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on July 22, 2012
The official photos and descriptions on Amazon and the Lowepro site don't provide a complete picture of the similarities and differences between the two bags. Hopefully this review/description will help clear things up:

I ordered the Lowepro 250 AW and was sent a standard Lowepro 250 by accident. The standard bag receives high marks everywhere you look, so I kept the standard model and re-ordered the 250 AW to compare and contrast. Notes are below:

SIMILARITIES
- Total camera storage space in the bottom segment is the same.

- Both camera compartments have speed access: side zippers that allow you to pull your arm out of the right shoulder strap, sling the bag around on your left shoulder, and then unzip only a small portion of the camera compartment to remove the body and attached lens (without exposing the rest of your camera gear).

- Velcro segments to configure the camera compartment is around the same - though the AW comes with one longer/skinner segment apparently designed to horizontally separate a compartment for two microphones

- Storage in the top segment is the same.

- Contruction materials/quality appear to the same.

DIFFERENCES

SHOULDER STRAPS

250: One strap has a built-in "cell phone" pouch (albeit a very small pouch - would hold a large pocket knife/leatherman tool. The other strap has an elastic loop into which you can insert other Lowepro pouches for holding additional gear.

AW: No pouches or pouch holders - instead, a plastic D ring is on each strap for carabiners, etc...

WAIST STRAPS

250: Has a couple inches of padding on each side before the strap for theoretically more comfort. Straps cannot be tucked away

AW: Straps are attached directly to the bag - no padding to "ease" the transition. Pockets on the bag allow you to stash the straps out of the way if you don't want/need them

STERNUM STRAPS

250: None

AW: Included. Are vertically adjustable on each side for comfort

SIDES OF PACK

250: Open weave mesh pouch with elasticized compression cord on one side; zippered pouch on the other. No tripod pouch.

AW: closed weave mesh pouch on one side. Below this pouch is a tripod pouch that can be pulled out when needed and tucked away when not needed. No zippered pouch on opposite side

TOP COMPARMENT

250: Exteior of the compartment has a zippered pocket for holding relatively flat items like manuals. Interior has two small Velcro-covered pockets for various items and a two pen pockets. Approximately a 3x5 elasticized mesh pocket.

AW: Exteior of the compartment has a zippered pocket for holding relatively flat items like manuals. Compression straps are attached to both sides of the exterior of this compartment to keep things strapped down (including a tripod on one side). Interior of compartment has one flat pocket (for a manual, map or something flat) with no Velcro closures. A clear plastic business card-sized pocket for business card/ID tag. A slightly larger elasticized mesh pocket than the 250. A zippered pocket in the back of the this compartment (again, flatter items only). An elastic strap at the bottom of this compartment holds down a removable gear pouch. The interior of this zippered gear pouch has 5 elastic loops for keeping cords organized as well as 3 plastic "popsicle sticks" that slide in the loops that prevent your cables from becoming tangled. (I'm sure there's a technical term for this, but I'm not a photographer). The interior also includes 2 small pockets. The exterior of the removed pouch has a zippered pocket.

CAMERA COMPARTMENT

250: A flap with zippered pocket covers most of the camera compartment - it attaches to the backpack with two straps. When you open the camera compartment, two small Velcro pockets (sized to hold memory cards) are attached to the "lid".

AW: no flap - just a strap to prevent you from opening the camera compartment too far if using the speed access (see above under "similarities"). When you open the camera compartment, two small Velcro pockets (sized to hold memory cards) are attached to the "lid".

COMPUTER COMPARTMENT

250: Side access only (same side as the speed access zippers for the camera compartment)

AW: Zippers cover the top half of the bag for top access/limited side access. I can't measure the interior of the computer pocket, but it "feels" bigger - perhaps because of the top access)

RAIN COVER

250: none.

AW: Built in. Can be tucked away to the underside of the bag.

I ultimately went with the AW model, primarily for the tripod holder. Though I won't be taking video equipment, I'll use the small bag in the top compartment to store cords iPhone/iPad charger, etc...It was a tough choice, though - I am not a videographer and therefore didn't need the removable gear bag in the top compartment. Since I liked some of the design features/exterior pockets on the standard 250 model, I was considering going with the standard model and then purchasing a sternum strap and rain cover separately.

The bottom line is you have two good options depending on your needs, which I guess is why Lowepro is selling to variations of the "same" bag.
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on July 16, 2014
It was such a work to find a right camera bag for my Nikon D3300 with 18-200mm Zoom lens (with lens hood ) and a battery grip with a tripod plate. I've already ordered and tried two different bags prior to getting the Fastpack 250 AW. The CaseLogic Kilowatt 102 was big and bulky but its side access was stupidly narrow and too small for my camera, getting its straps and the top hotshoe snagged. At first I was skeptical about getting Lowepro Fastpack 250 AW since it's been around for several years and felt outdated compared to the more recent CaseLogic series of bags. Also I wasn't sure if I should get 350 AW or 250 AW for my camera. According to the website 350 AW was recommended for my camera size but upon looking at various reviews of the 250 AW bag online I felt that 250 AW might be big enough. I was so glad to find out that it indeed fit my bag perfectly as seen on the photos I've uploaded. Its side access compartment easily allows my camera to be removed and stored with ease. This is with the camera attached with 18-200mm zoom lens + hood + battery grip. That's pretty impressive for a relatively compact looking backpack. It doesn't look or feel bulky. It fairly looks like a typical backpack. The construction feels solid and exudes high quality that I couldn't see or touch from the online picture and description alone. If you look up my other product reviews, I rarely give out 5 star reviews. I seldom get impressed or excited about any particular product in this day and age where there are tons of craps out there. I'm glad that this purchase was very positive experience for me and I feel you'll probably impressed by this bag as well.

On an additional note, I've also looked at the relatively more recent Transit series of backpacks but some buyers have reported straps tearing and coming lose so I've decided to go for the already proven Fastpack 250 AW model instead even though the Transit was cheaper and looked more sleek.
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on May 2, 2014
I have looked at so many camera backpacks my wife thought I had lost my mind. I'm not sure why backpack/bag manufacturers aren't able to make a backpack that seems to fit 90% of the needs for hobby/pro photographers. It seemed simple, all I need is a backpack that will fit my medium frame Nikon D7100 with a 18mm - 140mm VR lense on it, a 70mm - 300mm VR lens separate, and my Nikon SB-700 flash, have a dedicated area for a water bottle, have a tripod mounting arrangement, a built in rainfly, have easy swing around side access to the camera, a strong handle on top, decent storage with lots of areas to store small items, a nice small laptop area, and not be so big of a back pack that I will feel like I'm carrying a full size pack on my back. This Fastpack is the closest thing I have found. I did have to rotate the camera body horizontally instead of vertically and rearrange the padding in the bottom for 70mm - 300mm lens. It's tight, but it fits. I put an orange paracord loop on the right shoulder tightening strap so I can find it easily when I loosen and pull the strap tight when switching between side access and the pack on my back. I can do it in a couple seconds now. I may install some extra loops to relocate the tripod further forward when I want to have a water bottle and the tripod on the pack. With the current arrangement it's one or the other, although both work very well. This pack is stealthy enough to not attract a lot of attention, unless you are carrying your tripod. It's very compact for what you can fit in it. I am about 5"8" and it feels small (but very comfortable) to me. Using this with the MeFoto A1350Q1R travel tripod you have a very compact package that packs a lot of stuff in a small package. If you don't have two telephoto sized lenses (one on the camera and one separate) there is plenty of room in the camera area for your camera (even a full frame camera should fit) with lens up to 6" long mounted on the camera and two small to midsized primary lenses in the bottom. Most flashes will fit above the camera in the padded area. I know I can do it with my Nikon D7100 (midsized frame) camera. You will want to check it with a full frame camera if you have one. A small frame camera like a D5000 or D3000 series camera will fit with room to spare. I can not answer whether a Canon, Olympus, Pentax or Sony will fit, but they should. You will have to check it yourself.
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on March 3, 2012
This is a great backpack altogether. Here are some gripes:

1. When fully loaded with a tripod, it might be heavier than is practical to carry. The backpack itself is quite hefty, weighing in at almost 4 pounds EMPTY. The comparable Fastpack 250 is about 0.5lb lighter
2. The area allocated to holding your camera and lens is a bit tight for my taste. If I have a wide angle lens mounted (eg. 82mm ring size) the fit is tight enough that taking the camera out causes the zoom to extend. That's probably not so great for the lens. I also have a Cokin P mount on my lens at times, and this makes it an even tighter fit - sometimes I worry it will break the holder in the process of taking it in and out. All this can be solved by removing the adjacent partitions, but then what's the point of getting this backpack if not for all the lens carrying capacity? I'm sure the 350AW would work better in this regard because it's roomier, but then you have an even BIGGER backpack! Take a look at the picture here with the backpack open and loaded with a camera if you don't understand this particular concern
3. The camera can only be accessed from the LEFT side when the pack hangs off your left shoulder. If you are left-handed, this might feel unnatural to you or be annoying to folks who prefer to hang their backpack on their right shoulder instead of their left

Here is what I liked:

1. Unlike the comparable Fastpack 250, it has a tripod holder, weather cover built in, and it has chest straps
2. It is well-padded both for your back and equipment
3. There are a lot of little pockets, many zippered or velcro'd to hold little odds and ends
4. There is plenty of room for my 17" HP laptop. This pack is rated to hold a 15" laptop and the 350 AW is supposed to be the one to get for a 17". But I can tell you that the 250 AW had the room without problems. Don't get the bigger pack just to hold your bigger laptop.
5. Without a tripod hanging off it, the pack is not very conspicuous to would-be camera-thieves

Overall, an excellent pack with key improvements over the slightly older model: Fastpack 250. I recommend it.
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on August 31, 2013
I decided on this model bag, and size so I could carry it everyday, and have the essentials for an impromtu interview, film B-roll or stock video.

I have several cameras, but I use this bag specifically for carrying my Canon T5i w/ Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 attached, Canon 50mm f/1.2L, vintage Nikkor 20mm f/2.8, and F&V Z96 LED light in the camera compartment.

In the top I carry the Sennheiser EW 100 ENG G3 Wireless Microphone System w/ Lav and cables, Shure SM63 microphone, Zoom H4N recorder, Rode Videomic Pro, 77mm, 72mm & 52mm Variable ND filters, 6 SD cards in a pelican wallet, LensPen, Ipod touch, and Shure se215 earbuds.

If I ever carry headphones, I would put them in a hardcase and clip on the outside. The top compartment doesn't protect delicate headphones to my satisfaction. Also, you can't cram the top with other items, because the headphones take up to much space So quality earbuds made for monitoring work for me.

There is no space left in the bottom, and in the top just enough room for a small prime lens. I carry a iPad mini and a Toshiba android tablet in the laptop section, but it could hold up to a a 13" Macbook Air, or similar. On the outside I carry a Manfrotto 561BHDV-1 Fluid Video Monopod or a Mefoto compact tripod.

Everything fits like a puzzle, so your mileage may vary. It's how well you use the space and dividers, that will determine exactly what you will be able to squeeze in.

All around great value and useful bag. I have the 350aw along with a bunch of other Lowepro bags. They always seem to get it right and for a decent price.
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on August 6, 2015
Phenomenal! Fits my DSLR (Canon 40D) with a standard kit lens attached (Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II), as well as my Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, an extra battery (or a few if I really wanted), an extra SD card, and more...

Then to top it off, I can fit either my 13" MacBook Pro, or my work laptop: Lenovo 14" Ultrabook. The top portion holds all of my charging cables, Bose in-ear headphones, and my SaddleBack leather notepad holder (fairly tight squeeze for this item; the 'small' size; holds 5x8" pad). That's my standard carry... a pack of gum... some business cards... with a bit of extra room to spare. I'm no pro photographer: so I didn't need 76 divided sections for 43 lenses, 4 bodies, and a 17" laptop.... Most camera backpacks are BIG. This is absolutely perfect for a day pack. Hiking, biking, or exploring a city. Excellent in urban environments, just as well suited for nature. A water bottle holder on one side, but it's a nice elastic: so if you're not using it, there is no extra bulk. Everything is sleek.

I went to multiple camera stores, watched & read tons of reviews online, and this is by far the best for my needs. It's so small you can chuck it inside a large duffle or suitcase if you're traveling and want a more substantial carry on backpack filled with more gear. Carrying a smaller backpack is great because it's compact and lightweight: and it forces you to only carry what you NEED. Larger backpacks that I've owned, or even suitcases, I found myself filling them up, unnecessarily. Could not be happier with this purchase.

Some have mentioned it comes with no sternum strap. I could care less, I don't use those dorky things walking around town and I don't find myself even using the waist strap when flying on my lightweight road bike at high speeds. This bag rocks! Buy it.
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on May 4, 2015
I bought this bag to limit the amount of gear I can carry. I always take too much stuff and regret the weight of the pack. Now, I just carry a Fuji X-T1 with some filters, remote release and extra batteries.

Pro:
Really solid construction and great camera protection
Easy access zipper opening so you idon't have to completely remove the bag.
Good protection for my iPad
Great tripod holder--really keeps it from tossing about
Waist strap
Definitely worth the price

Cons:
It's relatively heavy for its size at 3 lb.
It desperately needs a sternal strap. I jerry-rigged one to keep the shoulder harness straps from sliding off my shoulders.
I wish the top compartment was squared off rather than tapered to increase volume a little. It's not big enough for a windbreaker along with stuff photographers usually carry.
Needs more attachment points on the shoulder straps. s
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on April 12, 2015
Love this bag. It is a tight squeeze, but I can fit a canon 5dm3, attached to a 24-70mm lens, and a 70-280 lens in the main compartment. In the top compartment, I fit 1 youngnou receiver, 1 canon speedlight and 1 light meter (can fit 2 speedlights but it will be tight). In the front (outer) compartment, I can fit 2 youngnou receivers and AAA batteries. In the thin (backside) compartment, I put a notepad, flashbender kit, and some model release forms. I use the bag's built-in side clip to hold a foldable Benro tripod, which can partially tuck into the water bottle holder. Has a built in rain cover. I even clip-latch on a foldable, plastic (2lb) step stool (from hom e depo t) to the outside of the backpack (since I am vertically challenged). Very compact. Very lightweight. Very durable. Kudos Lowepro! Don't change a thing to this bag.
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on October 26, 2014
I really like this bag, and I'm glad I decided on it vs. the other contenders. If there were any negatives, I would say that it would be nice if there was just a half inch or inch worth of extra padding on the bottom, especially in the laptop compartment, to protect when the bag is set down.

Otherwise, this bag is great, providing excellent, well-thought-out storage for an enormous amount of stuff. I managed to get my Canon 6D with its 24-105 lens AND hood (not reversed) into it, while still having enough storage in front of the lens to store my ND filters and a flash diffuser. On either side of the camera, I had room for my flash and a rocket air blaster on one side (both lying down), and on the other side, a 300mm lens and a 50mm lens, along with a lens cleaning pen and cleaning cloths in a small ziploc bag.

The laptop storage compartment easily fits my 17" 2008 MacBook Pro, and of course also fits anything else smaller. I was even able to fit my company Macbook Pro (a 15" 2014 model) AND an iPad, in a case, simultaneously in the compartment.

The auxiliary storage compartment also provided ample storage for my needs, allowing me to fit all the cords, cables, a light, batteries, etc with ease. And there was a nice zipper pocket inside that is perfectly sized to fit an 8.5x11 piece of paper folded in half, just begging to be used for boarding passes and the like.

The construction and durability appear to be top-notch; I'm looking forward to using it on its inaugural airplane flight soon! If there are any negatives that come to light on that trip, I'll return and post them up. If you never see any update to this review, it's because the bag lived up to my expectations and worked great!
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on June 19, 2014
Finally got to use this bag on our trip to Japan and Philippines. I had the older version Fastpack 200 and to me it was too big, so I bought this. Design for the bag is great, plain black and it didn't attract any attention. The bag eventually gets heavy with everything inside however, it forces you to bring what you need only. I didn't bring everything daily, just one lens a day and my iPad during the commute on the trains. Will see how well it last, going to be using it as my regular bag now.

Best features on the outside
-Raincover: Put this first because I used it in both country and it kept my gears completely dry.
-Straps: Comfy, even with all my gears in it.
-iPad Compartment: Very convenient, because iPad is separate and it is very accessible.
-Side Compartment: Easy to store/take out camera.
-Bottle/Tripod holder: It is one or the other, I didn't have a tripod with me. The water bottle holder is perfect in Japan.
Cons:
-Waist strap: It is too long and swings around when not in use.

Best features on the inside
-Enough space to fit my 70D w/ Sigma 30mm, Canon 10-22mm, and Canon 50mm. It is a tight fit, might have to rearrange it a bit.
-Top compartment, you can store memory cards, batteries, and I had an extra shirt.
-Comes with a pouch to store cables in. (Used it but stored it in my luggage, took too much space. Stored chargers inside and external Harddrive)
-Tons of pockets up top to fit other random stuff.
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