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Comfort and Durability

I was excited to get out and test the Fastpack 350 the day I got it. I took it for a walk to the corner store about 25minutes away from my house. I live on a mountain and the store is at the bottom. I walked down and back up with the Fastpack 350 fully loaded with gear and everything felt great. The Fastpack 350 bag fit my body well and the strap adjustments, hip belt and sternum strap all aided me to securely cinch the bag to me so it wasn’t flopping or bouncing around.

The straps are very comfortable with adequate padding and strap adjustments. The weight was surprisingly well distributed on my back and at no time walking up and down the hill did I feel the bag being cumbersome and lopsided in weight. The day was pretty warm, and I much appreciated the breathable moisture wicking padded mesh material on the underside of the shoulder straps and the back of the bag.

It is tough to test the long time durability of this backpack, but most backpacks, the first thing to go are either the zippers or the straps where they mount into the main body of the bag. Time will only tell how long this bag will last, but I think it should last awhile as I took the fully loaded bag off my back a numerous times using only one of the shoulder strap to take it on and off my shoulder. Ideally when I needed to carry the bag when it was off my back, the well constructed, one inch thick, double stitched Cordura handle at the top was used. This handle loop at the top of the bag is a very very handy feature to have.

I don’t recommend this, but I even swung the bag around by one strap a few times as well to see if I could hear any fabric stretching or ripping. The straps seem to be well fastened into the bag as slinging 30lbs of weight around by a single strap can put a lot of stress where the straps anchor.

Missing Features

Over the last few weeks with the bag, there are a few features that I wished would have been on the bag. The first feature that is missing is a dedicated a rain cover. Lowepro claims that the Cordura fabric has a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coating on it. DWR eventually wears off and the rain will eventually soak through if you are out in the elements long enough. Living in Vancouver Canada, a rain cover is a nice accessory to have. (It rains a lot here!) There were a couple rainy days that I used the bag and the exterior did end up getting damp.

The second feature that was missing was a place to attach and hold a light weight tripod or a monopod. There were a couple times where I was out with the bag and I had nowhere to put my monopod and tripod. Constantly carrying the tripod and monopod around was pretty annoying when I wasn’t using it. I think if people are out and about, hiking or traveling with this bag, they will not be carrying around super heavy duty tripods; Like myself they will want to take the lightweight portable tripods and monopods for those shots that require a bit more stability than just hand holding. A few well placed adjustable loops/straps on the front of the bag or on the water bottle side is all that would have been needed.

Keeping along the lines of straps and loops, I think the there could have been a few more straps on the outside of the bag to add additional accessories, keep the water bottle secure and to stow lightweight clothing. There were a few times when I was using the bag that I wanted to take my jacket off because I was warm It would have been great to strap the jacket securely onto the outside of the Fastpack 350. If there were tripod or monopod straps here, I could have used these!

Lowepro Fastpack 350 Camera Bag Review

The water bottle holder is great for most bottles of water, but if you place a full 1.5litre bottle of water into this pocket, the bottle is a bit tall and it does tend to slide side to side and slip out when swinging the bag around to get at the camera. A strap about 3.5 to 4 inches from the top of the water bottle holder would have been nice to hold down the bottle.

Shortcomings

There wasn’t a lot of things already on the bag that really bothered me. If I was to pick a couple design issues that could be changed for next year’s version, it would be to use larger gauge zippers on the bag. Larger gauge zippers offer more durability and ease of opening. The gauge on the Fastpack 350 seemed a bit small to me.

Lowepro Fastpack 350 Camera Bag Review

I would also put in place larger hand pulls on the zippers. Larger hand pull tabs on the bag would make it easier to open and close all the pockets on the Fastpack 350. I felt the pulls on the Fastpack 350 zippers were just a tad short.

Lowepro Fastpack 350 Camera Bag Review

I would also make the option to have a vertically adjustable and user removable hip belt. The hip belt seemed to sit a bit high on my waist and depending on the torso length of the user, an adjustable hip belt may be a nice customizable feature for a wide range of body sizes.

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