Lowepro is a camera bag manufacturer that has been making carrying solutions for camera equipment for the last 40 years. Weather you are a professional or amateur photographer, Lowepro is constantly innovating and making bags for a magnitude of different situations and tasks. One of these new innovations is the Fastpack 350 that landed on my desk a few weeks ago.
The Lowepro-CompuTrekker Plus AW Camera Bag I reviewed last year was a great bag to cart a lot of camera gear around, but it was such a pain in the butt to try and get the camera out quickly to take photos. It could easily carry a laptop computer, two Pro SLR bodies, a bunch of extra lenses, tripod, and a slew of accessories, but it did have its share of shortcomings. I would literally have to take the entire back pack off my back, place it on the ground, unzip the bag and pull the camera out and shoot, then reverse the entire process to get it back on my back.
On top of this, the bag was really bulky and big, with not much more useable space for other personal things. I was really looking forward to spending some time with the Fastpack 350 as on paper. it sounded like a great bag.
Lowepro claims the Fastpack 350 has the capacity to hold:
- 1 pro Digital SLR with lens attached (up to 70-200 F/2.8)
- 2-3 additional lenses or flash units
- 17” inch widescreen notebook
- memory cards
- batteries and cables
Interior Size Dimensions: 11W x 6.1D x 10.6H inches ( 28 x 15.5 x 27 cm)
Exterior Size Dimensions: 12.4W x 9.6D x 19.3H inches ( 31.5 x 24.5 x 49 cm)
*The dimensions meet Airline Carry On size regulations
In all honesty, my initial impressions on the shape and physical attributes of the Fastpack 350 when I pulled it out of the box was not a positive one. Unlike some of my other camera bags, the Fastpack 350 seemed really boxy and rectangular when I had it in my hands. It reminded me of a piece of equipment that Toy Story figure Buzz Light Year would wear. The key feature of the bag was the “Quick Draw” panel at the bottom bag. This pocket zips open East/West, unlike most bags that zip open like a clam shell North/South. There seemed like a plenty of padding and protection inside the bottom compartment for all the pricey camera gear. There also seem like lots of usable space in the top of the bag for a variety of camera and personal accessories.
I recall thinking the gauge of the zippers on the bag, (especially on the quick draw panel) seemed a bit small for pockets that would constantly be opening and closing. I expected that the teeth on this bag would be a bit larger for increased durability. The laptop compartment seemed roomy and large and nicely tucked under the breathable and padded back panel. I also noticed and appreciated the mesh pocket on the left side of the bag. This mesh pocket is plenty big enough to put varying sizes of water bottles in. If you are out and about with your camera gear, you want a place to carry a beverage!
I had to test Lowepro’s capacity claims, so as you can see below, we packed the quick draw compartment of the Fastpack 350 with a very respectable collection of higher end camera gear. The compartment is very well padded with removable dividers to protect all the spendy gear.
- 1 x Nikon D200 SLR with battery grip with 70-200 F/2.8 Lens
- 1 x 18-200mm
- 1 x 17-55mm F/2.8
- 1 x 60mm F.2.8
- 1 x 35mm F 2.0
In the top compartment we packed in a bunch of more stuff that a normal person would have with them. We loaded a bunch of camera accessories (Chargers, extra batteries etc), point and shoot camera, a couple cell phones and pens, a mini tri-pod, a flash unit, my wallet and keys. After packing in all this gear in the top compartment, we still had more room. I could have easily stuffed a lightweight jacket or long sleeve top.
The laptop compartment is straight forward. I don’t have a 17inch sized laptop, but I know my 14.1inch laptop would fit into this pocket with no problems. If you don’t have a laptop, you can use this space to put folders with documents, and even a couple books.
With all this gear in the Fastpack 350 the bag was about 23 lbs. The bag empty weights about 4 lbs. If I was to add some more things into the top compartment, a laptop, and a water bottle this backpack would be about 25-20 lbs in weight.
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