Fstoppers Reviews the Updated Lowepro Flipside 500 AW II

Fstoppers Reviews the Updated Lowepro Flipside 500 AW II

Lowepro recently announced an update to their popular Flipside series of backpacks aimed at meeting the modern photographer and videographer's needs. Here I review the largest and most robust of the series, the Flipside 500 AW II.

If you’re anything like me, you have a stack of black camera bags piled on a shelf somewhere out of sight and out of mind. After all, how many bags and cases do you actually need? While I don’t have an answer to that specific question, and seem to be acquiring more and more of my own every year, I decided to take a look at an offering of the camouflage variety. The Flipside 500 AW II is being made in a tan digital-camo color that stood out to me when I initially eyeballed the press release.

Highlights

Accommodates the Following:

  • Pro DSLR camera with grip and up to 400mm f/2.8 mounted lens or 500mm detached lens
  • 1–2 extra camera bodies
  • 4–6 extra lenses
  • 15-inch laptop
  • 10-inch tablet
  • Tripod

Specs:

  • Internal Dimensions: 11.81 x 7.48 x 18.90 inches (30 x 19 x 48 centimeters)
  • External Dimensions: 12.60 x 12.80 x 21.65 inches (32 x 32.5 x 55 centimeters)
  • Weight: 4.51 pounds (2.05 kilograms)

What’s Unique About the Flipside Series

If you’re not already familiar with this popular line of backpacks, as the name might suggest, these packs offer an increased level of security via the design’s body-side points of entry which allow full access to your gear without having to set the bag down. While I do have experience with a similar design, I hadn’t yet been able to use a Flipside, and while I can see how the design could be handy, I would still suggest setting a bag this size down to access your equipment if you’ve packed a heavy load. Read further for more on that.

The Flipside series of backpacks all open from the rear of the bag, providing increased security when they are being worn.

Flipside Gets an Update

As the needs of photographers evolve, the bags they carry their gear in need to as well. For today’s photographers, packing drones, tablets, and laptops isn’t all that uncommon. Lowepro recognizes that their customers need a bag that can accommodate a variety of the latest gear, so their largest in the series, the 500 AW II, is now capable of accommodating all of the above and more.

Size

The 500 AW II is a big backpack. Big enough in fact to have the capacity to accommodate up to a 10-inch tablet and 15-inch laptop, a professional DSLR with grip, and up to a 400mm mounted lens or 500mm detached lens (or a compact drone like the DJI Mavic Pro), tripod, and four to six additional lenses. You can see how weight of the contents could really start to add up.

What I Liked

Aesthetics

Like I mentioned, I have enough black backpacks and cases. I should consider becoming a ninja-sherpa. Sometimes working in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, any color other than black is welcome. Additionally, wildlife photographers may also appreciate a more natural colored bag to help break up their silhouette when in search of the most elusive of creatures.

Build Quality

The backpack's build quality is what one has come to expect from Lowepro. On the outside, the fit and finish of the materials is spot on and clean looking.

The silent zipper pulls prevent any jingling that could spook wildlife, and open and close smoothly. There’s a loop for hanging the bag off of the ground in the event that you need to, and the handle is tough enough to support the heaviest of loads.

Inside, the company's trademark CradleFit compartments offer endless options for those who like to configure and reconfigure their gear based on their needs. There is also a removable, padded accessory pouch inside for additional storage of cords, chargers, and small items.

Comfortable

Upon initially shouldering the pack, I was pleased by padded waist belt and adjustable sternum strap which help distribute weight evenly. Fully loaded, the pack was comfortable on my shoulders without digging in, and there were no uncomfortable pressure points or movement while walking about.

Generous padding helps make the Flipside 500 AW II a comfortable large backpack.

All Weather

The All Weather AW Cover will come in handy in the event that you're caught in less than perfect conditions. 

What I Didn’t Like

The Flipside Function

Pictured above is the smaller Flipside 400 AW II. Image via Lowepro.

I’m not a big fan of the bag's Flipside function, in which one rotates the bag 180 degrees so that it’s front facing and lowers it to access the interior compartments. Since there is no shoulder support during this process, the entire load is supported by the waist straps, and during testing I found that a heavy load is rather unstable. I’d prefer to take an extra minute to remove the bag to access my gear than watch a $2,000 lens take a spill.

Hidden Tripod Support

The hidden tripod support is a nice feature, only it’s located on the front of the bag, which is ultimately the bottom of the bag when opening it up. This means that if you’re opening your bag on the ground in the dirt, your tripod is going to be smashed into said dirt by its weight. It seems like the idea would have been more thoughtful had it been located on the side of the bag where the tripod can also be grabbed easily; Not so easy to reach around and remove a tripod securely fixed to your back, unless you’re a Ninja Turtle. I chose to simply fix my tripod to the side of the bag using one of the available straps. Since the hidden tripod support pops out of nowhere and literally takes up zero space, it can easily be forgotten. 

Conclusion

Despite my dislikes, which were few, the Flipside 500 AW II is a very nice large camera backpack. If what you need is a bag with the capacity to accommodate nearly anything you may need to take with you, all-weather durability, and unique styling, the Flipside 500 AW II is now available and retails for $179.95. Check out the company's promotional video below highlighting the features of the Flipside II series of backpacks.

Log in or register to post comments

5 Comments

I have an older flipside pack. I hate the flipside functionality and never use it. Other than that, it's okay.

I love the flipside function - to avoid putting down in sand/dirt/swamp; in a busy street where there's no space and I can duck and dive with the kit following, or anywhere just for speed. It's easier if it's not fully loaded, but nothing has ever fallen out in ~10 years with flipsides.

Burak Erzincanli's picture

I still use a 400AW model and seems like Lowepro didn't fix the problem inside... the zip puller on the inside pocket scratched 2 of my camera, they should have covered that with a piece of fabric.

"I’d prefer to take an extra minute to remove the bag to access my gear ..." You can always put down any bags right :) I personally LOVE the Flipside and bought 400/300 just because of this functionality. If you worry about the bag being too heavy while using the Flipside you can always stick up a knee and let the bad somewhat rest on your thigh. The functionality works even great when the ground is wet/muddy. The only negative for me is the compartment towards the bottom is not so easily accessible.

Jaime Harris's picture

TheMindShift 26 is another similar backpack that is worth consideration.