Review: Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

The Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW backpack was announced a while ago, and I’ve been using it for outdoor activities since. It is a mid-sized backpack that doubles as a photo backback and a multi-purpose backpack, thanks to its highly customizable interior. Going on a photo walk? Split the main compartment in two parts to safely store your gear between velcro pads and additional accessories in a secondary compartment. Commuting to and from work? Open up the main compartment to take a 15″ laptop, your lunch box and accessories.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Highly versatile and customizable
  • Excellent build quality
  • Perfect size for carrying many items without getting too heavy

Cons

  • Sometimes I wished for at least two extra pouches on the inside
  • Not as convenient to access as a messenger bag
  • Stitching got loose on the top handle after a couple weeks

Gear Used

For this review, we used the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW in slate blue with various cameras and lenses. The product shots were taken with a Panasonic G1 camera, the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens and a Rokinon D900AFZ TTL flash.

Tech Specs

The following specs list is taken from B&H Photo’s product page.

Material Exterior: 600D Polyester, Polyurethane, 210D nylon single ripstop polyurethane, air mesh; Interior: 200D Polyester
Type of Closure #5 YKK zipper
#8 YKK zipper
Exterior Dimensions 11.4 x 9.3 x 19.9″ (29.0 x 23.6 x 50.5 cm)
Interior Dimensions 8.9 x 4.5 x 7.7″ (22.6 x 11.4 x 19.6 cm)
Carrying/Transport Options Backpack straps
Weight 2.1 lb (1.0 kg)

Ergonomics

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

The Photo Hatchback 22L AW comes with a good amount of compartments and pouches, adjustable straps, velcro pads and zippers. The front (see title picture) features access to two zipper-sealed compartments–the main compartment which can be divided into two smaller compartments, and a large front pouch that itself features two compartments to store flat items such as magazines, papers, tickets etc.

This flap is utilized to further divide the main compartment into two sub-compartments. It is fastened with velcro pads. Once it is in place, the lower compartment can be fitted with paddings that hold and protect your camera gear.

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

This is what the lower compartment looks like when the paddings are inserted. The removable protective case is fitted with velcro pads that allow the installation of padded dividers, as pictured above. The dividers can be arranged in a number of ways as to accomodate for your specific gear. In this case, I arranged them to hold a Pentax SLR and three additional lenses. Also note the small SD card pouch on the rear flap.

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

At the top of the main compartment are two small pouches made from mesh cloth that can hold smaller items such as a wallet, batteries etc. These are located at the front side of the main compartment. At the rear side of the main compartment is zipper-closable pouch that takes further small stuff. It also features a key hook. Fair warning: all items that you put in here will end up pinching you in the back, which is why I rarely used this pouch.

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

On either side of the Photo Hatchback 22L AW is a large pouch made from stretch material. These pouches can be used to hold a bottle of water, a small tripod or other items with a long and narrow shape. Note the padding of the shoulder straps, which makes the backpack very comfortable to carry.

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

The shoulder straps are height-adjustable and feature an additional chest strap that helps to stabilize the backpack. At the bottom of the backpack you’ll find another strap which goes around your belly. These two straps give extra carrying comfort and secure the bag from accidentally slipping off your shoulders. Also note the extensive padding on the upper and lower rear side of the backpack. This prevents the items on the inside of pinching you in the back (except for items in that one pouch in the main compartment that I already mentioned.)

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

Finally, at the very bottom of the backpack, there’s another compartment that holds a dedicated rain cape, which makes the backpack weather proof.

Build Quality

As with all Lowepro products that I’ve handled so far, the Photo Hatchback 22L AW is built to very high standards. All materials are of the highest quality, and the individual parts are well stitched together. The only critique I have is for the top handle, on which the stitching has come loose on one side on my review unit (see picture). But since this is not relevant to the overall structural integrity of the bag, I am not worried about its longevity otherwise.

Felix Esser The Phoblographer Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW Review

In Use

The Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW is a very comfortable to carry even when it’s fully loaded. Because it is only moderately sized, the amount of items you can carry with you is restricted, and thus the overall weight of the package. Even after long periods of carrying, I never had aching shoulders thanks to the very well-padded shoulder straps. The additional chest and belly straps help to further fixate the backpack and to distribute the weight evenly over your torso.

In comparison with a messenger-style bag such as the Lowepro Event Messenger 250 that we also reviewed, the Photo Hatchback 22L AW is less convenient to access once you’re carrying it on your bag. While you can easily flip a messenger bag to your front in order to access its main compartment–all while you keep walking–, you’ll have to take a backpack off your shoulders, open the zippers and maybe even lay it down if you want to access your gear in the lower compartment via the rear flap. So while a backpack is much easier on your back and shoulders, it is less convenient for quick accessing of its contents.

As for versatility, the Photo Hatchback 22L AW can be used in various different scenarios thanks to its customizability and amount of pouches and individual compartments. I’ve been using it for photowalking, commuting, traveling and family trips, and I never had issues getting all of the items I wanted to take with me into it. Be it photographic gear, the stuff I need at work, clothes when I’m traveling or food, beverages, toys and other accessories when out with the family.

Sometimes though I wished it had one or two more pouches on the inside, because I sometimes use to carry a vast number of small items that get either lost or hard to access in the main compartment, won’t all fit into the two smaller pouches on the inside, or will pinch me in the back when put in the small rear interior compartment. But I guess for even more versatility you’ll have to get a larger model.

Conclusions

The Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW is a mid-sized backpack for the outdoor photographer. Thanks to its high customizability, it is very versatile and can be used for photographic ventures as well as general everyday activities such as commuting, travel or family trips. It holds a mid-sized DSLR with up to three lenses (depending on their size), a full-size DSLR and one larger lens, or a mirrorless camera with a whole armada of lenses and accessories.

Thanks to its extensive padding on the back and on the shoulder straps, as well as the additional chest and waist straps, it is very comfortable to carry over longer periods even when it is fully loaded. I used for photo walks as well as other daily activities and never felt to have an excessive weight on my back.

Build quality is overall excellent, except for one piece of stitching that started to loose very early on in the review period. Customizability and versatility are very high, but I sometimes wished it had at least to more smaller pouches on the inside. Overall though, the Photo Hatchback 22L AW is a highly recommendable backpack for photographers as well as outdoor enthusiasts in general–its in-built rain cape makes it suited for all kinds of activities.

The Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW can be purchased from B&H Photo in red, blue, and dark grey for US-$ 109.99.

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