The world of photography focused bags is quite the minefield. It is a landscape littered with a million different brands small to large, all vying for your hard earned money, some with more marketing dollars than R&D or Q&A know how. While bigger names / more expensive bags may get all of the marketing budget and screen time, there are a multitude of great options out there that don’t have to break the bank.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II, which I’ve been using consistently now for the last couple of months. Let’s take a look.
If you’re looking for a bag that is a tad more versatile compared to your typical camera bag, the Lowpro Fastpack BP 250 AWS II (ok, these names are terrible) is a great choice. Instead of just one large compartment with a dozen lens pockets, you get several storage pockets with different focuses. On the backside you’ll find the tablet/laptop compartment which is plenty large enough for not only a 16″ Macbook Pro, but also an iPad Pro. Yes — it is going to be tight. But it works. Rotating around front, the top half will store a myriad amount of things including your laptop charger, a spare change of closes, misc. cables, etc. In addition to the large open space for the aforementioned items, you’ll find several open pockets and a zippered pocket for further organization. Underneath this on the lower half you’ll find the camera compartment. It is here you can organize your kit as you see fit. Storage wise, there is enough room here for a camera body + larger frame lens (I have a Tamron 28-200mm lens attached to my A7iii generally) as well as another half dozen or so compartments for shorter lenses. Depending on the lenses types and sizes, you should be able to store another 2-6 lenses in this area.
Outside of these main three areas you’ll find several other perks including a flap / cover with a zippered compartment that goes over the camera compartment that can also be held closed with clasps. On the left side of the bag Lowepro has included a waterball pocket of sorts which also pulls double duty as a tripod pocket that allows you to carry a small to fairly large sized tripod with you. On the very bottom resides the waterproof cover that can be pulled out and cover the entire bag in the event you are caught in an unfortunate rain shower. Note: The bag is water resistant already without the additional cover. For the real pack mules of the bunch, take comfort in knowing the straps are quite wide and padded, meaning longer stints on foot shouldn’t result in much if any sore shoulders or back. Finally, there are a number of straps that can be used to tighten the bag around you to keep it more snug against your body.
All in all, those wanting to carry a laptop and/or a slightly more varied cargo package without the need for 20 lenses at the ready, may appreciate the approach Lowepro has taken here with the Fastpack BP 250 that is a tad more unique in the camera backpack space.
Internal Dimensions: 29 x 15.5 x 27.5 cm (11.42 x 6.10 x 10.83 in)
External Dimensions: 31 x 26 x 50 cm (12.20 x 10.24 x 19.69 in)
Camera Compartment: 29 x 15.5 x 27.5 cm (11.42 x 6.10 x 10.83 in)
Laptop Compartment: 29 x 2 x 46 cm (11.42 x 0.79 x 18.11 in) Weight: 1.8 kg (3.96 lbs) .
Tablet Compartment Dimensions 9.4 x 0.59 x 12.00 inches
I like this bag quite a lot. When I was researching bags, I ultimately settled on three main choices: this bag, the Lowepro LP37176 ProTactic Backpack 350 AW II, and the Brevite Jumper. Ultimately, I think this was the best bag for me at the time and was cheaper than the other two models mentioned.
As alluded to above, I’m quite the pack mule and often go through bags simply because the straps rip out. After a couple of months so far with the Lowpro 250, I’ve often stuffed this bag to the gills with (2) laptops, (1) tablet, camera + 28-200 lens, cables, battery packs, and more. It’s tipped the scales at close to 35lbs several times and handled long hikes at said weight like a champ. I honestly believe this bag will last at least a few years with this routing heavy loading. Kudos to Lowepro for adding in quality seams, stitching, and just overall build quality.
One of the main reasons I wanted a bag like this was for the easy side access to my camera so I can just grab it and go. Some camera bags have a slightly different version of this via a top mount compartment. While it is faster to access via a top facing compartment than having to open up the whole bag, it still requires you to take the bag off and put it down. On the other hand, with the side mount style, you can either reach around and have access or at the very most, remove one strap and rotate the bag a bit.
Given my love for low light photography and long exposures, tripods are a way of life for a not insignificant amount of my photo adventures. As such, the bag I ended up getting needed to be able to carry a tripod as well. And that is perhaps the only thing I don’t prefer on this bag — the tripod handling. Quite simply, it’s not great. The only real location to strap a tripod to this bag is in the side opposite the camera compartment where you would typically place a water bottle. So up front you have to decide between tripod and water bottle — not ideal. More troublesome though is just the weight of the tripod, which over time, can make your sides or back sore since it throws the weight distribution off on the bag. I would have liked to see Lowepro include some other straps to also accept center-back mounted tripods and/or bottom mounted tripod variations. Either of those two would go a long way to helping the aforementioned issues as it would keep weight pretty centered.
If you’re looking for a relatively affordable, versatile, and well built camera bag that can pull double duty as a laptop bag and have some space for other misc. items, this is a solid bag to check out.
Bonus: you’ll notice in some images the Utebit camera strap clamp I have installed. This did not come with the bag but is a super handy accessory to own and use. If you’re interested in this contraption, I have a separate review right over here.
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