Today we’re going to look at a few DSLR daypacks. These are packs that are small enough for a quick walk around town but are also fit for a day hike when you need a couple extra lenses and your tripod. All these packs include some kind of tripod storage and a built-in rain cover should you find yourself in an unexpected shower. You probably aren’t going to fit your whole kit in these bags, but that’s by design.
To start, a quick thank you again to all the companies supplying product for our review.
Very sturdy build, customizable camera gear storage, rigid shell, quick access to camera with lens and battery grip attached, ability to become a sling with built in storage for semi removable backpack straps. Padded small laptop or tablet storage
Largest bag in group, dual compartment allows large storage area for everything non-camera that you need, padded interior laptop pocket fits up to a 17” MacBook pro, internal mesh pockets for small items, included bottle opener on one strap, zippers both button together for an added layer of security, shipping bag doubles as waterproof bike map of San Francisco!
Second smallest bag in the group, super lightweight and very breathable straps, removable camera compartment with storm-flap closure, integration for a water bottle bladder with included straw tube guide, body-side access to equipment, hidden tripod storage
Smallest bag in the group, completely customizable interior Velcro walls, includes zippered Velcro pockets for small item storage, Very padded body feels comfortable against you, sleeve pocket for small tablet or netbook, phone pocket included on the shoulder strap, one strap sling design allows for quick swing front access to gear
We’ll be comparing style, usability, durability, storage, and security. Each bag was taken on either a small hike or a walk through my city. Each would be loaded with a Canon T2i, 18-55mm kit lens, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Canon 50mm “nifty fifty”, a battery grip, extra batteries, charger and cable, and a 10” tablet with charger. Since this is a day bag, I also needed a sweater, some type of water, an apple as a snack, my cell phone, and a book.
Style – the Quovio 44 wins!
The Flipside from Lowepro gets a very close second here, it’s so well made and the blue color looks great, at the end of the day though, its beauty is its downfall. Those of you reading this most certainly own some high end DSLR equipment that you or someone very generous purchased. Carrying around so much value can be daunting. The last thing you want to do is draw attention. The Flipside is so uniquely designed that it catches your eye if you see it on a person’s back. After that you see the size and realize it’s some kind of specialty backpack and that is where a thief might decide that he or she would like to become better acquainted with your belongings. The Quovio 44 on the other hand is most certainly beautiful, but a bit plain from the outside. I say plain in the sense of clean, modern and minimalist. It blends in when you need it to, but if you want to show it off to someone they’ll be impressed. Even the tripod storage straps that can be a giveaway on other backpacks store away easily in a zippered compartment. This is the Clark Kent to Superman of DSLR backpacks, it’s mild mannered on the outside, but inside it will protect you from the elements.
Usability – the Flipside Sport wins!
Again, this was a close race with the Flipside just beating out the Quovio 44. The flipside has the unique namesake ability to flip from your back to your front and present its contents in the hidden zippered compartment. By just hooking the included waist strap up and you have hands free access to the pack anytime. It ends up sitting in front of you securely, as if presented on a table. You can then change lenses, grab a sweater, or what have you even if you’re out on a hike with nowhere to rest your bag. While the Quovio 44 is great, but you really need to put it down and undo latches and straps to get to the goods. Using the Quovio 44’s optional sling functionality allows you to keep it secure while accessing it on your body, but it can be a bit awkward with no side access pockets. The Venice Sling from NXE is a sling pack as well, it works great in theory, but in practice something just always seemed to be off with the weight distribution. This was my personal experience though and while it might be different for you, the pack just always seemed to be pulling away from my back.
Equipment protection – the Quovio 44 wins!
The Quovio has a rigid shell that immediately makes you feel safe when loading it with thousands of dollars in camera equipment. When you open the pack you just feel even better about the protection. There is a thick shelf on the top that allows you to store non camera essentials but it also has a removable center which allows quick access to a loaded and ready camera. Inside the familiar Velcro dividers allow you to configure the pack however you’d like. You can easily fit long lenses in here. The tablet/computer storage is padded, but it’s on the very front of the pack which means should you put it down on its face, the weight of the bag is resting directly on your computer more or less. This would have been a perfect design if they had integrated the computer storage behind the back as some other bags do. The Flipside also boasts a rigid frame which makes you feel safe stowing gear. The Sleuth has a small camera compartment compared to the extra storage in the upper compartment. If you get too carried away and put a lot of weight on top you could possibly damage your equipment below. The Venice Sling is very soft on the outside front section. As a result, it feels like should something fall on the bag awkwardly the contents could be in danger. The sides are sturdy though.
Storage – the Quovio 44 wins!
The flipside really only stores your equipment. It does that very well, but anything more is pushing it. The Quovio 44 on the other hand is completely capable of holding more than enough equipment while at the same time allowing you the flexibility of a small packed lunch or jacket that comes in handy on a hike in the winter. The Venice Sling uses a vertical storage approach, it means you can store longer lenses while retaining a small form, but it also means you will store lenses on top of lenses with only the small flap velcroed in which is not always secure. The Sleuth is great if you want a backpack that happens to store high end camera equipment. The storage is the smallest of the bunch though while the sleuth itself is the largest bag in the bunch when full. This is disconcerting because owners might load the large top compartment forgetting the precious cargo below and have added pressure possibly end in damage.
Security – the Sleuth wins!
While The Flipside’s beauty is a detractor security wise, it uses a storage compartment that is hidden behind the backpack straps. This is THE right way to do DSLR backpacks. It just really makes you feel safe knowing you’re the only one accessing your gear. Of course when your bag isn’t on your back, the flashy flipside is the first I think a thief would grab. The Sleuth really does look like a backpack, it blends in well and even in a room on a table all alone at a burglar convention, I don’t think anyone would give imagine there was camera gear inside. You really have to decide which aspect of the bag is important to you, do you want to look great or do you want to keep your equipment long enough to shoot another day? If the flipside could mute its design a bit (they offer the bag in blue or orange only) then they would take this category. The Quovio uses some latches on either side to stop you from fully opening the bag. If you were storing your camera in the top compartment though, I could probably take your camera and your laptop from the front pocket without you suspecting a thing in a large crowd. This is all while the bag is on your back. If the next iteration of the Quovio 44 takes this into account it will be an undeniable leader in the field.
The overall winner is…. The Quovio 44!!!
I personally am very aware of my surroundings, I choose the Quovio 44 as my bag of choice but I am always considering that it has a weakness. I just choose to plan accordingly. If you find that you’re a little more absent minded and your bag stays on your back most of the time then the Flipside Sport is your bag of choice. One more issue with the Flipside sport, it is really aimed towards the hiker or mountain climber among us but it really offers NO storage for specific equipment to those ends. Either way you’ll have a great bag, just pick the one that fits your personal needs best. The Sleuth needs to work on balance between camera storage and misc. storage. The Venice Sling has some nice style and it seems like a great idea but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to sit comfortably on my shoulders.
AS ALWAYS… ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!