Few camera bags are built keep your camera gear safe while you hike, bike, and conquer the wilderness like the manly man that you are. But the Flipside Sport 15L All-Weather camera bag from Lowepro ($135) was designed to do exactly that, and comes standard with some tricks you won’t find on your everyday camera sack.
The Flipside Sport 15L (FS) isn’t like a normal bag. It actually opens from the backside, the part that sits against your back, and not the front or top like most packs. This talent allows the FS to perform a neat trick. With its hip straps securely fastened to your waist, you can swing the back around and down, then easily access all its contents. When oriented in this position, besides looking like a giant fanny pack, it allows you to take your camera gear out super quickly, use it, then put it right back. All without every having to take the bag off. That kind of quick access is useful when you’re hiking, and even more so if the ground is wet.
Not that you’ll mind getting the FS wet, though — I’ve never seen a bag with so much built-in water protection. For starters, there’s a rain cover stored in the bottom of the bag that can be pulled over the entire outer shell. But that’s not all. The LS’s internal compartment has yet another waterproof lining that can be cinched up and around your gear. This inner cover is meant to keep your camera and lenses dry even when you have the bag open, but is yet another layer of water protection even when the bag is closed.
And here’s something that surprised me: the inside compartment of the LS is totally removable. That is to say, the internal section, complete with padded dividers and all your gear, can be lifted out of the LS like a duffle bag by two handles. This lets you use LS as a day bag even when you’re not lugging around DSLR and lenses.
But for those days when your glass is along for the ride, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of it the FS 15L can actually hold. The LS comfortably fits a DSLR with lens attached, and at least 2-3 more lenses or similar-sized photo accessories. And for those hike a lot, the FS also sports a full hydration pocket where you can stow your CamelBak.
All that, and a very useful tripod pocket on the LS’s side means no gear left behind.
But back to that duffle compartment again. I noticed that while carrying a lot of gear, and especially while using the LS’s tripod pocket, the inner bag would keep trying to pop itself out of the outer bag. Besides being annoying in and of itself, it also made it hard to zip the bag up. This isn’t so much of an issue when you’re carrying a light load, but if you like to carry your tripod around, prepare to spend time fussing with a stubborn zipper.
And another note about carrying a tripod in the LS: if you do, you might find a tripod foot or two violating your “end zone” while traversing up that mountain side. I think it’s because of the angle at which the LS holds the tripod. Whatever the case, I found my tushy getting the occasional probe simply walking up hill. Caveat emptor.
The Flipside Sport 15L AW from Lowepro is a talented camera bag built for the mountain man in you. It’s the best bag of its kind that I’ve used, and whether you’re taking it into the heart of the jungle, or just the urban kind, it’ll keep your gear safe, dry, and easy to get to.