(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.