Photography News 69

Photography News | Issue 69 | photographynews.co.uk

62

First tests

LoweproPowder BP500AWbackpack £259.95

Specs

As an offshoot of mountaineering experts Lowe Alpine, you’d expect Lowepro’s bags to be outdoor friendly – and the Powder BP 500 AW doesn’t disappoint. The Powder is very much inspired by alpine backpacks in that it has an internal metal frame, creating a rigid back panel, and an expandable ‘compression lid’, which sits on top. It’s split into two sections: the lower, a camera compartment with removable padding; and the upper, a multipurpose section. Combined, the two give around 55L of space. The camera section measures 27.5x16.5x31cm, and I fitted a Nikon D850 with MB-D18 grip and 70- 200mm f/2.8E attached, plus a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, a D810 body, also with grip, a Nikon 20mm f/1.8G, spare batteries, some screw-in filters, a portable hard drive, and other small accessories. It was a bit of a squeeze, though the depth of the compartment helps. It you need to pack bigger lenses, they’ll need to be removed from the body, or more likely carried in separate cases on the bag’s outer, or within its top-section. Access to gear is easy, and with a body-side opening your kit is secure. At a push, you can also get to it by taking off one shoulder strap and swinging the bag around to the front, though most of the time it’s going to mean laying the pack face-down on the ground – which is fine as the outer is water repellent. The camera section opens via a chunky YKK zip that runs very smoothly. Inside, the removable inner has a separate zippered cover, but this is less easy to operate in situ, as the zip runs within the well of the main opening. It would have been handy as an additional storm flap, but really its job is to enclose the camera compartment, letting you carry it like a handbag – something that proved very useful on a short internal flight where the rest of the bag had to go in the hold. The inner is easy to customise, and the padding is high quality and very rigid; it’s held in by toggles and is perfectly secure.

Prices £259.95 Colours available Midnight blue/horizon blue grey/orange Materials Water-repellent nylon Tripod holder Yes Sternum strap Yes Laptop pocket Yes (15.4in) Waist belt Yes, with additional clips Zips YKK and waterproofed External dimensions 33.5x22.5x62cm Laptop compartment

dimensions 30x1x36cm Front compartment

dimensions 31x2x50cm Camera compartment dimensions 27.5x16.5x31cm Top compartment dimensions 26x17x24cm Weight 2.4kg Contact lowepro.co.uk

Images The Lowepro Powder has a body-side opening so that when you put it down on dirty ground you don’t end up with mud all over you. It also has wide, well-padded shoulder straps that help spread the weight, and a dedicated tripod holder at the side

At 26x17x24cm, theupper section is roomy enough for loads of kit. I fitted two thermals, lunch, and – separately – a one-man tent, roll mat and sleeping bag for overnight landscaping. Accessed from the upper compartment is a non-closing sleeve for a laptop, but like the similar-sized pocket on the front, it’s not padded. I fitted a 15.4-inch laptop in a sleeve, and because the sleeve stops short of the bottomof the bag, it’s cradled away from the ground, which is good. There’s more space in the lid, with two zippered pockets and several others around the outer, as well as lots of hooks and straps. There’s a dedicated tripod holder at the side with a foot sling and straps. I tried this with a large Gitzo Systematic 3 and a smaller Manfrotto Element Big Traveller tripods, and both felt secure. My only real criticism of the storage was a lack of internal zippered pockets for small accessories. For instance, there’s nothing on the inside of the camera compartment flapwhere you’d normally expect to findmemory card flaps. The only internal zipped pocket is in the front compartment. All the outer zippers have storm closures, and I noticed no leakage in several hours of pretty persistent (though light) rain. The outer is water- repellent nylon, and the rain beads off that. There’s also a proper all-weather cover, which is well elasticated, so easy to stretch over the bag even when the top-compartment is expanded. The base lacks a proper waterproof

The Powder BP 500 AW is a high- quality bag, but at over £250, a serious investment, too. There’s excellent protection to the camera section, and a good amount of storage, but this is a bag designed for outdoor activity as well as photography, so don’t expect to be able to take the same amount of gear as a ‘full’ backpack. The lack of secure internal pockets feels like an oversight, but it’s a model that’s aimed at outdoor photographers in the main, and if that’s you, it won’t disappoint. As a bag designed for hiking, the Powder BP 500 AW is very comfortable. The adjustable shoulder straps are very wide and well padded, which helps spread the weight. The sternum strap and waist belt are equally well made and useful when the bag’s fully loaded. The contact points on the back use an angled foam shape and sit comfortably. There’s also a spot for a hydration pack and drinking tube if you’re putting in serious miles. KS Verdict mat, so puddles should probably be avoided.

The inner is easy to customise and the padding is high quality

Pros Spacious, comfortable and highly adaptable Cons Not the lightest or cheapest, lack of internal pockets

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