I finally got my hands on one. After seeing one a few weeks ago and lusting after it, I tracked down and acquired a 2010 Dakine Sequence Photo backpack of my very own over the weekend. It actually took me quite awhile to find one nearby.
After I first saw the bag I did some Google searches and found a used one on Craigslist but missed it by a few days. I started calling any store in Canada I could find with Dakine backpacks on their website but could not find any in stock. I contemplated ordering one in from the states, but with my trip to Italy quickly approaching I decided to try looking one more time.
Instead of searching for “Dakine Sequence” Canada or “Dakine Sequence Photo” Canada, I punched in Dakine “Sequence Photo” and asked Google to just show me the results from Canada. Leaving the quotes around the last two terms made all the difference. Magically a new store called Valhalla Pure Online popped up. I hadn’t seen this name before and I assumed that it was some store from Ontario or Quebec. Clicking on “Our Store Locations” it turns out that they are mostly in BC and Alberta and have a store right here in Vancouver. Still, I had low expectations – every other place that showed it on their website was sold out. Most told me that they order a few just before ski season because it’s a specialty item.
I dialed up Valhalla and after the nice lady put me on hold to go look for it she told me they had one! In black! Just like I wanted! Of course, I told her that I would leave my house immediately and could she please put it on hold for me. When I showed up she seemed kind of amused that someone would rush in for this pack. “I didn’t even know we carried anything like this”, she said.
And now I have the bag. My first impression of the bag is that it is fairly large, but the photo pack insert is not much bigger than the interior of my Lowepro Flipside 300. The photo pack is about the same height and about 10-20% wider than the inside of the Lowepro. It also has a bit of a volume advantage as the back of the Flipside has slightly tapered sides at the back while the sides of the Sequence are square. In practical terms I think that the Sequence will allow me to hold one more large lens or my Joby Gorillapod if I pack carefully.
By using dividers from both bags I think I have a best-of-both-worlds organizationation system for my collection of gear.
Where the Sequence jumps ahead is in exterior pocket storage. The Flipside has a mesh pocket on one side that is good for carrying a water bottle, and a flap on the other side that will hold memory cards, pens, and spare batteries. After that you’re out of luck.
The Sequence has a large flap on the front of the bag that will hold 3-4 times as much stuff as the Flipside flap – although both are fairly tight so you’re limited to relatively flat/thin objects. The Sequence also has a compartment at the top of the bag that would easily hold something as large as a set of ski goggles or some of the bigger Oakley sunglasses cases, which is probably what they had in mind when they designed it. Additionally there are two side pockets which could each hold a 500ml water bottle. On each hip strap there is also a small pocket. These pockets are big enough to hold a hefty wallet and have waterproof zippers.
Despite being a larger bag, the Sequence doesn’t have substantiallymore storage than the Flipside, but it does have some storage whereas the Flipside really doesn’t really have room for anything other than your photo gear. In the past I’ve had to also bring along my Mountain Equipment Co-op hydration pack when travelling. I don’t like the idea of bringing two packs to Italy.
Much of the additional height and width of the Sequence comes from the fact that the photo pack insert is removable so the walls of the bag are essentially all double-thick when the insert is in. One of the benefits of this is additional cushioning for your camera gear. The downside is that the bag is much heavier than the Flipside 300 – probably about 3 times as heavy.
Despite the extra weight, the removable photo insert is one of the strong selling points as a travel bag. In addition to the extra padding mentioned above, you can also use the bag as a regular pack by simply removing the photo pack. No more packing an extra bag when travelling. Also, if I end up with any unexpected purchases on my trip and need an extra bag I can carry-on the photo insert and check the pack (after tightening all the straps of course).
The other advantages the Sequence has over the Flipside 300 are the built-in rain cover and the padded hip straps. Of course, this highlights the fact that comparing the Dakine Sequence Photo to the Flipside 300 isn’t really a fair fight. The Flipside 400 is a more comparable bag to the Sequence because it is larger than the 300 and has a rain cover. In the end I chose the Dakine Sequence over the Flipside 400 as my travel pack because the Flipside 400 does not have a removable insert nor does it have the padded hip straps.
Both bags are rear-opening, providing some security by restricting access to the photo compartment when carrying the bag on your back. As additional security features, I like that I can use the Sequence rain cover to keep the outside pockets out of sight and like that I have the option of using the internal zippers on the photo pack in addition to outside zippers. The double zippers will make it even harder for someone to reach into the photo compartment without my noticing.
Ultimately both the Flipside 300 and the Sequence Photo will stay in my collection. When I’m packing for a family function or a single drive-to location I’ll probably use the Flipside. When I’m travelling or going for longer expeditions out in the wild I’ll probably grab the Sequence instead.