For those of us who prefer their photography with a side dish of outdoor adventure, it was welcome news to hear that Lowepro has expanded its popular Flipside Sport AW Series of camera packs. The Flipside Sport 20L AW joins the smaller 15L and 10L, and as its name indicates, is 25 percent larger by volume than the 15L. In practical terms, this means that the 20L can carry one more pro body with grip—or a couple of extra lenses plus accessories—than its less roomy brother the 15L. Its features include Lowepro’s stowaway All Weather AW Cover, room for a 1.5-liter hydration pouch and carry loops for ice axes. Or, if you’re like us and wouldn’t know an ice axe from an iced mocha, your dog’s Chuckit! ball thrower will fit nicely in one of the loops instead. There is also a tablet sleeve that will accommodate an iPad- or MacBook Air-size device, in case you require computational power in the outback (or the dog park).
In use, the Flipside Sport 20L is a solid outdoor pack. Its construction quality is on par with higher end technical outdoor gear, something of a rarity for photo packs. The 20L’s padded waist belt is a huge improvement over the unpadded webbing belt on the 10L and 15L. While an unpadded belt can help stabilize a pack, it takes a padded waist belt to really lift the weight off your shoulders.
The “flip” aspect of the Flipside packs refers to the way you leave the waist belt on, take your arms out of the shoulder straps and spin the bag around your waist to access your gear from a zipper between the straps. This design allows you to get at your camera and gear with both hands and not worry about the whole bag falling over a cliff (or off your lap).