It didn’t take me very long to get addicted to camera gear. It all started when I bought my wife a 50mm f/1.4 as a portrait lens when she started taking baby pictures for our friends. We had no idea what our camera was capable of until we started shooting with that lens. The next year I bought her a new camera body and myself a 24-105mm f/4 as a walk-around lens. The unexpected result of that purchase was that our old Lowepro EX140 camera bag was no longer going to hold all of our stuff.
I quickly decided on a backpack style camera bag. In addition to the obvious portability advantage, many of these bags just look like regular packs instead of screaming out that they contain thousands of dollars worth of kit.
After a visit to my local camera shop I chose the Lowepro Flipside 300. This bag is well designed and well built. It holds my camera body with the 24-104, 3 extra lenses, a speedlite, chargers, cables, batteries, and extra memory cards. Also, while it was not designed as a laptop bag, my HP tablet fits nicely into the bag as well. The most important feature for me, however, is the fact that it is a rear-opening bag. The zips are on the strap side which means that it is much more difficult for someone to unzip and snatch something out of my bag without me noticing.
On the downside, the side pocket is a little tight. Batteries slide deep into the tight pocket and can be difficult to dig out in a hurry. Also, the Lowepro logo kind of screams camera bag, so I un-stitched it and am planning on adding my Canada patch in its place. It still looks a little like a camera bag, but it’s not as conspicuous our old bag! My only other negative is only a negative when travelling. While the bag is a great size for photography specific local outings, it doesn’t leave much space for other stuff like a jacket or space for carrying souvenirs.
Cut to our T-ball opening day festivities and team picture day. While watching the team walk through their individual and team shots a bag in the photo tent caught my eye. At first it looked like a regular backpack but then I noticed that it was full of camera gear. It was rear-opening. It looked cool. It looked big. It had a padded hip strap. As I was drawn in closer I saw the Dakine label. Drool. It turns out that it was the Dakine Sequence pack. As an extra feature, the main body of the bag with all of the padded separators is self contained in a removable insert so I can also use the bag as a regular backpack! I just found my next camera bag.
I had seen a couple of pics of this bag back when I bought my Flipside, but at the time I thought that it was too big. Seeing it in person went a long way to clinching the deal for me and I’m going to see if I can get my hands on one for my Italy trip. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear readily available in Canada. The photographer had to special order it in from the states.
My main concern about the Sequence is whether or not it would qualify as carry-on luggage. The dimensions per the Dakine site says that it is 21 x 11 x 8, although I’m told that assumes that all side pockets are empty. Air Canada says that 22 x 16 x 9 can be carried on as a standard item and British Airways says 22 x 18 x 10 is the limit for “hand baggage”. As I’m flying BA on my next trip I’m hoping that I’ll be okay. If worse comes to worst I could carry on the removable padded insert and check the rest of the backpack.
While I’m keeping my Flipside 300 for local use, I’ll either special order a Sequence or pop down to Seattle and pick one up in the near future!
Also note that Dakine also makes a Mission Photo bag. This bag also looks great. It’s smaller than the Sequence (1500 cubic inches vs 2000 cu), and while it has more volume than the Flipside 300 (which has approx 780 cu) it doesn’t look like it has much space for non-photo gear.
Update 10 May 2010: I got one! See my side by side review of the Sequence Photo vs the Flipside 300.