Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review summary: If you're an outdoorsy person who likes taking photos, you need PhotoSport BP 24L AW III. Easy as that.
I tested many backpacks over the years and was lucky enough to come across some of the best backpacks, as well as the best hiking backpacks and best camera bags. However, I rarely fall in love with a bag because I can literally smell the thoughtfulness that went into designing the pack oozing out of it. And as you might expect after this intro, this is precisely what happened when I reviewed the Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III.
It's quite hard to explain why the PhotoSport is such a good backpack for adventure-loving photogs. It's the thoughtful little details, the resilient materials used, and the overall functionality that makes it a superb bag. It's the experience that whenever you come across yet another feature, you think, 'This is perfect'. It's the fact I used the backpack for commuting with the camera locked and loaded inside so that I could have it on me.
Should you buy the Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III? You definitely should. But read my review first.
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: price and availability
The Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III is available to buy now directly from Lowepro UK, Lowepro US and Lowepro AU for £209.95/ $248.95/ AU$ 504.95. The 24L version is available in two colours, Black/Blue and Grey/Orange. There are a ton of different versions of the bag, both small and big, and some designed for alpinists.
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: specification
- Weight: 1.5 kg
- Total Volume: 24 L
- Internal Dimensions: 26 x 13 x 48 cm
- External Dimensions: 27 x 22 x 50 cm
- Camera Compartment Dimensions: 18 x 10 x 23 cm
- Top Compartment Dimensions: 25 x 13 x 28 cm
- GearBox Exterior Dimensions: 19 x 12 x 26 cm
- GearBox Interior Dimensions: 17 x 10 x 23 cm
- Device Volume: 5 L
- Exterior Material: 100x300D Nylon & Polyester
- Interior Material: 200D polyester
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: design and build quality
As the name suggests, the Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III is the third iteration of the PhotoSport franchise. The tested 24-litre is best used for day hikes and by adventure photographers who need to move around quickly on rough terrain.
Given the compact form factor, the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III only has enough space for a mirrorless camera, standard zoom lens (similar to 24-70mm f/2.8), one or two extra lenses (two might be a push), accessories and personal items, and a 3-litre hydration reservoir, the latter of which can be bought separately.
That said, thanks to how the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III was designed, it's possible to carry around more (or less) gear when required. The GearUp camera insert, which usually sits at the bottom of the bag, can be removed and attached to the shoulder straps of the backpack, allowing you to use the space in the backpack to store extra kit.
The strap system also allows you to connect and carry the camera insert however you like. You can use the straps to attach the bag to the back of the backpack, or you throw it around your shoulder and leave the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III behind. It's not only thoughtful design but also super versatile.
The Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III is made with 75% recycled fabric (I would prefer 100% recycled; let's hope the fourth iteration will be fully recycled) and has a DWR finish. Another favourite detail of mine is the All Weather (AW) Cover, tucked away under the front pocket.
There are two things I really like about the rain cover. First, the bag has a durable water-repellent finish, so, in theory, it should be able to withstand some moisture while allowing airflow in the bag without the extra cover. Secondly, the positioning on the cover and the fact that I didn't even know it was there until I read the description shows that Lowepro found a way to integrate it into the design without it being in the way.
Lastly, let me say a word or two about the ergonomics. The PhotoSport BP 24L AW III uses Lowepro's ActivZone harness system that has a wide, padded waistbelt and adjustable contoured shoulder straps for even weight distribution. My only grief with this and with the whole bag is that the waist belt, no matter how comfortable it might be, isn't removable. It'd nice if I can wear the bag without it on occasions – that's all.
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: performance
I took the Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III out for several hikes and used it excessively for commuting. I got so used to carrying it around that I also used it on press trips. It's super lightweight and has some clever organisation options, not to mention the versatility of the GearUp camera insert, which can be worn any way you like.
What enabled me to use the backpack excessively was the fine-tuned ergonomic design. Even though the waist belt was occasionally folded behind my back, the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III never felt uncomfortable or bulky. Ventilation between my back and the bag was perfect, and thanks to the lightweight nature of the carrier, I couldn't notice any rubbing or discomfort around the shoulders.
What kept blowing my mind as I was using the backpack was how thoughtful the design was. All the pockets, all the zips and all the little nitty-gritty details of the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III are in the right place. I loved the small pocket on the top flap of the bag, and I also appreciated the internal mesh pockets. I couldn't get enough of the rear pocket, which is the place where you'd store the hydration reservoir, although I used this space as a laptop compartment instead.
And if this wasn't enough, there is also a water bottle holder on the side, loops at the front for hiking sticks, and a large external pocket for bulky stuff like waterproof jackets or fleeces. I love the materials used, too; not too rigid, but sturdy enough to provide peace of mind in rough environments.
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: verdict
This Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review ended up being a bit of a love letter to this hiking bag, but I couldn't help myself getting excited over it. It's the little details that make this backpack great, and if you're a photographer or content creator who likes being out and about, you need the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III.
From the recycled, DWR-coated shell and the clever organisation pockets to the premium build quality and thoughtful little design elements, there is little not to love about the PhotoSport BP 24L AW III. Best of all, if you like the bag but think, 'I might need something bigger', Lowepro have you covered with the gazillion different size options available on their website and via third-party retailers.
I, for one, will keep using the 24-litre variety, as it's the perfect size for the type of shenanigans I do, such as day trips and short hikes. Also, my Sony Alpha a7 III fits perfectly in the camera compartment, leaving me more than enough space elsewhere in the bag to store all my bits and bobs. This is the hiking backpack for photographers to beat for sure!
Lowepro PhotoSport Outdoor Backpack BP 24L AW III review: also consider
It might not be so outdoor-focused, but the Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack is nevertheless a superb bit of gear. It's well-suited for street photographers who need quick access to their stuff and want extra space. Best of all, it's built like a tank, so the Niko 3.0 is the last camera bag you'll ever have to buy. Read my full Chrome Industries Niko 3.0 Camera Backpack review.
The Tenba Shootout 14L Slim might be a good option if you're looking for something more compact. It's comfortable to carry, waterproof and has some excellent outdoor-centric features. Though suitable only for users of compact mirrorless and DSLR set-ups, this is also an ideal bag for anyone with a compact drone who plans to hike into remote areas. Read Jamie's full Tenba Shootout 14L Slim camera backpack review.