Lowepro has a well-established reputation for producing a wide range of rugged backpacks that range in size and cost and the PhotoSport X is a new arrival to this range. It’s marketed as a cross between a sporting or activity bag and a photographer’s camera bag - indeed the ‘X’ in its name refers to this cross-functionality.
Without the additional purchase of a GearUp PRO Camera Box the PhotoSport X is more suited to carrying sporting paraphernalia in its capacious 35 L main storage area (though if you include storage from the bottom compartment you have 38L to work with). These essential GearUp Pro Boxes feature inserts that hold your DSLR or mirrorless camera (and a few accessories) safely and securely, as well as making them easier to access. Only with a GearUp Pro Box can you keep your camera kit separate from other contents in the backpack.
We took a 35L bag out for a test though a larger 45L model is available if you need to carry more sports equipment alongside your camera gear.
Outside Dimensions (in): 31 x 24 x 54 cm
Internal Dimensions: 30 x 22 x 52 cm
Total Volume: 38L
Primary Device: Phone and GearUp Insert
Interior material: 200D polyester (Recycled)
Exterior material: 420D Nylon (Recycled), 600D Polyester (Recycled)
The backpack’s main 35L interior compartment is a large open space (with a couple of elasticated pockets on either side). The backpack has a rigid aluminum frame to help it keep its shape when crammed with kit. However, the rest of the backpack is made of nylon and polyester so any loose camera gear inside would be unprotected from bumps and bashes.
To keep your camera kit safe (and separated from the backpack’s other contents) you need to buy the GearUp Pro box. The GearUp boxes come in various sizes. The large box that we tested features velcro-mounted inserts that will securely hold a camera body, lens, and a couple of accessories such as an external flash.
The GearUp Pro box opens via a zip and its sturdy construction will keep your valuable camera kit organized and protected. You can use straps to secure the GearUp Pro box to the interior of the backpack so that it doesn’t fall out (though we found these straps rather fiddly to attach).
There are also straps (or shock cord) and webbing on the backpack’s exterior so you can secure gear such as a climbing helmet, axe, and rope to the backpack. Photographers can pop a compact tripod into the pouch on the left side of the bag and secure the top of the tripod with straps (or you can pop a water bottle in the pouch if you’re going for a yomp.)
Build & Handling
As you’d expect from Lowepro the PhotoSport X bag is sturdily constructed. The Nylon and Polyester exterior helps protect your kit from wet weather (which was appreciated during our test shoot when it started to rain).
If the rain gets more torrential you can unzip the bottom compartment and whip out a bright orange weather wrap that fits over the entire backpack. This weather wrap’s bright color complements the orange trim on the backpack’s zips and straps which is a nice design touch. Thanks to the wrap’s bright orange hue you’ll probably be much more visible on a misty mountain top which is a welcome safety feature.
Lowepro promotes the fact that much of the bag is made from recycled material which makes it a more sustainable product, and we should certainly applaud this approach.
While out in the wilds you’ll be placing the backpack on a range of surfaces, from jagged rocks to sharp twigs and branches. The carbonate-coated Diamond Ripstop material on the bottom of the backpack helps protect it from damage when you set it down for a breather (or to take a snap of the view). However the bottom of the backpack isn’t particularly padded, so you won’t want to store fragile items in this lower compartment.
To access the main interior (and a GearUp Pro box full of camera kit) you can place the backpack face down and unzip the main compartment. We found that the main carrying straps would sometimes flop over the opened backpack and get in the way when you wanted to access the bag’s contents. You can also access the main compartment using a drawstring at the top of the backpack.
When it comes to storage the PhotoSport X has plenty of space and the additional GearUp Pro box kept my Sony A7 III and Tamron 28-75mm lens kit safe and easily accessible. However, I also like to use mobile phones, mini tripods, and a host of other accessories to shoot the videos that accompany my reviews.
There are a couple of elasticated mobile phone pouches at the top of the backpack’s main straps, but the rest of my mobile photography kit was crammed into the lower compartment at the bottom of the backpack (though I could have popped it into the two large elasticated pouches in the main interior). Either way, I felt that the backpack could have benefitted from more pouches and compartments to help organize and store smaller accessories rather than piling them in loose.
The backpack was comfortable to carry thanks to the padding at the back and on the main straps. These perforated EVA straps are covered by mesh fabric to enhance flexibility. There is also a padded waist belt that helps spread the load of a full backpack. If you need to be more mobile (for climbing over rocky terrain for example) then you can replace the thicker waist belt and its pads with a thinner strap (which you should find in the lower storage compartment). This thinner strap also means you can use the backpack while wearing a climbing harness. The entire bag can be lifted by a couple of sturdy handles which make it easy to manoeuvre or swing up onto your back.
We tested the backpack with a walk in the woods and it enabled me to transport my kit comfortably and safely even when clambering over fallen tree trunks. When I placed it on the wet ground to access the kit the nylon surface did get stained with mud and moss, but the water-resistant material wiped clean and my kit stayed dry when it started to rain towards the end of my test shoot.
The PhotoSport X backpack is fine for general activity but we felt it wasn’t as quite as focused on the needs of the photographer as we’d like, especially if you don’t pay extra for a GearUp Pro Camera Box insert. However, if you are an adventurer who wants to photograph the view from a mountaintop with your mirrorless camera then this backpack will enable you to transport your photography kit (and additional adventuring paraphernalia) in style and comfort. As the ‘X‘ in its name suggests the bag has a cross-functionality between photography and sporting activity, but we feel the bias leans more towards activity than it does towards photography.