by Alex W.
This test and review was conducted and written by Matt Holland, a full-time creative from Berkshire, UK with a passion for all things outdoors. You can read more about his work here, or visit his website here
Outdoor camera backpack for photographers who need to bring a balance of photo and personal gear for a day's adventure in nature.
Built for photographers who need a versatile pack to protect DSLR camera and outdoor adventure gear. Flipside Trek has the perfect balance of camera compartment and open space, plus all the features you expect in an outdoor pack.
… and so is Flipside Trek. Strike the perfect balance between carrying camera equipment and the outdoor gear you need for a day's adventure in the wild.
Never compromise your experience for lack of space. The split camera and open space compartments allow you to pack what you want, how you want.
The ActiveZone™ suspension system and straps make carrying effortless. Vented back panel will help keep you cool.
Carry a tripod, trekking poles, solar panel, water bottles, it's up to you. The Flipside Trek provides all the mounting points you need to get the right gear to the right place at the right time.
Typically I go for universal bags or outdoor specific and use a camera bag insert to fit around other kit but I have been interested in trying a dedicated camera bag for some time to see how it compares. What drew me to the Flipside Trek was its ability to not only be a photographic rucksack but fit everyday items and use out in the outdoors for hiking.
Moving my kit over I found all of it still fit although a little more dotted around, rather than all the camera kit in the insert and additional kit above it was a little more spaced out with the dedicated camera section. This did make it a lot easier to access camera kit with the rear opening on the bag and the outdoor kit in the separate section on the top of the bag.
My total bag weight on a day-to-day basis came in at 4.5kg and the bag at no point felt heavy or over loaded. The straps, hip belt and sternum strap all helped to take the weight off the back and distribute it as a good rucksack should.
Every day kit:
I still have room for a tablet or book, lunch, water bottles and a spare jacket.
The weight of 4.5kg on your back was no issue or swinging the bag around but when using the bag in its given name "Flipside" the bag was a little more uncomfortable with this hanging around your waist. It is hard not to worry with your expensive camera kit hanging like this but at no point did the bag or did the clips feel like they were going to fail.
However this was a very handy method to put equipment away when you didn't have time to stop, I just wish it was more comfortable.
What I particularly liked with the hip belts was the reverse system, pulling the straps away from your body rather than towards you which felt a lot more natural and was far easier action. This is something I hope they continue to develop and use in other rucksacks.
The clips around the bag have a distinct style which made them all easier to use compared to the traditional clips with the large buckle point. This was easier with gloves so in colder conditions this is handy.
It's a bag for all year, not just for good weather.
It would have been nice to see this style of clip on the sternum strap which is the only odd one; instead uses the traditional form with the whistle built in.
The quality of the shell is superb with thick material which is lined on the inside to protect equipment. The front pocket features the cradle fit which is suspended so if you are carrying a tablet, phone or glasses you can feel assured they're safe in side this pocket.
The shell is very robust and can take plenty of knocks and scratch so no need to worry about crawling through the undergrowth or leaving it lying around. The plus is it can withstand the rain and the conditions very well with its built in waterproof cover, which I found very helpful in keeping the bag clean whilst doing dirty work on my conservation project.
On the safety of your kit, the bag doesn't look like a camera bag so blends in more, certainly in the outdoors with its olive green material although the name gives it away as most people will know Lowepro to be a camera bag manufacturer. I used this rucksack whilst commuting and travelling around London and I didn't feel wary of people looking at the bag or wondering of its contents.
What does separate it from outdoor bags is its lack of D-rings and walking pole loops which its counterpart Photo Sports backpack does feature so it's odd they haven't included these on the rear of the bag but the two straps that do feature on the Flipside Trek. I found more use for, you can certainly compromise by twisting the straps to make the rings but for some they will be missed.
You can hang a number of items off the back and I have attached numerous karabiners to help so I can easily hang my walking poles, tripod, spare shoes or even a helmet on the back or top of the bag.
Moving into the inside of the rucksack I found it very flexible, you can remove all the Velcro dividers to open the whole bag up to use for general items for camping or hiking or to keep it in its traditional form for photographic kit. In the top section of the bag I found you could comfortably fit a 5-10 litre dry bag plus food and a jacket so the bag can fit an awful lot inside.
Lowepro claim the bag is suitable for all day comfort…
and with the ActivZone and I can confirm it is.
I used this rucksack as my day bag throughout my Peak District conservation project and whilst out shooting professionally for my day job. In both scenarios the bag was comfortable to wear despite heavy work or hiking. The ActivZone helps to keep the bag from lying flat on your back and allows cooler air to circulate so whilst wearing the bag your back doesn't get so hot or sweaty and this avoids the heat from transferring to the bag where your glass sits.
Using this bag on a daily basis I have found it very comfortable, secure and flexible and whilst outdoors or working the bag made it easier to access photographic kit, making the whole experience more fun.
The pack is large enough to customise to fit a variety of needs. Whether I needed less camera kit and to pack lunch or whether I needed full camera kit with a tripod. I could work around the hang points, pockets and areas to fit everything.
So for anyone who enjoys photography and the outdoors; enjoys hiking and travelling then this bag could make your life a lot easier!
About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.