Ski season is in full swing in Colorado right now, and for me that means hittng the slopes with my camera gear. I follow skiers (much better than me!) in steep, rugged terrain trying to capture dramatic cliff drops or huge air off jumps. Since I am normally just trying to keep up with these pro skiers, the last thing I want to worry about is my gear slowing me down. I've tried a number of packs through the years, but I have finally settled on one pack for ski and travel photography; the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW.
There are a number of features I like about this pack. First, it fits all the gear I need during most of my shoots. The flipside comfortably holds 2 bodies, 3 lenses, 1-2 speedlighs and a transmitter. I carry a Nikon D4, D800, 70-200mm 2.8, 24-120mm F4 and 2 speedlights comfortably on the slopes. The pack has a rain cover to keep gear dry during rain and snow. A unique feature, and one I really like, is the Flipside opens on the side against your back, not on the outside back like traditional packs. Why put access to your gear here? When I am in deep snow, I can't afford to put anything on the snow…it would dissappear into the powder. And it just isn't a good idea to put any camera gear in the snow. With the Flipside I take off the shoulder straps, twist the pack around to my frontside, and let it lean away from my body offering easy access to my camera gear without having to take the pack off. I never take my pack off or put anything on the ground.
Of course the big question is how does it carry and feel loaded with gear. Unlike many photo backpacks this size, the Flipside 400 has a fully padded hipbelt so I can easily adjust my load between hips and shoulders for the right fit. My fully loaded Flipside 400 feels great skiing down slopes, and I can easily adjust where I carry the weight depending on what terrain I am skiing. I also like the streamlined shape of the pack which makes it easier to carry on lifts.
The Flipside is also my go-to pack for travel. I can carry all the gear I need in a very unobtrusive pack that doesn't attract attention in busy markets. Thieves can't get at my gear since the opening is against my back, and as mentioned before I don't need to put my pack on the ground to get a lens out. Imagine needing to get your flash while standing in thick goat manure while photographing tribesmen in Africa; bad place to put your pack on the ground! Better yet, the Flipside will fit in traditional and smaller communter jet overhead luggage space. The pack has mesh pockets on the sides for snacks and water, and a back flap pocket for additional camera accessories. The Flipside 400 AW costs $123. If you are looking for a comfortable around pack with some great features, check this pack out.