I’ve said this before and will no doubt say it again, for a photographer, finding the right camera bag that caters for as many variations of the equipment you own as well as the sort of assignments you take, is a long and sub-optimal process which often ends in disappointment, frustration and expense.
For me there are three variables to be taken into account when choosing a bag:
- The amount and type of kit you need to carry.
- The speed of access to said kit.
- Whether you are walking/taking public transport, flying or driving.
(I consider things like durability, weather resistance and general comfort in carrying as givens and not variables).
I long ago came to the conclusion that there was no one bag that satisfied all of the above and that even if you own more than one bag (I do) there are going to be compromises to be made no matter which one you select for a particular shoot.
I’m not a person that collects bags for the sake of it – preferring to own ones I actually use on a regular basis. This being the case it was with great reluctance therefore that I recently had to ‘let go’ of my Billingham Hadley Large purchased a couple of years ago and reviewed here. This was a tough decision. I love Billingham bags and have owned several over the years. Despite its good looks, robustness and carrying capacity I decided however that the Hadley Large had to go as I was just not using it enough to justify keeping it. The main issue I had (and this is with me, not the bag) was that when I carried it with the kit that it was meant for it was just too much for my back and shoulder causing me a good bit of discomfort and pain when carried for more than a few hours.
So, what bag did I choose to replace my Hadley Large? In the end, following much deliberation, I decided to on the Lowepro m-Trekker BP 150 backpack. The main reasons for this decision were;
- The m-Trekker 150 looked like the right size for the kit I wanted to carry when out trekking or for doing street portraits (Fujifilm X-T3 body, 2-3 lenses including the XF50-140mm f2.8, a flash plus trigger and small travel tripod or light stand).
- It was a backpack rather than a shoulder bag hence better for my back/shoulder when out walking for extended periods.
- It is, for a backpack, relatively slimline and fits snugly to your back.
- It provides good security as it has body-side access meaning it is the back that opens to reveal the main carrying compartment.
- It has good waterproofing (via a cover which pulls out the bottom of the bag).
- I’ve owned a couple of Lowepro’s before and although they are not particularly stylish they are very functional.
One of the reasons that made me look at Lowepro as a brand was this video from Sean Tucker a photographer whose opinions I rate. Although Sean was not reviewing this particular bag, it did make me look at Lowepro’s to see what else they had available.
So let’s take a quick tour of the m-Trekker.
The m-Trekker 150 is available in two fabrics, Gray Canvex™ or Black Cordura® (which I bought), both are meant to offer durability and weather protection plus there is an all weather AW Cover™ for when the weather is really bad.
External dimensions are 29 x 15 x 45 cm and the bag weighs just under 1 kg. As you can see from the image below there is a pocket at the front for storing slim notebooks, lens cloths, pens etc. At the bottom are a couple of straps for attaching a small travel tripod or light stand. There are also two side pockets for storing a drink bottle or a brolly (I mean a shooting brolly rather than a rain one although the pockets would suffice for that as well). There’s also a carrying handle at the top.
Turning the bag over shows the three soft pads for shoulder and lower back comfort as well as the zip providing access into the camera compartment. Ensuring the zip is closed at the top of the bag means that when wearing it it’s all but impossible to open the bag from behind adding extra security to the main carrying compartment.
The bag opens up fully and can be laid completely flat providing access to the main carrying compartment, two meshed pockets for other bits of kit as well as access to the tablet storage space and a couple of small pockets for memory cards. Internal dimensions for the bag (including the top compartment) are 27 x 12 x 42 cm. The camera compartment itself has dimensions of 27 x 12 x 29 cm.
The main camera compartment has a good amount of dividers that are secured via velcro. Once in place the dividers are fairly secure although some only have velcro at the top (not a particular problem in terms of stability from what I can tell).
I’ve messed around with various combinations of dividers and have settled on the layout in the image below. This provides storage for:
- Fujifilm X-T3 body with XF35mm f2 attached
- XF16mm f2.8
- XF50-140mm f2.8, a flash plus trigger
- Godox Xpro trigger (not shown)
- Godox V1 roundhead flash (not shown but will go in the section at the right hand side (bottom in the picture below) with the divider removed.
This is adequate storage for what I wanted and whilst it does not leave room for much expansion is really as much as I’d want to carry anyway.
The two mesh pockets allow for carrying slim items such as lens caps, cleaning cloths, notebooks etc.
The bag has dedicated protection for up to a 12” laptop or 13” tablet. I found I could just about fit my 2019 13″ MacBook Pro in this sleeve, albeit quit snugly. It’s more than adequate for my iPad mini which is what I intend to be carrying most of the time.
At the top of the bag are a couple of storage pockets for extra memory cards. Fitting a memory card in each pocket inside the plastic storage case they usually come with is about as much as you can fit so if you want to carry more you’re going to have to use one of the other spaces.
Finally at the top of the outside of the bag (see top picture) there is a zippered storage compartment around 12cm deep. One review I saw said this was not big enough which is a bit of a pointless thing to say really as it is what it is and any larger for this sized bag would mean less room in the camera compartment. I find that the camera grip/battery holder form the X-T3 fits nicely in here together with the 50-140mm tripod mount. There would be plenty of room for a small box of memory cards or not too large light meter.
So far the Lowepro m-Trekker is proving quite a versatile and comfortable bag. Things I like about it are:
- Just the right size for the kit I mainly carry.
- Versatile and extensible configurations for fitting in different kit depending on project/assignment.
- Comfortable on long treks (longest I’ve worn it so far is on a seven mile walk on a very hot day and it cause me no discomfort).
- The right number of pockets and compartments for the other stuff I need to carry.
- Good waterproofing via the pullout cover.
- Nice protection for my iPad (would also fit my 13″ 2019 MacBook Pro, albeit quite tightly).
So far no real dislikes apart from:
- The shoulder strap adjustment is a bit fiddly and you have to be careful to secure the strap otherwise it slips. I’ve found myself using a couple of plastic cable ties for this.
- I’m not sure carrying a tripod at the bottom of the bag is the best place. Although it means the weight is evened out it does tend to rock back and forth a little whilst walking unless you secure it properly. Also the ties for securing a tripod are only just long enough. I use a 3 Legged Thing travel tripod (, now discontinued).
Of course this is a backpack which means you have to take the bag off and lay it down on the floor to access your kit. This is not a bag for quick and easy access therefore but that’s just the compromise you have to make if you value comfort of carrying over accessibility. I would not say this was a bag for street photography, for which I far prefer my Billingham’s, but for trekking and doing landscape/architecture work where you can take your time over the images you make this, for me, is the ideal bag (for now).