Light, Modular, and Eco-Friendly: We Review the Lowepro PhotoSport III Backpacks

How do you bring your gear for a hike while keeping yourself comfortable? This is a viable option. 

Choosing the right camera bag for your outdoor photography adventure makes a world of difference when it comes to efficiency and comfort. Some trips have huge requirements for both camera gear and personal items, while some trips are better done with a simple kit and a lighter bag. The Lowepro PhotoSport all-weather backpacks are precisely designed for the latter. These backpacks are made to carry camera gear, clothes, and other accessories while keeping the overall load to a minimum. 

Material and Design

The PhotoSport backpack line is specifically designed for the requirements of quick day-hikes and treks that involve photography. All generations of the Lowepro PhotoSport bags have come in the lightest possible form without compromising protection and weather resistance. The PhotoSport III features a robic nylon exterior that not only provides significant moisture and dust resistance but also astounding resistance to tearing and puncture. In addition, this choice of material contributes a lot to how light the backpack is overall. 

Green Line Indicator showing 75% of fabric on the PhotoSport III backpack is made up of recycled material.

With the PhotoSport III comes the introduction of Lowepro’s Green Line label backpacks, which is the brand’s huge initial step towards environmental efforts, with the use of sustainable recycled and upcycled material. Each backpack can be found with green line indicators on top of the back panels that say how much of the backpack is made up of environment-friendly recycled material and/or fabric. The PhotoSport III backpacks are made up of at least 75% recycled fabric. 

The top flap contains a small zippered compartment for easy access to small items such as a phone, wallet, or other accessories. This is released with two SR buckles on each side and opens to reveal the drawstring upper compartment. This upper compartment barely has any padding on the front and sides since it was made generally for non-fragile items such as clothes, snacks, or other personal items you may need on a day hike. There is an additional zippered pocket within this compartment with an included key tether strap for small items that have to be more secure. The lower 40% of the compartment is occupied by the camera insert that plays the role of a dedicated camera gear compartment that can be accessed from the side. 

Top compartment drawstring access

Externally, the front and the sides of the backpack are additional carrying stretch pockets. The larger pocket can expand to accommodate an easy-access jacket or anything of similar size while, the two smaller side pockets can be used for water bottles and other accessories. Both sides also feature loops and straps that can be used to carry support accessories such as trekking poles or a travel tripod. 

Their rear panel features a breathable and contoured ActivZone panel for comfortable carrying and sweat resistance. This back panel contains a handy hydration reservoir with two- or three-liter capacity. It also comes with a non-removable but fully adjustable waist belt. One side of the belt is a zippered compartment for easy access, while the other side is lined with loops that can be used to attach more accessories or pouches to the bag.

Modularity and Capacity

The PhotoSport III’s significant design change has huge implications in modularity. The entire backpack is divided into approximately 60/40% partitions for personal items and camera gear, respectively. Instead of having just a divided compartment with a padded bottom camera compartment, this new design makes use of a removable GearUp padded camera insert that can be carried as a standalone camera shoulder bag. By removing the camera insert, you can then turn the entire lightweight backpack into a full travel backpack for non-delicate travel essentials and accessories. 

Camera compartment used as separate camera shoulder bag

The PhotoSport III backpacks come in two sizes in both grey/black and black/blue colorways. The two variants vary in overall size and camera gear capacity. The larger 24L variant has a height of 50 cm, while the smaller 15L variant comes at 44 cm. They come in at just 1.5 and 1.1 kilograms respectively, though much of the weight comes from the camera inserts. 

24L version with Sony a7C kit for scale

The camera compartment capacity also varies with each bag. The 24L variant comes with a bigger GearUp camera insert that can contain a full frame mirrorless or DSLR camera body with an attached standard zoom lens plus additional room for another extra lens depending on size. Alternatively, this camera insert can carry a foldable camera drone with a remote such as a DJI Mavic Air. The smaller variant can carry a small APS-C mirrorless or DSLR camera with an attached lens plus room for one or two extra lenses. 

GearUp camera insert with included straps

The removable GearUp camera box can be used and carried in a variety of ways. It has a rear belt loop that can fit the backpack’s waist belt, it can also be connected to the shoulder pads as a front-mount chest pack, or it can be carried as a separate shoulder bag as well. The backpack also includes a collection of straps that allow for the different configurations of use of the GearUp camera insert: a shoulder strap for detached carrying, short loops for shoulder-pad connection, and a carrying pouch that doubles as a phone pouch when attached to the backpack’s shoulder strap. Alternatively, these straps can also be used directly on the camera to serve either as a separate camera neck/shoulder strap or to mount the camera directly on the backpack’s shoulder straps. 

Application and Use 

The Lowepro PhotoSport backpacks are great options for photographers on outdoor adventures. The lightweight material lessens the load on the back and provides a better carrying experience along with the breathable rear padding and adjustable shoulder straps. The use of lightweight recycled fabric is a great touch considering that photographers who enjoy the outdoors would most likely care greatly for the environment. 

The backpack’s modularity allows for a personalized way of carrying your gear and quick access to them if needed. The combination of the modular camera compartment along with the various accessory straps for carrying tripods and other gear allows the photographer to keep their hands free in case the terrain gets significantly challenging. This backpack and its capacity are great for short day-hikes with very little gear requirement. The backpack’s capacity can be considered both as a strength and a limitation depending on the actual needs of the user. The capacity is perfect for casual photographers on an outdoor adventure or even serious photographers with limited but dedicated gear. The main backpack capacity is great since it can virtually be expanded by removing the camera insert; however, a huge limitation is that the capacity for camera gear cannot be expanded unless add-on camera inserts are used. In terms of options, many photographers would probably want to see this backpack in a bigger size for added capacity; however, not long after this, Lowepro did announce the larger PhotoSport Pro variants with larger capacity and multi-day hike features. 

Overall, this lightweight and modular backpack is a great option for photographers with specific gear needs that perfectly match their capacity. It provides great carrying comfort as well as significant durability and resistance against moisture and dirt. On top of that, the use of recycled sustainable material and fabric is a huge bonus. 

What I Liked: 

  • Lightweight and comfortable 
  • Modular
  • Environmentally friendly material

What Can Be Improved:

  • Limited sizes 
  • No option to expand padded compartment capacity

Purchase

You can purchase yours at the following links: Lowepro PhotoSport III 24L and Lowepro PhotoSport III 15L.

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4 Comments
Deleted Account's picture

I'm not sure limited sizes can be mounted as a criticism; I understand you mean this specific bag, but I think you have to look at the brand in its totality. I was having a look at their website and noticed they now make camera backpacks up to 70L - PhotoSport Backpack PRO 70L AW III (note, this is in the PhotoSport range).

The Powder Backpack 500AW looks pretty good at 55L, and the design is similar to the one that's featured.

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

I think you mean the PhotoSport Pro. Yes I actually mentioned that those were announced not long after the photosport III bags. However what I mean is that there could be another perfect size between the PhotoSport 24L and the Pro 55L.

Deleted Account's picture

I didn't, but the point stands. These things have compression straps, don't they? There's no harm in not filling your bag - I've got a 105L backpack, which i never fill (it can also be used as a 3/4 bivvy).

I don't know whether you recall the Lowepro DryZone Rover Backpack (I've got the normal one), I wish I'd bought one of those.

I find it harder not to buy bags than camera gear.

Kishore Sawh's picture

Highly recommend Atlas Packs. If you're looking for attention to detail, passion, protection, and utility.... check them out.