For those looking for a durable yet comfortable camera backpack that also has room for all your (overnight) hiking gear, check out the new Lowepro Rover Pro.
I love photography, camping, hiking, and anything and everything to do with the outdoors. What I don’t love, however, is being weighed down by all the gear I need to pack in order to enjoy my time with nature. I try to pack lightly, my kit usually includes camera gear, water bottle, car keys, mobile phone, dog leash, poop bags, Benadryl (I’m allergic to bee stings), gum, and tissue. If my hike extends beyond two hours, you can add two lunches (I don’t hike alone), dog water, dog treats, bear bells and sometimes bear spray to that list. For an overnighter, the list is even longer.
If you’re a big muscly man, packing all this equipment will require very little effort or discomfort. If, on the other hand, you’re a woman like myself who barely reaches 5’4” with her shoes on, it’s especially important to find a bag that accommodates all your needs whilst providing support and comfort. I tested out the new Lowepro Rover Pro 35L AW backpack this weekend and was pleased to discover it checks all the boxes in terms of features you want in a camera backpack.
An A+ in comfort
I’ll admit, when I heard the Rover Pro weighed 2.3 kg (5.1 lbs.) I was a little uneasy on how comfortable it would be to wear for several hours, especially after the weight of my gear was added to it. My concerns were for naught. Loaded with everything I mentioned above, I experienced absolutely no discomfort after wearing the backpack for a couple of hours and no doubt I could easily wear it for longer.
The backpack has adjustable shoulder straps and a padded hip belt, so the weight of the bag rests primarily on the hips. Although I didn’t use it, the Rover Pro also has a sternum belt which helps to increase your stability by preventing your pack from shifting – a great inclusion if you plan to hike uneven terrain. Another contributor to the Rover Pro’s comfort is its breathable suspension system which Lowepro describes as a “trampoline-style back panel with breathable mesh [which] delivers superb ventilation and optimal load transfer over rocky, varied terrain.”
Pockets, pockets, and more pockets!
Oh yes, there is a perfect pocket for everything your packing. The Rover Pro was very smartly designed, let me break it down for you:
- The attached top lid of the bag has a spacious zippered pocket that’s great for items you want quick access to like a lunch, snacks, wallet, mobile phone, sunblock, sunglasses, or bear spray! This pocket also has a key clip.
- On one side of the Rover Pro is a tripod wrap with adjustable straps, so your tripod or monopod fits securely against the outside of the bag.
- On the other side is a “hydration-ready” pocket that will fit a two-litre hydration reservoir (sold separately) and includes a clip and slot for the sipping tube. I’m not a fan of hydration reservoirs – I think they make my water taste like plastic – and only use one when I’m doing an overnight hike, but this pocket also fit my regular water bottle perfectly.
- Inside the large main pocket is a zippered, padded and customizable camera case. What I love is that this case is removable, so you can either use it without the backpack, or you can take advantage of the backpack’s full 35L capacity without having to compromise space with a built-in camera compartment, like you do with some camera backpacks. The removable camera case includes a smaller accessory pouch and can hold that as well as a pro DSLR camera with attached 14-24mm lens, flash unit, and one extra lens.
- The hip belt includes stash pockets on both sides. These are great for carrying small items you want access to without needing to remove the bag from your shoulders. My Samsung Galaxy SIII (with its protective case) fit snuggly in this pocket.
- The front of the backpack has a stretchy mesh pocket that’s ideal for stuffing a light jacket into. I also stored the dog’s leash in this pocket.
- The bottom of the Rover Pro holds its 3-in-1 AW (All Weather) cover, reflector, and diffuser. It fits snuggly over the backpack like a shower cap.
- The Rover Pro also has straps on the very bottom of the bag, designed to carry a sleeping pad or small tent.
Easy access to all your gear
The problem with a lot of other backpacks is they’re unaccommodating and awkward – when you want something, you find yourself ripping everything out of the bag to get at what you need (which is always at the bottom!). Thanks to all the various compartments, this isn’t the case with the Rover Pro – you can actually stay organized and have easy access to everything you’ve packed. Further, the Rover Pro has two access points to the main pocket: you can open it from the top of the bag or via the front, which is ideal if you want to get at the removable camera case without pulling everything out.
Durability and specifications
The Lowepro Rover Pro is solidly constructed and looks like it will stand up to years of use. The backpack is made of lightweight 210D triple-ripstop nylon with PU coating – meaning it’s tear-resistant and water-resistant. Tech specs:
Weight: 2.3 kg (5.1 lbs.)
Removable Camera Compartment Interior:14.5W x 15.8D x 31.5H cm (5.7W x 6.2D x 12.4H in)
Exterior:32.0W x 27.0D x 50.0H cm (12.6W x 10.6D x 19.7H in)
Would I recommend this bag?
Absolutely. The Lowepro Rover Pro is, by far, the best camera backpack I have ever used. It’s perfect for nature and wildlife photographers who spend hours outdoors. The bag has ample storage space for both your camera equipment as well as your personal gear. Its built-in padding and water-resistant fabric means your precious gear is well protected. Furthermore and vitally important to me – the bag is oh-so-comfortable, even for my vertically-challenged structure.
At first glance, the price may seem a little steep at $309*, until you consider that you’re getting two top-quality bags for your money (the backpack and removable camera case) that should provide you with years of comfort and protection. Definitely worth the investment.
The Lowepro Rover Pro also has a 45L version for $349. For more information on either of these bags, check out the Lowepro website.
*This is the Canadian MSRP. You may be able to find the Rover Pro cheaper at various online retailers.