Lowepro Flipside Trek Backpack Review: Flipside Trek 250 AW is a compact, capable carrying solution
posted Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM EST
The Lowepro Flipside Trek BP AW backpack is designed for the adventuring outdoor photographer who carries more than just their camera gear on expeditions. The backpack features a unique two-tiered design. Photo gear goes in a dedicated compartment which is accessed via the lower back area of the pack whereas the rest of your gear goes in a couple of top pockets. (Note: See images below to see how the backpack is set up). Despite camera equipment being stored in the lower back portion of the bag, you can utilize the Flipside’s body-side access to access the gear compartment without taking the bag all the way off your body.
Design: Compact with a distinct dual-compartment arrangement
As mentioned, there are separate spaces for camera and other gear. Additionally, there's a thin front pocket that's perfect for a tablet (up to 10 inches) and keeping items such as cables and batteries. In the zippered pocket of this compartment, I was able to store my iPhone 7 Plus as well, so I think that most smartphones would fit comfortably in this area.
In the main top compartment, designed for your non-camera gear, there's a decent amount of room. I was able to fit a medium-weight jacket, sunglasses and a few protein bars into the compartment. There's also a fitted raincover included in a small zippered pocket on the top of the bag.
On various areas of the outside of the backpack are webbing loops for you to attach a wide variety of gear, such as a solar panel for keeping your electronics going on long treks or a small tripod. On the sides are two stretch pockets, perfect for water bottles or an aforementioned tripod.
The camera compartment is opened with two zippers, both of which have excellent pulls on them (little details matter a lot in daily use, after all). Once opened, you see that the Flipside Trek BP 250 AW does not have a lot of room for camera equipment. In fact, a Panasonic G85 with the kit lens attached and an additional 12mm f/1.4 prime took up much of the room. I added the battery charger along with a couple of filters and I couldn't have fit much more. Lowepro states that the 250 is designed for a mirrorless camera or compact DSLR camera plus 1-2 extra lenses. My experience aligns with this.
When considering the overall design of the backpack, I think it looks quite nice. Naturally that's a matter of personal preference, but the two-tone olive green and dark gray material works for me. There's also a reflective strip on the backpack which will stand out if hiking or biking at night.
Real-world use: Comfortable when worn all day, "flipside" design works well
While the camera compartment is small, it is very secure. It can only be easily accessed through the back of the bag, although you can access it through the top compartment if you aren't carrying any additional gear (an unrealistic scenario in my experience). While it may sound inconvenient, you don't have to remove the backpack to access the camera compartment. Instead, when you use the waist strap, you can take the shoulder straps off and rotate the bag to rest in front of you, providing easy access to the camera compartment. The 250 AW size comes with a somewhat thin waist strap, which is sufficient given the light weight of the bag (the 250 size weighs only 2.3 pounds (1.06 kilograms) when empty) and the inability to carry any heavy gear. Larger sizes have wider straps that will better support their larger carrying capacities. Spinning the backpack around worked very well when wearing nylon or polyester materials, such as active wear or a rain jacket, but was a bit more cumbersome to slide around on a flannel shirt.
While I'm on the topic of using the backpack with a raincoat, I used the backpack in moderate rain without the included rain cover and it protected my gear perfectly well. Obviously for ultimate protection, you'll want to use the included rain cover, but for light rain, the backpack works fine as is.
The shoulder straps are thin, but padded, and were comfortable. The interior of the straps has a mesh material that is breathable. The back of the pack has ridged, padded areas that are very comfortable even after wearing the backpack while walking all day. The padding also has a mesh fabric cover for high breathability. The sternum, shoulder and waist straps are easily adjustable and the buckles are well-built and easily snap and unsnap.
Conclusion: A good choice, but consider larger sizes if you're a DSLR user
The Lowepro Flipside Trek BP 250 AW backpack worked very well in my experience. It was perfect for carrying a small camera and doing a lot of walking/hiking. It provided all-day comfort and the protection my gear needed. Its distinct "flipside" design works as advertised and helped me feel more secure carrying camera equipment. Overall, it's a comfortable, capable backpack.
With that said, I'd personally opt for one of the larger sizes (350 or 450) for DSLR users as the 250 is much better sized for mirrorless users than for DSLR users. The 250 costs around US$150 while the 350 and 450 cost $170 and $200 respectively. You can order the backpacks from our trusted affiliate B&H below: