In the bag: The newly released Lowepro Sport Pro 30L AW

  • May 15, 2013
  • 609 words
  • 3 minutes
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Finding the right camera bag to head into the mountains with is a notoriously difficult task. Above all, any bag you trust to keep your gear safe on the slopes needs to be tough and weather resistant. It needs to provide some cushion for your gear against possible falls (either you or rocks), and it needs to afford quick and intuitive access to your gear on slopes steep enough that having to think too much about how to get your camera out of your bag could put you in danger.

And, oh yeah, it ought to provide you with extra interior space for a first aid kit, lunch and extra layers; an easily accessed pocket for memory cards; an integrated mesh netting system that accommodates a hydration bladder to help keep you going in the backcountry; exterior straps that can hold additional equipment like collapsible shovels or tripods; and a harness system keeps all of it from bouncing around your back when you need to be zoned in on holding your edge.

A tall order? Definitely. But does LowePro deliver with its new Photo Sport Pro 30 L AW? On every count.

I took the Sport Pro ($219) into the backcountry of Gros Morne National Park, in the fjords of Western Newfoundland, and loved its performance. With a hip belt and comfy shoulder straps, the bag stayed firmly in place during steep descents and modest cliff drops. It even managed to fit both of my size 30.5 (Size 13) alpine ski boots in its upper section during the dry land approach to Gros Morne mountain – though only barely.

Accessing my camera on steep slopes was straightforward, but would probably not be quite as convenient for left-handers. The removable camera bag is accessed via a zipper on the left hand side of the backpack, and when the pack is dropped down off your shoulder the camera is easily reached, but only with your right hand.

This removable camera pouch sits at the bottom of the backpack, resting directly in the small of your back. Here, the camera is subjected to the least amount of bouncing during turns and any drops you’re confident (or stupid) enough to take with your camera on your back.

The camera storage portion of the bag isn’t exactly huge. If you need to ski with a ton of gear, this might not be the bag for you. It easily holds a DSLR body with either a telephoto or two wide-angle lenses. Anything more than that, and you’ll find yourself stowing gear in the main body of the bag. There’s plenty of room in there to do it, but nothing to hold the gear in place, pad it against impact, or protect it from your lunch or moisture from any damp layers you’ve shed. Probably not a good idea.

In less demanding situations, I have found this extra space to be useful storage for additional gear. On a recent trip to Nebraska to take in the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of sand hill cranes migrating north for the summer, I fit several spotting scopes and adaptors in the upper portion of the bag, keeping them in place with some balled-up clothing. Though not the intended use, it definitely helped me get fantastic views (and photos) of migrating cranes and prairie chickens fighting in a lek.

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When hundreds of thousands of sand hill cranes flock to Nebraska’s North Platte River each March, they offer one of our continent’s most impressive wildlife viewing opportunities.

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