Lowepro Flipside 400 AW Camera Backpack
A robust backpack for bushwalking professional and enthusiast photographers who require weatherproof protection for their equipment.Announced in August 2008, Lowepro’s Flipside 400 AW joins an extensive range of camera backpacks produced by this enterprising company. The largest in the Flipside series, it’s targeted at professional photographers and serious enthusiasts – particularly outdoors enthusiasts – who want to carry a couple of camera bodies plus lenses and accessories, providing a practical solution that is secure and comfortable to wear and has silent zipper pulls for wildlife photography. . . [more]
Announced in August 2008, Lowepro’s Flipside 400 AW joins an extensive range of camera backpacks produced by this enterprising company. The largest in the Flipside series, it’s targeted at professional photographers and serious enthusiasts – particularly outdoors enthusiasts – who want to carry a couple of camera bodies plus lenses and accessories, providing a practical solution that is secure and comfortable to wear and has silent zipper pulls for wildlife photography.
External view of the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW in Pine Green with Black. (Source: Lowepro.)
The Flipside 400 AW is offered in two colours: Solid Black or Pine Green with Black. Weighing only 1.2 kilograms it is designed purely and simply for carrying camera gear; there is no laptop compartment. From the outside, it looks like a regular – although rather boxy – daypack; unless you attach a tripod to the outside there’s nothing about this bag that indicates it’s been designed for photo equipment. This is an excellent feature for travelling photographers who wish to work in areas where theft is an ever-present risk.
A view of the Flipside 400 AW with the rear-entry main compartment opened showing how much equipment this backpack can hold. (Source: Lowepro.)
One of the best features of the Flipside series – and one that distinguishes the Flipside series from other Lowepro backpacks – is its back-entry compartment. It has a double zip that accesses the main storage area, which can’t be opened while the pack is being worn by the photographer. This ensures all the valuable photographic equipment it contains can be protected against theft while remaining easily accessible.
An advantage of this design is that the harness is kept off the ground and clean while the photographer is packing and unpacking the equipment. It also allows the designers to deliver an excellent balance between padding and space without compromising ease of access to the equipment.
When equipment is required, the photographer simply unclips the chest strap without releasing the waist belt and slides off the shoulder straps. The bag can be swung around to the front of the photographer’s body, allowing easy access the zips. This can be done when the photographer is seated or standing and, in the latter case, additional support can be found by resting the front of the pack on a fence, wall or other solid surface.
Accessing equipment from the Flipside 400 AW. (Source: Lowepro.)
The exterior of the Flipside 400 AW is made from 600D Polyester, 600D Polyester Ripstop and High Flow Mesh Nylon. The interior lining is grey Velex, 210D Nylon and Tricot and there are the standard Velcro-secured dividers that allow full customisation of the storage compartment. A nylon-covered slab of padded foam is provided for separating camera bodies and lenses and preventing equipment from moving around. Pockets for small items like memory cards are located on the inner face of the flip-down lid.
A wide, padded waistband is attached to the lower section of the pack, each side of the lumbar pad. Both are mesh-covered for user comfort. The waistband sits comfortably on the wearer’s hips and has enough adjustment to cater for a wide range of body shapes and sizes.
The contoured shoulder straps are also comparatively wide and have mesh on their inner sides. There’s also a narrow sternum strap, whose tether points can be slid along a 15 cm long ridge to provide a comfortable position for a wide range of users. All straps are secured with snaplock fastenings.
Sliplock attachments allow additional pouches to be added to the basic backpack. (Source: Lowepro.)
Attachment loops for SlipLock accessory pouches and other items are located on the outermost sides of the waistband and shoulder straps. A generous carry handle is attached to the top of the pack. It has a dimpled lining to ensure a non-slip grip. Compression straps on either side of the top panel allow the bag to be extended for more depth and provide additional tethering points for small items like a jacket or small tripod.
Hidden in a zippered pocket near the base of the pack is a pull-out pocket that can be used for carrying a monopod or small tripod. An adjustable strap roughly half way up the back of the pack will keep it in place. This arrangement is OK for smaller tripods (up to half a metre long when collapsed) but unsuitable for heavy professional models as the pocket is relatively small and the straps can’t guarantee comfort and security beyond a certain size and weight.
The front (outwards facing) pocket of the Flipside 400 AW extends the full width of the pack. Its zipper closure extends around roughly half of its area and the top pulls down to reveal a series of inner pockets for small items like pens, memory cards, filters, diffusers, cables, spare batteries and cleaning cloths. One pocket has a flap with a Velcro closure and could be used for holding cash. There’s also a tethered key clip.
The outwards-facing pocket zips down to provide storage compartments for small items. (Source: Lowepro.)
Soft external pockets on each side have elastic tops and are large enough to take a water bottle or rolled-up rain jacket. A built-in All Weather Cover pulls out from a slot in the base of the pack, which has a Velcro closure. It’s made from coated nylon and has an elasticised border that stretches widely enough to cover the pack on its own but won’t go over a tripod when it’s attached.
A built-in All Weather Cover pulls out from a slot in the base of the pack. (Source: Lowepro.)
For our user tests, we loaded the review bag with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24-205mm lens attached and hood reversed into the upper section and an EOS 40D with 17-85mm lens attached into the lower section. There was still room for two additional lenses and camera cleaning equipment or, at a pinch, a 10-inch netbook.
Packing everything in was relatively straightforward, thanks to the Velcro-equipped compartment dividers, which attached securely but were also quite simple to relocate. This made customising the pack’s interior uncomplicated. The fully-loaded bag felt solid and very secure.
However, because the lid to the main compartment doesn’t open all the way down, retrieving the lower camera wasn’t as easy as getting at the upper camera. You can reconfigure the arrangement of the cameras and position them to lie across the body of the pack, putting the lenses in the lower section. This doesn’t change the amount of gear the pack can hold but can make access to lenses easier – particularly when the lenses are relatively small.
A full Flipside 400 AW was comfortable to carry because of its broad shoulder straps and lumbar support. However, it pokes out a fair way behind you so you should check before you turn around – or even glance over your shoulder – to ensure you don’t hit people behind you when you’re in a crowd.
The pull-out AW cover is handy for sorting gear before repacking it when you’re on a shoot. It can also keep your bag clean when you have to rest it on a muddy or sandy surface. We liked the security provided by the rear-access design of the main compartment but felt items in the outwards-facing front pocket may be vulnerable to theft as the zips are easily opened. The stretchy pockets for water bottles and similar items on both sides would also come in handy for bushwalking photographers.
It would be nice to be able to remove the chest and waist strap to make the bag easier to pack into overhead lockers when you’re flying. (It’s a bit too large to fit under the seat.) The bag is also a bit big and bulky for everyday use, particularly if you don’t require its full capacity. (A Flipside 200/300 or one of Lowepro’s Slingshot bags would be more suitable.)
Internal Dimensions (hxwxd): 270 x 150 x 425 mm
External Dimensions (hxwxd): 303 x 253 x 460 mm
Capacity: One pro DSLR with lens attached (300mm f/2.8) plus an additional body, 4-6 additional lenses, chargers and cords, filters, flash unit and 3 memory cards
Weight: 1.2 kg
Special features: Fits all international airline carry on requirements
Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
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- OVERALL: 8.5