Field Tested: Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L Camera Pack

Lowepro has sent us a few packs to test drive this winter. Since most of work over the past few months has involved skiing or climbing, we’ve been spending more time with those bags that are better suited to these sports. The Flipside Sport was originally slated for our month-long ski trip to Japan at the beginning of this year, but got cut once we determined it wasn’t appropriate for backcountry use. The pack doesn’t accommodate an avalanche probe and shovel along with the other things you’d want for a day of backcountry skiing. We did find the Flipside Sport well suited for shooting at the ski area; it carries a solid kit for working in this genre while keeping a small profile that’s appreciated while spending a day on chair lifts. Lowepro has sent us a prototype pack more suited to backcountry use for our upcoming shoot in Iceland next week. We’ll keep you posted.

Every year we do a spring commercial shoot at Alyeska Resort, our local ski mountain here in Southcentral Alaska, and the 20L Flipside Sport has been our dedicated pack for the last couple weeks. The FS20L was a solid performer for this kind of work and has become a favorite for shooting ‘on mountain’. It’s design puts most of the gear mass right in the middle of your back which really helps when skiing with a full kit. The pack actually skis really well, keeping the load in place and not shifting around. It’s also small enough to wear while riding chair six. If you’ve ever spent a day doing rounds on a chair lift with a large pack, you can appreciate this. There are also a couple attachment loops on the back that are perfect for stowing ski poles when you just need to ski with camera in hand. We love the back panel access for working in the snow. Most of the time the pack gets taken completely off and put on the ground before opening, even though Lowepro’s intention is to access your gear while wearing it. Getting out of the pack straps and rotating it around to the front was not so smooth while wearing winter layers and jackets. Also it seems a leap of faith to trust the entire 35 pound load to the tiny plastic buckle that secures the waist belt.

Another feature that makes the FS20L suited to work in the snow is the storm closure inside the bag. Once you open the back panel, there is circular flap that pulls open by grabbing a tab and cinches shut via a pull cord. On snowy days, it’s nice to know that your whole kit won’t be exposed to the elements every time you open up your bag. Often we would leave the back panel open while we shoot and keep the storm flap cinched up. The other side of the pack has a handful of zipper pockets which we used for cards, cords and filters. The main zipper compartment is designed to fit a small MacBook or iPad. Even though bringing a computer and hood on an outdoor shoot is not unusual, it does give the pack an urban feel. The two mesh pockets on the hip belt are a mystery to us. Without zippers or any way to close them, they seem pretty useless. But that’s it. Everything else about the FS20L is solid. Rounding out the tour of features is an easy to deploy full rain cover (or snow cover) along with n attachment system on the side for a tripod or monopod. Opposite that is a hydration pocket that fits a liter sized water bottle or two cans of PBR (this is a ski shoot after all).