Last year I’ve reviewed the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW bag. In short my conclusion was that the Photo Hatchback 16L AW was a perfect backpack for daytrips where you want to bring your photo equipment and some personal stuff. The bag impressed with smart little details and a nice design. This year LowePro has decided to give the Photo Hatchback series an update, calling the new bags the Photo Hatchback II. In this short review I’ll tell you more about the new bag and compare it to the old version.
The bag in this review is the Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II. The 250 is the bigger one of the two new Photo Hatchback bags, and is the new version of the Photo Hatchback 22 L AW. Besides the bigger 250 bag there is also the BP 150 AW II (which is the new version of the Photo Hatchback 16 AW I’ve reviewed last year). The smaller Photo Hatchback BP 150 AW II is perfect for smaller mirrorless cameras with one or two extra lenses or other accessories. The Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II is perfect for a bigger mirrorless camera with two to four lenses or a DSLR camera with about two lenses.
LowePro Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Photo Hatchback is the refreshed and simplified design. On the old version LowePro had put a big LowePro over the whole front of the bag, and they used two different types of fabric (one matte and one shiny). That made the design look a little busy. The new version of the bag has got a simpler and more modern look. The big logo is gone and replaced by a smaller embroidered logo. LowePro also changed the colour of the bag by choosing a brighter blue, which looks a little fresher. If you don’t like the bright blue you don’t have to worry, you can also buy the bag in black and grey.
Just like the old bag the new Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II has got a big compartment on the front of the bag. This is divided in two sections, the front is perfect for storing a magazine or other papers. In the bag LowePro has added a suspended compartment you can use to put a tablet. The compartment doesn’t run all the way to the bottom of the bag and because of the suspended design it will protect your precious tablet from damage when you put the bag down a little too hard. On the side the bag has got mesh pockets that are perfect for a small bottle of water or a small tripod like a Gorillapod.
On the top of the bag you’ll find a big compartment for personal stuff, that is divided with smaller pockets in de front and back. On the front there are two mesh pockets and in the back there is one that can be closed by a zipper. Of course LowePro has added a small clip you can use to secure you keys, making sure they can’t fall out if you rummage around in the bag.
On the back of the bag is the opening to the camera compartment. Because the compartment is on the back you don’t have to worry about people getting in to the bag without your permission as this side sits against your back when you wear the bag. The camera compartment is the same as the older Photo Hatchback bags, meaning there is more than enough room in the bag for your most important gear. It also means LowePro has provided enough dividers to adjust the compartment to perfectly fit your gear. You can take the whole camera compartment out of the bag. This transforms your camera backpack in to a normal, roomy backpack. When you take the compartment out of the bag you have a cover on the compartment you can close with a cord to protect your gear when it is out of the bag.
The camera compartment of the LowePro Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II is big enough for a normal sized DSLR with a midrange zoom lens attached. Besides that you’ll also have room for two midsized lenses or one lens and a speedlight. If you have a smaller camera, like a mirrorless model you will be able to take the camera with one lens attached and up to four smaller lenses.
On the bottom of the bag is the AW (all weather) cover that gives the bag It’s AW-name. The fabric of the bag is quite resistant to water and rain and will keep your gear dry in most situations. In the worst weather you can use the cover to create some extra protection. Because the cover is tucked away under the bag you always have it with you when you need it, and because it is attached to the bag you don’t have to worry about losing it.
The old Photo Hatchback bags where very comfortable to wear. Luckily that hasn’t changed with the new Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II. The shoulder straps have the same ergonomic shape and thick padding. The adjustable chest- and hip bands are also present on the new bag. The bag has got a padded back with a breathing lining that feels very comfortable to wear. In combination with the well-designed shoulder straps and the adjustable hip and chest band the bag stays comfortable to wear, even when you have a lot of heavy stuff in it. When you use the chest and hip band the bag is very stable, even when you are moving around a lot.
The old Photo Hatchback was a very good bag with good value for money. The new version has an updated design, making it look a little better but it has also kept the good things from the old bag. The LowePro Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II is a perfect bag for a DSLR with some lenses and accessories. For a smaller camera or when you don’t have a lot of lenses or accessories the Photo Hatchback BP 150 AW II will also be an option to consider. If you have the old bag I don’t see reason to upgrade, but if you are in the market for a bag I’d choose the new Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II.