Lowe­pro FreeLine BP 350 AW

Andy Westlake puts a clever, well-made back­pack to the test

Amateur Photographer - - Testbench - £239.95 www.lowe­pro.com/uk-en

THERE are so many cam­era bags on the mar­ket that it’s rare for a new model to stand out from the crowd. But with a clever easy-ac­cess de­sign and rugged all­weather con­struc­tion, the Lowe­pro FreeLine BP 350 AW does ex­actly that.

Its most strik­ing new fea­ture is the Quick­Shelf di­vider sys­tem. This is based on two large, flat pan­els sep­a­rated by three flex­i­ble ‘shelves’. The idea is that you can re­move these from the bag and con­fig­ure the shelves around your kit, by Vel­cro­ing them onto the back panel. When you’re happy, at­tach the front panel on top and slide the assem­bly back into your bag.

This takes a bit of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, but works well. I man­aged to fit in a full-frame DSLR with stan­dard zoom at­tached, and up to three more lenses (for ex­am­ple, wide and tele zooms and a macro). Your kit is then ac­cessed through zipped open­ings on ei­ther side of the bag; typ­i­cally the cam­era and one lens from one side, and the other two lenses from the other. This leaves a gen­er­ous space at the top for more photo equip­ment, or your wa­ter­proofs and sand­wiches.

A slip pocket on the back ac­cepts a 15in lap­top and a 10in tablet, al­though it’s a tight squeeze to get both in at the same time. Nu­mer­ous in­ter­nal pock­ets will hold such things as bat­ter­ies, mem­ory cards, pens and a note­book. This is im­por­tant, as any small items dropped into the top sec­tion are li­able to fall down past the di­vider shelves.

Ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion are ab­so­lutely top-notch. The bag is made of coated ny­lon com­ple­mented by sealed zips, so it’s highly water- re­sis­tant: I car­ried it through a cou­ple of au­tum­nal down­pours with no ill ef­fects. There’s also a sep­a­rate, snug-fit­ting rain cover in case you get caught in a mon­soon.

Both the shoul­der pads and the back are well padded with­out be­ing too bulky, and I found the bag to be rea­son­ably com­fort­able to carry even when fully loaded. How­ever, there’s only a very slim waist belt, mean­ing your shoul­ders take all the strain. So it’s not the best choice for car­ry­ing lots of heavy gear all day long.

Ver­dict

The Lowe­pro FreeLine BP 350 AW is a su­perbly de­signed back­pack full of neat de­sign touches, and which will swal­low plenty of kit while pro­vid­ing quick ac­cess to your cam­era while on the move. What’s more, it’ll shrug off the Bri­tish weather with ease. It doesn’t come cheap, but this kind of qual­ity rarely does.

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