Review: Lowepro Fastpack 100 – When you’ve finally had it with the basic camera bag.

Lowepro Faskpack 100

The Woes of the Basic Camera Bag

When I purchased my first DSLR camera it came as part of a package deal from the retailer including a memory card, a lens, and a basic camera bag.  At the time it seemed like I had everything I needed to successfully shoot anything I needed to.  It wasn’t long after my purchase that I realized you will never be done purchasing gear.  Then I realized this basic camera bag would be more of a hindrance than a help.

For starters the bag was small; it tightly hugged the minimum gear required for a photography trip.  There was absolutely no room for a second lens and whenever you required a small item like a replacement battery or lens paper you could be sure it had worked its way to the bottom of the bag.  In the field this meant unloading the content of the bag creatively into your arms until the fugitive piece of equipment was unearthed.  Another major problem came with attempting to wear a single shoulder strap while shooting; it tends to undermine your photography.  You find yourself compromising the shot in order to keep the bag from slipping off your shoulder.  After a few trips like this I ended up leaving the bag behind on a shoot.  This meant if I needed any additional equipment in the field I was out of luck.  It didn’t take long for me to be fed up with this scenario.

The Lowepro Fastpack 100

In preparation for a shoot near Yosemite this fall I upgraded to the Lowepro Fastpack 100. This is a backpack-style camera bag with a small, slender form factor.  The interior is separated into three main compartments.  The lower compartment is for your camera body with lens attached (I’m packing a Canon 7D with a  28-135mm zoom lens).  This compartment comes with Velcro dividers so you can customize the fit.   The two top compartments are ample for batteries, cleaning tools, memory cards and an additional lens.  There are 2 additional pockets on the front and side of the bag large enough to hold manuals, cables, and other small items. There is also a small pocket on one strap that I keep my shutter remote in for quick access.

In the Field

After suffering a glorified handbag for a year this pack was a dream.  I took the pack with me on several day hikes. The straps were comfortable for all day use and I could easily swing the pack under one arm to access my camera.  While I did some handheld work I also needed to shoot some frames on a tripod.  The loop on the pack allowed me to hang it beneath my tripod which helped stabilize it while keeping it while keeping the pack from getting dirty. In addition to hiking I took the pack on a kayaking expedition with the Eye Journey team in Cayucus.  While we were on the water the wind picked up and the water started getting pretty choppy.  In my attempts to get back to our launch point water started to enter the kayak and I was more than a little nervous about what the salt water may do to my equipment.  After a lot of heavy paddling we arrived at the shore and I reluctantly opened my pack.  To my surprise everything inside my pack was kept dry by the waterproof material. I knew my old pack would have failed this test but the Fastpack 100 passed with flying colors. I’m a believer.

Fastpack 100 Interior

The Pros

Waterproof material

Comfortable straps

Holds everything you need for a basic shoot

Loop to hang the pack from a tripod

Breathable back

Quick gear access

 

The Cons

No Tripod holder

No room for a third lens or other larger accessories

 

Overall

In general I find this pack to be ideal for a beginning photographer or for a photographer that keeps his equipment list short for nature shoots.  Lowepro has larger packs that will address the cons in my review but for now I can simply carry my tripod when I need it.   This pack allows me to go on longer shoots in locations I wouldn’t dare attempt with my old camera bag and in the end that allows me to focus on getting the shot.  I highly recommend it.

To your journey,

Matt

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