Review: Lowepro Flipside 500 AW Backpack

One could only describe this bag as massive. It is one of the largest I can ever remember testing. The Lowepro 500 AW is for those photographers who have to walk far with big lenses. If there was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game for photographers, this bag is what the tank character would carry. It is good for when you have to travel in an area where you are getting bit by mosquitos and other strange bugs, where you have to hike or bike for three or four hours, or where you have to climb up a mountain just for an image.

But why?

Tech Specs

From B&H

  • Hideaway Tripod Mount system
  • Capacity for a 500mm f/4 lens
  • Built-in memory card pockets
  • Zippered front storage pocket with space for a tablet
  • Patented, built-in All Weather AW Cover
  • SlipLock attachment loops
  • Roomy and padded camera compartment
  • Body-side access
  • Dimensions (WxDxH) 
  • Camera Compartment: 11.0 x 7.3 x 18.9″ (28.0 x 18.5 x 48 cm)
  • Exterior: 11.8 x 12.8x 20.1″ (30.0 x 32.5 x 51.0 cm)

Ease of Access and Use

Getting up close with the Lowepro 500 AW, it’s easy to see the bag is solidly built. The handle feels like it can hold anything while keeping your hands comfortable. Lifting the bag fully loaded, it is not painful or straining on the arm because of its design.

The Flipside 500 AW has body side access. You do not have to worry about gear falling out by the bag being mistakenly open. All the slots and pockets are easily accessible and well organized. The front pouch can hold a small laptop, an iPad, some reading material or other personal necessities.

On either side of the bag are two sturdy pouches which can hold water, coffee, tripods, or whatever else you see fit to put there.

Loading it Up

The Lowepro 500 AW can carry a LOT of gear. While it can carry big lenses, it can also hold lots of normal size gear. I ran out of camera gear loading this bag up. The Flipside 500 AW, when not in use in the field, can act as camera gear storage.

Testing gear (basically almost everything I own + )

 Weight

Empty, the bag is just above 4 pounds or 2 kilograms which is not bad considering its size. Once you start loading the Flipside 500 AW, it can get heavy. At this point it becomes personal preference on how heavy you want the bag to be. Fully loaded, the bag sits comfortably on your back. It has a waist strap for added support.

Travel Use

The Flipside 500 AW gives you a strong, solid feeling. If you are traveling with the bag, you may have to make some considerations. I took the Flipside on a bus. It was too big for the overhead compartment. On a train, however, it was fine in the overhead compartment. It does fall slightly under the size of a carry on for flying, but you should check with your choice of airline if you are going to use this bag. Honestly, I don’t know if I would take it on a plane. If you are biking, you could leave the waist strap on, take off the shoulder strap, and bring the bag around. It was uncomfortable for me though. I am a large person, and this would work better for smaller people. I would stop, get off the bike with this bag, and unload needed gear.

Rain Cover

The rain cover design is nice. It’s held in a pouch on the bottom of bag. It is oversized, and designed in such a way that it can be quickly deployed in a storm to cover tripod and all. The rain cover needs a bit of color though to deal with especially in white out, snow storm conditions.

This bag can seriously go almost anywhere. I can see it in a snow storm or hiking on a trail.

In the End

In the end, the Lowepro Flipside 500 AW is designed for the outdoor photographers who need to carry loads and loads of gear on their backs. It’s a solid bag. The way the Lowepro 500 AW is set up is quiet sensible for carrying big lenses or lots of gear.

Once again, though, this is strictly for professionals or those who have hoarded loads of cameras, lenses, flashes and more over the years. Otherwise, consider looking at the company’s other models.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.