A lightweight camera backpack, targeted at outdoor photographers looking for a tough and weather-resistant bag for daily hiking and adventure travel.
The Lowepro 15L PhotoSport III backpack is a great option for those with an active lifestyle, who like to do photography alongside other outdoor activities. It features a removable padded gearbox, perfect for small mirrorless cameras, and plenty of additional loops and pockets for stashing and carrying extra equipment should you need to, including a side pocket for a water bottle! At last!
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 15L AW III: The stats
|Eco-conscious:||75% recycled materials|
Features of the Lowepro PhotoSport BP 15L AW III
Removable camera insert (gearbox)The gearbox is described as being able to hold a crop sensor mirrorless camera, and they weren’t wrong. It’s only 2L in size. The Fuji X-T4 was a snug fit, and you may be limited to which lenses you can store in the insert when attached to the body. Small to medium-sized zooms and prime lenses will be fine, but you will run into issues with anything larger. If you’re not sure what you’ll need, then it’s definitely worth checking out the slightly larger 24L version of the bag. The gearbox is an extra 3L larger and can store a full-frame mirrorless with a typical 24-70 f2.8 lens attached.
It is possible to use the included additional shoulder strap and attach it to the gearbox so it can be carried separately. I think this is a smart option to have because it would allow you to put more in the bag and provide slighter easier access to the camera by carrying the gearbox this way.
The waist belt works well when I want to take a little bit of weight off. However, with a bag this small, it’s never going to be really heavy for the hip straps to be necessary (unless loaded with rocks, which my 3-year-old did at the beach!). There is a small pouch on the right-hand side of the waist belt, which can easily hold most phones, although I normally fill it full of jelly babies – the perfect snack for walking. There are also a few hooks accessory loops on the left-hand waist belt which could be used to attach additional items to, but it’s not something I used to date.
The front pocket is made from a stretch fabric is really useful for stuffing a jacket into during changeable weather and saves me having to keep opening the bag up each time I want to take my coat on and off. During the winter months, I suspect this will be really handy for stuffing gloves etc. into. Unfortunately, it’s not quite big enough to stash a bike helmet in unless the bag is more or less empty, which is a bit of a shame.
The top lid has a small, zippered pocket, ideal for stashing a wallet or a small selection of snacks.
The main compartment has good-sized opening, making it easy to load up the bag, as well as rummage around for items should you need to without having to take everything out. Given the small-sized gearbox, I carry additional lenses in the main compartment. The lenses are in their own protective pouch, but it’s nice to be able to have space for the lenses should I need them. There is a very efficient pull-pull drawstring system to open and close, which I’ve not seen often before and it works really well. There is an internal zippered pocket with a key leash which gives you a little more security than using the pocket on the top lid. When the gearbox isn’t in use, there is also a fold-away floor that opens up the bottom section of the pack, allowing you to maximise the full size of the bag. This also makes it more functional and suited to other occasions beyond simply being a camera bag.
It’s great to see a bag of this size and design have the option to use a 2L hydration reservoir. Given who the target customer for this bag is, not having this option would have been a definite oversight.
There are four gear loops in total, two at the bottom and two at the top. These are ideal for trekking poles etc. I frequently use them for attaching my bike helmet should I need to.
As mentioned already, the inclusion of a side pocket for a water bottle is a big plus for me. The number of camera backpacks which do not have a bottle holder always amazes me. The expectation would be that, as a photographer who is in the market for an outdoor bag, we’ll be out in the landscape for a while. Therefore, having a drink to hand is always pretty much a given for me.
The specs say this is also suitable for a travel tripod, but it would have to be a very small tripod, and being able to carry a suitable tripod is the one area where the bag didn’t live up to expectations. I don’t use a particularly large tripod at all. In fact, I would consider it compact for a quality tripod. But there is no way to attach it to the bag unfortunately, which is a real shame. As a landscape photographer, a tripod is one of the key tools of the trade, so having to leave it at home (or just carry it the whole time) is a bit disappointing. A small enough tripod could fit into the side pocket somehow, but tripods that small generally aren’t up to the standards of what’s needed for landscape photography.
The detachable rain cover is a nice touch and is great to see one included as standard. Its ability to keep the bag dry has been thoroughly tested on a number of occasions including some particularly wet boat rides in Scilly Isles, and I’m pleased to say it did the job perfectly. It easily fits over the bag when fully loaded, including when additional items are stored in the front pocket.
Lowepro PhotoSport BP 15L AW III Review
My first impressions were great. Not only does the quality of the materials feel excellent, it also has a bottle holder!!! Plus, it’s tiny! This then led to feelings of anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to carry what I needed for a day of landscape photography, and there are definitely some compromises to be made when considering the 15L over the 24L version.
First and foremost, I’m a landscape photographer. Being a landscape photographer normally entails a delicate balancing act of taking the equipment you may need for the day, along with comfort and being practical. A day in the landscape can easily be ruined by being encumbered by taking far too much equipment. However, there are times when you don’t need to take everything including the kitchen sink, and when travelling light and being able to cover lots of ground is more fruitful. This is where a smaller bag comes into its own. The only limiting factor for me was the lack of options for carrying a tripod. However, if the objective is to travel light and cover lots of ground, adding a tripod is counterproductive.
Apart from the tripod issue, the 15L has everything I need. Plenty of space for food and drink, a good-sized main compartment for a spare coat or an extra lens or two, as well a rain cover.
Fit will always be subjective, so there are always a few things I look out for. Are there any parts of the bag that rub or dig in, especially when fully loaded to capacity? It’s one thing trying on an empty bag in a shop, but an entirely different thing when it’s fully loaded for a day out. It needs to be comfortable.
I’m pleased to say that, on the whole, I don’t have any issues at all with the fit. The only problem I initially ran into was being able to use the chest strap. I’m 6”1 and have quite a large frame, which meant that the straps were more or less at their loosest setting. This meant that the chest strap (when I could do it up) sat far too high, soI never used it.
It’s worth noting there are no options to raise the strap anchor point on the backpack, which may have been a nice addition for people with a small frame.
The 15L PhotoSport III backpack is quite an intriguing value proposition due to its versatility. If limited to the use as a camera backpack photography, then I feel the 15L version is just too small and I would opt for the 24L instead. However, the 15L is a great size for lots of other uses. It works really well as a general day-to-day use backpack – whether that’s popping to the shop, out for a walk with the kids or something a little more adventurous. The materials are high quality and I have confidence in them last a long time. It’s now also my bag of choice for mountain bike rides too. It enables me to carry food and drink, coat and gloves and a camera, without being too big and getting in the way of riding.
What I love the most about the Lowepro PhotoSport BP 15L AW III
The versatility. It covers a lot of bases in a high quality, tough and water-resistant bag that I can use as an everyday backpack, as well as a day out with the camera.
What I don’t love so much about the Lowepro PhotoSport BP 15L AW III
Inadequate tripod attachment was a bit of a letdown. It’s a compromise that I’m ok with, but it does mean that if I remotely consider taking a tripod, I leave the bag at home. The gearbox in the 15L version is only suited a small crop sensor medium format. Any camera that is slightly bigger, and you’ll need the 24L version.
The 15L PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack is a welcome addition in a fairly crowded market, but photographers love a good camera bag and we need one for each occasion. However, I do feel that the bag is designed for people who love the outdoors first, and photographers second. As you go up in size, this probably becomes more balanced. However, if you’re someone who regularly spends time outdoors, hiking or biking, and is looking for a bag that provides some photographer-centric features, then the 15L PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack is a great option.
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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.