February 26, 2008

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Review

(Image Gallery Uploaded Here)

In preparation for an upcoming trip, I am looking for a carry-on solution for my mobile gadgets: laptop and digital SLR. The requirements are:

1. Fits a laptop up to 15.4"
2. Fits a Nikon D80 SLR w/ 18-200mm Lens attached
3. Extra room to spare for other items... flexible
4. Must be in the form factor of a backpack... not messenger bag

All of the above has been satisfied by the Lowepro Fastpack 250.

The laptop compartment has a convenient side-loading entry. Many other bags uses the zipper behind the shoulder straps making it difficult to open or close the laptop compartment. The bag is very well padded all around.

The camera sits on the lower portion of the front compartment which allows for the bag to stand up (not top heavy like other backpacks requiring the SLR to be loaded towards the top). The camera compartment also has A LOT of room to spare. I have a D80 w/ 18-200 lens attached and it still has room to spare in front of the lens (2-3 inches clearance) and top of camera area (possibly meant for a small speed light attached). One of the problems with other backpacks I've seen is that the camera compartment doesn't allow the space for a large lens attached to the camera body.

Like other Lowepro designs, sitting next to the camera are 4 customizable compartments for accessories like additional lens or speedlight. The best part about this bag is unlike others, it doesn't force you to use all of its available compartment for camera-related accessories. The top front compartment is roomy for anything you want. There are two more smaller compartments on the front side of the bag for accessories... very convenient for traveling indeed. For a finishing touch, there is also a water bottle net on the side and a "cell-phone" sized pocket on the left shoulder strap.

Overall, I am very happy with this backpack; I will upload some pictures shortly!

Tip from Toby: Whenever you have a laptop/camera bag combination. Insert the laptop so the LCD/LID faces away from the camera body. Upon impact, it prevents your laptop LCD being shattered or cracked.

Update: (05/05/2008) - I've taken this backpack along with me to my trip to Asia recently. Having spend 3 weeks on the road with this bag, I must say it worked out well for me. The bag provided adequate protection and storage space for my laptop, DSLR and handycam. Overall, the size of this bag is a bit bulky but is necessary to hold enough of items to help me with my air travels. It fits in the airplane overhead compartment just fine, but may be too bulky to stuff under the seats. When riding in cars, the bag is at the awkward size where its kind of big to hold on your laps but if you set it on the floor, you'll have to make your feet twist a certain way which makes long rides uncomfortable. Again, the storage is more than adequate, the side pocket was handy to stuff stubs or bottled water on the go and the top storage compartment was big enough for me to roll-out my adidas track jacket into a ball and stuff it in. I am very pleased with this purchase.

10 comments:

Alex said...

excellent review - thanks! i'll keep this is mind if i'm ever in the market for a backpack dslr/laptop combo ... nicely priced as well!

Glenn said...

good review. thanks for all the photos. I have a CompuTrekker AW at the moment which hold a lot of stuff but has some frustrations when traveling with it. This new bag seems even better in many ways and it's a lot cheaper too

Steven said...

Thank for the post, This is the bag I been looking for.

The B's - Mamma B said...

This sounds like a great option for travelers who need to take their laptop and camera gear. I am making a 4 wk journey across Europe this summer, and this bag sounds perfect - but I am wondering if I shouldn't get the 350 - bigger size. Did you find the 250 good enough to fit all your needs?

I will also be carrying an extra lens, p&s camera, and small video camera, not to mention laptop power cords, usb cables, wallet yada yada... at least on the plane.

thanks for your help!

andy said...

Hi Mamma B,
I found this backpack to be sufficient for my trip which was about 3 weeks between two countries in Asia. I had plenty of spare room for traveling documents and gadgets (ipod, phone, etc.). I think camera equipment is what is going to determine your decision. Since I have a basic Nikon D80 and two lens (18-200mm and 50mm), both are compact and I attached the 18-200 on the Camera body so it doesn't take up more storage space. That said, the empty lens compartments ended up holding a small camcorder, spare battery/charger and laptop accessories.

However, if you have something bigger like a Nikon D300 + extended battery pack + big speedlight along with more lens as well as bigger lens abd a laptop, I think you should go with a bigger size.

The B's - Mamma B said...

Andy, thanks for the info!

I have a Canon 40D with a kit lens and a 28-135, so even if I end up getting a tele lens to bring along, it sounds like I would have plenty of room with the 250 pack. I've seen them on E-bay for less than what I paid for my small Tamrac.

Got any good traveling tips when on the road for a long time?

thanks for you help!

andy said...

Mamma B,
Here are some tips I use:
1. If carrying a laptop in the bag, flip the LCD to opposite side where your SLR is, incase it gets shattered.
2. In questionable areas or countries, my friends always use black nylon tape to tape off the camera brands (ie. Nikon or Canon logo), just a safety measure incase you get jacked
3. Get familiar with your bag and each compartment. I like to know exactly where my phone or passport is. Take extra zip loc bags for security check.
4. If its chilly and a jacket is required, i prefer a thin track jacket/hoodie w/ zippers. It can keep my belongings safely tucked away or when not wearing, i can roll it up and shove it into one of my back pack compartments
5. If its somewhere warm, I like cargo pants with pockets that can be securely shut, again to keep valuables tucked away safely in the side pockets is handy.
6. Drink lots of water and eat healthy as you enjoy your vacation. It gives your body a chance to keep up!

Hope you have fun this summer in Europe.

The B's - Mamma B said...

Andy,

Thanks for all of your travel suggestions!

I found this great coat with lots of internal pockets and zip off sleeves that sounds like it would be the perfect compliment to the camera bag, especially considering the carry-on limitations of airlines like Ryan Air. I've included the link in case you or any of your readers might find this product useful as well.

http://www.scottevest.com/v3_store/Essential_Jacket_Women.shtml

Thanks for the good wishes! Check up on our travels this July and August!

andy said...

Mamma B,
That jacket looks pretty cool. I think you are off to a great start. One more tip, remember to download your photos each night to your computer. When my wife and I visited Europe two years ago, we lost our small point and shoot digital camera on the way home. Luckily I downloaded almost 85% of the photos throughout the trip... (Monoco, Paris, Florence, Venice, Milan)... last two days in Rome I got lazy so don't have all of the images...

Enjoy your trip and come back and tell us all about it afterwards.

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