, a little redesign on the next version to reduce the overall size and footprint while maintaining the basic storage capabilities would widen the appeal of this product to a larger customer base.
I am very impressed with the Lowepro Fastpack 250. It is a simple design that securely protects your computer and camera while providing easy access to your gear. Even with the minor recommended improvements, this is a strong product that should be a serious contender for anyone in the market for a backpack within this category. I am awarding the Lowepro Fastpack 250 an outstanding rating of 4.5 out of 5 in our MyMac.com Rating System.
Original Review - [...]
on September 18, 2009
The idea is great. I am a hiker and I always bring my DSLR when hiking.
I always wanted a way I can quickly take out the camera from my backpack
and vice versa. I thought that this product might be the one that fulfill
my wish. When I tried at home after I received it, it looked great.
I can put all the necessary items for a day hike as well as my DSLR and
a couple of lenses. The real caveat happened when I hiked in reality.
I could not close the zipper or open it while I was wearing my backpack.
Sometimes opening was OK, but when I put my camera back and tried to
close it, the zipper wouldn't work. So, I had to put off my backpack anyway,
and then I had to use both of my TWO hands to close it. Sometimes, it's
the other way. I had to put off the backpack and then open it to get the
camera, but then closing was OK. And sometimes, I have problem both in
opening and closing. But I was never able to successfully open and close
with one hand while I was wearing the backpack.
So, for me, it is exactly the same as before. I have to put off my
backpack anyway. And I was wondering then why I bought this one ... ?
Thankfully, I bought this from Amazon, and I am returning this.
I really wanted it to work for me. Sadly it isn't. And I am looking forward to
a better one which is actually working while hiking.
I examined the zipper to see whether there is something wrong in the zipper.
And I compared it with the other products' zipper that are very smooth.
I found that LowePro's critical flaw is in its low quality small zippers.
Other products' zippers were much larger, very strong, and solid, as well as
very smooth. The zippers in LowePro are not. They are rather too small.
Not smooth. And it looked so weak that you will never know when the zippers
would be broken.
And hopefully the one that can hold tripod also (This one doesn't take the
tripod. There are videos and pictures here and there that show the trick
with which you can attach the tripod on this backpack. But trust me. If you
hike and you use such method, it will never work. And you will regret in the
middle of the mountain that you brought the tripod in that way).
on January 18, 2009
I had a fairly specific set of needs while looking for a camera bag:
- I wanted a separate compartment for misc. accessories
- I like the backpack style design
- I needed to put my 15" MacBook Pro in it
- and the camera compartment had to fit my Canon 40D with the 70-200mm 2.8 lens attached.
The first three requirement were easy to find, but finding a camera compartment big enough to be able to fit the camera and lens (attached) in it so i don't have to take off the lens every time I put it away, was a tough job. I got really close with some Kata bags, but in the end this Lowepro has everything I wanted. I've been very pleased with it so far (I've had it about a month now) - if anything, it's a little disconcerting to be as excited about the bag as I am about the gear inside.