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Lowepro Photo Sport Shoulder Bag (18L) Review

A travel and hiking photo bag that lets you carry more than just camera equipment
Photo Sport Cover

How many camera bags and backpacks do I have in the closet? A lot. (if it weren’t for Craig’s List I’d have a lot more) And I only use a couple of them on a regular basis. But the Lowepro Photo Sport Shoulder Bag (18L) has become my favorite bag for hiking and for international trips.

The recent product designs from Lowepro have been very user friendly and practical, and this bag keeps up the tradition. The Photo Sport Shoulder Bag is built for multi-use, a camera and day bag for your outdoor and travel adventures. It provides ample space for extras, gear and personal items, and a water bottle holder.

Notable Features

Camera Compartment

This is one of the best features of the Photo Sport Shoulder Bag. The camera compartment will hold a DSLR with attached lens, with space on the side for one spare lens. It easily holds my Nikon with an attached travel zoom lens (like the 18-200 with lens hood out), with a wide angle, macro or prime lens on the side. The compartment will probably will not fit a camera with a grip or a full size DSLR, however.

The compartment attaches to the bottom of the bag with two velcro strips. You can reposition and customize the placement of the compartment in the bag, to change the weight distribution or to better fit whatever else you happen to be carrying during the day. The total customizable range is about six inches, meaning you have about six inches of leeway to move the compartment front to back in the bag.

And the velcro attachment also means that the camera compartment is fully removable. So you can stash your camera and just use the Photo Sport as a simple day bag for your urban walkabouts.

Plenty of Extra Space

The Photo Sport Shoulder Bag recognizes the fact that photographers often need to carry more that just a camera. If you are going for a hike or a lengthy outing around town, there is space to carry what you need.

On one hike, I carried a rain poncho, hat, sunglasses, several small snacks, first aid kit and other doodads. Going through airports, the bag kept personal items, a book, maps and a netbook computer. (all in addition to camera equipment, of course)

Water Bottle

One of the main reasons I was interested in this bag from the get-go, was the outside holder for a water bottle. Photographers are people too, and we need water on our hikes and excursions! This bag will fit a large 32 oz (or about 1L) water bottle for those long days out in the sun or away from civilization.

Comfort

The bag is very comfortable. Even packed with camera, lens and accessories, it did not feel heavy. The shoulder strap is fairly wide and does not tend to dig in like a narrower strap would. The length of the strap is also adjustable, so you can position the bag for your height and build.

Durable, Water-Repellent Fabric

During hikes in the rain in Ireland and again in Belize, water did not penetrate the fabric. Raindrops and mist beaded off and did not threaten the camera equipment. Dirt, dust and muck seemed to brush off without leaving any lasting marks.

What to Improve

Color Choice

At the time of this writing, the only available color scheme for the bag is purple and white. This scheme is… less than ideal. I would prefer something a bit more subdued. Black, gray or brown would be better color options and would also tend to show dirt and wear a lot less.

Flimsy Strap?

I mentioned above that the strap is fairly wide and comfy for long hikes. But the thickness of the strap could be improved. Lowepro could make this part a bit more heavy duty, as the current construction might not hold up with continued usage.

Few Pockets

There are limited pockets inside and out. Maybe I’m an organization-freak, but this is disappointing. There are only two medium-size pockets on the outside of the bag, and one smaller zippered pocket inside.

The pocket on the outside front will hold some papers and maybe a cellphone or iPod. The rear pocket faces towards the wearer’s body and will maybe be more secure for cities and crowded urban areas. This is perhaps intended for a passport, wallet or valuables. The internal pocket will hold some batteries and memory cards.

Overall, I would prefer all the pockets to be a bit roomier, with one additional pocket on the outside and one additional on the inside.

Zipper

The fabric of the Photo Sport Shoulder Bag will repel water and rain. But the top, main compartment zipper made me a bit nervous in heavier downpours. This zipper is not shielded against moisture. Lowepro could add a huge improvement here and add a weather sealing to the top zipper.

Only One Extra Lens

The camera compartment can fit one extra lens, but it would be nice if this had an option to fit two. I realize that this would reduce the available space inside the bag for accessories. But currently, if you want to carry another spare lens, it will just be rattling around in the main compartment.

Some Photos

Photo Sport Front
Main view of packed bag, bottle and camera
Photo Sport Top
Top view of open main compartment
Photo Sport Zipper
Zipper for main compartment; top strap
Photo Sport Removable
Camera compartment removed and cinched closed
Photo Sport Water Bottle
Water bottle holder on the front of the bag
Photo Sport Side
Side view of bag (lens and bottle shown for scale)

Recommendation

The Lowepro Photo Sport Shoulder Bag succeeds as a travel and hiking photo bag because it acknowledges that photographers often need to carry more than just camera equipment. With this bag, you get space for your DSLR camera and lens, plus a customizable interior that provides plenty of room for a hat, raincoat and hiking essentials. The water bottle holder is a major selling point as well. I recommend the Photo Sport Shoulder Bag (18L) for any traveling, outdoorsy photography enthusiast.

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