A Closer Look - Interior
The Photo Hatchback’s main compartment opens wide for easy loading and unloading of your gear. Even with the bottom half of the bag fully stocked with camera equipment, there’s plenty of room to stow a sweater or rain jacket in here, which adds to the Hatchback’s credibility as a do-it-all backpack. A large zippered pocket runs the full width of one side of the compartment – a great place to throw keys, gum, loose change, and other small items. Two mesh pockets on the opposite side do a fine job of hanging onto pocket notebooks, headphone tins, and mobile devices.
It’s easy to see why Lowepro called this bag the Photo Hatchback once you find your way into the camera compartment, which is concealed behind a zippered hatch that is integrated into the backside. The space is quite cozy, with just enough room for a DSLR with attached 18-105mm zoom lens, two extra lenses, and a flash. The flap itself has a single elastic pocket for spare memory cards. I would have liked to have seen at least one more of these pockets or perhaps a slim zippered pocket in which to keep extra cards or a cleaning cloth, but I suppose the zippered pocket in the main compartment could fulfill that purpose. All of the half-inch thick interior dividers are equipped with Velcro tabs for quick reconfiguration of the space. My current configuration gives me just enough room to fit a Canon Rebel T2i with 18-55mm kit lens attached, Carry Speed FS Slim Camera Sling, Canon 50mm F1.8 II lens, macro adapter barrel, GoPro HERO3, and Canon battery charger. Lowepro recommends that the 16L version of the bag be used to carry compact system cameras, but it will accommodate a full-size DSLR and 1-2 extra lenses in a pinch. The location of the compartment at the bottom of the bag might raise concern for some, but the benefits of this implementation certainly outweigh the cons. Having the compartment open into your back gives the gear inside the best possible protection against theft and the elements, while the bottom location keeps the bag’s center-of-gravity low for balance and comfort. Given the thickness of the padding and the fact that the pocket containing the all-weather cover is located just underneath the camera compartment, you really need not worry about setting your bag down too hard on the pavement. Keeping your camera lens pointing upwards as it sits inside the camera compartment will further help to protect the lens while keeping the heavier camera body as low as possible.
At this point, the Photo Hatchback has already ticked all the boxes on my wish list for a photo bag. But there’s one party trick feature that really makes it stand out. The entire camera compartment is in fact an independent bag within a bag, meaning that it can be completely removed to free up a significant amount of useful space. The camera “cube” can then be cinched closed with its own weather cover to be stowed inside other luggage. Now all one has to do is fold down the interior Velcro divider to transform the Photo Hatchback into a very capable backpack for everyday use. A change of clothes for the gym or a pair of college textbooks are easily swallowed. The thicker padding of the shoulder harness means that even heavy loads can be carried in comfort for long jaunts around town, the park, or a campus.