Lowepro has been in the camera bag business for over 40 years at this point. In that time, they’ve attempted to push the boundaries and produce innovative products. In this case, we’re going to look at their smallest Flipside series backpack.
The idea behind the Flipside bags is, in my opinion, pretty novel. In an attempt to hinder a would be thief’s ability to open your bag and remove a camera or lens without you knowing Lowepro has relocated the entry point from the front (outside) of the bag to the side against your back. This makes it virtually impossible for someone to access the zippers while you’re wearing the bag.
The Flipside 200 continues the security-minded theme with a trim sleek exterior. There is only a single small zipper pocket and expandable water bottle holder on the bag.
A Tour of the Exterior
The exterior of the Flipside 200 is sleek and sparse to say the least. The aerodynamically curved top features a good sized and sturdy handle that runs front to back along the curve instead of side-to-side like most backpacks have. In addition, a loop that can be used to hang the bag for storage is also provided.
The front of the bag features a hidden pop-out pocket and the corresponding quick release strap to secure a small tripod or monopod, and when I say small, I do mean small. My 3-section Manfrotto monopod is longer than the bag. As for a tripod, a Gitzo Traveler might be small and light enough to be comfortable. Fortunately, the quick release strap for securing a tripod only attaches by sliding though a loop built into the backpack. Therefore, it can be easily removed if you’re not carrying a camera support so you don’t have extra cords going all over the place.
The left side of the bag has a stretchy mesh pocket big enough to hold a small water bottle or other small piece of equipment. I frequently used this to carry the plastic arms for my Better Beamer flash extender.
There is also a pocket on the right side; this time it’s zippered and a bit meatier. Again, it’s designed with the reverse entry in mind and opens towards the back of the bag. This pocket has a verity of built in pockets and pockets including:
- 2- Velcro closing media card pockets that are big enough to hold 2 compact flash cards each or 2 AA batteries each.
- 2- Pen/pencil pockets,
- 2- Full width pockets big enough for business cards or small filters.
In addition, the pocket has a mesh liner on the bottom to keep things from falling out and a short hook tethered quick snap hook for attaching a key ring.
The backside of the bag features the main entrance to the inside; this is closed with a pair of zippers with cord pulls that are protected under a fabric weather seal. The bag is also well padded with a breathable mesh backing.
The straps are contoured for comfort and slightly padded with the same breathable mesh covering. The straps have loops that can be used to attach a small memory card case and an adjustable sternum strap, which has a built in elastic section so it can stretch a small amount while you’re carrying the bag. Finally, where the shoulder straps attach to the bag there are buckles for mounting the provided waist belt.
Inside the Bag
Inside of the Flipside 200, there isn’t much in the way of extras. The main compartment is padded and covered in the typical soft camera bag fabric that won’t scratch lenses and is suitable for attaching the hook side of the dividers.
The inside of the back, which is the “lid” for the bag, has a single thin pocket on it. It’s big enough that you could conceivably put a filter in its case in this pocket. It also is big enough to fit the Fresnel lens from a Better Beamer.
The bag comes with a removable (it attaches with Velcro) zippered pocket that’s big enough to hold a couple of lens hoods, an ST-E2/SU-800 or similar sized parts.
The main compartment is divided vertically by a padded divider that runs from the base of the bag to about three quarters of the way up to the top, leaving enough room for the removable pouch and the camera’s handgrip. Several dividers are also provided to allow the internal space to be configured
Although Lowepro advertises the bag as being big enough for only a mid-size SLR or compact video system and it certainly is though it is a bit tight. I can actually fit a Canon 1D and a 70-200 f/2.8 lens in the main compartment with enough room for another small lens or teleconverter and a 580Ex II flash.
The Lowepro Flipside 200 has been my choice bag for traveling light and birding. It’s big enough to hold almost any dSLR body, even with a battery grip, with a 70-200 f/2.8 or 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 lens attached (with the hood reversed), a flash, a teleconverter or another small lens, a better beamer and some other accessories. Alternatively, if you’re not carrying a 70-200 f/2.8 you can pack 2-3 smaller lenses in the bag instead.
The side pockets provide a place to put keys, pens, media cards or spare batteries. However, like the rest of the bag, space is tight.
The bag does a good job balancing carrying capacity and size, which makes it more comfortable when it’s hot and humid, without being too small for many tasks.
See page 2 for more images of the Flipside 200.