Lowepro Verapack 200 AW
Lowepro’s Versapack 200 AW is a lightweight, all weather camera backpack. There are two main compartments: a top area for general gear, and the bottom camera area. I was looking forward to seeing just how much stuff I could stuff into this diminutive and clever pack.
I’ve got a Nikon D700 with all the trimmings. More about that later. The question is: Can I get enough gear comfortably into the 200 AW for an entire day of hiking and picture taking, whether it be in the wilds of Idaho, or the wilds of downtown Newark. But before I began loading up I checked out the included pamphlet for a quick tour around the unit.
One of the features to like about the 200 AW is its versatility. All of the dividers in the camera section are Velcro-powered. You can configure this compartment in various and sundry ways. Load in your DSLR, vertically with most standard zoom lenses, and still carry two extra lenses and a flash. You can also load the camera horizontally, with an attached lens up to 80-200mm f/2.8, and there’s still room for another lens or two. If you do load it horizontally you can then retrieve the camera through the clever side-zip access. No need to remove the pack. Just pull the Versapack around your side to where the camera is located, unzip, and the camera is at hand. Simple. Efficient. The dimensions of the camera compartment are: 11W X 6.3D X 7.5H inches.
The top portion of the pack, a deceptively small area of 9.8W X 4.7D X 8.3H inches, will hold more than its size suggests. This section can carry books, clothes, food, or even more camera gear as the need arises. The floor of this upper compartment, which is the roof of the lower camera chamber, can be removed, just like all other dividers in the Versapack. Removing the floor will create access to the camera and gear below if needed. You’ll also notice that there are two memory card bays sewn into the camera side of this divider. I recommend keeping this floor/ceiling divider in place as a protective barrier for your costly equipment.
After the initial inspection I began the loading process. Shorts, t-shirt, socks, and a book went into the upper compartment with some room to spare. I was surprised how much stuff would fit in this compact space. I then opened up the wide-mouthed camera compartment and placed the D700 with a 20mm f2.8D lens vertically into the middle bay. Then my 50mm f1.4D lens fit snuggly into the upper right bay. My 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G DX zoom lens went into the bay below the 50mm.
With the two small bays on the other side of the camera I removed the padded horizontal divider and carefully placed my Speedlite SP900 face up taking up the whole left side. I secured the removed divider over the front of the flash, thus protecting the front element. Without the flash taking up this space I could have toted another lens or two. When I zipped the compartment closed, the zippers were strong and serious, everything seem to fit like a glove. There was no rattling around or movement that I could detect as I walked around my neighborhood.
The straps are smartly padded which made them fairly comfortable. The pressure snaps are easy to adjust, allowing me to place the pack to the height that felt comfortable for me. I’m 6 feet tall. There was a lot of extra strap length for fitting larger or smaller sized folks. The included sternum strap is fully adjustable, like all the straps on the pack. It helped snug the shoulder straps comfortably against me for a firm and solid fit.
There are other features with obvious benefits in the 200 AW: Extra storage pockets for pens, phone, iPod, maps, or anything to which you might need quick access. Lowepro has included compression straps on the bottom of the pack to carry a light jacket or a tripod. Or, you can carry your tripod on the side of the pack using the hide-a-way tripod mount. Also, at the base of the Versapack is a Velcro enclosure. In super-wet conditions this pocket allows access to the (all-weather) AW cover. Just open up the pocket, pull out the elasticized bonnet, and place it over the entire pack.
Lowepro has been in the bag game for over 40 years. They have a very good reputation as a company that makes high quality gear. To back up this claim Lowepro has instituted a lifetime guarantee on all their bags and backpacks. This includes materials and workmanship.
The materials used in the 200 AW are tough and weather resistant. The outer fabric consists of AZ Dobby PU, P600D 74T PU, and Nylon taffeta. The interior fabric is made of 210D Nylon, Brushed Tricot, and Polyester Mesh. The bag itself weighs in at 2.3 pounds. If you’re super curious and need to know what all this means, it means your pack will last a (your) lifetime if it’s not abused beyond normal usage.
The Versapack 200 AW by Lowepro is, in MyMac’s opinion, a sound investment in equipment that not only totes your stuff, but protects it very well, and allows convenient access your gear in mid-stride. A lot of thought has gone into the design of the Versapack, resulting in a serious light backpack for the traveling photographer. But, there is one glaring oversight. Lowepro should have sewn in a water bottle holder. There seems to be plenty of room on the side of the pack for one but somehow Lowepro missed this no brainer. Sure, you can carry water in the upper compartment, but it would take up a valuable real estate, and could possibly spill, which could leak into the camera compartment below, and that can’t be good.
MyMac gives the Versapack 200 AW by Lowepro a 9 out of 10 MyMac Review Rating. A point was forfeited for the water bottle issue.